Using Concept Cartoons and Argumentative Writing Frames in Mathematical Word Problem Solving

Percy Sepeng


The value of introducing concept cartoons and argumentative writing frames in South African schools within the current curriculum to promote discussion and argumentation is reported in this article. The concept cartoons used in the study reported here were not meant to be humorous in the classroom but were designed to provoke discussion and stimulate mathematical thinking. In traditional mathematics textbooks, students are required to make meaning out of word problems through symbolically described situations, whereas, through cartoons, students are presented with intelligent space to symbolic descriptions out of meaningful situations. The writing frames consisted of skeleton outlines that helped learners use generic structures and language features of recount, report, procedure, explanation, exposition and argumentation. It is against this background that the study discussed in this article used a phenomenographic approach to probe how students experience understanding and constructing of new knowledge when they solve mathematical word problems. Thus, the goal of this phenomenographic study was to allow students to be aware of contradictions in their own reasoning and become more open to alternative ideas as they reflect on their views and understandings of the real world experiences when they engage in word problem solving. Data was gathered through field notes and students’ written work over a period of six weeks. The findings demonstrated that writing frames not only served a purpose of stimulating mathematical discussion and thinking in the classroom, but also supported students’ abilities to write appropriately for a particular task. Furthermore, writing frames improved students’ level or quality of arguments when they engaged in word problem solving in the classroom.

DOI: 10.5901/mjss.2013.v4n11p129

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Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences ISSN 2039-9340(Print) ISSN 2039-2117(Online)

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