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How to Engage Math Students in Essay Writing: Six Approaches to Get Students Thinking Differently about Mathematics

Posted by Jessica Mills - Guest Author

Jun 26, 2015 10:50:00 AM

As you know, mathematics is a very complex subject. Learning it requires more than just memorizing sets of facts and examples. If students are not able to process their ideas before, during, and after learning has taken place, they will have trouble really improving their conceptual framework.

This processing can take place orally, through discussion; mentally, through thinking back over the work and learning done; or in writing, by explaining in a narrative form the process they just went through. Ideally, all of these modes are used by a teacher, so that students have multiple opportunities to cement new knowledge, and also so that students who learn in different ways can have their unique learning styles supported.

This might sound funny, but mathematicians don’t just scribble mathematical notations on chalkboards until arriving at a profound new theorem, or answer to a problem. In addition to doing math, mathematicians are also required to write clearly and effectively. How else could they explain their ideas to people who don’t have their specific skill sets—or, in some cases, even to those who do?

In addition to these considerations, mathematicians also need to keep a complete record of their ideas and work, and be in a position where they can communicate their findings to the world. The list below takes a look at some of the strategies that can be used to engage math students in essay writing.


This is a writing strategy that a teacher uses throughout or at the end of a lesson to engage students to develop big and better concepts and ideas. In mathematics, you can use these strategies to foster this kind of engagement.

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