Math is a creative subject. It is often more important how students solve a math problem than whether the answered it correct or not. For students, it is often better to work with handwritten solutions where they learn to derive and present the reasoning behind the answers they reach. A meta-analysis on writing-to-learn showed that detailed explanations and handwritten solutions significantly increased students' learning. This conclusion extends from social science subjects to mathematics and physics and from early primary school to upper secondary school.
The theoretical background to why writing is so essential for learning is that when an idea transforms into text, the syntax and semantics of language force this idea to be condensed and refined, which shapes learning. When students write, the working memory is also relieved, enabling them to process more complex reasoning to strengthen their understanding of these concepts. However, the social and cultural aspects of writing in the classroom are crucial to how it affects learning. Writing should be encouraged and actively integrated into education for it to have an effect. Research shows that students learn more effectively when writing is used to understand, analyze, and argue in different subjects and ages.
Studies that look at how students reflect on their learning in metacognition support this conclusion. When students actively work with problem-solving and present their thoughts in writing, they demonstrate their reasoning and explicit metacognitive behaviors. Examples of these are how they orient, organize, and solve problems, in which access to the students' writings is a crucial part of following these behaviors.
The findings of this study underscore the importance of implementing writing as an integral part of mathematics curriculum
An exciting implication of this is that writing thus constitutes a portal for teachers to better understand how students think and reason. Through writing, teachers can follow how students reason and hence support them more effectively. As Pugalee writes:
The findings support the premise that students' writing can provide a source of information for teachers to assess how their students learn and think about mathematics
We see an evident strength in preserving mathematics as handwork, also when education becomes more digital. Therefore, students learning with Magma Math can write detailed calculations, derive their answers, and relieve working memory. Furthermore, we want to reinforce this positive effect by enabling teachers to see how students reason. Therefore, we make all solutions available to teachers in real-time to deliver a more efficient, engaging, and inclusive mathematics lesson.
Do you agree with us that math is best done by hand? Don't hesitate to contact us if you have ideas, thoughts or questions about Magma Math :)
Do you want to know more about how Magma can take your math classroom to the next level? Contact us!