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Mathematics standards expect students to communicate about mathematics using oral and written methods, and some high-stakes assessments ask students to answer mathematics questions by writing. Assumptions about mathematics communication via writing include (a) students possess writing skill, (b) students can transfer this writing skill to mathematics writing, and (c) mathematics writing is representative of a mathematics knowledge. The authors conducted a study in which they investigated the connections among general writing ability, mathematics computation skill, and mathematics writing. With 155 fourth-grade students in two regions of the United States, they administered a measure of essay writing, a measure of mathematics computation skill, and two mathematics-writing prompts. Results indicate moderate correlations among general writing ability, computation skill, and mathematics writing. Additionally, general writing ability and computation skill are significantly related to mathematics-writing outcomes.


Powell, S. R., & Hebert, M. A. (2016). Influence of writing ability and computation skill on mathematics writing. The Elementary School Journal. Advance online publication. doi:10.1086/688887

Published Date



Mathematics Instruction

Type of Resource

Journal Article/Book Chapter


General Education Classroom Teacher

Grade Level