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Article

Writing-to-learn instruction in L1 and L2 as a platform for historical reasoning

Journal of Writing Research. 2015. Vol. 7. No. 1. P. 65-93.

Writing-to-learn benefits have been explored in various educational settings. However, little research has been done on how a WTL approach in combination with two different languages of instruction can influence historical reasoning learning. The main objective of the present study is to examine the effects of a particular WTL instruction in two languages (L1 is Russian and L2 is English) on historical reasoning learning outcomes. The paper presents the results of a case study of first year students of the History Faculty. Learners received small-group L1/L2 instruction by a team of two teachers in a Logic module which included evidence based direct instruction and a set of WTL activities. The instruction explicitly targeted argumentation skills such as argument structure, validity of an argument, fact vs opinion and using documented historical sources. The Critical Thinking Analytic Rubric was used for both pre and post-course metacognitive competencies assessments while argumentation skills were assessed with the help of a new developed rubric. The results showed various patterns of positive change in all the categories and seem to support the hypothesis that this approach to writing-to-learn in L1 and L2 leads to successful acquisition of disciplinary knowledge and skills.