Lawrence, J. F., Crosson, A. C., Paré-Blagoev, E. J., & Snow, C. E. (2015). Word Generation randomized trial: Discussion mediates the impact of program treatment on academic word learning. American Educational Research Journal, 52(4), 750-786. http://doi.org/10.3102/0002831215579485
Communicative self-efficacy serves as an important link between discussing controversial issues and civic engagement because confidence in one’s discourse skills is important to managing conflicting perspectives and developing solutions to community-based problems. Freely available to schools, Word Generation is a cross-content literacy program that supports teachers in the four main content areas—ELA, social studies, science, and math—to embed learning of controversial issues through classroom discussions, subject-specific lessons, and writing. Middle school students (N =5,870) from diverse backgrounds participated in a randomized study of the intervention that was conducted in 12 middle schools located in an urban school district. We analyzed survey data based on students’ self-reported ratings on their communicative self-efficacy, as indicated by confidence to participate in discussions of 15 different controversial issues related to politics, society, and science. Paired sample t-tests indicate that treatment students reported higher communicative self-efficacy than control students on a set of topics immediately covered prior to testing, but not on the set of topics covered in the previous year. This study informs curriculum developers, policy-makers, and educators to consider the importance of incorporating classroom discussions of controversial issues within a framework of subject-specific instruction.
This research was made possible through grants from the IES (R305A090555). https://ies.ed.gov
Lin, A.R., Lawrence, J.F., Snow, C.E., & † Taylor, K. (2016). Assessing adolescents’ communicative self-efficacy to discuss controversial issues: Findings from a randomized study of the Word Generation program. Theory and Research in Social Education, 44(3), 316-343. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00933104.2016.1203852