“THE SURVEY SAID”: AN OVERVIEW OF RESEARCH ABOUT WRITING

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“THE SURVEY SAID”: AN OVERVIEW OF RESEARCH ABOUT WRITING. “NUMBERS GAME”. Early-semester exercise in technical writing class Goals: Have students work collaboratively to solve a problem (key workplace skill) Have students write instructions for readers with no prior knowledge of a task

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“NUMBERS GAME”

Early-semester exercise in technical writing class

Goals:

• Have students work collaboratively to solve a problem (key workplace skill)
• Have students write instructions for readers with no prior knowledge of a task
• Give students practice dealing with visual elements of writing—document layout, use of tables or graphs, etc.
NUMBERS GAME--INSTRUCTIONS
• Take cards with numbers 0 through 9 on tables
• Get into groups of 3, sitting back to back with other group members
• Brian will call out a number from 0 to 27. Without looking at each other, each group member holds up one card. The sum of the three cards group members hold up should equal number Brian called out.
• After you’ve tried it a few times, I’ll give you a few minutes to come up with a system.
NUMBERS GAME—ONE COMMON SOLUTION (x = number called out)

Player #1 Player #2 Player #3

0-9 x 0 0

10-18 x-9 9 0

19-27 x-18 9 9

NUMBERS GAME—ANOTHER COMMON SOLUTION (x = number)

A B C

x evenly divisible by 3 x/3 x/3 x/3

x/3—“remainder of 1” (x/3)+1 x/3 x/3

2/3—“remainder of 2” (x/3)+1 (x/3)+1 x/3

Examples: 15 5 5 5

16 6 5 5

17 6 6 5

WHY UWGB TEACHERS ASSIGN WRITING(1-5 scale)

To encourage new learning in subject area—4.32

To help them improve as writers—4.10

To evaluate course-related understanding—4.00

To evaluate how well they write—3.57

Writing-emphasis requires it—3.13

Students’ subject-matter knowledge—2.98

Students’ ability to see significance of and apply course concepts—2.93

Students’ ability to organize essays—2.64

Students’ ability to write clear sentences without awkward wordings—2.44

Students’ ability to locate and evaluate appropriate sources—2.38

Students’ handling of grammar, punctuation, etc.—2.37

Students’ ability to incorporate sources into their papers—2.05

TYPICAL IMPROVEMENT DURING COLLEGE YEARS

50TH percentile to 69th percentile

SUMMARIES OF WRITING RESEARCH
• Research in Written Composition (1963)—Braddock, Lloyd-Jones, and Schoer—summarizes studies from early 20th century through 1962
• Research on Written Composition (1986)—Hillocks—summarizes studies from 1963 through 1983
• Research on Composition (2006)—Smagorinsky et al—summarizes studies from 1984 through 2004
SUMMARIES OF WRITING RESEARCH
• 1963 book—Pedagogical focus, mostly quantitative/empirical studies, but somewhat primitive methodology
• 1986 book—Pedagogical focus, mostly quantitative/empirical studies, much better methodology
• 2006 book—Mostly qualitative studies focused beyond the classroom
INSTRUCTION VIA TEACHER’S COMMENT ON DRAFTS/PAPERS
• Does relatively little to improve student writing
• Apparently more successful if highly focused, if peers as well as teacher comment, and if at least some positive comments are used
QUALITATIVE STUDIES

Good writing is situation-specific.

EXPERIMENTAL GROUP/CONTROL GROUP COMPARISON--WHAT TAUGHT

INQUIRY—Experimental group 0.57 of SD higher

SCALES—Experimental group 0.36 of SD higher

SENTENCE COMBINING—Exp. 0.35 of SD higher

MODELS—Experimental group 0.22 of SD higher

FREE WRITING—Exp. group 0.16 of SD higher

GRAMMAR/PUNCTUATION—Exp. 0.30 SD lower

ALL COMBINED—Exp. Group 0.28 of SD higher

INQUIRY

“Students [are] presented sets of data, or occasionally asked to find data, and activities are designed to help students develop skills or strategies for dealing with the data in order to say or write something about it.”

SCALES
• Students receive “a set of criteria embodied in an actual scale or a set of questions for application to a piece of writing.”
GRAMMAR INSTRUCTION vs. NO GRAMMAR INSTRUCTION
• Comparison of 14 studies involving grammar/punctuation studies with 75 studies not involving these elements
• No-Grammar better by .44 of SD
• p<.000001
EXPERIMENTAL GROUP/CONTROL GROUP COMPARISON—HOW TAUGHT

ENVIRONMENTAL—Exp. group 0.44 of SD higher

NATURAL PROCESS—Exp. gr. 0.19 of SD higher

INDIVIDUALIZED—Exp. group 0.17 of SD higher

PRESENTATIONAL—Exp. Group 0.02 of SD higher

ALL COMBINED—Exp. group 0.28 of SD higher

ENVIRONMENTAL

“Involves highly structured problem-solving tasks which involve students in specific strategies parallel to those they will encounter in writing assignments. . . . [including] activities, such as small group problem-centered discussions, conducive to high levels of peer interaction concerning specific tasks.”