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Generating ideas in writing

Generating ideas in writing

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Generating ideas in writing

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  1. Generating ideas in writing David Galbraith d.galbraith@staffs.ac.uk Centre for Educational Psychology Research Staffordshire University

  2. Introduction • Writing as discovery • Two ideologies • Classical art of invention • Romantic self-expression • Dual process model

  3. Writing as problem solving(Hayes, 1996; Bereiter and Scardamalia, 1987) • The thinking behind the text • Retrieval of content from long-term memory • Manipulation in working memory • Knowledge telling v knowledge transforming • Adapting to external rhetorical constraints • Problem solving all the way down? • Text production as local planning • Passive output process

  4. Descriptions by expert writers (selected from Murray, 1978) • W. H. Auden. Language is the mother, not the handmaiden, of thought; words will tell you things you never thought or felt before. • Robert Bolt: Writing a play is thinking, not thinking about thinking. • E. M. Forster: How do I know what I think until I see what I say? • Wright Morris: The language leads, and we continue to follow where it leads.

  5. Self-monitoring(Snyder, 1987; Gangestad & Snyder, 2000) • High self-monitors • are "particularly sensitive to the expression and self-presentation of relevant others in social situations and use these cues as guidelines for monitoring (that is regulating and controlling) their own verbal and non-verbal self-presentation". • Assume that they are more likely to direct their writing towards rhetorical goals (external constraints). • Low self-monitors’ • “expressive behaviour is controlled from within by their affective states (they express it as they feel it) rather than moulded and tailored to fit the situation". • They are more likely to express their ideas directly as they unfold (internal constraints).

  6. New ideas as a function of self-monitoring and mode of writingGalbraith (1992, 1996) 8 7 6 5 Low SM 4 High SM 3 2 1 0 Notes Prose

  7. Knowledge transforming during planningGalbraith, Hallam, Olive & le Bigot (2009) • 96 low and high self-monitors writing article about pros and cons of legalising cannabis. • Three phases • listing ideas (phase 1) (5 minutes) • constructing outline (phase 2) (10 minutes) • writing article (30 minutes) • Secondary tasks loading on different components of working memory during phase 2 • Control • Visual • Spatial • General interference

  8. Number of new ideas added in phase 2

  9. Mean rating of text quality

  10. Relationship between idea change and text quality • R=.44, p<.001 (16% of the variance) • Greater similarity between list and outline (LSA) • More new ideas • More rhetorical groupings in outline • Reorganisation of existing content within new global structure that satisfies rhetorical constraints (knowledge transforming)

  11. Cohmetrix analysis • Text quality correlated with 4 objective features (R = .51, p <.001) • elaborated text • logical argument • global coherence • anaphoric reference (negative) • All secondary task conditions showed higher levels of anaphoric reference • Low SM more locally coherent text than high SM • Spatial condition less two-sided argument

  12. Summary • Knowledge transforming predicts text quality • Disrupting outlining reduces text quality • Spatial component of working memory required to represent content as distinct ideas • Low and high self-monitors differ in how they produce text (local coherence)

  13. Galbraith, Torrance & Hallam (2006) • 96 low and high self-monitors writing an essay discussing whether the use of violence to achieve political aims can be justified. • 3 writing conditions • Rough draft • Outline planned • Control List ideas & rate relationships before writing Write List ideas & rate relationships after writing

  14. Mean number of new ideas as a function of self-monitoring and writing condition

  15. Mean harmony before and after writing as a function of writing condition and self-monitoring

  16. Conclusion for text production • Dispositionally guided writing, free from external constraints, leads to generation of novel content, coherently related to existing content • Rhetorical organisation disrupts conceptual coherence of text

  17. Dual process model(Galbraith, 2009) • Knowledge-retrieval process • Retrieval of ideas from explicit memory store (hippocampus) • Manipulation of ideas in working memory to create rhetorically appropriate global model • Dependent on spatial component of working memory • Leads to creation of single knowledge object in episodic memory (but not understanding) • Knowledge-constituting process • Synthesis of ideas within semantic memory (neo-cortex) • Dispositionally guided text production • Sequential process, not dependent on spatial component of working memory • Leads to formulation of ideas corresponding to writer’s implicit understanding of the topic

  18. Units sum up input activation and pass it on to next layer Superpositional storage Fixed weights represent knowledge and guide processing Contextually specific synthesis of output in response to input A simple feedforward network

  19. Writer’s disposition = fixed connections between features in a high dimensional semantic space (internal constraints) Ideas created by constraint satisfaction within network (content synthesis) Successive utterances produced by inhibitory feedback from output to disposition (self-movement of thought) Knowledge-constituting process

  20. Conclusion • 2 different kinds of process • Explicit organising process to adapt to external constraints • Implicit organising process guided by internal constraints • Both processes required for effective writing • Fundamental conflict because processes are optimised under opposing conditions • Self-concept influences conflict-management strategy • Low SM prioritise knowledge-constituting • High SM prioritise knowledge-transforming