Date of Award

7-1-1985

Degree Type

Thesis

University or Center

Atlanta University (AU)

School

School of Education

Degree Name

Ed.S.

Abstract

The nature of the Student-Centered Writing Program was explained by the teacher and a copy of each of the materials to be used by the students was distributed. Students brainstormed topics for writing assignments, and each was assigned to write a rough draft. The Writer's Checklist was utilized to proofread the rough draft. Each student selected a partner with whom to work (i.e., the Buddy System). The Composition Improvement Checklist was used by pairs of students to indicate errors found on the rough draft. Written recommendations for revisions by the buddy were made at the end of the written work. The teacher monitored pairs of students during proof reading. Misspelled words were corrected by the writer and written on his Individual Spelling List (ISL) page in his notebook for future reference. Following written recommendations, the Buddy Checklist for the Rough Draft and the Writing Score Card for Buddy Evaluations were completed to assess the written work. Rough drafts handed in to the teacher were returned with comments. Each student maintained his own Writer's Log. Final drafts were written and stapled to rough drafts. All writing was shared with peers. While students sometimes scheduled brief conferences with the teacher, more in-depth private teacher-student conferences were scheduled approximately every ten days to help students to analyze their own papers and to encourage continued efforts.

Summative Evaluation/Posttesting: Students wrote on a topic of their choice for the final written assignment. Errors on the pretest and the posttest were tallied to determine the improvement of written work. The teacher shared the evaluation process with each student in a teacher-student conference. Student's written work was analyzed as a whole, i.e., the holistic approach, by both the teacher and the student to determine the trends and the progress of the student.

Summary of Presentation and Analysis of Findings

1. The opinionnaire showed that over fifty percent of the total group had positive overall attitudes about the program. Seventy percent indicated they did not mind revising for a better grade. While seventy-five percent felt responsible for correcting and proofreading their own work, 55 percent wanted to continue in a student-centered writing program and wanted the same opportunity made available to others in their school. Eighty-five percent reported that good writing skills should be applied to other school subjects, not just language arts.

2. The opinionnaire showed that over 60 percent of the total group indicated that the Buddy System helped them to improve their writing, to locate, errors they (as writers) had overlooked and that they liked the idea of locating and correcting their written work with the aid of a buddy.

3. Of the total group, 45 percent reported that they proofread their first drafts more closely, while 65 percent indicated that they proofread their final drafts more closely as a result of the program.

4. All students appeared to enjoy additional time with the teacher to help with problems that remained unsolved and to seek sympathetic assurance.

5. Writers of the same sex chose to work together, independently sought assistance from various sources such as the dictionary, the thesaurus, and English grammar textbooks, and voluntarily offered suggestions to their peers for resolving problems.

6. Natural insertion of words was made during proofreading and incidental learning occurred when students were answering questions on the Writing Score Card for Buddy Evaluations.

7. Errors experienced by students included capitalization, spelling, agreement of subject and verb, inconsistency of tense, double comparisons, agreement of pronoun and antecedent, split infinitives, and syntax (fragments and run-on sentences). The majority of the errors was in syntax, inconsistency of tense and punctuation.

8. Sixty-five percent of the total group believed that the teacher-student conferences encouraged them to write better.

9. There was a discernible pattern of error reduction in grammar over the nine writing assignments.

10. There was a statistically significant difference between pre- and posttest scores on the writing samples. On the pretest the number of errors in grammar was nine, and on the posttest the number of errors was reduced to zero. Spelling errors on the pretest were eleven and on the posttest were two. There were twenty-seven errors in punctuation, and on the posttest there were five errors. Errors in syntax numbered twenty on the pretest and on the posttest, there were three. Capitalization errors on the pretest were eight, and on the posttest there were four. There were 75 total errors on the pretest and 14 total errors on the posttest.

Conclusions

The findings of this study, based upon an analysis of the data, seem to warrant the following:

1. The Student-Centered Writing Program promoted the reduction of errors in grammar, spelling, punctuation, syntax, and capitalization.

2. An increased reduction of errors is likely to occur, given a longer period of time. However, a plateau is likely to be reached where errors will be made by chance, regardless of practice or instruction.

3. The Student-Centered Writing Program encouraged student independence, fostered positive student attitudes, improved peer relationships, and promoted the application of skills to other written tasks.

4. The Student-Centered Writing Program is an effective instructional approach with gifted middle school students. Student samples showed a significant reduction of errors on the pre- and posttests.

5. Learning and teaching the mechanics of writing have not proved effective in improving troubled student writing. Focusing attention on correct grammar, punctuation, capitalization, and syntax through the actual written work as they are needed is more effectual.

Recommendations

Consideration of the following recommendations, which resulted from the findings, implications, and conclusions of this study, nay assist teachers, administrators, and school systems in the implementation of a student-centered writing program.

1. Students, acting as editors and collaborators in pairs or in small groups, should be permitted to work at their own pace.

2. Private teacher-student conferences should be scheduled approximately every ten days to help students analyze their own progress and to encourage continued efforts.

3. Since students, generally, do not know how to proofread their own writing for errors, it is recommended that teachers assume this responsibility by providing a large How to Proofread Chart in front of the classroom. Consistent referral to this chart before every written assignment is essential.

4. Maintaining accurate records by both the teacher and the students is important in the Student- Centered Writing Program because it provides a visible means for tracking student progress. The tabulation of errors on the Error Chart and the dating of student materials help in the overall evaluative process.

5. School systems should institute workshops and/or in-service courses to train teachers in the implementation of a successful student-centered writing program.

6. Administrators should promote the utilization of student-centered writing programs as an integral component of the English/language arts course in their schools.

7. Since studies are beginning to show that the implementation of teacher-student conferences by professors of English on the college level has achieved success in improving student writing, it is recommended that student-centered writing programs be implemented consistently, beginning perhaps as early as Grade 4 and continuing through out high school.

8. Random selection of subjects and experimental, as well as control groups, should be given serious consideration in furthering research and study on improving student writing.

9. In respect to the gifted learner, it is recommended that administrators focus attention on ability grouping, acceleration, and enrichment to meet his/her special needs in language arts/English programs. Students demonstrating high ability in English, for example, may be helpful as mentors, assisting their own intellectual peers, as well as other students who may need help in improving their writing.

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