|An identification of excellence in expository composition performance in a selected 9A population with an analysis of reasons for superior performance|
Henry Bert Maloney
Uploaded by: Pocket Masters
Pockets: Gottesman Libraries Archive, Historical Dissertations
Tags: Composition and exercises, English language, Study and teaching (Secondary)
This project had two basic objectives. First, it was designed to identify the superior and poor writers of expository composition in the ninth grade population under study. Secondly, the project was intended to identify qualities that seemed to be characteristic of superior writers. Identification of these qualities was attempted in seven major areas: (1) the studentĘs environment, (2) his abilities and aptitudes as reflected in certain test scores, (3) his performance in the classroom, (4) his personal characteristics, (5) his attitudes, (6) his early interest in theme writing, (7) his performance on themes written for this project. Characteristic qualities of superior writers were identified by comparing in these seven areas performances of students who had been designated superior writers with performances of students who had been designated poor writers.
Second semester ninth grade students from Burroughs Junior High School in Detroit who received mental ratings on the California Test of Mental Maturity of A through C- were the participants in the project. The school, which houses about 1600 students in grades 7 through 9, is an integrated junior high school, located on the periphery of DetroitĘs inner city.
Insofar as possible, composition research procedures suggested by the National Council of Teachers of English Committee on the State of Knowledge About Composition were incorporated into the project. These procedures included using the analytic method of rating, having the raters participate in the formulation of evaluative criteria during the pilot study, and using only the two best performances in three composition assignments to determine writing excellence. The three evaluators identified superior writers on the basis of their excellence in four areas: Organization, Maturity of Insight, Word Choice, and Style.
Because it became evident early in the project that there was a strong relationship between writing ability and a high I.Q., superior writers were identified for each of the five mental ratings (A, B, C+, C, C-) involved in the study. Thus, superior writers were those students whose composite scores in the four areas placed them in the upper 20 per cent of their particular I.Q. group. The poor writers with whom they were compared were students whose composite scores placed them in the lowest 20 per cent of the group. After the superior and poor writers were identified, wherever applicable the chi-square statistic was used at the five per cent level of significance to test the hypothesis of independence. A significant difference between superior and poor writers would suggest a relationship between the area under examination and writing ability.
The seven major areas of study were broken down into 52 specific items. Of these, 24 seemed to be related to superior writing ability. Generally, superior writers were identified as students who (1) had high intelligence ratings or had average intelligence ratings but were placed in challenging classes in a homogeneously grouped school, (2) came from homes where parents bought books, (3) scored high in reading comprehension, verbal reasoning, and vocabulary tests, (4) made fewer mechanical errors on their themes, (5) achieved higher grades and more consistent grades in English, (6) behaved better in class, (7) were girls, (8) were white, (9) had decided on a future career, (10) preferred courses with a language arts base, (11) read often. The widest differences between superior and poor writers in the four areas of evaluation occurred in Organization and Maturity of Insight.