ERIC Number: ED163460
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1978
Reference Count: 0
Syntactic Maturity in the Writing of College Freshmen.
Witte, Stephen P.; Sodowsky, Roland E.
Researchers examined the first in-class essays and the final exam essays of 24 freshman writing students to determine the syntactic maturity these students gained during an eight-month period. Counting the words, T-units, clauses, and sentences for each of the 48 essays created data about mean words per T-unit, clauses per T-unit, words per clause, T-units per sentence, and words per sentence. Although the data indicated growth in syntactic maturity between the writing of the first and second essays, only the increase in the mean number of words per T-unit reached statistical significance. Calculations for four additional variables (words per subordinate clause, number of words between embeddings of all kinds, number of words between prepositional embeddings, and the number of words between nonclausal and nonprepositional embeddings) indicated that part of the increase in syntactic maturity was attributable to an increased number of subordinate clauses and a significantly higher percentage of prepositional embeddings in the second essay. The variables that measure embedding frequency may be more precise measures of syntactic maturity gains than the T-unit variables, but they should be used over longer periods of time and with larger samples than in this study. (RL)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Syntactic Maturity
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Conference on College Composition and Communication (29th, Denver, Colorado, March 30-April 1, 1978)