ERIC Number: ED216359
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1979
Reference Count: 0
A Study of the Relation of Syntactic Complexity to Mode of Discourse in the Writing of Eighth and Twelfth Graders.
Swiggett, Betty M.
A study was conducted to (1) examine the relation of syntactic complexity to mode of discourse in the writing of eighth and twelfth grade students; (2) determine to what extent variations observed were related to grade level, socioeconomic status, and race; and (3) determine to what extent the syntactic complexity achieved on a rewriting task related to that observed in the written compositions. The subjects, 100 eighth grade and 100 twelfth grade students, were given two writing assignments--one in the transactional and one in the poetic mode--and one rewriting task, the Syntactic Maturity Test (SMT). The resulting compositions were segmented by T-units, words per clause, clauses per T-unit, participles per 100 T-units, and noun, adjective, and adverb clauses per 100 T-units. Results showed that although transactional writing was overall more syntactically complex than poetic writing, it was poetic writing that primarily reflected syntactic growth between grades eight and twelve. This growth was characterized by an increase in clause length, T-unit length, use of adjective clauses and participles, and by a decrease in the subordination ratio and use of noun and adverb clauses. There was some evidence that differences between socioeconomic groups increased with age, with students from lower socioeconomic levels performing poorer than their peers. The general trends that were observed were reflected in the rewritings of the SMT. (Materials used in the study are appended.) (FL)
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Syntactic Complexity
Note: Research prepared at New York University.