ERIC Number: ED217423
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1981-Mar
Reference Count: 0
Growth in Writing during the College Years: A Preliminary Look.
Writing samples from 20 college students were examined for the quantitative and qualitative changes that occurred between their freshman and junior years. The writing samples were analyzed quantitatively for mean length of T-unit and subordinate clauses per T-unit and holistically for focus, organization, development, and coherence. These analyses indicated modest growth in syntactic complexity, supporting the contentions from previous research that syntactic growth is at a plateau during the first 3 years of college and that it may not increase after high school unless writing is an important component of one's work. In contrast to the modest growth in syntactic complexity, the writing samples did not show increased mastery of traditional rhetorical criteria as evaluated holistically by trained readers. This result supported previous research conclusions that third year university papers rated no higher on such rhetorical criteria as unity, organization, and development than papers written by high school seniors. Since two of the students in the study reported and evidenced changes in writing due to their academic major (their public relations teachers urged them to write concisely and to find short, snappy ways to express ideas), a future research topic might be the relationship between academic major and changes in student writing. (RL)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Syntactic Complexity
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Conference on College Composition and Communication (32nd, Dallas, TX, March 26-28, 1981).