ERIC Number: ED249503
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1984-Mar
Reference Count: 0
An Analysis of the Interaction between Students' Epistemological Assumptions and the Composing Process.
Beers, Susan E.
The set of goals and plans that a writer might select to accomplish a given piece of writing is guided by the writer's conception of knowledge. In terms of cognitive theory, conceptions of knowledge may be viewed as epistemological schemata--structured clusters of knowledge about the nature of knowledge itself. William Perry's scheme of the intellectual development of college students helps to describe the naive epistemological theories of students. Briefly stated, Perry describes as dualistic the least intellectualy mature students, who believe that knowledge consists of absolute truths that are transmitted by authorities such as teachers. They may view the process of writing as involving the rigid application of "correct" rules and procedures, gleaned from the advice of composition teachers. Dualism evolves into multiplicity as multiple versions of reality are perceived. The writing of the student with a multiplistic orientation may be technically acceptable, but it lacks substance. As multiplicity develops into relativism, multiple points of view are perceived as related to their evidential bases. The presentation of facts or supporting information in the service of developing a thesis is the standard characteristic of a student's writing with a relativistic orientation. This sets the stage for commitment, in which the students perceive the necessity of making a personal choice between competing versions of reality. Writing from commitment produces not only clarity and coherence, but also voice. The teacher who is aware of students' epistemological assumptions may be able to work within their frame of reference when helping them improve their writing. (HOD)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Guides - Classroom - Teacher; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Perry (William)
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Conference on College Composition and Communication (35th, New York City, NY, March 29-31, 1984).