ERIC Number: ED197387
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1980-Nov
College Freshman Writing Ability in 1963 and 1977: A Pilot Study Comparison.
Gaies, Stephen J.
A pilot study was conducted to compare the quality of essays written by college freshmen in 1963 and in 1977. Twenty-five compositions from each college year were used. The compositions in the two groups of essays were coded according to each writer's sex, high school ranking, and scores on the American College Testing Program. In this way 25 matched pairs of writers were selected and examined. Each of the 50 compositions was evaluated by two of three college English teachers, who rated the overall quality of each composition on a five-point scale. These evaluators were trained in the procedures of the Writing Competency Examination Program, whose eight criteria had been shown to provide a highly workable evaluation format. The data analysis proceeded through a statistical comparison of the two sets of 25 scores (each composition was given a single score, the mean of the two scores it received from its two readers). Although the distribution of scores in the 1963 sample was much narrower, the difference between the means of the two samples was not statistically significant, suggesting that declining writing ability of college students may be something of a myth. Due to the small scope of this pilot study and certain weaknesses in it, such as low inter-rater reliability and the high class rankings of the writers of the compositions, a followup study is being conducted to further test the hypothesis and to explore specific areas in which changes may have occurred. (RL)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Midwest Modern Language Association (22nd, Minneapolis, MN, November 6-8, 1980).