ERIC Number: ED233345
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1982-Sep-30
Reference Count: 0
Topical Structure and Writing Quality: A Study of the Argumentative Texts of College Writers.
Witte, Stephen P.
Writing research has long sought to identify the internal features of written discourse that help to explain qualitative differences among student texts. Reflecting the theories of the Prague School linguists, this study used a topical structure analysis to distinguish between the sentences and T-units of 48 college freshman essays evaluated as either low or high quality. Comparing length, syntax, and topical structure, the study found that while both low and high quality texts most often used T-units in which the initial elements and topical and grammatical subjects coincided, 35.6% of the T-units in low quality texts, compared to only 18.7% of those in high quality essays, had topical subjects appearing after the grammatical subject. Also, research revealed that the poorer essays introduced significantly more topics per T-unit. These findings suggest that the writers of the high quality essays were more capable of both discovering content for the topics they introduced and distinguishing between crucial and noncrucial topics. (MM)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Information Analyses; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association (Montreal, Canada, April 11-15, 1983).