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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Two models of teacher response to students writing to learn in response journals Mackay, Elaine


Although student response journals have been demonstrated to be effective aids to learning, primarily through case study reports and articles, there is little evidence to show the most effective ways for teachers to respond to what students write in their journals. The current study examines the influence of two differing modes of teacher response on writing fluency, skills and attitudes toward writing of grade-nine junior high school students. In addition, the study investigates the effects on participating teachers of using response journals in subject area classrooms. This study is a controlled experiment in which grade-nine students were randomly assigned to experimental and control classes in English and science. The treatment students received open, positive, encouraging comments by subject—area teachers on their response journals in the twelve—week school term during which the experiment took place. Control students received evaluative, corrective comments. An attitude measure, administered both pre— and post—experiment, was used to investigate student attitudes toward writing over all and on four sub—categories (source, audience, response and purpose). In addition, a pre— and post—instruction essay was given in order to ascertain the effects of treatment on writing growth overall and on two subscores, one for content and one for mechanics. Throughout the duration of the experiment students maintained response journals which were analyzed for changes in attitude using a chronological chart consisting of a core of fifteen common features perceived to be characteristic of good journals. Participating teachers were administered pre— and posttest interviews in order to elicit changes in their attitudes toward the use of response journals. As well, they were requested to maintain individual journals as a record of their impressions throughout the experiment. Results did not favour expected outcomes. The differences found were not only non—significant but also frequently in the wrong direction with the control group exhibiting more positive growth than the experimental group. A contaminating factor, failure to carry out the procedures as described, seems the most tenable explanation for this study’s failure to reject the null hypothesis.

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