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Aural cuing as a stimulus for revision of expository composition at the grade-eleven level McCallum, Robin I.


The purpose of the study was to examine the effect on the expository writing of grade-eleven students of an aural revision cue. 162 students were randomly assigned to three treatment groups and were asked to produce three drafts of an expository composition. The first treatment group had access to its first draft while composing the second draft; the second group reread its first draft prior to redrafting, but did not have access to the first draft while rewriting; the third group had access to a recording of the first draft, but not to the written first draft. For the third draft, all groups had access to both their previous drafts. The results showed that those subjects who received an aural cue produced significantly better final drafts than those students who redrafted using the traditional visual stimulus—their previous draft. Furthermore, the former diagnosed significantly more text-base errors in their compositions, and when revising executed significantly more changes affecting meaning, both at the paragraph and the macrotext level. The experimental group diagnosed and executed significantly fewer cosmetic changes. Additionally, the experimental group employed significantly more parallel and extended parallel topical progressions than did the control group. Treatment group two did not perform significantly better than treatment group one which received the traditional graphic cue. However, the subjects of treatment groups two and three had a common reaction to the absence of their first draft text: they were cautious and critical in their evaluations of their second drafts. The subjects of treatment group one, in marked contrast, gave very positive evaluations after the first revision session. Despite a stated dislike of the experimental treatment, the E.S.L. subjects of treatment group three achieved double the quality increase of the E.S.L. students in treatment group one. Interviews conducted with subjects of the experimental treatment support the notion that such a stimulus may serve as a powerful heuristic for revision. Students commented on the potential usefulness of the aural cue for overcoming textual saliency, for achieving a sense of distance from their work and a sense of audience, and for diagnosing problems of logic and meaning in their work.

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