UBC Theses and Dissertations
Revisions in expressive and persuasive compositions by ninth grade writers of superior and randomly selected ability Barber, Robert Ennis
This research describes the revisions made in expressive and persuasive compositions by fifteen superior and fifteen randomly selected grade nine students. Each student wrote four papers: a rough draft of an assignment designed to elicit an expressive composition; two to four days later, a revision of the expressive first draft; a rough draft of an assignment designed to elict a persuasive composition; and, finally, a revision of the persuasive first draft. All the revisions made by the students were scored using a taxonomy of revision operations. Three research questions guided the analysis to determine whether there were differences in the number and kind of revisions between the expressive and persuasive writing modes, between the superior and randomly selected ability groups, or between the first and second drafts. Few statistically significant differences were found among the variables measured. Both ability groups revised expressive writing in much the same ways. About three quarters of revisions in both writing modes involved small units of texts. Over half were surface revisions of spelling, tense, number or modality, abbreviation, punctuation or format. One third were meaning preserving changes that did not affect the meaning of the text. In persuasive writing, the superior ability group made significantly fewer revisions. Both ability groups, writing in both modes, performed about three quarters of all revisions during the second writing session while working on the second draft. The results of this research offer little evidence of mode or ability related differences in the number or kind of revisions performed on sample essays. Other than fewer revisions in persuasive writing by superior students, no consistent relation was found between rates or kinds of revision and ability scores. Few writers were observed to use revision effectively to reformulate and improve compositions as do mature, experienced writers. Most revisions performed by this ninth grade sample dealt with surface details. At this age level, it appears, revision is used as a surface and word editing process performed at the end of a writing project.
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