UBC Theses and Dissertations
The saliency of existing text as a barrier to revision in the redrafting of college students' written compositions James, Edwin A. H.
The text already produced by student writers can act as a barrier to revision because the existing textual material can become so salient as to prevent writers from generating alternative text. This study investigated the effects of applying a revision heuristic designed to promote successful revision by alleviating the influence exerted by students' initial formulations of text. Inexperienced college writers were randomly assigned to two treatment conditions and asked to produce three drafts of a two-part expository composition. The experimental group composed their second drafts without access to any material produced at the draft one stage but then received back this material at the third draft stage. The control group redrafted normally, having access at all times to previous draft material. Results showed that students in the experimental group produced significantly longer and better quality final drafts with significantly higher self-evaluation scores than students in the control group produced. The mean number of idea units that were retained, removed, or added by students in either group was significantly different at both the second and third draft stages. Each part of the assignment was affected differently. Significant interactions among condition, grade point average and writing apprehension were not evident. These findings indicated that this three-stage redrafting heuristic may be a valuable technique for encouraging successful revision of students' early drafts. Further research, particularly regarding how a text communicates information, would be beneficial to our understanding of the role played by existing text in students' compositions.
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