The effects of assigned and unassigned topics on the length and syntactic complexity of grade-three writing with a survey of gender differences in unassigned topic choices and environments of interest

Andrews, Elizabeth Eileen (1989) The effects of assigned and unassigned topics on the length and syntactic complexity of grade-three writing with a survey of gender differences in unassigned topic choices and environments of interest. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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    Available under License - The author retains copyright ownership and moral rights in this thesis. Neither the thesis nor substantial extracts from it may be printed or otherwise reproduced without the author's permission.
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Abstract

This study was designed to engage children in writing to determine the effects of assigned and unassigned topics on the length and syntactic complexity of children's writing. -- Additionally, this study was designed to survey the popular writing topics generated by the children and the gender differences in their self-generated topics and environments of interest for writing. -- Twenty-four grade-three students were randomly assigned to two equivalent groups composed equally of boys and girls. For the first three weeks of the study, Group A was randomly assigned to writing on unassigned, self-generated topics and Group B was randomly assigned to writing on teacher-assigned topics. These writing conditions were alternated for the last three weeks of the study. At the end of the study, each child selected one favourite writing to be edited and given to each classmate. -- A T-unit analysis used in the research of Hunt (1965) was applied to each of the 288 pieces of writing composed by the students. The number of words written provided a measure of the length of the students' writing. The average length of T-units provided a measure of the syntactic complexity of the students' writing. -- Data gathered from the T-unit analysis were subjected to the t-test for statistical significance between the means. Data were also subjected to a one-way analysis of variance. Results of the statistical testing showed that the children in this study wrote significantly more words on unassigned topics than on assigned topics. The difference between the means was statistically significant at the .01 level. There was no statistically significant difference between the means in the average length of T-units written on assigned and unassigned topics. Also, there was no statistically significant difference between boys' and girls' writing in the number of words written and the average length of T-units written. This occurred in the assigned-topic and unassigned-topic conditions. -- The survey of unassigned topics revealed that the most popular topics were pets, space and the ocean. However, pets was the most popular topic choice of girls and the ocean was the most popular topic choice of boys. Additionally, girls generated more topics from their immediate environment whereas boys generated more topics from the extended-world environment. -- Findings showed that the writing topic is a major factor in encouraging children to write. Additionally, findings showed that the writing curriculum must be geared to strengthening and broadening the interests and development of each child in the writing process.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/5140
Item ID: 5140
Additional Information: Bibliography: leaves 102-108.
Department(s): Education, Faculty of
Date: 1989
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Children--Writing; Children--Writing--Study and teaching; Creative writing--Study and teaching (Primary)

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