A survey of writing practices in English, mathematics, social studies, science, and religious education in high schools, grades VII-XI, of Newfoundland & Labrador

Fagan, Bonaventure (1980) A survey of writing practices in English, mathematics, social studies, science, and religious education in high schools, grades VII-XI, of Newfoundland & Labrador. 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

Writing is more than the automatic implementation of a series of discrete skills. Rather, it is an active relationship of mind, language and pen. The more one uses the pen, the more is one’s thought fostered through the written word. One very large active body of writers comprises the students who attend high school. -- The purpose of this thesis was to describe the ways in which high school teachers and students use writing as part of the instructional programme in English, Mathematics, Social Studies, Science, and Religious Education. Examination of the raw data provided by teachers and students revealed that while there are a variety of uses to which writing is put in Newfoundland high schools, not all foster the development of student thought. -- Data was collected through the use of tightly-structured questionnaires and open-ended interview questions in a replication of studies by Dan Donlan and Nancy McGee in the United States. -- A seventy percent return of the teacher questionnaires generally supported the findings of Donlan and McGee. Of the four areas producing different results, three (length of assignments, the method of teaching writing, and the question of responsibility for teaching writing) may be said to be positive and encouraging signs of the use of writing in Newfoundland schools. -- The teacher interviews indicated that teachers in all subject areas (1) considered the ability to write a very important and necessary skill, (2) expected students to use writing as a means of processing new information, (3) thought students wrote best when given time and guidance, (4) felt strongly about the need for a school language policy, and (5) found textbook assignments less than adequate. -- Analysis of the student surveys and interviews with first year Memorial University students revealed that writing techniques such as rewriting and revision had not been used much in their high school years. Note taking and outlining had been used, with testing and teacher insistence being the major motivators. Students were more concerned with writing now that they were university students than they had been while attending high school. -- Recommendations arising from the study were directed to three groups: i) provincial educational bodies; ii) local school districts; and iii) high schools. Some of these recommendations were: -- 1. the establishment of professional and academic courses devoted exclusively to writing; -- 2. the provincial adoption of a “Language Across the Curriculum” policy; -- 3. the development of an inservice programme with the aim of fostering greater student cognitive and affective growth; -- 4. the promotion of local research; -- 5. the adoption by schools of their own language policy for all teachers; and -- 6. the need to increase student writing activity. -- This investigation concludes that, while there are areas needed for immediate attention in writing in Newfoundland high schools, there is much to be optimistic about. In particular, the attitude of teachers towards a common responsibility for teaching writing indicates their willingness to face the challenge of fostering this skill.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/7740
Item ID: 7740
Additional Information: Bibliography: leaves 116-122
Department(s): Education, Faculty of
Date: 1980
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: English language--Composition and exercises; Report writing

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