How writers shape meaning : tracking a small animal

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Noakes, Kathleen A.
University of Lethbridge. Faculty of Education
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Lethbridge, Alta. : University of Lethbridge, Faculty of Education, 1998
The purpose of this study was to discover grade twelve students' understanding of essay, and to examine how that understanding might interact with their process of shaping meaning as they write. Shaping meaning was defined as giving form to the content of the essay. The study was conducted in a grade twelve English class of twenty-two students. The information was gathered through observation of and discussion with the students while they wrote and shared their writing, through the examination of their written work, especially learning logs, reading logs, essays and assignments, and through conferences and interviews with individual students. The study found that many of the students' beliefs about essay, and their behaviours during the writing process were consistent with those reported in the literature. The study also found that students have a fairly consistent, fixed idea of essay as something defined by prescriptive structural requirements. And, furthermore, that this conception of essay interferes with the students' ability to shape meaning according to purpose rather than formula. The findings also indicate that students should benefit from exposure to a variety of authentic essay models with a focus on understanding how those essays achieve their purpose in the context of their meaning, rather than a focus on studying models to emulate form. In addition, it may be necessary for teachers to actively unteach formulaic understandings of essay in order to facilitate growth in students' writing ability.
iv, 75 leaves ; 28 cm. --
English language -- Composition and exercises -- Study and teaching (Secondary) -- Alberta , English language -- Study and teaching (Secondary) -- Alberta , Language arts (Secondary) -- Alberta