Adolescent writing in the content areas

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Carrie Knight (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Alan Kamhi

Abstract: The purpose of this study was to document evidence of evolving disciplinary literacy in adolescents by examining 9th and 11th grade students' ability to shift writing styles for different disciplines. It was hypothesized that different language measures would be associated with the specific discipline areas of English Language Arts (ELA), science, and history. Two groups of typically developing adolescents in 9th and 11th grade (n=22 per group) were asked to write three essays in response to prompts based on course content (ELA, science, and history). Essays were examined for measures of productivity, lexical elements, and clauses. As predicted, 11th grade students used longer noun phrases and more lexically complex words in science writings and used more adverbial clauses in history writings. Students in both 9th and 11th grade used more nominal clauses and more clausally complex sentences in ELA writings. However, no differences were found in content writing for length of Mean Length of T-Unit (MLT-U), abstract nouns, or adverbial clauses. The use of cohesive words and phrases did not increase between 9th and 11th grade. Relative clause use increased from 9th to 11th grade in ELA writings. The use of conjoined clauses remained stable between grades for all three content areas and the use of infinitive clauses remained stable in science. This research reflects the fact that high school students are beginning to acquire knowledge about disciplinary literacy as they are applying some identifiable language elements to each discipline.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2015
Adolescent, Disciplinary writing, Expository text, Written language development
English language $x Study and teaching (Secondary)
English language $x Rhetoric $x Study and teaching (Secondary)
English language $x Composition and exercises $x Ability testing
Report writing $x Ability testing

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