Modeling the relationship between lexico-grammatical and discourse organization skills in middle grade writers: insights into later productive language skills that support academic writing

Modeling the relationship between lexico-grammatical and discourse organization skills in middle... Learning to write in middle school requires the expansion of sentence-level and discourse-level language skills. In this study, we investigated later language development in the writing of a cross-sectional sample of 235 upper elementary and middle school students (grades 4–8) by examining the use of (1) lexico-grammatical forms that support precise and concise academic writing and (2) paragraph-level structures for organizing written discourse, known as micro-genres. Writing studies typically elicit and analyze long compositions, instead the present study employed two brief writing tasks that allowed for the evaluation of language skills while minimizing the influence of topic knowledge and other non-linguistic factors. Results of structural equation modeling revealed that the two facets of language proficiency studied—lexico-grammatical skills and skill in producing paragraph-level structures (micro-genres)—represented distinguishable dimensions of productive language skill in this sample. On both dimensions, older writers (grades 6–8) demonstrated greater skill than 4th and 5th graders. These findings, which provide an initial proof of concept for the use of short writing tasks to study language skills that support academic writing, are discussed in relation to writing theory and pedagogy. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Reading and Writing Springer Journals

Modeling the relationship between lexico-grammatical and discourse organization skills in middle grade writers: insights into later productive language skills that support academic writing

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Publisher
Springer Journals
Copyright
Copyright © 2015 by Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht
Subject
Linguistics; Languages and Literature; Psycholinguistics; Education (general); Neurology; Interdisciplinary Studies
ISSN
0922-4777
eISSN
1573-0905
D.O.I.
10.1007/s11145-015-9550-7
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Learning to write in middle school requires the expansion of sentence-level and discourse-level language skills. In this study, we investigated later language development in the writing of a cross-sectional sample of 235 upper elementary and middle school students (grades 4–8) by examining the use of (1) lexico-grammatical forms that support precise and concise academic writing and (2) paragraph-level structures for organizing written discourse, known as micro-genres. Writing studies typically elicit and analyze long compositions, instead the present study employed two brief writing tasks that allowed for the evaluation of language skills while minimizing the influence of topic knowledge and other non-linguistic factors. Results of structural equation modeling revealed that the two facets of language proficiency studied—lexico-grammatical skills and skill in producing paragraph-level structures (micro-genres)—represented distinguishable dimensions of productive language skill in this sample. On both dimensions, older writers (grades 6–8) demonstrated greater skill than 4th and 5th graders. These findings, which provide an initial proof of concept for the use of short writing tasks to study language skills that support academic writing, are discussed in relation to writing theory and pedagogy.

Journal

Reading and WritingSpringer Journals

Published: Mar 10, 2015

References

  • Developing register differentiation: The Latinate-Germanic divide in English
    Bar-Ilan, L; Berman, RA
  • Syntactic complexity as a predictor of adolescent writing quality: Which measures? Which genre?
    Beers, SF; Nagy, WE
  • Writing development in four genres from grades three to seven: Syntactic complexity and genre differentiation
    Beers, SF; Nagy, WE

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