Diane Eison

Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Karen Pelz, Ronald Eckard, James Flynn


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Degree Program

Department of English

Degree Type

Master of Arts


A pedagogy for teaching writing based upon thought processes and experiential/expressive models has given impetus to inductive teaching strategies for teaching composition. Current rhetorical theories include the "aims of discourse," cognitive theory synthesized with classical rhetoric, and "new rhetoric" redefined within cognitive learning theories, psycho-linguistics, and communication models. According to James L. Kinneavy, a composition is the result of a genuine purpose, and the expressive mode is pyschologically prior to all other forms. Frank D'Angelo considers how thinking and its will to be expressed is converted via cognitive structures using underlying patterns to form paradigmatic wholes. James Moffett sees dialogue as a bridge to monologue, useful at all cognitive levels, and language learning as ultimately cognitive. James Britton explains that expressive discourse is the generative source for all writing, out of which all other writing grows. Janet Emig's dissertation research indicates that writing is recursive as well as a "record" of thinking, noting that first drafts were final drafts; students rarely experienced the expressive mode; they did not outline; they kept lists; and for them, writing was a discovery process. Linda Flower determined that writer -based prose originates from egocentricity and implicit meanings locked within inner thought; thus a propensity for "then" chronology orders initial compositions, manifested by pronouns without antecedents.

Correctness must be integrated within the learning process; learning; there are recursive and unstable characteristics in learning occurs because of error and out of categories of experience formed from the data of experience. John C. Mellon and Frank O'Hare recommend avoiding "direct method" instruction of grammar in favor of indirect discovery, primarily, through sentence combining in order to achieve syntactic fluency. Discovery methods recommend hueristic strategies that include prewriting, free writing, and frequent revision. Short term memory storage being limited, language learners choose efficiently, thus the abbreviated and acceptable functional forms used everyday in addition to errors created by a learner trying to form hypotheses about his new language. A reasonable expectation by instructors when dealing with student errors will include a systematic approach to error reduction using analogy, comparison, dialogue to monologue, sentence combining and decombining, and direct attention to certain prioritized errors, but not all errors. Directed composition in second language instruction focuses upon a situation chosen to produce certain rhetorical and grammatical features. Students' language competencies will then inform their performance positively at progressive levels of proficiency. Because teaching developmental students how to write involves second language acquisition, directed composition is advised ir teaching native speakers of English basic writing, especially when combined with an experiential or a situational model.


Arts and Humanities | Creative Writing | English Language and Literature