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Abstract Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Chapter 5 Chapter 6 Chapter 7 Chapter 8 Bibliography

Person-Based Response: A Postmodern

Alternative to Text-Based Teacher Comments

by Mike Bellah

 

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

Several people have aided in this dissertation, deserving both my recognition and gratitude. Dr. James Hallmark and Dr. David Roach gave valuable input on the design and analysis of my quantitative project. Wendy Lyons, a fellow-graduate student in Technical Communication, worked with me on two of the pilot projects. Her tough questions kept my work honest, and her quick wit kept it enjoyable. In addition, my dissertation committee members helped enlarge and then focus my studies, Dr. Patricia Goubil-Gambrell in the area of composition research methods and Dr. Linda Myers in composition pedagogy. Finally, Dr. Sam Dragga proved a patient mentor in an area where he has pioneered empirical research. For his perceptive comments and his generous availability, I am profoundly grateful.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

ABSTRACT

LIST OF TABLES

INTRODUCTION: A PERSON-BASED THEORY OF TEACHER RESPONSE

Overview: Why Study Person-Based Response

Two Qualifying Remarks: A Dedication

A Synopsis of Chapters

TOWARD AN EPISTEMOLOGY FOR RESPONSE RESEARCH

Overview

Noetic Fields, Epistemes, and Paradigms

Postmodern Advantages

Postmodern Problems

Epistemological Ecumenism

A HISTORY OF RESPONSE THEORY: FOUNDATIONS FOR PERSON-BASED RESPONSE

Overview

Rhetorical Theory: From Ethos to Consubstanciality

Composition Theory (1889-1970): From Raters to Readers

Composition Theory (after 1970): From Text-Based to

Person-Based Issues

Positioning My Research: The 1993 Connors and Lunsford Study

Conclusion

THE TENETS OF PERSON-BASED RESPONSE: AN APOLOGIA

Overview

Respond First as a Genuine (Human) Reader

Emphasize Success Not Error

Empower Student Writers. Don't Silence Their

Voices or Appropriate Their Work

Emphasize the Process Not the Product

Conclusion

PRELIMINARY EMPIRICAL SUPPORT FOR PERSON-BASED RESPONSE

Overview

Evaluating Teacher Comments: A Classroom Assessment

Evaluating Teacher Comments: A Focus Group

Words That Teach: An Analysis of Teacher Comments on the

Essays of Beginning college Composition Students

Teacher Responding Strategies: A Focus Group

Teacher Commenting Strategies: How Our Students Perceive Us

Conclusion

EMPIRICAL SUPPORT FOR PERSON-BASED RESPONSE

Overview

Research Questions

Methods

Results

Discussion

Weaknesses of the Study and the Need for Further Research

TEACHER-PRACTITIONER SUPPORT FOR PERSON-BASED RESPONSE

Overview

Student Stories

Assessment and Group Consubstanciality

THE FUTURE OF PERSON-BASED RESPONSE

Overview

A Synopsis of the Writing Apprehension Construct

Person-Based Response as a Predictor of Writing Apprehension

Vehicles for Person-Based Response

Pedagogies that Support Person-Based Response Group Consubstanciality

WORKS CITED

WORKS CONSULTED

 

ABSTRACT

 This dissertation offers a theory of teacher response that privileges persons over text. It is based on the finding that there are two major trends in current teacher response: one text-based, a legacy of modernism and founded on the principles of New Criticism, which locates meaning in the text, and the other, person-based, founded on postmodern thought, which locates meaning in the writer and the reader. During the last 25 years, composition scholars have unearthed a number of problems with text-based response, including the following: an overemphasis on formal error, the teacher's inability to function as a real reader, a corresponding lack of "humanness" in teacher voice, a lack of clarity, including illegible handwriting and undefined proofreading marks, a failure to gear comments to specific audiences including basic writers and ESL students, a lack of positive reinforcement with some teachers displaying overt hostility toward their student writers, a tendency for teachers to appropriate student writing so that the student's own voice is lost, and comments showing a product-centered rather than process-centered approach to writing, which discounts the role of rhetorical invention. After documenting these deficiencies in teacher response strategies, this study presents a solution in the form of four tenets of person-based response. Phrased in the imperative, they are (1) respond first as a genuine (human) reader; (2) emphasize student successes not errors; (3) empower student writers; don't silence their voices or appropriate their work; and (4) emphasize student process (successful writers in-the-making) not product ("finished" and flawed papers).

In a descriptive quantitative analysis involving 303 beginning college composition students, this study goes on to show how all four tenets of person-based response correlate with positive student motivation, a condition which writing apprehension theory says is crucial for effective writing. In addition, this study analyzes some confounds to person-based response, presents the stories of eight students who react to the methodology, and suggests further study of the theory, especially a project linking the tenets of person-based response empirically to the Daly and Miller Writing Apprehension Scale. Finally, the dissertation emphasizes the need for what Burke calls consubstanciality, the act of really connecting with one's audience, including teachers with students and students with each other.

 

 

LIST OF TABLES

5.1


5.2

6.1

6.2

6.3

6.4

6.5

E.1

Types and frequencies of affirmative student responses to teacher commenting strategies

 Correlation of commenting strategy variables

Identity of variables by statement number

Positive student perceptions per variable

Correlation of commenting strategy variables

Present grade in class

Grade now expected in class

Frequencies of Student Responses

 

69

 72

78

80

82

83

83

176

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