Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Constructing knowledge through writing: An analysis of writing tasks in eleventh grade ELA textbooks
by Escher, Allison Lamonna, Ph.D., University of Pittsburgh, 2015, 190; 3725598
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation reports on a study of two widely used eleventh grade ELA textbooks for the opportunities they provide students to construct knowledge through writing. Data included every writing task in both textbooks (158 tasks) as well as the corresponding texts. Data analysis focused on (a) how cognitive demand, textual grist, and elaborated communication contribute to the rigor of a writing task, (b) how authentic the tasks are to the discipline of ELA, and (c) how writing tasks position students as intellectual authorities. This study contributes a new approach to determine the quality of ELA writing tasks and a detailed assessment of the writing tasks in the most widely used ELA textbooks. The findings from this study showed differences in the quality of ELA writing tasks types (text-based, non text-based, and creative writing), with text-based tasks ranking the highest quality for cognitively demanding work. Findings also showed that textual grist and opportunities for elaboration in addition to cognitive demand are essential factors when determining the overall rigor of text-based writing tasks (i.e., analyzing text-based ELA writing tasks for cognitive demand alone may inflate the rigor of the task). Further findings on writing task quality describe the level of disciplinary authenticity and intellectual authority contained in ELA textbook writing tasks and why these features are important in determining the quality of ELA writing tasks. The findings from this study suggest the importance of using a disciplinary-specific theory of task quality, including a three-part model of rigor, disciplinary authenticity, and intellectual authority, to assess the quality of ELA writing tasks. Additionally, this study provides suggestions for practitioners including how teachers might revise and supplement ELA textbook writing tasks in order to support student writing.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Godley, Amanda
Commitee:
School: University of Pittsburgh
School Location: United States -- Pennsylvania
Source: DAI-A 77/02(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Language arts, Education, Secondary education, Curriculum development
Keywords: English language arts, Tasks, Textbooks, Writing
Publication Number: 3725598
ISBN: 978-1-339-09954-5
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