Colleges all over the country struggle to assist underprepared students that are admitted with inadequate writing skills. Underprepared students entering a university have decided to pursue a college education, but because they are not ready for the writing demands of college, they are assigned to developmental courses, sometimes based on a single test score. They are novice writers and have yet to master the language, discourse patterns, and critical analysis that are typical of writing in the academic domain. They typically do not identify themselves as belonging to an academic community.
The challenge of all developmental writing courses is to help the students make the transition from being novices to being more practiced. Unfortunately, most developmental writing courses focus on grammar reviews. Instead, students need to build an identity as legitimate members of an academic community, with valued voices and the skills to communicate in a new domain.
Improving students’ dialogical interactions seemed to be the key. Underprepared students may come from backgrounds where dialogical interactions, the foundation of academic thinking and writing, have not been emphasized, either at home or in school.
This study explored the experiences of novice writers in a developmental freshman writing class in which dialogical interactions were the core of student activities. In this study, students participated in guided dialogical interactions exploring complex societal issues and practicing academic discourse structures. While learning about writing, they were also actively engaged in dialogues that advanced their understanding of how academics communicate. Bakhtin (1981), a Russian literary critic in the mid-twentieth century, defined dialogism as the foundation of human experience. People learn about the world, construct identities, and learn to navigate in different and unfamiliar domains by engaging in reflective conversation with others.
Results suggest that students’ confidence for academic writing and sophistication of some dimensions of epistemic belief improved after experiencing dialogical processes.
|Advisor:||Davidson-Shivers, Gayle V.|
|Commitee:||Gray, Robert M., Johnson, R. Burke, Van Haneghan, James P.|
|School:||University of South Alabama|
|School Location:||United States -- Alabama|
|Source:||DAI-A 77/04(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Language arts, Instructional Design, Higher education|
|Keywords:||Academic identity, Developmental education, Dialogism, Epistemic beliefs, Self-efficacy, Writing|
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