Prominent Feature Analysis (PFA) is a reliable and valid writing assessment tool, derived from the writing it is used to assess. PFA, used to assess on-demand expository essays in Grades 3–12, uncovers positive and negative characteristics of a sample. To extend PFA to a new academic level and genre, I assessed scientific writing of 208 undergraduates, identifying 35 linguistic and 20 scientific prominent features. An essay could earn up to 28 positive (24 linguistic and four scientific), and up to 27 negative marks (11 linguistic and 16 scientific). The minimum prominent features number in a paper was 3, the maximum was 25 (M = 12.45, SD = 3.88). The highest positive and negative prominent features numbers noted were 17 (M = 4.11, SD = 3.96), and 16 (M = 8.34, SD = 3.25) respectively.
Rasch analysis revealed a good data-model fit, with item separation of 5.81 (.97 reliability). The estimated feature difficulty of items spanned over 10 logits; common errors were easier to avoid than “good writing” characteristics to exhibit. Significant correlations among linguistic, but not between linguistic and scientific features, suggest writing proficiency does not assure excellence in scientific writing in novices. Ten linguistic features significantly strongly and moderately inter-correlated with each other, appearing to represent writing proficiency. Student GPA correlated significantly with the raw prominent features scores (r = .37; p < .01), and negatively with the sum of negative linguistic features (r = –.40, p < .01), providing support for scale’s validity, and suggesting that good students are better at avoiding common writing errors than less able learners. Additionally, PFA scores positively significantly correlated with composite ACT scores.
To investigate PFA’s ability to track change in writing over time, I compared 2 sets of prominent features scores of 25 students. In comparison with earlier essays, later (longer) essays exhibited significantly more positive, and more negative features. Prominent features scores did not correlate significantly between the sets. This suggests, that while PFA is a valid and appropriate tool for analysis of undergraduate scientific writing, it was not suitable for tracking change in writing ability in this small sample.
|Advisor:||Morse, David T.|
|Commitee:||Elder, Anastasia D., Swain, Sherry S., Wei, Tianlan (Elaine)|
|School:||Mississippi State University|
|Department:||Counseling, Educational Psychology, and Special Education|
|School Location:||United States -- Mississippi|
|Source:||DAI-A 80/05(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Language arts, Educational tests & measurements, Education, Educational psychology, Science education, Higher education|
|Keywords:||Novice scientific writing, Prominent feature analysis, Undergraduate writing, Writing assessment, Writing feedback, Writing in psychology|
Copyright in each Dissertation and Thesis is retained by the author. All Rights Reserved
The supplemental file or files you are about to download were provided to ProQuest by the author as part of a
dissertation or thesis. The supplemental files are provided "AS IS" without warranty. ProQuest is not responsible for the
content, format or impact on the supplemental file(s) on our system. in some cases, the file type may be unknown or
may be a .exe file. We recommend caution as you open such files.
Copyright of the original materials contained in the supplemental file is retained by the author and your access to the
supplemental files is subject to the ProQuest Terms and Conditions of use.
Depending on the size of the file(s) you are downloading, the system may take some time to download them. Please be