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The Teaching of writing

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Words: 550

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45

Pupil Influences
A clear correlation can be identified between the respondents experience as pupils and their understanding of writing instruction. The two older respondents (Respondents A and E) preferred the Product Approach. This preference may have been influenced by the fact that the product approach was the dominant model of writing instruction during their formative years of schooling in the 1950’s and 1960’s (Applebee, 1981)(Raimes, 1991)(Bridge & Hiebert, 1985). Research by Zeichner and Tabachnick shows that the strategies teachers encounter as pupils heavily influence their future teaching style (1981). These influences remain somewhat dormant during teacher training but re-emerge as a significant force once the teacher has their own classroom. As a result, the product style lessons that the respondents experienced as pupils continue to wield a large influence on their understandings of writing instruction. Their present understanding clearly echoes the instruction that they received as a pupil and may be an underlying cause behind their beliefs.
The younger respondents’ understanding of writing aligned with the Mixed Approach. Respondent B and C agreed with 58% of the process statements while Respondent D agreed with 100% of the process statements. Their support of the process model is also inherently linked to their experience as pupils, a period when the process approach was recognized as the preferred model of writing instruction. Their experience as pupils spanned from 1996 to 2005, and the influential 1999 Curriculum was first introduced during this period (reference).

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The 1999 Curriculum featured many aspects of the Process Approach such as appealing to various audiences, a print-rich environment, and publication (Teacher Guidelines for English). “This entails a consistent experience of writing, editing, and redrafting that involves the child in writing on a wide range of topics, in a variety of genres” (Teacher Guidelines for English, pg. 3). Exposure to such approaches as pupils has led the respondents to implement these approaches in their teaching methods.
Third Level Influences
Another factor that influenced the respondents’ understanding of writing was the writing model used in a majority of their writing instruction during teacher training. Both Respondent A and E commenced their teaching training in the early 1970s. In the 1970’s researchers such as ( ) advocated the use of the Product Approach(Williams, 1999). Process model advocates such as Emig, Murray, and Graves, were only beginning to publish their research on the topic (1971) (1979) (1983). Because it was the dominant form of writing instruction at the time, we can assume that Respondents A and E were introduced to the Product Approach in college.
This is in sharp contrast to the educational experiences of Respondents B, C, and D whose writing instruction was based on Process Based strategies. It’s the prerogative of third level institutions to promote strategies endorsed by the current curriculum. The current curriculum recommends a Process-Based Approach, which would have been mirrored in their teacher training courses. As seen in curriculum documents, “In further developing their literacy, students will engage in purposeful planning, drafting and writing in a variety of different genres as they show increasing awareness of audience and style” (Draft Primary Language Curriculum, 2014, pg. 7). This approach also appears in other sections, “Children’s language learning is increased through opportunities to produce language orally and in writing, in meaningful contexts, throughout the school day” (Draft Primary Language Curriculum, 2014, pg. 7). This naturally would have transferred to their understanding of writing, and of course, this questionnaire.
These factors are similar to a study which compared the writing instruction practiced in two different schools (Stahl et al. 1996). In one school, the average age was quite high and in the other was a low. The school with older staff used product based strategies quite frequently while the school with the younger staff used a process approach. This mirrors the findings of the previously mentioned study whereby the older respondents favored the Product Approach while the younger members of staff favored the Process and Balanced Approach to writing instruction.

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