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Cognitive Linguistic Explorations of Writing in the Classroom

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Rod E. Case, Gwendolyn M. Williams and Peter Cobin

Research into the analysis of classroom-based writing is replete with techniques and methods meant to bring clarity to the question of how to best conduct instruction and assessment. Findings and suggestions for practice are rooted in a philosophy that asks teachers and linguists to judge students’ writing against a pre-determined standard. Too often, the results do little more than inform teachers and researchers as to which students met the standard and which did not.

This book offers research into the analysis of classroom writing that does not use a set standard or rubric to assess student writing but instead relies on insights from cognitive linguistics to explore the connections between cognition and language in student writing. The result is a creative and linguistically driven analysis of classroom writing that allows the linguist or teacher to view student writing on its own terms.

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Introduction

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This book draws on the field of cognitive linguistics to explore the connections between cognition and writing extended texts across the two groups of students, third-graders and graduate students. They are uniquely situated at two ends of the educational spectrum, yet the challenges that both groups face in producing extended texts are surprisingly similar. They must learn to write extended texts on any number of academic topics for the first times in their lives. The third-graders moved from writing single sentences in the second grade to writing three-part stories that range from five or six sentences to 14 or 15 sentences. The graduate students completed multi-part 20-page research proposals for the first time, moving from the simple literature reviews that characterize undergraduate education to a multi-part argument that moves the reader through a review of the literature that identifies a need for research that the student defines, research questions and a carefully designed description of research methods.

This book argues that these similarities are most apparent when they are examined through a cognitive linguistic lens. The first chapter opens the text by reviewing the basics of cognitive linguistics and some associated work in event cognition which represent the building blocks of the framework for this book. The second chapter reviews the research on teaching writing in order to provide a picture of various methods for teaching writing from elementary school through college-age students. Chapters 3 and 4 are the findings from research into the extended writing...

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