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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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Chapter 5 Making Connections across Studies

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Chapter 5

Making Connections across Studies

Lost in the debates over writing methods has been the question of how to understand cognitive and linguistic resources writers bring to the task of producing an extended text. To that end, cognitive linguistics was used as analytical framework across two groups of students. At first glance, the two groups could not be more different. Academic skills, maturity, goals and life experiences are just some of the categories that come to mind. This book searched for their similarities. To that end, the writing of graduate students was examined through the exploration of metaphor while event cognition was used to explore the writing of third-graders. Each text was seen as a valid attempt at creating an extended piece of writing that could inform linguists and teachers on the connections between language and cognition. Researchers worked from the understanding that students write in a conflicted space which pressed students to draw on what linguistic and experiential resources they have built up as writers, particularly if they are facing the task of creating an extended task for the first time. Surprisingly, this did not give the older writers an advantage. They struggled with the same problems and drew on similar resources, despite the 20-year developmental gap between the two groups. Below, a discussion of the ways in which language and cognition drive extended writing across the two groups is presented.←131 | 132→

What Can Be Said about Language Use? Affordance and...

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