A Tagmemic Analysis of Coherence in the Writing of Descriptive Texts by College Students

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For this study an attempt was made to bridge the disciplines of linguistics and composition in order to examine factors contributing to textual coherence. Pairs of descriptive texts written by fifty college students were examined in order to identify the factors which differentiate quality and topic. Students were asked to compose a descriptive paragraph on the topic of fall. They were then encouraged to use their five senses, given leaves, and asked to compose a paragraph describing the leaves. The pairs of texts thus elicited were evaluated for preference by readers. The ANOVA revealed a significant difference (p=.001) between the ... continued below

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vi, 204 leaves

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Kent, Carolyn E. (Carolyn Elizabeth) August 1988.

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  • Kent, Carolyn E. (Carolyn Elizabeth)

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For this study an attempt was made to bridge the disciplines of linguistics and composition in order to examine factors contributing to textual coherence. Pairs of descriptive texts written by fifty college students were examined in order to identify the factors which differentiate quality and topic.
Students were asked to compose a descriptive paragraph on the topic of fall. They were then encouraged to use their five senses, given leaves, and asked to compose a paragraph describing the leaves. The pairs of texts thus elicited were evaluated for preference by readers. The ANOVA revealed a significant difference (p=.001) between the two topics with fall texts preferred over the more specific leaves texts. Results suggest that encouraging students to use their five senses does not improve their writing. It may be more important to move through various levels of abstraction than to merely focus on sensory detail.
The texts were also scored holistically by two trained evaluators. Results of this grading were used to choose five high- and five low-coherence texts on each of the two topics. These 20 texts were then analyzed in terms of the tagmemic referential hierarchy. A MANOVA was done to examine the dependent variables of Slot (location in time or space), Role (purpose or reason), and Cohesion (sociocultural context) in relation to quality and topic for these texts. Slot was found to be significant for both quality (p=.025) and topic (p=.004). Role was significant only for quality (p=.001). Cohesion was nonsignificant for either quality or topic. These results suggest that students should: (a) be encouraged to locate their texts in time and space in order to develop an adequate context for readers; (b) be encouraged to include purposes and reasons for the statements they make; and (c) be encouraged, where appropriate, to include a focus on humans and their activities (either literal or figurative) since such reference is a distinguishing feature of high-coherence texts.

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vi, 204 leaves

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  • August 1988

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  • Aug. 22, 2014, 6 p.m.

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  • Nov. 5, 2015, 12:38 p.m.

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Kent, Carolyn E. (Carolyn Elizabeth). A Tagmemic Analysis of Coherence in the Writing of Descriptive Texts by College Students, dissertation, August 1988; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc331512/: accessed November 21, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .