National Writing Project

TR 59. Constructing a Research Paper: A Study of Students' Goals and Approaches

By: Jennie Nelson
Publication: National Center for the Study of Writing and Literacy Technical Report
Date: 1992

Summary: This study of twenty-one college freshmen considers the processes involved in writing an academic research paper in order to determine whether "high-investment" reading and writing processes such as note-taking led to higher-quality papers.


Excerpt from Article

Unfortunately, as teachers often we are not aware of the paths and processes our students choose to complete such common academic writing assignments as the research paper. Do students responding to a typical college writing assignment often rely on truncated writing processes like those described by Clare above? The results of controlled studies of high school and college students suggest that, for the most part, student writers do not engage in much planning, drafting, or revising (Bridwell,1980; Perl,1980; Pianko, 1979; Sommers, 1978; Stallard, 1974). Furthermore, some researchers have found that when students do revise extensively, the quality of their writing may not improve (Beach, 1976; Bridwell,1980; Perl,1979). Based on these findings, researchers have argued that students may need to be taught how to engage in the kinds of planning and revising activities that are the hallmark of more experienced writers.

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