Revision Cues : A Study of Freshman Writers
Olds, Rosemary Burns
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The problem. Composition scholars generally agree that writing is a process including prewriting, writing and revision. Revision has only recently been addressed by research, consequently little is known of how students actually revise their writing; and even less is known of how to guide and direct students in rewriting manuscripts, aside from encouraging careful editing of errors. A number of researchers have suggested that revising is "cued" and that writers respond to specific cues or signals in their manuscripts that suggest a dissonance between what is intended and what is wr1tten. This study focused on the cues students actually find in their writing and the revision choices suggested by cues. Procedure. The writings of individual freshmen and a class sized group of freshman writers provided data for the study. All drafts and jotting related to the writings as well as tape recordings of interviews and composing aloud sessions were analyzed on a matrix which tabulated responses to cues on the basis of process, addition, deletion, substitution and reordering, and type, syntactic, mechanical, logical and lexical. Findings. Cueing styles vary from writer to writer, forming distinct types, dependent on the writing personality and writing goals of each writer. Cues appear to be influenced by the writer's general knowledge, her awareness of her audience and her sophistication as a writer. Cues are an inherent and essential part of the revision process. Recommendat1ons. Instruction in composition could be advantaged by assisting students to discover their own cues present in their manuscripts and calling out for new choices in expression. Assisting students to seek out cues to activate the student's response relationship between cues and revisions can generate improved manuscripts. The revision matrix could be utilized to provide students with a check on their own cueing, both to encourage revision and to enhance students' awareness of compositional choices.
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