The Effect of Sentence-Combining Practice on the Syntactic Maturity Level of Writing and on Reading Comprehension
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AuthorMichalski, Judith A.
Writing And Reading Skills
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AbstractThe purpose of this study was to determine the influence of sentence-combining practice on the syntactic maturity level of the writing and on the level of reading comprehension of ninth grade students enrolled in a compensatory-level English class. The indicators of syntactic maturity used in the study were structured writing and free writing. During the six-week, sentence-combining treatment period, the experimental group focused attention on various syntactic sentence structures by writing the exercises and by class discussion of these exercises. The treatment program was evaluated by comparing the treatment group to the control group on the structured writing, free writing, and reading comprehension measures which had been used to equate the groups prior to the treatment period. The data were analyzed by means of the t-test for independent means. The result of the analysis of the data of the three areas investigated showed that the experimental group had a significantly higher mean T-unit length for the structured writing than did the control Group. A trend existed in favor of the experimental group with a mean T-unit length of the free writing higher than that of the control group, but not at a significant level. There was no significant difference between the two groups in the scores of the reading comprehension test. Based on analysis of the data, the conclusion can be drawn that sentence-combining practice does lead to an increased level of syntactic maturity in writing as measured by the repeated completion of a piece of structured writing, which is really an exercise in sentence-combining. The increased level of syntactic maturity did not carry over to the free writing at a significant level. This may be due to student emphasis on the generation of ideas rather than on the condensation and revision of sentence structure. The premise was investigated that as the student becomes aware of syntactic structures in his writing, he may also recognize and comprehend them in his reading. This premise was not substantiated in the study. This may be due to the instrument's inability to measure the knowledge and use of syntax in the reading situation. Interest in writing maturity and the interrelatedness of writing and reading skills opens numerous areas which need further research and gives support for the use of sentence-combining exercises in the classroom.