The Effects of Honors Ninth-Grade Students' Strategic, Analytical Reading of Persuasive Text Models on the Quality of their Persuasive Writing

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The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of the analysis and imitation of persuasive text models on the persuasive writing quality of ninth-grade honors students. Two intact ninth-grade honors classes participated in an instructional treatment of thirteen lessons designed to teach persuasive writing strategies through explicit instruction and collaborative learning. The experimental group examined, analyzed, and imitated persuasive models as part of the instructional unit. The comparison group studied the same persuasive writing strategies through explicit instruction and collaborative learning, without the analysis of text models as part of their instruction.

Both qualitative and quantitative data was collected during the study. Pre- and posttest persuasive writing samples were compared using two persuasive writing scoring instruments, the NAEP Grade 12 Persuasive Scoring Guide, and a researcher-designed persuasive trait analytic scale. Additionally, four purposefully selected students from each class were interviewed for the study, and their pre- and posttest writing samples were examined in conjunction with their interview responses.

An analysis of the scores on the pre- and posttest writing samples revealed that the mean score for each group increased on the holistic scale. The experimental group had a higher mean gain on the holistic scale than the comparison group, but the results were not statistically significant. Of the six persuasive strategies measured by the researcher-designed persuasive trait analytic scale, only the audience awareness category showed significant results. The students' attitudes toward persuasive writing instruction, as determined by the interviews, were overwhelmingly positive. One surprising finding was that students held misconceptions about the concept of text models and their use in writing instruction. The interviews also revealed that students found explicit instruction in persuasive strategies to be helpful to them as they completed persuasive writing tasks.

The findings from the present study indicate that the analysis and imitation of persuasive models has a significant positive impact on students' ability to appeal to an audience in their writing. The results of this study indicate that more research is needed on the use of writing models as an instructional tool for teaching persuasive writing at the secondary level.