Year of Publication

2015

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

College

Education

Department

Curriculum and Instruction

First Advisor

Dr. Mary C. Shake

Abstract

This study examined the use of an intervention, Contrastive Analysis (CA), with fourth-graders’ writing in a Central Appalachian elementary school. The purpose was to improve the use of Standard English in students’ writing in Appalachia by decreasing the number of vernacular features typically used in the writing. The researcher collected data through Consent and Assent Forms, interviews with the fourth-grade teacher, classroom observations and an accompanying CA observation evaluation rubric, pre- and post-writing prompts, selected writings and Writer Self-Perception Scale (WSPS), as well as communication data. Data analysis was accomplished for both the prompts, writing pieces and the WSPS scores. The primary results of the study indicated that the students’ use of vernacular features did in fact decrease after the implementation of CA. An approach that takes into account the vernacular or nonstandard dialect from the home speech of children, CA is utilized to help them perform better in writing in school. The CA approach has been used successfully with African American students primarily in large urban areas. The research results indicate that lessons from CA may be “customized” and used successfully with students who are speakers of Appalachian English. During the eleven-week study, the fourth-grade teacher implemented the intervention and a fifth-grade teacher also led a non-intervention group. A comparative analysis was done to determine whether membership in the fourth grade intervention group was a significant factor in lowering non-standard features in writing. This was a descriptive case study. At the beginning and end of the study, teachers of the fourth- and fifth-grade groups administered pre- and post-tests to their respective groups in the form of writing prompts. The researcher and a second reader did vernacular counts of the writings of both groups. A comparative analysis of the frequency of vernacular features (VFs) in the writing of the fourth-grade group showed decreases greater than the fifth-grade group in three of four categories of vernacular features in writing. The categories were: regularization of past-tense verbs, multiple negation, subject/verb agreement, and pronominal difference. There was only a 1% greater decrease of VFs for the fifth grade in the fourth category. A scale of self-efficacy in writing, the Writer’s Self-Perception Scale (WSPS), was also administered by the teachers pre- and post-study to both groups of students. The difference between the fourth- and fifth-grade pre- and post-WSPS scores was not statistically significant. The findings of the study are important because they show that the use of the CA approach, when used with students from the Appalachian subculture who are speakers of Appalachian English, does make a difference in their rate of usage of Standard English in writing.

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