The Development of Written Expression in Young Children

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Glasgow, Eilene Kay
Western Washington University
Creative writing (Primary education); Language arts (Primary); Reading (Primary); Education; Creative writing (Primary education), Language arts (Primary), Reading (Primary); masters theses
thesis / dissertation description
This Study investigated written expression development of forty- six children ages three to nine. "Written expression refers to the written productions of the child which reflect intentional symbolic representation of ideas, but which may not necessarily use the ideographic symbol system" (Klein, 1981) . The two purposes of the study were: 1. To examine the types of writing strategies used by young children to record the verbal cues of a guided writing task. The responses were compared to responses reported by A. Luria in his original study (1977-1978). 2. To determine if use of elicitation cues containing quantification or color/contrast modifiers would improve task performance by assisting movement from lower-level to higher-level writing strategies (as categorized within a written expression development framework modified from Luria's). The subject was told to put down something which would help him remember a series of six to eight cues. The subject then "read" the cues back. Classification was based upon writing and reading behaviors, and the written sample. It was found that sixty-eight percent of the subjects used undifferentiated, differentiated and pictographic writing strategies, as identified by Luria. Thirty-two percent used alphabetic strategies which were not common in Luria's study. A modified framework was developed which incorporated the Lurian stages and the alphabetic stages. The types of responses varied with age and previous experience. Quantification, color/contrast modifiers, and vefy familiar concrete images aided performance for many subjects. The "experimental-genetic" method used was found to successfully stimulate a wide variety of responses. Implications of the findings were that: 1. There is a natural pattern of development of knowledge of writing purpose and procedures which should be considered in early literacy instruction. 2. Many children are ready for functional writing at an earlier age than previously recognized. 3. Young children need to explore writing to come to an understanding of its symbolic aspects. Early school writing experiences should be planned to focus on communicative intent rather than on mechanics of writing. 4. Exploration of pictography by preliterate children should be facilitated to develop their understanding of the symbolic potential of writing.