A research study on the effects of sentence combining on native English-speaking students with implications for use in the teaching of writing to ESL students

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Mealy, Betty A.
Stahlke, Herbert
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Thesis (M.A.)
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This thesis has explored the effects of sentence combining on the writing of English-speaking Freshman writing students at Taylor University, Upland, Indiana, to establish local base-line data for future research with sentence combining on ESL students. Under the assumption that regular practice in sentence combining would result in improved ability in written communication, four classes of students at two levels were pre-tested using the cloze procedure on three short passages of college-entrance-level reading material. Two classes were taught sentence combining techniques through the semester, one exclusively and one as an adjunct to other rhetorical. concerns. Two were taught with an emphasis on global writing processes. All were again post-tested using the cloze procedure at the end of the semester and asked to write a time-limited essay.An analysis of covariance was done to purge the residual scores of the pretest influence since random assignment of experimental and control groups was not possible. Statistically significant improvement among those taught sentence combining was noted.Having established statistical validity among a native, English-speaking control population the implication for ESL would be that the assumption now needs to be taken to the next level, applying the form and techniques of this study to an ESL population.In order to prepare for such a further step in research, some restructuring of materials would be necessary. The cloze tests (3 pre- and 3 post-tests) from this study need to be re-scored by acceptable answer as well as exact answer scoring procedure. Frequency lists of acceptable answers for each blank need to be established. For the pre- and posttests of the ESL population, the same cloze test passages could be used and scored by clozentropy -- weighing acceptable answers according to their frequency in the native speaker pretest. Then statistical significance of the technique on the teaching of writing in ESL by means of the technique of sentence combining could be determined either verifying or nullifying the hypothesis that the same conclusions would be reached with ESL students.Were similar findings to be reached in research with an ESL population, the importance of practice in sentence-level manipulation practice in techniques of sentence-combining would appear to be worth noting, Incorporation of sentence combining into a teaching of writing syllabus would seem to be a logical, pedagogically sound practice.