Becoming one with the university : basic writers and academic voice

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Turnbull, Merrielle
Hanson, Linda K.
Issue Date
Thesis (Ph. D.)
Department of English
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Basic writers often require different courses than traditional Freshman Composition 1 students to succeed in college. Ball State University's basic writing program offers a two-semester sequence that provides students with additional time and attention, thereby addressing these students' special needs. The program encourages students to see themselves as academic writers and as part of the academic community.This study examined the degree of presence of academic voice in students' writing as measured at four intervals during the program's initial year. A 2 x 4 analysis of variance measured change in academic voice for female and male students, using the Academic Voice Checksheet. In addition, students' levels of confidence was measured using the Daly-Miller Writing Apprehension Test (W.A.T.) and correlated to the presence of academic voice using the Pearson product-moment correlation. Findings are presented in an analysis of the study group as a whole and in an analysis of six individual students' work. Those students' profiles were examined for overall academic voice, discrete features of academic voice, the W.A.T. overall scores, and specific questions dealing with student confidence.The analysis revealed that a change in the degree of presence of academic voice occured during the two-semester sequence. However, male and female students were seen to have the same basic profile, thereby suggesting no difference according to sex of student, challenging current gender theory. A comparison of the initial measurement and the final measurement indicated a positive change in a majority of academic voice scores.A correlation between the academic voice score and a decrease in students' writing apprehension was found in the final measurements. Five percent of students' W.A.T. score may be explained by the academic voice measurement. In the study group, 65 percent of the students showed a decrease in W.A.T. scores between the two measurements, indicating a positive lessening of writing apprehension.This study suggests that the basic writing sequence at Ball State University is providing an environment that facilitates students' use of academic voice and lessens their writing apprehension. Both factors enhance students' opportunities for academic success.