Improving Student Writing Using a Web-Based Targeted Approach to Grammar System (TAGS)

By Henderson, Bruce | Journalism & Mass Communication Educator, Autumn 2002 | Go to article overview

Improving Student Writing Using a Web-Based Targeted Approach to Grammar System (TAGS)


Henderson, Bruce, Journalism & Mass Communication Educator


Introduction

The need to teach basic grammar never has been greater as journalism programs expand their focus to match the workforce skills needed in this era of modern media.

Today's journalism graduates may be expected to know how to edit stories, photographs, audio and video, as well as lay out pages by computer and output stories for the World Wide Web or for a Personal Digital Assistant. They may need to know how to write different versions of a story for print, broadcast or the Web. Journalism schools are adjusting their course offerings to match these and other diverse demands. Is good grammar a casualty in this shift?

Seamon cited five studies decrying error-filled reporting - including grammar -and its negative effect on media credibility:

It's not that J-schools haven't been looking at ways to improve curricula. They have, but much of the discussion and debate has centered on multicultural awareness, minority or race issues, balancing graduate and undergraduate students, and keeping up with the technology of new media. These are valid concerns, but in the rush to engage new issues, J-schools may be neglecting a much older objective - grammatical precision.1

Hanson cited three surveys where employers were disappointed about the lack of basic grammar, punctuation, and writing skills.2 She said that "journalism and mass communication schools must find a way to help students improve their skills without reducing the time students and faculty members have available for other instruction." She then argues that computer-assisted instruction offers a possible solution.

Reviewing studies of grammar checkers, which are a form of computer-assisted writing, Alex Vernon noted the checkers are imperfect, but he called for a renewed interest in using them for instruction:

I suggest that we revisit the pedagogical possibilities of grammar checkers not because they are any more accurate, but because they are more functional and - with their incorporation into wordprocessing programs - they are as ubiquitous as any software program can hope to be.3

While grammar checkers are seamlessly integrated into word processors, the surveys of employers and the public suggest that grammar checkers either are being misused or are not being used at all. The pedagogical possibilities of grammar checkers should be revisited. But the usefulness of grammar checkers in their current, mature form also should be reconsidered. They may have grown too bulky and, correctly or incorrectly, may highlight too many possible problems to be useful or to be used at all. A more focused option for grammar checkers, one that parallels the way instructors teach by targeting common errors, might be more useful for teaching and learning.

A Targeted Approach to Grammar System (TAGS), one that uses a World Wide Web submission form to instantly tag student writing with comments and/or questions about the twenty most common grammar errors, is a development and research effort in this direction.

A review of computer-- assisted writing literature

Computers have successfully assisted writers in ways beyond simple word processing for more than thirty years. Grammar checkers have been integrated into word processors for a decade.

Computer analysis of student writing can be broken into three parts: text analyzers, which provide feedback about readability, sentence length, and other quantitative dimensions; prewriting computer programs, which question the writer about the topic and subject matter in an attempt to assist with organization of the writing; and grammar checkers, which offer information about grammar and punctuation usage.

Richard Atkinson described three modes of computer-assisted instruction.4 They are "drill and practice" software, where students are presented with a linear set of lessons, followed immediately by tests of the concept, "but no real-time decisions are made for modifying the flow of instructional material as a function of the student's response history. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Improving Student Writing Using a Web-Based Targeted Approach to Grammar System (TAGS)
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.