Academic journal article Exceptional Children

A Grounded Theory of Text Revision Processes Used by Young Adolescents Who Are Deaf

Academic journal article Exceptional Children

A Grounded Theory of Text Revision Processes Used by Young Adolescents Who Are Deaf

Article excerpt

Learning to write is a cognitively demanding process that requires graphomotor skills, linguistic knowledge, and awareness of text production rhetoric (Mayer, 2010). Revising one's writing requires an even higher level of cognitive function as the process requires recognition of differences in intended and conveyed meanings, identifying and correcting syntactical errors, adding information or details, and linguistic flexibility to modify one's message or tone. Children who are learning to revise frequently remain at surface level revisions, such as changing mechanics, and do not address the more complex task of altering concepts (Scardamalia & Bereiter, 1987).

This holds true for students who are deaf or hard-of-hearing (DHH; Gormley & Sarachan-Deily, 1982; Kelly, 1988). However, research in composing processes, specifically revision, is limited in the field (Mayer, 2010). This is surprising, given the long-term attention of researchers on literacy outcomes for children who are DHH (Albertini & Schley, 2003; Marschark, Lang, & Alberdni, 2002; Mayer, 2010).


Researchers in the field generally accept that the average student who is DHH graduates high school with reading skills significantly behind those of their hearing peers (Allen, 1986; Shaver, Newman, Huang, Yu, & Knokey, 2011). Although writing has been researched less frequently than reading, it is still an area in which researchers agree many students who are DHH lag behind their hearing peers (Easterbrooks & Stoner, 2006; Schirmer, Bailey, & Fitzgerald, 1999). Children who are DHH typically write shorter texts, use simpler sentence structures, and have a greater number of grammatical errors than their hearing peers (Rose, McAnally, & Quigley, 2004). Research has focused primarily on grammatical aspects of writing.

Within the past 30 years there has been a shift to move beyond syntax and examine semantic features of writing (Mayer, 2010). In this, researchers have found that children who are DHH attempt to express similar types of ideas in similar quantities as their hearing peers (Schirmer et al., 1999; Yoshinaga-Itano & Snyder, 1996). However, these analyses continue to be product-oriented and rely on quantitative methods to calculate units of meaning in the form of T-units, clauses, propositions, and units of cohesion. Although useful, this body of research ignores the complexity of the writing process, which is not easily quantifiable. This narrow focus is reflected in the lack of studies on the composing and revising processes employed by students who are DHH. A qualitative study, such as grounded theory, allows the researcher to be open to the data by using an inductive form of reasoning (Charmaz, 2006). The methodology allows for observing different students as they approach writing and exploring opportunities as they arise.


To date, only a handful of studies have examined revision by students who are DHH. As Mayer (2010) observed, research on writing is piecemeal and hardly forms a clear picture, and this is especially true for research on revision. Each of the studies examining revision has had a different focus, and each study offers different insights into the revision processes of students who are DHH. This makes it difficult to review the literature as a body of work; nevertheless, important themes emerge.

One important idea in the literature is that students who are DHH may know the strategies for monitoring and self-checking their writing, but they do not apply them in their own writing. One particularly vivid example is Webster's (1986) "invisible ink" study, which highlighted the differences in monitoring and self-checking between 20 children who were hearing and 20 children who were DHH. The study was conducted in two parts. In the first part, children wrote stories about a picture on a regular sheet of paper; in the second part, the children wrote a second story using expired ballpoint pens on paper that was carbon copied. …

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