Date of Award

5-1984

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Education (MSEd)

Department

Education and Human Development

First Advisor

Dr. Frances Moroney

Abstract

Purpose

This study was conducted to determine the effectiveness of sentence combining exercises on the reading, writing, and knowledge of selected aspects of English grammar on sixth grade students. The experiment sought to discover whether or not transformational sentence combining activities could teach grammar more effectively than did the traditional approach of memorizing and identifying terminology. The experiment also sought to determine the possibility of teaching students traditional grammar terminology and at the same time illustrating through sentence combining the function of grammatical operations. Secondarily, this study sought to discover a connection between syntactic awareness through sentence combining and reading comprehension. The study further sought to validate the already established finding that practice in sentence combining would enable students to write syntactically more mature sentences. The null hypotheses formulated were: (1) As measured by Hayes Standardized Test on Parts of Speech and a teacher-made test on transformations, there is no difference in knowledge and understanding of grammar between students who have received sentence combining treatment and those who have not. (2) As measured by T-units in writing samples, there is no difference in syntactic maturity of writing between students who have received sentence combining instruction and those who have not. (3) As measured by the Nelson Reading Test (Form A), there is no difference in the Reading Comprehension scores between students who received sentence combining instruction and those who have not.

Procedure

Daily lessons were taught on sentence combining procedure and transformational grammar. Self-instructional worksheets and task sheets were used in conjunction with daily lessons. For the study, 47 students who composed two intact classes were assigned the control group and 47 students composing two intact classes were assigned the experimental group. The investigator was the instructor for both experimental English classes. Students in the-control group were taught by two separate instructors, one for each of the two classes. Control group students were taught grammar by the traditional method. At the end of a six-month period, subjects were asked to take two grammar tests, one standardized and one teacher-made, a reading test, and to produce a narrative writing sample. The T-test for independent samples was applied using group means and standard deviations for each of the three test instruments.

Results

Both hypotheses (1) and (2) were rejected. Since the ability level in control class 1 ("gifted and talented") was significantly higher than control class 2 and the experimental classes, the control group was separated for comparisons. When comparing the experimental classes with control class 2, a class of students of equal ability with the experimental classes, the results of the data showed that the experimental classes were significantly higher than control class 2 using the t test of significance. There was no significant difference found on the standardized parts of speech test between the experimental classes and the control class 1 ("gifted and talented"), although the mean average was higher in control class 1. However, there was a significant difference on the transformation test between the experimental class and control class 1 in favor of the experimental classes. The experimental classes were also found to be significantly higher on both grammar tests than was control class 2. In comparing the writing samples there was no significant difference between the experimental classes and control class 1. The results, in fact, were nearly equal. However, when comparing the experimental classes with control class 2, the results were significantly higher at the .05 level of significance. Hypothesis (3) was not rejected. The scores for control class 1 were significantly higher than for the experimental classes, and there was no significant difference between the scores of the experimental classes and control class 2. However, the rate of growth in the experimental classes and control class 2 was four times as great as the control class 1 ("gifted and talented").

Conclusion

It was concluded that there is a difference in knowledge and understanding of grammar between students who receive transformational sentence combining instruction and practice and those who are exposed to the traditional approach of memorizing terminology. It was further concluded that sentence combining practice does enable students to write syntactically more mature sentences. The investigation, however, did not find any difference in reading comprehension between students who had received sentence combining treatment and those who did not. The results in the reading comprehension suggest that the approach and instruments used in the control classes were equally effective in enhancing students' reading comprehension as those used in the experimental classes. Therefore, according to the results of this experiment, while sentence combining practices are an effective approach to teaching English grammar and writing skills, they do not necessarily enhance reading comprehension.

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