Date of Award

Fall 2002

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Education (MSEd)

Department

Education and Human Development

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to determine if there was a difference in student performance .in writing when the topic for writing was self-selected or when the topic was assigned.

Ten third-grade students from two classrooms in an urban elementary school participated in this study. During a period of ten weeks, each student produced four pieces of writing. The topic of two of the four pieces was assigned. The other two pieces were formulated from self-selected topics.

The data were analyzed to determine which individuals and class wrote more for assigned pieces and which individuals and class wrote more for pieces where the topic was selected by the students. This was done by finding the total number of words written in each sample. The mean totals of these words were then compared. The students' work was next subject to a rubric to determine if there was a difference in the quality of the writing.

The results of this study indicated that there was a difference in student performance in writing when the topic for writing was self-selected or when the topic was assigned. Students, who were given the opportunity to select their own writing topics regularly, produced better quality self-selected writing pieces. These pieces had coherent story structure and developed plots. These students showed some difficulty in answering to a task. Students from a classroom where assignments were commonly given produced better quality assignments, yet struggle with developing a plot and organizing a coherent story line on self-selected pieces of writing.

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