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Some Characteristics of Memorable Expository Writing: Effects of Revisions by Writers with Different Backgrounds

Michael E. Graves, Wayne H. Slater, Duane Roen, Teresa Redd-Boyd, Ann H. Duin, David W. Furniss and Patricia Hazeltine
Research in the Teaching of English
Vol. 22, No. 3 (Oct., 1988), pp. 242-265
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40171138
Page Count: 24
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Some Characteristics of Memorable Expository Writing: Effects of Revisions by Writers with Different Backgrounds
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Abstract

Three pairs of writers revised two 400- word passages from a high school history text in an effort to make the passages more comprehensible and more memorable. Two of the writers were text linguists, two of them were college composition instructors, and two of them were former Time-Life editors. Two experiments were performed. In Experiment 1, approximately 300 eleventh grade students read the original and revised versions of the texts and wrote recall protocols immediately after reading each version. Results indicated that neither the text linguists' nor the composition instructors' revisions resulted in any improvement in recall, while the revisions of the Time-Life editors resulted in very large and statistically reliable improvement. Once the results of Experiment 1 were known, each pair of writers again revised the two passages. In Experiment 2, approximately 300 eleventh grade students who had not participated in Experiment 1 read the original and second revised versions of the texts and wrote recall protocols immediately after reading each version. Results indicated that the revisions of all three pairs of writers resulted in substantial and statistically reliable improvements in recall, but that the Time-Life editors' revisions resulted in nearly twice as much improvement as the revisions of the other two pairs of writers. Generalizations about factors that make expository writing comprehensible and memorable are suggested.

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