Amy Ferdinandt Stolley

(Re)placing grammar in the composition classroom

Amy Ferdinandt Stolley

  • School: Purdue University (0183)
  • Degree: Ph.D.
  • Date: 2007 pp: 180
  • Advisor: Weiser, Irwin H.
  • Subjects: Rhetoric (0681), Composition (0681), Language arts (0279)
  • ProQuest Document Number: 304838973
  • ISBN: 9780549303817
  • UMI Number: 3287277

Abstract:

The project argues for a reconsideration of grammar’s place in the composition classroom, not to argue for a “back to basics” approach to grammar and writing instruction, but instead to view grammar through the framework of competing discourses that surround grammar instruction; namely, the public’s perception that good writing is equivalent to good grammar contrasted with the field of composition’s contention that grammar instruction has a negligible effect on the development of student writers. By tracing the decline of grammatical instruction within contemporary theories of composition pedagogy, the author asserts that theories of the writing process displaced grammar instruction from the classroom in an effort to establish disciplinary legitimacy for composition within the university. To explore this trend, the project presents an empirical study to identify how three of the primary stakeholders in this context—introductory composition students, instructors, and writing program administrators—talk about grammar, and the findings illustrate that competing definitions of grammar are an important cause of the discord between public, university, and disciplinary stakeholders when they discuss writing instruction. The project concludes with the contention that there is value to reframing grammar as a rhetorical consideration students must take into account during all stages of the writing process, and suggests ways in which writing instructors and program administrators can better communicate its principles of writing instruction—and grammar’s place in it—to those outside of the field of composition studies.