“Understanding proficiency: Analyzing the characteristics of secondary students’ on-demand analytical essay writing”
Fifth-year doctoral student Vicky Chen (left), Professor Emerita Carol B. Olson (center), and UCI Writing Project Director of Research Huy Quoc Chung (right) have published in the Journal of Writing Assessment. The title of their article is “Understanding proficiency: Analyzing the characteristics of secondary students’ on-demand analytical essay writing.”
Chen, who is advised by by Professor Emerita Carol Booth Olson, is specializing in Language, Literacy, and Technology. Her research interests include academic writing, extracurricular writing, writing instruction, critical reading and analysis, language acquisition, and students and teachers with disabilities.
Olson directs both the WRITE Center and the UCI/National Writing Project. She co-founded the UCI Writing Project in 1978 and served as director until 2019. Olson has been awarded more than $50 million in research grants to advance the teaching of reading and writing. She authored several books, including The Reading/Writing Connection, and published over 30 journal articles on interactive strategies for teaching writing, fostering critical thinking through writing, applying multiple intelligences theory to language arts instruction, using multicultural literature with students of culturally diverse backgrounds.
As Writing Project Director of Research, Chung oversees the research efforts of the Pathway Project’s OELA and i3 grants. Since completing his doctoral studies specialized in Learning, Cognition, and Development and Language, Literacy, and Technology, he has managed and worked on three federally funded programs regarding formative assessments in mathematics, testing accommodations for English Learners, and an evaluation of the Writing Reform and Innovation for Teaching Excellence (WRITE) professional development program. Chung’s research foci follow his commitment to teacher education and professional development for English Language Arts teachers.
This study investigated the different characteristics of not-pass (n = 174), adequate-pass (n = 173), and strong-pass (n = 114) text-based, analytical essays written by middle and high school students. Essays were drawn from the 2015-2016 Pathway writing and reading intervention pretests and posttests. Results revealed the use of relevant summary was an important difference between not-pass and adequate-pass essays where significantly more adequate-pass essays used summary in a purposeful rather than general way. In contrast, major characteristics that set apart strong-pass essays from adequate-pass essays involved providing analysis and including a clear conclusion or end. Factors that affected these characteristics such as whether the writer made claims and comments about the text are discussed, and some instructional strategies are suggested.