Writes of passage: Stylistic features of male and female undergraduate history essays

Robson, J., Francis, B. and Read, B. (2002) Writes of passage: Stylistic features of male and female undergraduate history essays. Journal of Further and Higher Education, 26(4), pp. 351-362. (doi: 10.1080/0309877022000021757)

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As a student enters an academic field and seeks to become a member of a discourse community, they must learn to write in ways that are appropriate to that discipline. Academic success depends on determining what the rules are and on learning to follow them. A study of undergraduate writing in history is reported. Essays by 87 students were analysed and sentences were classified according to their bold, tentative or evaluative features. Findings were analysed by gender and by essay grade. They showed that there was more similarity than difference overall in the writing styles of men and women but that, in addition, men tended to use more bold constructions than women. The writing contained a predominance of assertive statements, lending weight to the view that argument is a key feature of academic writing. However, there was a greater occurrence of very assertive or bold statements in work receiving lower grades, which suggests that students must not write too boldly. Similar findings are reported in relation to the use of tentative and evaluative statements, leading to the conclusions that 'good' writing in history is a very finely judged performance and that learning to write history may be a very complex process.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Read, Professor Barbara
Authors: Robson, J., Francis, B., and Read, B.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Education
College of Social Sciences > School of Education > Educational Leadership & Policy
Journal Name:Journal of Further and Higher Education
ISSN (Online):1469-9486
Published Online:03 August 2010

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