Leveraging Linguistic Analysis to Improve Undergraduate Student Writing

Grant program: Teaching and Learning Development Grant (TLDG)

Grant recipient: Heather Bliss, Linguistics

Project team: Lucas Chambers and Kelli Finney, research assistants

Timeframe: November 2019 to April 2020

Funding: $5000

Course addressed: LING 282W – Writing for Linguistics

Description: The Linguistics Department Writing Centre (LDWC) is a resource that is available to all undergraduate students in linguistics courses, and since its inception in Fall 2018, it has seen between 25 to 100 visitors per semester. The majority of students who visit the LDWC are enrolled in W courses (LING 282W and LING 309W), but students from other linguistics courses with writing assignments also visit.

The broad objective of this project is to develop resources for use in the LDWC that will be of benefit to all LDWC visitors. However, to develop these resources, we will be collecting and analyzing writing samples of students in LING 282W in Spring 2020. In phase 2 of the project, we will evaluate the resources with students from LING 282W, and eventually, we hope to integrate the resources into the LING 282W curriculum.

Questions addressed:

  • Can the “trouble spots” in undergraduate linguistics student writing be analysed in terms of linguistic (morphological, syntactic, and semantic) categories? If so, what are the main categories?
  • Can we develop a resource that guides students to use linguistic methods, principles, and theories to assess and improve their own writing?

Knowledge sharing: The LDWC website is currently under development with a timeline of launching in Spring 2020. Along with content directed specifically at undergraduate linguistics students, the site will feature a research page which can be used to share information about our project.

We will also share our project’s findings at a Department of Linguistics meeting.

We will also work with our department’s communications and events coordinator to disseminate our findings via monthly newsletters and featured stories on the Department website.