Eva Lindgren et al.: Appraisal as a democratic tool in the middle-school writing classroom

Medforfattere: Carina Hermansson, Per Boström, Anna Nilsson, Peter Ström & Erika Sturk

This paper explores effects of an intervention where appraisal theory was used to improve middle-school pupils’ ability to express themselves through writing. Participatory writing is a powerful tool for citizens (Stotsky 2013) that requires writers to focus on meaning as well as readers. Appraisal theory (Martin & White 2005) provides such tools through attitude, graduation and engagement. A three-week intervention was developed in which pupils worked with narrative and argumentative texts focussing on meaning and reader. Instruction was supported with linguistic tools, semiotic resources, with different devices, and through different class-room designs. Before and after the intervention pupils wrote narrative and argumentative texts which were analysed for text quality, complexity, vocabulary, text length etc.

Preliminary results show that texts were similar in length before and after the intervention, but that the texts included longer words and more varied vocabulary after the intervention and the text quality increased. Ongoing analysis indicate that pupils used appraisal tools more after the intervention, in particular linking words for engagement and graduation for emphasis.