Particularly improvement in student writers abilities

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particularly improvement in student writers’ abilities to mobilize the-matic content and to organize material. Guimarães concluded that herstudy “reveals the importance of consistent work on genre teaching inschools” (31) and demonstrates that the method was effective, regard-less of students’ social environment.However, other studies have found the socio-economic class levelcan, in fact, play a significant role in the development of genre knowl-edge. Alina Spinello and Chris Pratt conducted research on the genreknowledge of two groups of Brazilian elementary school children—one group of middle-class and one group of working class studentswho had lived on the street at least one year. All participants wereinterviewed and were asked to produce the genres of narrative, letter,and newspaper article. They then read a text and were asked to iden-tify genre and justify their response. Several weeks later the research-ers met with some of the children for informal discussion with themabout their exposure to stories, letters, and newspaper articles at home,school and on the streets. Middle-class children were able to identifyand produce genres (particularly stories and letters) more successfullythan working class students. They also were aware of the linguisticconventions and formal structures of stories and letters and displayedmore of a “meta-textual awareness” or genre knowledge. However,street children were less familiar with “school” genres and more famil-iar with newspaper articles, leading the researchers to conclude that
Genre128different “literacy environments” in which children from different so-ciocultural groups interact account for differences in genre knowledge.Shifting from groups of Brazilian children to British children,Debra Myhill also investigated the influence of sociocultural back-ground on genre acquisition, arguing that middle-class children arebetter positioned for acculturation to academic genres. Myhill wasinterested in how students’ prior genre knowledge—defined as so-ciocultural conventions for organization, meaning, and formal fea-tures—affects their ability to produce school genres. From a largecorpus of essays written in response to national tests and representingvaried age levels and sociocultural groups, the texts were quantitativelyand qualitatively analyzed. Backing up studies like Freedman’s andDevitt’s, Myhill found that young writers draw on their prior knowl-edge of the narrative genre, based on broad cultural experiences of nar-rative. However, they struggled more with genres for which they hadno prior sociocultural knowledge (much like the children in the abovestudy by Spinello and Pratt). Students’ sociocultural prior knowledgeof genre enabled them to produce genres with a fuller understandingof how form and content, text and context, interrelate—an under-standing of genres as dynamic cultural forms. Myhill concludes, “It isnecessary that we help teachers develop strategies to assist all children

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Term
Fall
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Tags
genre research, Genre Research in Academic Contexts

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