An ethnographic study of a group of first language standard eight pupils in a "model C" school attempting to communicate meaning in writing

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

This is an ethnographic study of the writing processes and meaningmaking attempts of a group of English first language pupils in a Cape Town secondary school. The project was based on a twostage design. During the first stage, pupils' writing behaviour was observed, and their writing samples and written reflections provided data for analysis. In the second stage, two "key informants" were selected and interviewed, after a preliminary analysis of their written work. Three main theoretical fields provided the conceptual framework for the project: process writing theory and research, discourse and genre theory, and theories of identity. In the first research stage, process theory highlighted those aspects of the school writing event which were shown to assist or obstruct pupil writers in communicating their meanings in writing. In the second stage, discourse and genre theory, and especially the concept of intertextuality, provided insights into how young writers borrow from other textual resources, and construct roles for themselves and their readers. The text analyses and the interview findings supported those theories of identity which showed how subjects may construct multiple Identities and roles for themselves in conversation and in writing.

Bibliography: pages 121-131.