The role of audience instruction in English 111 portfolio composition and audience awareness and adaptation in selected first-sememster student writing at Middle Tennessee State University.

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Lumpkins, Julie
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Middle Tennessee State University
One of the most difficult challenges facing novice writers is the conceptualization of audience. Students tend to direct papers to their instructors whom they regard as the primary audience as graders of their work. As a result, they compose essays that are inappropriate for achieving their writing purposes. Writing instruction that focuses on audience as a central component of successful writing is a means of addressing students' disregard of audience.
Identifying audience awareness and adaptation as one of five criteria for effective writing, the English 111 Portfolio Composition Program at Middle Tennessee State University encourages first-semester students to adapt their writing to chosen audiences. This study evaluates the program's success at producing audience-centered writers.
Focusing on the place of audience in composition theory and practice, the first chapters of the study review the history of rhetoric from classical to modern times, examine the teaching of writing in nineteenth- and twentieth-century America, and survey the attention to audience in selected composition textbooks. Subsequent chapters examine the place of audience in writing instruction in the MTSU Portfolio Composition Program and report the results of an analysis of audience in the writing of 145 students enrolled in Portfolio English 111 in 1998.
By expecting students to create audience-centered essays, the MTSU Portfolio Composition Program reflects current composition theory. Students in the program in 1998 demonstrated the ability to identify their audiences; however, they did not always write to those specific audiences in their essays. Student and teacher reflective writing combined with more specific advice to students on how to adapt language and content to targeted readers is recommended.
Adviser: B. Ayne Cantrell.