Inventory of processes in college composition

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A. True

B. False


This questionnaire describes the different ways that college students go about writing essays and papers. There are no right or wrong answers because there are many different ways that work for different students. Just think about what you usually do and respond. The goal is to better understand how students feel about writing and how they complete writing tasks, so that writing instructors can design their courses with students’ skills and needs in mind.
Answer A True of B False for each statement. Indicate your answers on the answer sheet provided using a #2 pencil.

A: True

B: False

  1. When writing an essay, I stick to the rules.

  1. I set aside specific time to do written assignments.

  1. I re-examine and restate my thoughts in revision.

  1. If the assignment calls for 1000 words, I try to write just about that many.

  1. I use a lot of definitions and examples to make things clear.

  1. Writing makes me feel good.

  1. I closely examine what the essay calls for.

  1. Revision is a one time process at the end.

  1. There is one best way to write a written assignment.

  1. I try to entertain, inform, or impress my audience.

  1. I tend to give a lot of description and detail.

  1. I keep my theme or topic clearly in mind as I write.

  1. When writing an essay or paper, I just write out what I would say if I were talking.

  1. The question dictates the type of essay called for.

  1. I can write a term paper.

  1. Originality in writing is highly important.

  1. I worry about how much time my essay or paper will take.

  1. My writing ‘just happens’ with little planning or preparation.

  1. Revision is the process of finding the shape of my writing.

  1. Writing an essay or paper is always a slow process.

  1. Writing is symbolic.

  1. Writing reminds me of other things that I do.

  1. An essay is primarily a sequence of ideas, an orderly arrangement.

  1. It’s important to me to like what I’ve written.

  1. Studying grammar and punctuation would greatly improve my writing.

  1. I visualize what I’m writing about.

  1. My prewriting notes are always a mess.

  1. I put a lot of myself in my writing.

  1. I can usually find one main sentence that tells the theme of my essay.

  1. I never think about how I go about writing.

  1. I plan out my writing and stick to this plan.

  1. The most important thing in writing is observing the rule of grammar, punctuation, and organization.

  1. I compare and contrast ideas to make my writing clear.

  1. I use written assignments as learning experiences.

  1. Revision is making minor alterations-just touching things up and rewording.

  1. In my writing, I use some ideas to support other, larger ideas.

  1. Having my writing evaluated scares me.

  1. When writing a paper, I often get ideas for other papers.

  1. I like to work in small groups to discuss ideas or to do revision in writing.

  1. I imagine the reaction that my readers might have to my paper.

  1. When I begin to write, I have only a vague idea of how my essay will come out.

  1. I often use analogy and metaphor in my writing.

  1. I complete each sentence and revise it before going on to the next.

  1. I cue the reader by giving a hint of what’s to come.

  1. My writing rarely expresses what I really think.

  1. Writing an essay or paper is making a new meaning.

  1. I am my own audience.

  1. Writing helps me organize information in my mind.

  1. At times, my writing has given me deep personal satisfaction.

  1. The main reason for writing an essay or paper is to get a good grade on it.

  1. When given an assignment calling for an argument or viewpoint, I immediately know which side I’ll take.

  1. I plan, write and revise all at the same time.

  1. I can write simple, compound and complex sentences.

  1. I sometimes get sudden inspirations in writing.

  1. My essay or paper often goes beyond the specifications of the assignment.

  1. I expect good grades on essays or papers.

  1. The reason for writing an essay really doesn’t matter to me.

  1. Writing is like a journey.

  1. I usually write several paragraphs before rereading.

  1. The teacher is the most important audience.

  1. I like written assignments to be well-specified with details included.

  2. I start with a fairly detailed outline.

  1. I do well on essay tests.

  1. I often think about my essay when I’m not writing (e.g., late at night).

  1. My intention in writing papers or essays is just to answer the question.

  1. I just write ‘off the top of my head’ and then go back and rework the whole thing.

  1. Often my first draft is my finished product.

  1. I need special encouragement to do my best writing.

  1. I think about how I come across in my writing.

  1. I can't revise my own writing because I can't see my own mistakes.

  1. I often do written assignments at the last minute and still get a good grade.

Elaborative Low Self-Efficacy Reflective Revision Spontaneous Imp. Procedural

23. P

24. E

25. LS

26. E

27. RR

28. E

29. P

30. SI

31. –RR

32. LS

33. E

34. E

35. SI

36. RR

37. LS

38. E

39. LS

40. E

41. SI

42. E


44. E

45. LS

46. E

47. SI

48. E

49. E

50. P

51. –RR

52. SI


54. E

55. E

56. –LS

57. –RR

58. E

59. SI

60. P

61. P

62. –SI

63. –LS

64. E

65. P

66. SI

67. SI

68. LS

69. E

70. LS

71. SI

  1. P

  2. –SI

  3. RR

  4. LS

  5. E

  6. E

  7. P

  8. –RR

  9. –RR

  10. E

  11. E

  12. P

  13. SI

  14. RR

  15. –LS

  16. E

  17. P

  18. SI

  19. RR

  20. LS

  21. E

  22. E

  1. P

  2. –SI

  3. RR

  4. LS

  5. E

  6. E

  7. P

  8. –RR

  9. –RR

  10. E

  11. E

  12. P

  13. SI

  14. RR

  15. –LS

  16. E

  17. P

  18. SI

  19. RR

  20. LS

  21. E

  22. E


Low 0-10 Moderate 11-18 High 19 +
Elaborative strategy is marked by a search for personal meaning in writing and by a tendency to view writing as symbolic. Common strategies include metaphor, analogy, visualization and a holistic conception of the writing process. Elaborative writers think about their writing when not directly engaged in it. They invest themselves in writing and derive personal meaning from their work. Their motivation is affective and they like to write to please an audience. They excel at narrative writing and at accommodating audience.

Low Self-Efficacy

Low 0-3 Moderate 4 – 9 High l0+

Low Self Efficacy describes a writing approach based on fear and doubt of skills or abilities. Writing is seen as a painful undertaking and not as related to self expression. Learning the rules is viewed as key to success. Low Self Efficacy has few strategies and writers scoring high on this scale do not see themselves as in control of producing a credible outcome. Choices are not apparent and fear is high.


Low 0-6 Moderate 7-10 High 11+

Reflective Revision describes a writing orientation based on a sophisticated understanding of the revision process as a remaking and clarification of thinking. Writing is considered an emergent process driven by intentions and aimed at supporting a thesis.

It is a highly sophisticated approach. These writers excel at academic writing as well as at argumentation and analysis.


Low 0-5 Moderate 6-10 High 11+

Spontaneous-Impulsive describes a writing strategy based on an off-the-cuff or unplanned strategy. Writing is viewed as a one step procedure, devoid of personal meaning. Conceptions or writing and revision are superficial or linear although these writers see themselves as highly competent.


Low 0-3 Moderate 4-8 High 9+

The procedural approach to writing describes a method oriented style based on strict adherence to the rules with a minimal amount of involvement. The style is technical and eth goal is just to answer the question rather than to self-express. This strategy does not go beyond the bounds of the assignment. The focus is on mechanics rather than meaning. Writing assignments are just a demand to be met.


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