Nancy Sommers and Laura Saltz's Study on Harvard Students

Blog ยป Nancy Sommers and Laura Saltz's Study on Harvard Students

Posted on 18 Apr 2013 15:29

Nancy Sommers and Laura Saltz conducted a big study on the freshmen of Harvard. In 2001, they randomly selected 422 freshmen and out of them randomly selected 65 to analyze more in-depth. The subjects were to be analyzed throughout their 4 year college career by means of their writing products. They collected immense amounts of written works from these students throughout their 4 years and conducted analyses on them in order to confirm the pattern in writers who garnered more than others during their college life. Their study has both qualitative and quantitative aspects: analyses of written products and surveys and interviews of students for their specific opinions and thoughts in correlations to the analyses, respectfully.

Through the written products, Sommers and Saltz are ultimately able to acquire the views freshmen have on college writing. Moreover, with the surveys and interviews in addition to the analyses of the writings, Sommers and Saltz are capable of a pattern that developed amongst the student so have gained more than others as writers. The opinions of the students were importantly correlated to their written works and crucial to the study's conclusion, because they allowed Sommers and Saltz to draw out the significant differences between good writers and not-so-good writers. Thus, Sommers and Saltz were aiming to achieve their goals of viewing successful writers as ones who see themselves as novice writers but nevertheless acknowledging the greater purpose in each writing assignment than just the completion of the assignment itself.

Their results proved fruitful as they discovered that writers don't profit from the assignments themselves, but how they applied themselves to each assignment, beyond their original scope, and how they changed as writers. It is safe to deduce that writers are suggested to sustain their interest in writing rather than merely complete the assignments. Sustainment of interests in writing helped the specific students develop throughout their college career as writers when they apply their passion which can't be derived from a simple intention of conquering each assignment as just assignments.

Sommers and Saltz' study was a longitudinal study that I can't quite utilize in my own studies. I wish to experiment and acquire a mix of quantitative/qualitative data in order to measure the differences of problem solving skills between engineers and non-engineers. However, their methods of generalizing from a small population is related to my study because I'm attempting to apply my results as a generalization of the experimented group.

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