Sandra Perl: Codes which Support

Blog » Sandra Perl: Codes which Support

Posted on 18 Apr 2013 21:49

Sandra Perl is a scholar who conducted an experiment which studied the process of unskilled and untrained writers. In order to obtain the data that she needed, she recorded five students who were told to compose aloud and write four papers about certain prompts. Some of these prompts asked for the writer’s subject knowledge on a subject, while the other prompts questioned the reader’s perspective on a subject — which gave the reader more freedom to explain their own opinion. Perl did not give too much bearing of the finished paper’s quality on the data; instead, she coded every recorded second into a special system which Perl had created herself. She concentrated on the process, and she used it to prove the quality of the product.

Her goal was to find a pattern which explained correlations between an untrained process and problems with finished paper. She eventually found that the unskilled writers had edited their papers many times during their drafting process — strangely enough, in a certain systematic, and almost perfect, matter. Perl connected the writer’s consistent editing with the problems that the papers had; she explains that the writer concentrates more on how the words fit together, rather than how the ideas fit together. She also says that the writer is concerned about how the words “sound good” to the writer, rather than considering how they would “sound” to a reader. This conclusion was made by the connecting the writer’s large amounts of editing and the large amounts of problems that were found in these papers.

The methodology of this particular research is very meticulous; the inclusion of a coding system allows data to be analyzed as a quantitative measure. This kind of data collection can also be beneficial for any other sort of experiment that I would conduct. I feel that it may be easier to base conclusions off of physical data — which include numbers and codes — rather than relying on the subjective — and not always “correct” — analysis which qualitative studies demand. Thus, I may use a certain code system for my own experiments if they need such a methodology.

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