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Social Sciences

Development in Metalinguistic Understanding and its relationship to development in writing

1 January 2013 - 31 January 2017

PI/s in Exeter: Professor Debra Myhill

CI/s in Exeter: Dr Susan Jones

Funding awarded: £ 370,343

Sponsor(s): ESRC

About the research

This a major study, funded by the ESRC, investigating how young writers develop their knowledge about language in writing and the language choices they make when they are writing.  We would like to understand better what young writers can articulate about how language is used to create meaning in writing and whether they can transfer that knowledge into their own writing.  In the current curriculum context in England which is placing increasing emphasis on grammar, this study is highly relevant, as we want to explore the role of grammar knowledge in developing writers, and how writers use, or do not use, that language knowledge in shaping and crafting their own texts.  We intend to follow one cohort of 8/9 year olds and one cohort of 11/12 year olds for three years to study closely their development.

We will work with two primary schools and two secondary schools, following one year 4 class or year 7 class in each school for three years.  The project is a collaborative research project, involving teachers as researchers, and the teachers and research team will design and plan writing teaching materials which have a focus on supporting students in developing knowledge about language for writing.  We will hold writing conversations with students about their writing to try to understand what they are learning about writing, and we will video some of the teaching to examine how the learning takes place.  Participating teachers will have the opportunity to attend a UKLA or NATE conference towards the end of the project to share their work with other teachers.