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In a study of 860 students in mass communication programs across Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, Drs. Andrew Lingwall and Scott Kuehn, both of Clarion University Department of Communication, have discovered that, to a great extent, millennial students are engaging in surface-level writing that is impeding their readiness for employment in the media professions.

In their fall 2012 study, Lingwall and Kuehn also found that many students are operating with low writing self-efficacy and high writing apprehension. “The findings are critical because journalism and mass communication programs prepare students for employment in the media professions, where writing skills are a prerequisite for career success,” Lingwall said.     

From the study results, Lingwall and Kuehn have created the Media Writing Self-Perception scale, a questionnaire that writing instructors can use to better understand their students and devise writing instruction that is tailored to individual student needs. Lingwall and Kuehn now plan to use the scale to pilot a high-impact educational program within the department of communication. 

In the study, factor analysis revealed that student responses converged around seven key factors:

Groups 1 and 2

Elaborative, creative revisionists who are deep writers

Group 3

Surface writers with low self-efficacy and high apprehension

Groups 4 and 5

Competent, surface-level writers with high self-efficacy

Group 6

Social media-focused students who use surface writing approaches

Group 7

Apathetic, anti-reflective revisionist writers

The surface writing components affirmed previous studies and commentary in the literature that have described a general decline in college students’ writing skills. 

“Evidently, we can no longer assume that all of our students want to learn the accepted techniques used by practicing media professionals,” Kuehn said. “Our challenge is first to better know our students as writers, and then to devise approaches and techniques that will help them become mature, deep writers, well positioned for professional media careers.”  

Clarion University is the high-achieving, nationally recognized, comprehensive university that delivers a personal and challenging academic experience.

2/12/2013 8:43 AM

Lingwall and Kuehn release results of PASSHE-wide study on student writing skills