Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

David A. England


The purpose of this study was to examine prewriting, drafting, and revision in a large scale writing assessment. In April 1989, Louisiana administered a graduation exit examination. Written composition comprised one of the three testing components. From the 40,000 tenth grade students who participated in the written composition test, a stratified sampling of 1,467 was selected for this study. Using a research design incorporating both quantitative and qualitative assessment procedures, the study examined prewriting, drafting, and revision practices at two levels. In Level I, the first and final drafts of the 1,467 students were analyzed using a scoring model derived from Wisconsin studies conducted in 1981 and 1984. This model permitted a quantitative analysis of the first draft characteristics as well as an analysis of revision practices. In Level II, which was subdivided into two parts, 20 students were randomly selected from the stratified sample. Part A, the quantitative portion of Level II, examined the first and final drafts of these 20 students using a modified version of Lillian Bridwell's revision model. In addition to providing an in-depth analysis of these 20 students' revision practices, this portion of the study also studied essay length, revision frequencies, and scoring variance between the first and final drafts. Part B, the qualitative portion of Level II, focused on structured interviews which allowed each of the 20 students to respond to seven questions about prewriting, drafting, and revision. Results indicate that, though revision did have a positive effect on the quality of the compositions, the average point gain per essay was surprisingly small. Moreover, in many instances the composition scores for the final drafts remained unchanged after the students had revised. The study also found that the majority of revisions were generally cosmetic; prewriting activities such as outlines, notes, or clusters were seldom used; less successful writers made fewer substantive changes to their compositions than did the successful writers; and a knowledge of terminology relative to editing and revision was not a good predictor of student performance.