Cohesion and compactness in compositions written by Kenyan urban primary school children
Thiga, Njeri E.
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This is a study of the cohesive devices in the written English of class 4 and class 8 pupils in Kenyan urban schools. The study has three specific objectives which are: 1. To examine and describe the types of cohesive devices occurring in the written English of class 4 and class 8 pupils. 2. To compare the cohesive devices used by the two age groups. 3. To examine the degree of cohesiveness and of compactness in the writing of both groups of pupils. The description of the cohesive devices is based on a computer corpus consisting of 29,082 words derived from class 4 and class 8 compositions. The cohesive devices with grammatical marking were identified using concordance lists. These include reference, substitution and conjunction. Ellipsis and lexical cohesion were identified manually. All the five types of cohesive devices were present in the writing of class 4 and class 8 pupils. However, reference had the highest frequency of occurrence and substitution the least. It was also observed that pupils in both classes have problems in using some of the devices but in general, class 8 pupils' texts are more cohesive and compact than class 4 ones. They use more cohesive devices and choose a wider range of these devices than their class 4 counterparts. These findings led us to attempt a specification of their possible pedagogic implications. Firstly, they are perceived to be significant to teachers of English in these two classes. This is because they point, in detail, to the specific areas of weakness in the writing of children at these two levels with regard to achieving coherent text. Secondly, they are significant to textbook writers and curriculum designers. This is because, the findings suggest the specific cohesive categories that need to be included in these pupils' learning materials so as to enhance their mastery.