Expert vs. Novice Writing Strategies Annotated Bibliography

  • Atlas, M. (1979). Expert-Novice Differences in the Writing Process. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, 1-20.
    Atlas’ article is about a study of writing techniques from college students of various ages. The study examines their writing processes and forms—specifically how they go about designing an outline, formulating and organizing their ideas, and creating a valuable essay. The students were given prompts and then watched for their planning techniques so the examiners could define the differences between novice and expert skills. For example, the students’ grammatical complexities, amount of time spent on the essay, and how much deviation occurred from the prompt were all looked at. Researchers were able to ascertain some distinctions from this study: the most important aspect is that experts spend much more time planning their writing, although their work may change in the process as they formulate ideas.
  • Atlas, M. (1979). Expert-Novice Differences in the Writing Process [Abstract]. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, 1-20.
    The abstract explains that skilled writers use many more ideas and organize their thoughts earlier. They also paid more attention to the reader.
  • Best, L. (1996). The nature of developmental writing: a cognitive explanation with practical implications. Research and teaching in developmental education, 13 (1), 5-18.
    This article is a study about developmental writers. It compares weaker writers (developmental) to “expert” writers (freshmen writers). The study is based in a cognitive approach, examining not what the students wrote but how they wrote it. They had them talk out loud while composing to determine their strategies and procedures. The study found that the more experienced writers planned more, could use their experiences and knowledge effectively and correctly, and had a clearer idea of where their papers were going from the beginning. The developmental writers were task-based in their approaches; they wrote step by step without really looking back or forward at their work. Thus, a mark of experienced writers is good use of the recursive process, such as looking back to a thesis, revising, etc. The study may be about student levels of writing, but the trend from expert to novice levels of writing is applicable to professional writers as well.
  • Davis, F. A. (1996). Compositional metaphors: a pedagogical necessity. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Conference on College Composition and Communication.
    While just an outline of a paper, it provides a good, concise list of differences between novice and expert writers. It would be a good supplement/support for our paper.
  • Dunn, T. G., and Taylor, C. (1990). Hierarchical Structures in Expert Performance. Educational Technology and Research Development, 38 (2), 5-18.
    Dunn and Taylor’s article examines how hierarchical structures affect writing in certain areas of performance. This study was applied to English teachers in secondary education; they were tested on how they went about their planning when given specific requirements. Expert and novice teachers were requested to talk aloud as they planned their strategies. The study found that teachers with more experience planned much more extensively, drew on their previous knowledge of the story given, and considered their students’ needs than novice teachers. Teachers with less experience tended to stay within the boundaries of the requirements given and to only consider the teaching methods needed and did not consider their students feelings as much as the expert teachers did.
  • Longo, B. (1994). The role of metadiscourse in persuasion. Technical Communication, 348-352.
    This article is a study about how expert vs. novice writers use metadiscourse in their writing. The study uses texts from mechanical engineering students and experts in the field. It analyzes the texts using fifteen different elements that express metadiscourse. The study finds that expert writers use metadiscourse to enhance their writing and establish themselves as part of their discourse community, whereas the students rely on their own logic and persuasive power. Metadiscourse is thus a sign of mature writing.