The Development of a Questionnaire to Identify Attitudes of Selected Native Students to Writing English
The purpose of this study was to describe and analyse the development and pilot test of a questionnaire designed to discover the concepts of and attitudes to writing English of native high school students perceived by their teachers as having difficulties writing English. The researcher felt that a knowledge of such attitudes and concepts could be beneficial to school board administrators, teachers, and other educators involved in the creation of writing programs for this group of students. She also felt that the study would provide useful information about questionnaire construction for graduate students involved in research of the education of native students. The researcher adopted the rationale that learning to write English could be one way to create cognitive and psychological growth that brings about literacy in the sense used by Freire -- the capacity to create with language and critically reflect upon one's creation. She reviewed the philosophies of language theorists Piaget, Vygotsky and Bruner and the findings of current researchers to understand their views of the effects of language upon cognition. The research of native cultures was reviewed for findings related to cultural differences between native and non-native people. This research suggested reasons for the failure of the education system of the dominant culture to accommodate the learning needs of native students. The researcher chose the "product " and "process" approaches to the teaching of writing English, as described by professional educators Moffett, Dixon:, and Britton, as a theoretical basis upon which to construct questions for a questionnaire designed to elicit the students' concepts of and attitudes to writing English. To understand the process of constructing a questionnaire, the researcher studied existing questionnaires dealing with attitudes to writing and those dealing with issues of particular relevance to native students. She also studied books about research procedure. However, the primary sources of information about her questionnaire's suitability and effectiveness with regard to the purposes of her study were the oral and written reactions of native and non-native educators to three drafts of the questionnaire. The researcher also received advice for conducting the pilot test of the questionnaire from the consultant to native education at the Saskatoon Public School Board. The teachers of the native students selected for the pilot test assisted in administering the'questionnaire. Based upon the students' responses, the researcher analysed the questionnaire's effectiveness in relation to the purposes of her study. She made specific recommendations for changes to some questions (responses to some questions suggested that the questions were vague or ambiguous) and general recommendations for subsequent researchers who plan to develop and pilot test a questionnaire for native students.