Group Title: construct validity of the holistic writing score
Title: The Construct validity of the holistic writing score
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Title: The Construct validity of the holistic writing score an analysis of the essay subtest of the College-Level Academic Skills Test
Physical Description: vii, 62 leaves : ill. ; 28 cm.
Language: English
Creator: West, Gregory K., 1949-
Publication Date: 1988
Copyright Date: 1988
 Subjects
Subject: Grading and marking (Students)   ( lcsh )
English language -- Composition and exercises -- Ability testing   ( lcsh )
English language -- Rhetoric -- Ability testing   ( lcsh )
Foundations of Education thesis Ph.D
Dissertations, Academic -- Foundations of Education -- UF
Genre: bibliography   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
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Thesis: Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Florida, 1988.
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
General Note: Typescript.
General Note: Vita.
Statement of Responsibility: by Gregory K. West.
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Bibliographic ID: UF00099574
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: alephbibnum - 001115563
oclc - 20112225
notis - AFL2281

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THE CONSTRUCT VALIDITY OF THE
HOLISTIC WRITING SCORE:
AN ANALYSIS OF THE ESSAY SUBTEST
OF THE COLLEGE-LEVEL ACADEMIC SKILLS TEST






BY


GREGORY K. NEST


A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN
PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS
FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY



UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA

1988


ni l F UbnA^:'


























COPYRIGHT 1988


by


GREGORY K. WEST
















ACKNOWLEDGMENTS


I wish to thank-Dr. James Algina for his guidance and cooperation

as chairperson of my committee. I also would like to express my

appreciation to the other members of my committee, Dr. Linda Crocker

and Dr. Michael Y. Nunnery, for their direction and editorial

comments.

My sincere appreciation and gratitude are expressed to my wife,

Dr. Susan S. Hill, for her assistance in the data extraction and her

loving encouragement, and to Chad and Michael for their special

encouragement and love.

I would also like to express my appreciation and gratitude to my

parents, Earl and Marjorie West, not only for their love and

encouragement but also for the hand-sewn quilt (queen-size) which

parents traditionally bestow upon an offspring after completion of a

doctoral dissertation.


-111-
















TABLE OF CONTENTS

Page

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS . . . . .. . ... . .. iii

ABSTRACT . . . . . . . . .. . . ... vi

CHAPTERS

I INTRODUCTION . . . .. . . . . . 1

Purpose . . . . . . . . . 1
Limitations ... . . . . .
Justification ..... . . . . 4
Definitions . . . . . . ... .. . . 6

II REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE . ... . . . 8

Factor-Analytic Research . . .. . . .. 8
Non-Factor-Analytic Research . . . . . . 10
Comparison of Factor-Analytic and
Regression Methods of Construct Validation . . 16

III PROCEDURES ...... . . . .... . 18

Selection of Subjects . . . . . . . 18
Selection of Atomistic Writing Subskills . . . 19
Holistic Scoring . . .. ...... . ..... .24
Atomistic Writing Subskill Scoring .. . ... 25

IV ANALYSIS OF THE DATA .... . . . . . 38

Normality Assumption . . . . . . 38
Correlational Validity . . . . . 39
Factorial Validity . . ... ........ . 42

V DISCUSSION . .... . .. ............. 50

Research Implications .... .. . ..... .. .50
Implications for Further Research . ...... 53


-iv-












APPENDIX: ROTATED FACTOR PATTERNS FOR FOUR- AND
FIVE-FACTOR SOLUTIONS . . ......... . 55

REFERENCES ..... . . . . . .. . . . ... 58

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH . . . .. .... . . 62















Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the
Graduate School of the University of Florida in
Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements
for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy



THE CONSTRUCT VALIDITY OF THE
HOLISTIC WRITING SCORE:
AN ANALYSIS OF THE ESSAY SUBTEST
OF THE COLLEGE-LEVEL ACADEMIC SKILLS TEST

By

Gregory K. West

December 1988


Chairperson: James Algina
Major Department: Foundations of Education

The purpose of this study was to investigate the construct

validity of holistic scores on large-scale writing assessments using

as the vehicle for the study the essay subtest of the College-Level

Academic Skills Test (CLAST). The construct validity issue focused

on the extent to which holistic writing scores and atomistic skill

scores measured the same underlying writing trait(s).

In this study, 104 CLAST essays were drawn by random sampling

from a frame of 196 essays provided by the College-Level Academic

Skills Program (CLASP) staff from a population of 12,256 CLAST essays

administered in March 1985. Each of the 104 CLAST essays in this

sample were holistically scored by CLASP staff in accordance with the

requirements of Florida law. For each of the 104 CLAST essays, 12












atomistic writing subskill scores were derived: agreement errors,

punctuation errors, spelling errors, capitalization errors, nominals,

adjectivals, adverbials, paragraph coherence, coordination, words per

T-unit, total number of words, and handwriting quality (Atomistic

Writing Subskills).

The holistic scores and 12 Atomistic Writing Subskill scores were

subjected to the principal-axis method of common factor analysis. A

three-factor solution was computed as a result of the application of

the scree test and an examination of the conceptual meaningfulness of

the competing four- and five-factor solutions. The holistic score,

paragraph coherence, and total number of words loaded positively on

the first factor. The holistic score and handwriting quality loaded

negatively on the second factor; agreement errors, punctuation

errors, spelling errors, and capitalization errors loaded positively

on the second factor. Nominals, adjectivals, adverbials, and words

per T-unit loaded positively on the third factor.

The factor structure suggests that the writing construct measured

by holistic scoring encompasses two distinct constructs: one related

to paragraph coherence and to the total number of words, and one

related to the absence of mechanical errors and to handwriting

quality. The factor structure further suggests that there is a

separate writing construct unrelated to holistic scoring which is

composed of syntactic constructions and words per T-unit.


-vii-















CHAPTER I
INTRODUCTION


Purpose

The construct validity of holistic scoring on large-scale writing

assessments was investigated using the essay subtest of the

College-Level Academic Skills Test (CLAST) as the vehicle for the

study. The construct validity issue focused on the extent to which

holistic scores and atomistic skill scores measured the same

underlying writing trait(s). In this study, factor analysis was the

primary method used to investigate the construct validity of holistic

scores. Specifically, the construct validity of holistic scoring was

investigated by factor analyzing the correlations among (a) the

holistically scored CLAST essay subtest scores, (b) grammatical and

spelling errors, (c) syntactic constructions, (d) coherence and

coordination, (e) length, and (f) handwriting quality.


Limitations

This study was limited to a sample of 104 individuals who were

administered the March 1985 CLAST. The sample of 104 examinees was

drawn from a frame of 196 examinees which the College Level Academic

Skills Program (CLASP) staff had selected from the population of

12,256 examinees administered the March 1985 CLAST. No institutional

or demographic information was released by the CLASP staff for the











frame of 196 examinees. In addition, the CLASP staff provided the

frame of 196 examinees by physically retrieving a set of March 1985

CLAST essays that had been physically returned together from the

examination center and that had been bound together in the CLASP

storage area. Accordingly, the generalizability of this study to the

general population of all examinees who were administered the March

1985 CLAST is uncertain, in that the CLASP staff may not have drawn a

random sample from the population and in that it was not possible to

test whether the frame was representative of, inter alia, gender,

geographical distribution, institutional affiliation, or cultural

background of the population of individuals administered the March

1985 CLAST.

Furthermore, on the March 1985 CLAST essay subtest, examinees

chose to write an essay on one of two possible topics. The examinees

in the sample of 104 individuals in this study all wrote on the same

expository topic on the March 1985 CLAST essay subtest. This study

was, therefore, limited to one of the two topics on the March 1985

CLAST essay subtest. The CLASP staff does not release the topics

used in CLAST essay subtests, and the CLASP staff conditioned the

release of the data in the instant study upon the non-disclosure of

the two alternate topics in the March 1985 CLAST essay subtest. To

score the essay subtest, the CLASP staff also used a method of

holistic rating called "general impression marking" in which the

scorer fits a writing sample into ordered categories on the basis of

the overall impression created by the essay. The general impression

marking procedure was developed and used by the Educational Testing











Service and allows for "wide-open" topics on the assumption that

different discourse modes do not affect-the holistic scores. There

is, however, a body of literature (Cooper, 1977; Lloyd-Jones, 1977;

Moss, Cole, & Khampalikit, 1982; Odell & Cooper, 1980; Quellmalz,

Capell, & Chou, 1982) suggesting that different discourse modes and

topic selection are correlated with holistic scores. Because this

study involved March 1985 CLAST subtest scores dealing with a single

expository topic, the relationship of holistic writing scores to

discourse mode or topic was not investigated.

In addition, Freedman (1979) suggested that content and

organization of the writing were significantly correlated with the

holistic score. Veal and Hudson (1983) also found that content was

significantly correlated with the holistic score. In addition,

Benton and Kiewra (1986) determined that organizational ability, as

measured by objective organizational tests, was significantly

correlated with the holistic score. Because of the complexity and

time involved in eliminating confounding variables, the quality of

the content or organization of the overall CLAST essays was not

assessed.

Finally, the universe of all possible writing subskills which may

be correlated with holistic writing scores was not investigated. The

existence of such other writing skills could have significantly

affected the results of this study.












Justification

The construct validity of holistic scoring was investigated,

using as a vehicle for the investigation a test of critical

importance to the pedagogical communities in Florida. The specific

impetus for this study was derived from the paucity of factorial

validity studies of holistic scoring in the research literature.

At the time of this writing, in only two reported factorial

validity studies have the holistic score and atomistic writing

subskill scores been submitted to factor analysis, and in neither

study has the range of atomistic writing subskills investigated in

the instant study been explored. Freedman (1981) found by means of

factor analysis that one trait of compositions was measured by

holistic scores and analytic rating scale scores composed of voice,

development, organization, sentence structure, word choice, and

usage. In another factor-analytic study, Chapman, Fyans, and Kerins

(1984) reported that the following five measures of functional

writing loaded on a single factor: (a) focus, (b) support, (c)

organization, (d) mechanics, and (e) overall.

There has been, however, a significant amount of

non-factor-analytic research literature dealing with the relationship

between writing subskill scores and holistic scores (Charney, 1984;

Crocker, 1987). Generally, the results of these non-factor-analytic

studies have indicated that, "in spite of [scorer] training,

[holistic scores] are strongly influenced by . characteristics of

the writing samples." (Charney, 1984, p. 75).












The researchers of syntactic complexity did not conclusively

indicate whether syntactic complexity was significantly correlated

with the holistic score. Stewart and Leaman (1983) found that

syntactic complexity was a poor predictor of holistic scores. In

contrast, Homburg (1984) found that, at least for non-native

speakers of English, syntactic complexity in the form of

subordination and relativization measures was a significant predictor

of holistic scores.

The research results were also inconclusive as to whether

paragraph coherence or sentence level coordination was significantly

correlated with holistic scores. McCulley (1985) suggested that

general coherence was predictive of a primary-trait measure of

persuasive writing quality; Homburg (1984) found that coordination

was predictive of holistic scores, at least for non-native speakers

of English.

The length of the writing sample (Homburg, 1984; Stewart & Grobe,

1979) and the absence of mechanical errors (Grobe, 1981; Homburg,

1984; Stewart & Grobe, 1979; Veal & Hudson, 1983) uniformly were

found to be predictive of holistic scores. The appearance of the

writing sample also was found to correlate with the holistic score,

with papers written in poor handwriting tending to receive lower

holistic scores (Chase, 1986; Hughes, Keeling, & Tuck, 1983; McColly,

1970).

Researchers determined primarily by means of regression analysis

and analysis of variance that the holistic score might be correlated












with mechanical errors, syntactic complexity, coherence and

coordination, length of the essay, and handwriting quality; however,

only two researchers have, at the time of this writing, attempted to

establish the factorial validity of a holistic writing construct by

factor analyzing the holistic score and atomistic writing subskill

scores. In neither reported factor-analytic study was the range of

atomistic writing subskills contained in the instant study

investigated. The results of the instant factor-analytic study may

be useful in expanding and clarifying our understanding of the

construct validity of holistic scores.

Definitions

The following terms are defined as used in this study.

Atomistic Writing Subskills include agreement errors, punctuation

errors, spelling errors, capitalization errors, nominals,

adjectivals, adverbials, paragraph coherence, inter-T-unit

coordination, words per T-unit, total number of words in the essay,

and handwriting quality.

College-Level Academic Skills Program (CLASP) is a faculty

cooperative established in order to "advise the [Florida] Department

of Education to ensure continuing faculty contributions to decisions

concerning skills to be expected of college students, the ways in

which the skills are tested on the CLAST, and the utilization of

CLAST test results." (Florida Department of Education [FDOE], 1984,

p. 21).












College-Level Academic Skills Test (CLAST) is "a test developed

by the [Florida] Department of Education pursuant to Section

229.551(3)(k) lof The Florida School Code (1987)] to measure student

achievement of the skills listed in Rule 6A-10.31 [of the Florida

Administrative Code (1987)]." (FDEO, 1984, p. 21).

College-level academic skills are "the communication and

computational skills adopted by the [Florida] State Board of

Education in Rule 6A-10.31 [of the Florida Administrative Code

(1987)]." (FDEO, 1984, p. 21).

Holistic scoring is the rating of papers on a scale of 1 through

4 based on an overall impression of each essay. CLAST essay subtest

scores are the sum of holistic scores awarded by two readers and,

therefore, are in the range 2 through 8.

Mechanics refers to the basic conventions of writing, including

agreement, punctuation, spelling, and capitalization.

Syntax includes the "ways in which words are put together to form

phrases, clauses, and sentences [and] involves breaking each

composition into its 'T-units' and examining the ways in which

writers embed information in T-units and join T-units together."

(National Assessment of Educational Progress [NAEP], 1980, p. 10).

A T-unit is "a main clause with all its attendant modifying

words, phrases, and dependent clauses." (NAEP, 1980, p. 10).
















CHAPTER II
REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE


A significant body of research exists concerning the relationship

between holistic scores and various writing subskill scores,

including the relationship between the holistic score and grammatical

errors, syntactic complexity, paragraph coherence, coordination,

length of syntactic structures, length of the essay, and appearance

of the handwriting. Only two researchers, however, have reported the

results of a factor analysis of the holistic score and atomistic

writing subskill scores. The literature has, instead, primarily been

based either on regression analysis, as a means of differentiating

significant versus non-significant predictors of the holistic score,

or on ANOVA techniques to assess the differing responses of holistic

graders to experimental and control groups.


Factor-Analytic Research

Researchers have reported the results of factor analyzing a

variety of writing qualities (Diederich, French, & Carlton, 1961;

McColly, 1970; Quellmalz et al., 1982); at the time of this writing,

however, in only two reported factor-analytic studies have both the

holistic score and atomistic writing subskill scores been submitted

to factor analysis in order to investigate the construct validity of

holistic scoring. Freedman's (1981) study involved the holistic












evaluation by four readers of 64 essays written by students of four

colleges and the evaluation by two scorers of the 64 essays on an

analytic scale. The analytic scale included scores for voice,

development, organization, sentence structure, word choice, and

usage. Freedman used factor analysis to explore five variables: (a)

the holistic score (HSCORE); (b) the analytic scale score (ASCORE)

composed of the sum of scores on voice, development, organization,

sentence structure, word choice, and usage; (c) the content/style

score (CONTENT/STYLE) composed of the sum of the voice, development,

and organization less the sum of the sentence structure, word choice,

and usage scores; (d) the voice/content score (VOICE/CONTENT)

composed of two times the voice score less the sum of the development

and organization scores; and (e) the usage/style score (USAGE/STYLE)

composed of the sum of the sentence structure and word choice scores

less two times the usage score. Using a principal component factor

analysis with varimax rotation, Freedman determined that the five

contrast scores represented two discreet, independent qualities of

the papers. HSCORE and ASCORE loaded on one factor, and

CONTENT/STYLE and USAGE/STYLE loaded on a second factor. Freedman

concluded that the factor structure suggested that holistic and

analytic scales measured a single writing trait.

In another factor-analytic study, Chapman et al. (1984)

determined that five measures of functional writing, one of which was

an overall measure, loaded on a single factor. The data was

collected within the context of the 1983 Illinois Inventory of












Educational Progress (IIEP) writing assessment of fourth-, eighth-

and eleventh-grade students from 120 schools. Essay raters within

the context of the IIEP assessment evaluated essays on the following

five areas of functional writing: (a) focus, (b) support, (c)

organization, (d) mechanics, and (e) overall. All five measures of

functional writing were rated on a scale ranging from 1 through 6.

Upon factor analyzing the correlation matrix among the five areas of

functional writing, the researchers found factor loadings ranging

from 0.70 to 0.90 on a single factor. They concluded that the

results supported "the aggregation [of the five areas of functional

writing] into one writing ability score." (Chapman et al., 1984,

p. 25).


Non-Factor-Analytic Research

Non-factor-analytic research has been based primarily on either

regression analysis or ANOVA techniques. In the non-factor-analytic

studies, researchers have explored the relationship between holistic

scores and five writing subskill scores: (a) mechanical errors, (b)

syntactic complexity, (c) coherence and coordination, (d) length, and

(e) handwriting quality.

Mechanical Errors

Without exception, in both the correlational and experimental

research, a significant inverse relationship between the number of

mechanical and spelling errors and the holistic scores has been












found. Stewart and Grobe (1979) performed stepwise regression

analysis on eight independent variables relating to mechanics of

writing on different students at grades 5, 8, and 11. They

determined that at all three grade levels there was a positive and

significant correlation between holistic quality ratings and the

absence of spelling errors. Using 30 freshman writing essays in the

argument mode which were holistically scored by senior high school

teachers teaching in the areas of (a) business, (b) English and

social studies, and (c) mathematics and science, Stewart and Leaman

(1983) performed stepwise regression analysis with eight independent

variables, finding that both the number of spelling errors and the

number of punctuation errors were significant predictors of the

holistic quality ratings awarded by the teachers in each of the three

curricular areas.

Chou, Kirkland, and Smith (1982) investigated the holistic scores

given by raters to compositions written for the University System of

Georgia's Regents' Testing Program. Chou et al. examined (a) total

number of sentences, (b) average sentence length, (c) shortest

sentence, (d) longest sentence, (e) total words, (f) grammatical

errors, (g) punctuation errors, (h) T-units, (i) words per T-unit,

(j) misspelled words, (k) crossouts, (1) vagueness, and (m) words in

outline. In a sample of 60 essay compositions, they determined that

a significant negative correlation existed between the holistic score

and the number of grammatical errors, the number of punctuation

errors, and the number of misspelled words.












Freedman (1979) performed an experimental study in which she

determined that the mechanics score proved to be a significant

predictor of holistic judgments, although less predictive than scores

for content and organization of the essay. Freedman rewrote essays

of moderate quality to be either stronger or weaker in the four

categories of content, organization, sentence structure, and

mechanics. The mechanics rewriting involved misuse of commas,

quotation marks, possessives, capitalization, underlining, and

spelling. Using analysis of variance, Freedman determined that the

mechanics score was a significant predictor of the holistic score and

that the interaction between mechanics and organization was

significant, such that the mechanics score was statistically

significant only in writings with high organization scores.

The number of mechanical errors has, without exception, been

found to be significantly correlated to the quality of holistic

scores in both correlational (Bertrand, 1983; Chou et al., 1982;

Grobe, 1981; Homburg, 1984; Stewart & Grobe, 1979; Stewart & Leaman,

1983; Veal & Hudson, 1983) and experimental (Freedman, 1979) studies.

Syntactic Complexity

Although the weight of the research literature suggests that

syntactic complexity is not significantly correlated to the holistic

score (Freedman, 1979; Neilson & Piche, 1981; Stewart & Grobe, 1979;

Stewart & Leaman, 1983), there is, nevertheless, some research to

support the existence of a significant correlation between the

holistic score and syntactic complexity (Homburg, 1984; Nold &

Freedman, 1977).












Neilson and Piche (1981) manipulated a syntactic variable, headed

nominal complexity, and a semantic variable, lexical choice, in

stimulus passages to determine their effect on scorers' judgments of

writing quality. Eighty inservice and preservice high school English

teachers rated the passages, allowing each of the four versions of

the passage to be rated 20 times. Using the ANOVA technique to test

the differences among the ratings achieved on the four treatment

versions of the passage, Neilson and Piche determined that there was

no significant relationship between syntactic complexity (limited to

headed nominal complexity) and quality of writing.

Homburg (1984), however, determined that the number of dependent

clauses per composition was a significant predictor of holistic

scores. Homburg derived his data from 30 compositions randomly

selected from the composition portion of the Michigan Test of English

Language Proficiency administered during the period from August 1979

to March 1980. The writers were, therefore, non-native speakers of

English who were applying to universities in the United States.

Homburg performed a one-way ANOVA and a discriminant analysis in

order to determine that number of dependent clauses per composition

was a significant predictor of holistic scores.

Coherence and Coordination

The corpus of research literature concerning the relationship

between coherence and holistic scores seems to indicate that both

coherence and coordination are significantly related to holistic

scores. McCulley (1985) used regression analysis on a sample of 120












persuasive papers written by 17-year-olds during the 1978-1979

National Assessment of Educational Progress, correcting for number of

T-units in each writing passage. The results of the study indicated

that general coherence was a significant predictor of a primary-trait

measure of persuasive writing quality and that the lexical cohesive

features, use of synonym, hyponym, and collocation, were also

significant predictors of the primary-trait measure. Homburg (1984),

in his study of 30 writing samples by non-native English speakers,

applied discriminant analysis and found that the number of

coordinating conjunctions per composition was a significant predictor

of holistic scores.

Length

As with syntactic complexity, the research literature regarding

number of words per sentence, number of words per T-unit, number of

sentences in the entire essay, and number of words in the entire

essay is inconclusive as to whether such attributes of length are

predictive of holistic scoring. Nold and Freedman (1977) and Stewart

and Grobe (1979), both by means of stepwise regression analysis,

determined that number of words in an essay was significantly

predictive of holistic scores. In correlational studies, Thomas and

Donlan (1980) and Bertrand (1983) also determined that number of

words in an essay was predictive of the holistic writing score. Chou

et al. (1982) determined that there was a significant relationship

between holistic scores and the number of sentences in an essay.












A number of researchers (Grobe, 1981; Nold & Freedman, 1977;

Stewart & Grobe, 1979; Stewart & Leaman, 1983) indicated that

syntactic complexity, measured by the number of words per T-unit, was

not significantly correlated with holistic scores. Homburg (1984),

by means of discriminant analysis, determined, however, that number

of words in a sentence was significantly predictive of holistic

scores for non-native speakers of English.

Handwriting Quality

Researchers (Chase, 1986; Hughes et al., 1983; McColly, 1970)

have uniformly suggested that handwriting quality is a significant

predictor of the holistic score. Hughes et al. (1983) determined by

means of ANOVA that there was a significant difference between

holistic scores awarded to essays in experimental and control groups

defined in terms of handwriting quality and further found that

handwriting quality did not interact with score or achievement

expectations.

Chase (1986) used an ANOVA technique to analyze the data

collected by having each of 80 readers evaluate a single contrived

student essay. Each of the readers was also given a student record

card which identified the student as either a high or low achiever,

black or white, and male or female. Chase found that there were

complex interactions of expectations, handwriting, and sex within

race. The results indicated that quality of handwriting was

significantly related to the holistic score, but that the

relationship between handwriting quality and the holistic score

interacted with expectations of sex within race.













Comparison of Factor-Analytic and
Regression Methods of Construct Validation

In the instant study, factor analysis was selected as the method

for examining the construct validity of holistic scores. Unlike

regression analysis, factor analysis permits the researcher to

examine multiple writing traits measured by the holistic writing

score, number of grammatical errors, syntactic complexity, paragraph

cohesion, coordination, length of syntactic structures, length of the

essay, and physical appearance of the handwriting. Factor analysis,

therefore, enables the researcher to identify a reduced number of

underlying constructs which describe multiple variables involved in

the evaluation of writing.

Regression analysis, however, permits the distillation of a

number of independent variables into only a single dependent variable

or trait, such as the holistic score. Regression analysis would,

therefore, only identify which of the independent variables was

related to the holistic score and would not differentiate between

various sub-relationships among the independent variables and the

holistic score.

Although the regression analysis studies on holistic scoring

cited in the section entitled "Non-Factor-Analytic Research" in

Chapter II have functioned to identify a range of possible variables

which may be related to holistic scores, factor analysis is the more

appropriate method to investigate construct validation because factor

analysis permits the researcher to determine whether the holistic






17





score and the various writing subskills previously isolated by

regression analysis are empirically identified as measuring a common

factor. Factor analysis permits the researcher to meaningfully

explain the relationships between holistic scoring and the writing

subskill scores in terms of a few conceptually meaningful, relatively

independent factors.














CHAPTER III
PROCEDURES


The purpose of this study was to investigate the construct

validity of holistic scores using an exploratory factor analysis of

the holistically-scored CLAST essay subtest score (Holistic) and the

12 Atomistic Writing Subskill scores. This chapter contains

information on the research design, selection of subjects, selection

of atomistic writing subskills, and procedures for data-extraction

used in this study.


Selection of Subjects

The subjects in the sample included a total of 104 individuals

who participated in the March 1985 CLAST administration. The CLASP

staff selected 196 individuals from a population of 12,256

individuals who chose to write on the same essay topic and who were

administered the March 1985 CLAST. The CLASP staff provided a sample

of 196 examinees by physically retrieving a set of March 1985 CLAST

essays that had been returned together from the examination center

and were bound together in the CLASP storage area.

From this packet of 196 essays, a sample of approximately 100

individuals was randomly selected to produce a sample size

sufficiently large to produce reliable factor analysis results.

Gorsuch (1974) suggested that the sample for factor analysis should

provide an "absolute minimum ratio [of] five individuals to every












variable, but not less than 100 individuals for any analysis."

(p. 296). In this study the sample size of 104 individuals with 13

variables provided a ratio of 8 individuals to each variable, which

ratio was greater than the minimum suggested by Gorsuch. In

addition, time constraints involved in extracting the writing

subskill scores created a practical limit to the total number of

individuals sampled. Each essay required in excess of 3 hours of

grading time.

For this sample of 104 individuals, the frequency distribution of

the CLAST essay subtest scores is set forth in Table 1. The

descriptive statistics, including the mean, standard deviation, and

range for each of the four CLAST subtests of the 104 individuals

sampled from the March 1985 CLAST administration, are presented in

Table 2. The descriptive statistics, including the mean, standard

deviation, and median for each of the four CLAST subtests of the

total population of 12,256 individuals who took the March 1985 CLAST,

are presented in Table 3.


Selection of Atomistic Writing Subskills

The 12 Atomistic Writing Subskills selected for inclusion in this

study fall in five broad categories: (a) mechanics, (b) syntax, (c)

coherence and coordination, (d) length, and (e) handwriting quality.

The mechanics, syntax, coherence, and length scores were included in

this study because of their inclusion in assessments by the staff of

the National Assessment of Educational Progress and because of their






20








Table 1. Distribution by essay subtest scores of 104 essays drawn
from frame of 196 essays selected by the CLASP staff from
the population of 12,256 essays from the March 1985 CLAST
administration.



Essay Subtest Score n Percentage



2 3 2.8%

3 1 1.0

4 23 22.1

5 27 26.0

6 28 26.9

7 14 13.5

8 8 7.7


Total: 104 100.0%
.....................................................................














Table 2. Descriptive statistics for four CLAST subtests for 104
individuals sampled from the March 1985 CLAST
administration.



Subtest n M SD Minimum Maximum



Computation 104 316.5 28.7 244.0 397.0

Reading 104 322.3 28.4 253.0 405.0

Writing 104 318.7 29.6 252.0 381.0

Essay 104 5.4 1.4 2.0 8.0








Table 3. Descriptive statistics for four CLAST subtests for the
population of 12,256 individuals from the March 1985 CLAST
administration.



Subtest N M SD Median



Computation 12,256 314.0 30.6 314.0

Reading 12,256 322.0 29.3 324.0

Writing 12,256 315.0 29.8 309.0

Essay 12,256 5.1 1.4 5.0



Source: FDOE, 1986a, p. 44.












inclusion in research studies of holistic scoring cited in the

sections entitled "Factor-Analytic Research" and "Non-Factor-Analytic

Research" in Chapter II. The writing assessments by the staff of the

National Assessment of Educational Progress, however, included six

syntax scores. These were a nominal clause score, a nominal phrase

score, an adjectival clause score, an adjectival phrase score, an

adverbial clause score, and an adverbial phrase score. In the

instant study, in order to maximize the ratio of individuals to

variables (Gorsuch, 1974) for the factor analysis, the nominal clause

and nominal phrase scores were combined into a single nominal score;

the adjectival clause and adjectival phrase scores were combined into

a single adjectival score; and the adverbial clause and adverbial

phrase scores were combined into a single adverbial score.

The coordination score was included in the instant study because

Homburg (1984) suggested that coordination was predictive of holistic

scores, at least for non-native speakers of English. The measure of

handwriting quality was also included because of the body of research

literature indicating that essays written in poor handwriting

received lower holistic scores (Chase, 1986; Hughes et al., 1983;

McColly, 1970).

As set forth in the section entitled "Limitations" in Chapter I,

no writing subskill score was included for discourse mode or topic,

although there was a body of research suggesting that discourse modes

and topic selection were correlated to the holistic score (Cooper,

1977; Lloyd-Jones, 1977; Moss, Cole, & Khampalikit, 1982; Odell &












Cooper, 1980; Quellmalz et al., 1982). This study involved a single

expository topic as administered by the CLASP staff at the March 1985

administration of the CLAST; it was, accordingly, not possible to

obtain different discourse mode and topic selection scores for

inclusion in this study.

Also as set forth in the section entitled "Limitations" in

Chapter I, neither the content nor organization of the writing was

investigated, although Freedman (1979) suggested that content and

organization were significantly correlated to holistic scoring and

although Benton and Kiewra (1986) suggested that organizational

ability was significantly correlated to holistic scoring. The main

reason that this study did not include measures of the quality of the

content or organization of the overall essay was because of the

complications of confounding with various other writing subskill

scores. In order to assess the overall content and organization of

the writings, either an experimental study would need to be done to

control for confounding, or each essay would need to be "corrected"

for all of the subskill writing scores which were related to holistic

scoring. In a non-experimental study such as this, extraction of

content and organization scores would involve retyping each essay in

its entirety to correct for possible handwriting confounding, making

all mechanical error corrections, and rewriting each essay to

standardize the occurrence of syntactic structures. Because of the

problems associated with neutralizing the other potentially

confounding writing subskills, the variables in this study did not

include measures of overall content and organization.












In summary, the variables examined in this study included four

mechanics scores, three scores of syntactic complexity, one paragraph

coherence score, and two length scores, all of which scores were

based on writing subskills scores developed by the staff of the

National Assessment of Educational Progress. Because of research

findings in this area, the variables also included two other writing

subskill scores not developed by the staff of the National Assessment

of Educational Progress, namely coordination and handwriting quality.


Holistic Scoring

Each essay from the sample of 104 individuals administered the

March 1985 CLAST was holistically scored by the CLASP staff in

accordance with CLASP holistic scoring procedures (FDOE, 1980). The

procedures employed by the CLASP staff to holistically score the

March 1985 CLAST essays are those propounded by the Florida

Department of Education (1986a).

The CLAST scoring scale reflects the four levels of performance

described below:

Score 1:
Writer includes very little, if any, specific
relevant supporting detail but, instead, uses
generalizations for support. Thesis statement
and organization are vague and/or weak.
Underdeveloped ineffective paragraphs do not
support the thesis. Sentences lack variety,
usually consisting of a series of subject-verb
and, occasionally, complement constructions.
Transitions and coherence devices are not
discernible. Syntactical, mechanical, and usage
errors occur frequently.












Score 2:
Writer employs an inadequate amount of specific
detail relating to the subject. Thesis statement
and organization are unambiguous. Paragraphs
generally follow the organizational plan, and
they are usually sufficiently unified and
developed. Sentence variety is minimal and
constructions lack sophistication. Some
transitions are used and parts are related to
each other in a fairly orderly manner. Some
errors occur in syntax, mechanics, and usage.

Score 3:
Writer presents a considerable variety of
relevant and specific detail in support of the
subject. The thesis statement expresses the
writer's purpose. Reasonably well-developed,
unified paragraphs document the thesis. A
variety of sentence patterns occurs, and sentence
construction indicates that the writer has
facility in the use of language. Effective
transitions are accompanied by sentences
constructed with orderly relationship between
word groups. Syntactical, mechanical, and usage
errors are minor.

Score 4:
Writer uses an abundance of specific, relevant
details, including concrete examples, that
clearly support generalizations. The thesis
statement effectively reflects the writer's
purpose. Body paragraphs carefully follow the
organizational plan stated in the introduction
and are fully developed and tightly controlled.
A wide variety of sentence constructions is
used. Appropriate transitional words and phrases
and effective coherence techniques make the prose
distinctive. Virtually no errors in syntax,
mechanics, and usage occur. (FDOE, 1986a, pp.
36-37).


Atomistic Writing Subskill Scoring

Each essay from the sample of 104 individuals administered the

March 1985 CLAST was evaluated to generate 12 scores in the following

five broad categories: (a) mechanics, (b) syntax, (c) coherence and












coordination, (d) length, and (e) handwriting. The broad category of

mechanics included scores for the number of agreement errors

(Agreement), punctuation errors (Punctuation), spelling errors

(Spelling), and capitalization errors (Capitalization). The broad

category of syntax included scores on the number of nominal clauses

and phrases (Nominal), the number of adjectival clauses and phrases

(Adjectival), and the number of adverbial clauses and phrases

(Adverbial). The broad category of coherence and coordination

included scores for paragraph coherence (Coherence) and inter-T-unit

coordination (Coordination). The broad category of length included

scores for the number of words per T-unit (Nords/T-unit) and the

total number of words in the essay (Words). The broad category of

handwriting included the score for handwriting quality (Handwriting).

Each of the 104 CLAST essays in the sample was, therefore,

evaluated to produce scores for the following 12 Atomistic Writing

Subskills: (a) Agreement, (b) Punctuation, (c) Spelling, (d)

Capitalization, (e) Nominal, (f) Adjectival, (g) Adverbial, (h)

Coherence, (i) Coordination, (j) Words/T-unit, (k) Words, and (1)

Handwriting. A description of each of the 12 Atomistic Writing

Subskills follows. With the exception of Coordination and

Handwriting, the method of scoring the Atomistic Writing Subskills

was derived from the procedures set forth in the National Assessment

of Educational Progress scoring guidelines (NAEP, 1980).

Mechanics

The Mechanics scores were derived by determining the number of

mechanical errors in each CLAST essay. For each CLAST essay, one












scorer initially counted the number of mechanical errors and a second

scorer checked the first scorer's countto generate an accurate count

of the number of mechanical errors. Prior to scoring, each scorer

reviewed the rules set forth in the National Assessment of

Educational Progress scoring guide for syntax, cohesion, and

mechanics (Mullis & Mellon, 1980). One score was produced for each

of the four mechanics scores for each CLAST essay.

The guidelines for categorizing mechanics errors as set forth in

the National Assessment of Educational Progress scoring guide (NAEP,

1980) were used to derive the four mechanics scores. Agreement

errors were deemed in this study to be mistakes in subject/verb

agreement, mistakes in pronoun/antecent agreement, misusage of a

subject/object pronoun, and errors in verb tense. Punctuation errors

included all errors of commission and errors of omission relating to

commas, dashes, quotation marks, semi-colons, apostrophies, and end

marks, using the most informal usage rules. Spelling errors included

misspellings, errors in word divisions at line endings, errors of

writing two words as one or one word as two, extraneous plurals, and

letter groupings not constituting a legitimate word. Capitalization

errors were deemed to be errors in the capitalization of the first

word in a sentence, the failure to capitalize a proper noun or

adjective within a sentence, and the failure to capitalize the

pronoun "I."












Syntax

The following descriptions of each syntactic structure counted in

this study were derived from the National Assessment of Educational

Progress guide for scoring syntax, cohesion, and mechanics (Mullis &

Mellon, 1980). For each essay, one scorer initially counted the

number of syntactic structures and a second scorer checked the first

scorer's count to generate an accurate count of each syntactic

structure. One score was recorded for each syntactic structure for

each essay. Examples of the syntactic structure extracted from the

essays in this study follow.

Nominal. The Nominal score consists of both nominal clauses and

nominal phrases. Nominal clauses occur in two forms: (a)

that-nominal clauses and (b) question-nominal clauses. Both

that-nominals and question-nominal clauses occur in a variety of

nominal positions, including subject of the sentence, object of the

verb, object of a preposition, subject complement, and appositive.

The following are examples of that-nominals and question-nominal

clauses from the CLAST essays in this study:

"We see by this point that fads are not only
non-verbal but also verbal." (that-nominal as
object of a verb)

"Every couple of years, there seems to be a
shift in what young people are doing for fun."
(question-nominal as object of a preposition)

"'To be in' it suddenly matters what brand of
jeans one is wearing or how one greets another."
(two question-nominals as subjects of the verb)

"The point is that the young are
unconformed." (that-nominal as subject
complement)












"The fact that teenagers watch t.v. a great
deal, shows a basis of where they learn
up-to-date fads." (that-nominal as subject of
the verb)

"In a teenagers mind, these fads will
determine -if they are 'in' or 'out' of the
crowd." (question nominal as object of the verb)

Nominal phrases are differentiated from nominal clauses by the

inclusion of uninflected verbs. Nominal phrases occur, however, in

the same nominal positions as do nominal clauses. The two types of

nominal phrases are the infinitive and the gerund. Examples of

nominal phrases from the CLAST essays in this study follow:

"Keeping up with current trends is assumed to
be the only road to popularity and thus offers
some security to the very insecure teenager."
(gerund as subject of verb)

"People consider fads to be a motivational
factor because they make them feel alive and
fresh." (infinitive as object of verb)

"They must learn to develop their minds and
personalities." (infinitive as object of the verb)

"Being able to relate to some thing on one's
own level is of the utmost importance." (gerund
as subject of the verb)

"This ability to be seen and read by all lends
itself perfectly to the spreading of fads across
the nation." (gerund as object of a preposition)

Adjectival. The Adjectival score is comprised of both adjective

clauses and adjective phrases. Adjectival clauses are sometimes

referred to as relative clauses. Three types of adjectival clauses

were scored: restrictive relatives, non-restrictive relatives, and

adverbials of time, place, or manner. The following are examples of

relative clauses from the essays in this study:












"He is constantly testing the boundaries of
acceptable behavior and discovering those actions
which he enjoys." (restrictive-relative)

"When many people think about fads they
suddenly think of the way people dress at a
certain point in time." (adverbial clause of
time)

"They are not caught up with society and the
restraints it imposes." (restrictive relative)

Modifying phrases are relative clauses reduced by the deletion of

relative pronouns, subjects, and, in many cases, verbs.

"Teenagers growing up want to make decisions
of their own." (participial phrase)

"Fads are popular characteristics adopted by
members of a given society." (participial phrase)

"Most teenagers are given allowances or have a
part-time job and being provided with the
essentials by their parents, are able to afford
the luxury of fads." (non-restrictive participial
phrase)

"Then there's Roxy and Tom, with their dog
collars on." (prepositional phrase)

"For this reason they will try out many fads
until they manage to find a style unique to
themselves." (reduced relative clause)

"By being caught up, the teenager also becomes
popular and excepted." (adverbial phrase of time,
place or manner)

Adverbial. The Adverbial score consists of adverbial clauses and

adverbial phrases. Adverbial clauses include all adverbial clauses

other than clauses of time, place, and manner. Adverbial clauses

include, therefore, adverbials of cause, purpose, condition, or

concession.












"This difference is very obvious if a person
visits a local shopping mall." (adverbial clause
of condition)

"If a teen is not socially accepted by his
friends, he is cast aside like a dirty rag."
(adverbial clause of condition)

"Fads are especially attractive to teenagers
because teenagers are young." (adverbial clause
of cause)

"Young people buy these 'fads' so they can
express hourly to their society what they are
feeling." (adverbial clause of purpose)

"Though the fads may change, the reasons
never will." (adverbial clause of
concession)

"Since they are too young to obtain a
substantial role, they accept one--fads."
(adverbial clause of cause)

Adverbial phrases are reduced adverbial clauses and also include

adverbials of cause, purpose, condition, or concession.

"They may explore different ideas or values
to discover who they really are." (adverbial
phrase of purpose)

"In conclusion the fact shows that fads can
be harmless if taken as a fad." (adverbial
phrase of condition)

"Many people believe that teenagers follow
fads to make a statement." (adverbial phrase of
purpose)

"To make up for this, teenagers hold their
feelings inside them and don't always express
how they feel towards certain things."
(adverbial phrase of purpose)

Coherence and Coordination

Two separate measures were used to score the way that individuals

create a unity within the essay: Coherence and Coordination. A












description of the scoring procedures for Coherence and Coordination

follows.

Coherence. A Coherence score was produced for each of the 104

CLAST essays in the sample. On each of the 104 CLAST essays in the

sample, the first full paragraph (other than the introductory

paragraph of the essay) which contained three or more complete

sentences was selected for scoring. Each selected paragraph was

typed onto a blank sheet of paper with a randomly-selected

identifying number in order to eliminate any possible handwriting

quality effect. The 104 sheets of paper, each with a typed

paragraph, were randomly ordered and given to two scorers, each of

whom had participated in CLASP holistic scoring sessions on at least

six occasions prior to scoring the paragraph coherence samples in

this study. The two scorers first reviewed the scoring criteria for

each category, using sample CLAST essays for each scored category. A

number of practice essays were scored by both scorers, and

discrepancies were reviewed. Each scorer evaluated each CLAST essay

independently. The scorers periodically checked the consistency of

the scoring. The inter-rater reliability was 0.67. The average of

the two scores, one from each scorer, constituted the Coherence score

for each CLAST essay.

The following are descriptions of the four reference points from

the National Assessment of Education Progress scoring guide for

syntax, cohesion, and mechanics (Mullis & Mellon, 1980):












1 = Little or no evidence of cohesion. Basically,
clauses and sentences are not connected beyond
pairings.

2 = Attempts at cohesion. There is evidence of
gathering details but little or no evidence that
these details are meaningfully ordered. In other
words, very little seems lost if the details were
rearranged.

3 = Cohesion. Details are both gathered and
ordered. Cohesion is achieved in the ways
illustrated briefly in the definition above
[that is, by lexical cohesion, conjunction,
reference, and substitution, and by syntactic
repetition]. Cohesion does not necessarily lead
to coherence, to the successful binding of parts
so that the sense of the whole discourse is
greater than the sense of the parts. In pieces
of writing that are cohesive rather than
coherent, there are large sections of details
which cohere but these sections stand apart as
sections.

4 = Coherence. While there may be a sense of
sections within the piece of writing, the sheer
number and variety of cohesion strategies bind
the details and sections into a wholeness. This
sense of wholeness can be achieved by a
saturation of syntactic repetition throughout the
piece . and/or by closure which
retrospectively orders the entire piece and/or by
general statements which organize the whole
piece. (p. 26).

Coordination. Coordination was considered to be the conjunction

of two T-units by a coordinating conjunction (i.e., "and," "or,"

"nor," "but," "for," or "yet") or by a conjunctive adverb (e.g.,

"however," "therefore"). Each essay was scored by one scorer and

checked by a second scorer to obtain an accurate count of the

Coordination score. One Coordination score was recorded for each


CLAST essay in this study.












Length

Each essay was scored by one scorer'and checked by a second

scorer to obtain an accurate count of the number of T-units (T-unit)

and number of words (Words). A T-unit was defined as "one main

clause with all the subordinate clauses attached to it." (Hunt, 1965,

p. 20). Contracted words such as "don't" were scored as two words.

The average number of words per T-unit in an essay (Words/T-unit)

was determined by dividing the total number of words by the total

number of T-units in the essay. The score for Words was the total

number of words in the essay.

The mean for Words in the sample of 104 CLAST essays was 369.4

(SD = 105.6) words, and the mean for T-units in the sample of 104

CLAST essays was 24.8 (SD = 7.9) T-units. The mean for Words/T-unit

in the sample of 104 CLAST essays was 15.2 (SD = 2.8) words.

Handwriting

A Handwriting score was produced for each of the 104 CLAST essays

in the sample. For each of the 104 CLAST essays in the sample, the

second through the fifth line of the first 7-line paragraph was

photocopied. Lines with no text on the line, including blank lines

and cross-outs of entire lines, were not counted as lines. Each such

photocopied 4-line passage from each of the 104 CLAST essays in the

sample was placed on a blank sheet of paper with a randomly-selected

identifying number. Two identical sets of the 104 sheets of paper

with the 4-line handwriting samples were produced, and each set was

randomly ordered. One set was given to each of two scorers, each of












whom had participated in CLASP holistic scoring sessions on at least

five occasions prior to scoring the handwriting samples in this study.

Each of the scorers rated each handwriting sample on a scale from

I through 5, with 1 being "most legible" and 5 being "least

legible." The inter-rater reliability determined by the Pearson

Product-Moment correlation was 0.56. The two scores were averaged to

produce a single Handwriting score for each essay.

Correction of Atomistic Writing Scores for Essay Length

The descriptive statistics for the 12 raw Atomistic Writing

Subskill scores are set forth in Table 4. To correct for the varying

lengths of the essays in the sample, each of the raw Mechanics,

Syntax, and Coordination scores was converted, following Mellon's

(1969) guidelines, into a ratio of mechanical errors, syntactic

constructions, or coordinations per 100 T-units. In that the scoring

procedures for Coherence and Handwriting controlled for length of the

essay, neither score was so converted. The descriptive statistics

for the 12 Atomistic Writing Subskill scores, with mechanical errors,

syntactic constructions, and coordinations converted into ratios per

100 T-units, are set forth in Table 5.














Table 4. Descriptive statistics for raw'Atomistic Writing Subskill
scores from essays of 104 individuals sampled from the
March 1985 CLAST administration.



Variable n M SD Minimum Maximum



Agreement 104 1.0 1.7 0.0 10.0

Punctuation 104 4.8 4.7 0.0 31.0

Spelling 104 2.9 3.5 0.0 21.0

Capitalization 104 0.6 1.3 0.0 8.0

Nominal 104 16.2 7.2 2.0 41.0

Adjectival 104 44.2 15.1 15.0 87.0

Adverbial 104 6.2 3.9 1.0 21.0

Coherence 104 2.8 0.7 1.0 4.0

Coordination 104 3.3 2.4 0.0 10.0

T-units 104 24.8 7.9 11.0 47.0

Words 104 369.4 105.6 173.0 654.0

Handwriting 104 3.3 1.1 1.0 5.0
















Table 5. Descriptive statistics for Atomistic Writing Subskill
scores from essays of 104 individuals sampled from March
1985 CLAST administration.



Variable n M SD Minimum Maximum



Agreement 104 4.3 6.4 0.0 33.3

Punctuationb 104 19.5 16.4 0.0 96.0

Spellingb 104 12.0 14.3 0.0 75.0

Capitalizationb 104 2.3 5.1 0.0 25.8

Nominalb 104 66.5 24.5 13.3 165.0

Adjectivalb 104 184.3 61.7 81.0 425.0

Adverbialb 104 26.1 16.3 2.7 84.0

Coherencea 104 2.8 0.7 1.0 4.0

Coordination 104 13.4 9.3 0.0 41.2

Nords/T-unit' 104 15.2 2.8 9.5 24.6

Words" 104 369.4 105.6 173.0 654.0

Handwriting" 104 3.3 1.2 1.0 5.0



a Raw score.
b Converted into number per 100 T-units.
c Converted into number per one T-unit.
















CHAPTER IV
ANALYSIS OF THE DATA


In order to investigate the construct validity of holistic

scores, the correlation matrix for the holistically-scored essay

subtest scores of the March 1985 CLAST and the 12 Atomistic Writing

Subskill scores was first generated. Second, the correlation matrix

for the holistically-scored essay subtest scores of the March 1985

CLAST and the 12 Atomistic Writing Subskill scores was submitted to

factor analysis in order to investigate the factorial validity of the

holistic writing score construct.


Normality Assumption

The descriptive statistics for the Atomistic Writing Subskill

scores set forth in Table 5 suggest extreme positive skewness in the

variables Agreement, Punctuation, Spelling, Capitalization,

Adjectival, and Adverbial. Accordingly, scatterplots were generated

and skewness was calculated for each of the suspect variables. The

scatterplots and skewness suggested that the scores for Agreement,

Punctuation, Spelling, Capitalization, Adjectival, and Adverbial

sufficiently violated the normality assumption to warrant corrective

measures. Although factor analysis is robust to violations of

normality (Gorsuch, 1974), the skewed variables were submitted to a

log transformation to make the skewed distributions approximately












normal. The set of 12 Atomistic Writing Subskill scores, with the

variables Agreement, Punctuation, Spelling, Capitalization,

Adjectival, and Adverbial normalized by the log transformation and

with the variables Nominal, Coherence, Coordination, Word/T-unit,

Words, and Handwriting not submitted to the log transformation,

provided the data for the correlational validity and the factorial

validity analyses.


Correlational Validity

As set forth in Table 6, there appear to be three general sets of

correlations between Holistic and the 12 Atomistic Writing Subskill

scores. First, Holistic was negatively correlated with the Mechanics

scores, and the Mechanics scores generally appeared to be positively

correlated with each other. Second, the Words/T-unit score was

positively correlated with the Nominal, Adjectival and Adverbial

scores. Third, Holistic was positively correlated with the Coherence

and Words scores.

The inverse correlations between the Holistic score and the

Mechanics scores and the positive correlations among the Mechanics

scores suggested that the quality of writing measured by holistic

scoring included the extent to which the writing was free from

mechanical errors and the extent to which the writer wrote legibly.

The positive correlations among the Words/T-unit, Nominal,

Adjectival, and Adverbial scores suggested that essays containing

longer thought-units had more density of nominal, adjectival, and
















Table 6. Pearson Product-Moment correlation matrix for essay subtest
scores of March 1985 CLAST and 12 Atomistic Writing
Subskill scores.



Variables HOL AGR PUN SPE CAP NOM



Holistic (HOL) 1.00

Agreement (AGR) -0.30 1.00

Punctuation (PUN) -0.20 0.19 1.00

Spelling (SPE) -0.24 0.31 0.38 1.00

Capitalization (CAP) -0.16 0.14 0.32 0.28 1.00

Nominal (NOM) -0.12 0.00 -0.02 0.05 0.00 1.00

Adjectival (ADJ) 0.23 -0.10 0.07 0.01 -0.02 0.08

Adverbial (ADV) -0.09 0.21 0.15 0.04 0.00 0.25

Coherence (COH) 0.51 -0.09 -0.06 -0.12 0.02 -0.02

Coordination (COO) -0.11 0.07 0.14 -0.02 -0.07 0.08

Words/T-unit (W-T) 0.17 -0.02 0.14 0.01 0.02 0.28

Words (WDS) 0.47 -0.05 0.09 0.10 0.19 0.03

Handwriting (HAN) 0.17 -0.14 -0.10 -0.23 -0.16 -0.09
















Table 6--Continued.



Variables ADJ ADV COH COO W-T WDS HAN



Holistic

Agreement

Punctuation

Spelling

Capitalization

Nominal

Adjectival 1.00

Adverbial 0.06 1.00

Coherence 0.07 0.01 1.00

Coordination -0.01 0.07 -0.10 1.00

Words/T-unit 0.82 0.40 0.10 0.01 1.00

Words 0.14 0.01 0.38 -0.01 0.16 1.00

Handwriting 0.04 -0.03 0.16 0.14 0.01 -0.05 1.00











adverbial constructions. The positive correlations among the

Holistic, Coherence, and Words scores suggested that the quality of

writing measured by holistic scoring was related to the writer's

ability to organize and unify a paragraph and to the length of the

essay. The failure of Holistic to correlate with any of the Syntax

scores, other than with Adjectival, or with Words/T-unit suggested

that the construct which the holistic writing score measured was not

strongly related to grammatical complexity or T-unit length.


Factorial Validity

Factor analysis was conducted on the correlation matrix set forth

in Table 6 in order to investigate further the construct validity of

the holistic scores. By submitting Holistic and the 12 Atomistic

Writing Subskill scores to a factor analysis, the 13 writing measures

were reduced to a smaller number of factors or writing constructs.

Extraction of Non-Trivial Factors

The criteria employed for determining the number of factors to be

retained for rotation were (a) the application of Cattell's scree

test (1966, p. 206), (b) careful examination of the size of loadings

on the principal-axis factor matrix, and (c) an examination of the

conceptional meaningfulness of the three-, four-, and five-factor

solutions. Collectively, the results of these efforts suggested that

three salient factors accounted for most of the common variance in

the data.












The scree test is a procedure whereby eigenvalues are plotted

from largest to smallest in order to determine the number of

non-trivial factors. In Table 7, the eigenvalues and corresponding

percentages of common variance for each of the 13 factors are set

forth. To determine the number of non-trivial factors, a straight

line is drawn on a scree plot, and the point where the factors

increase above the straight line on the plot yields the number of

non-trivial factors (Gorsuch, 1974). Cattell (1966) originally

suggested that the first factor on the straight line should also be

included in the number of non-trivial factors in order to ensure that

a sufficient number of factors were extracted; Cattell and Jaspers

(1967) subsequently suggested, however, that the number of

non-trivial factors should not include the first factor on the

straight line. The fact that a total of three factors lie above the

straight line in Figure I suggested that there were three non-trivial

factors in this study.

As set forth in the Appendix, the fact that the four- and

five-factor solutions produced less meaningful factor patterns was

further evidence for a three-factor solution. In the four-factor

solution, as set forth in Table 10 in the Appendix, an additional

fourth factor with significant positive loadings on only Coordination

and Handwriting was produced. The five-factor solution, as set forth

in Table II in the Appendix, resulted in factor two in the

three-factor solution being divided into two separate factors. The

additional factor in each of the four- and five-factor solutions was













Table 7. Eigenvalues and corresponding proportion of common variance.



Proportion
Common
Factor Eigenvalue Variance



1 2.39 0.18

2 2.21 0.17

3 1.61 0.12

4 1.16 0.09

5 1.09 0.08

6 0.92 0.07

7 0.81 0.06

8 0.70 0.05

9 0.67 0.05

10 0.55 0.04

11 0.46 0.04

12 0.33 0.03

13 0.10 0.01
























I M


r-N








r+1








































1+ C









+ - - + --- - -- + -- -

m cu c o
.. . .. . .. . .. .











not conceptually meaningful and was not supported by the research

literature, further suggesting that three factors should be retained

for rotation.

Three-Factor Solution

To determine empirically the factorial validity of the holistic

writing construct, Holistic and the 12 Atomistic Writing Subskill

scores were subjected to the principal-axis method of common factor

analysis by means of the SAS computer procedure Factor (Sarle,

1985). Three factors were then subjected to an oblique promax

rotation and an orthogonal varimax rotation. Examination of the

resulting intercorrelation matrix revealed that the factor

correlations were low (r's < .20), indicating that the results of an

orthogonal solution could be interpreted meaningfully. The final

communality estimate and the uniqueness for each of the 13 variables

submitted to factor analysis are set forth in Table 8.

The rotated factor pattern for the three-factor solution is

displayed in Table 9, with the specific items that had a loading

equal to or greater than the absolute value of 0.40 on any of the

three factors indicated. Gorsuch (1974) suggested that, in order to

obtain a minimum significant correlation coefficient of p < .05 on

factor analysis with a sample of 100 individuals, only variables with

loadings equal to or greater than the absolute value of 0.40 should

be assigned to a factor for interpretation.

Factor one had four writing variables with positive factor

loadings greater than 0.40: Agreement, Punctuation, Spelling, and












Capitalization. Factor one also had one writing variable,

Handwriting, with a negative factor loading less than -0.40.

Holistic had a factor loading of -0.37, which closely approached

significance at the p<.05 level; Holistic was, therefore, included

in this study in factor one. Factor two had four writing variables

with positive factor loadings greater than 0.40: Nominals,

Adjectivals, Adverbials, and Nords/T-unit. Factor three had three

variables with factor loadings greater than 0.40: Holistic,

Coherence, and Words. Only one variable, Coordination, did not load

significantly on any factor. Factor one was labeled

Holistic/Mechanics/Handwriting; factor two was labeled Syntax/T-unit;

and factor three was labeled Holistic/Coherence/Words.

As set forth in Table 7, the total variance associated with the

three factors was 47.8%. The factor identified as

Holistic/Mechanics/Handwriting accounted for 18.4%; the factor

identified as Syntax/T-unit accounted for 17.0%; and the factor

identified as Holistic/Coherence/Words accounted for 12.4%.
















Table 8. Final communality estimates (h2) and uniqueness (u2)
for essay subtest scores and Atomistic Writing Subskill
scores of 104 individuals sampled from the March 1985 CLAST
administration.



Variable h2 u2



Holistic 0.75 0.25

Agreement 0.34 0.66

Punctuation 0.46 0.54

Spelling 0.55 0.45

Capitalization 0.47 0.53

Nominal 0.28 0.72

Adjectival 0.56 0.44

Adverbial 0.38 0.62

Coherence 0.54 0.46

Coordination 0.08 0.92

Words/T-unit 0.90 0.10

Words 0.62 0.38

Handwriting 0.21 0.79















Table 9. Rotated factor pattern for three-factor solution.



Variable Factor 1 Factor 2 Factor 3




Holistic -0.37** 0.06 0.78*

Agreement 0.52* 0.03 -0.25

Punctuation 0.65* 0.17 0.01

Spelling 0.74* 0.01 -0.03

Capitalization 0.65* -0.04 0.20

Nominal 0.02 0.49* -0.20

Adjectival -0.07 0.76* 0.28

Adverbial 0.14 0.57* -0.19

Coherence -0.11 0.01 0.72*

Coordination -0.02 0.16 -0.24

Words/T-unit 0.00 0.93* 0.19

Words 0.22 0.08 0.75*

Handwriting -0.46* 0.03 0.08



* p< .05.

** Closely approaches significance at p< .05 level.















CHAPTER V
DISCUSSION


The results clearly did not support the proposition that holistic

scoring measured a unitary writing trait. Instead, the results

suggested that the holistic score loaded on two uncorrelated

factors: (a) a factor on which the holistic score, paragraph

coherence, and number of words in the essay loaded significantly and

(b) a factor on which writing mechanics and handwriting quality

loaded significantly and on which the holistic score loaded at a

level approaching significance. Furthermore, the results suggested

that the holistic score was unrelated to the factor on which number

of syntactic structures and number of words per T-unit loaded

significantly. Finally, the results suggested that coordination was

unrelated to any of the three writing constructs.


Research Implications

The significant factor loadings of holistic scoring, paragraph

coherence, and total number of words in the essay on the factor

identified as Holistic/Coherence/Nords is supported by the research

literature. McCulley (1985) found that general coherence was a

significant predictor of a primary-trait measure of persuasive

writing quality. Bertrand (1983), Nold and Freedman (1977), Stewart

and Grobe (1979), and Thomas and Donlan (1980) determined that the












number of words in an essay was predictive of holistic scores. Chou

et al. (1982) also determined that there was a significant

correlation between number of sentences in an essay and holistic

scores.

The finding that mechanical errors and handwriting quality loaded

significantly and that holistic scores loaded at a level approaching

significance on the factor identified as Holistic/Mechanic/

Handwriting is also universally suggested by the research

literature. The number of mechanical errors was found to be

significantly correlated to holistic scores (Bertrand, 1983;

Freedman, 1979; Grobe, 1981; Homburg, 1984; Stewart & Grobe, 1979;

Stewart & Leaman, 1983; Veal & Hudson, 1983). Likewise, handwriting

quality was determined to be significantly correlated to holistic

scores (Chase, 1986; Hughes et al., 1983; McColly, 1970).

Furthermore, the finding that syntactic units and words per

T-unit, but not holistic scoring, loaded highly on the factor

identified as Syntax/T-unit also comports with the weight of the

research literature. Freedman (1979), Neilson and Piche (1981),

Stewart and Grobe (1979), and Stewart and Leaman (1983) concluded

that syntactic complexity was not significantly correlated to the

holistic score. The results of the instant study did not, however,

substantiate the findings of Homburg (1984) and Nold and Freedman

(1977) that there was a significant correlation between syntactic

complexity and the holistic score. In that the subjects for

Homburg's study were non-native speakers of English and in that the












graders were teachers of non-native speakers of English, Homburg's

study suggested a different agenda for holistic scoring on the part

of teachers of non-native speakers of English. As to the inclusion

of number of words per T-units in the factor identified as

Syntax/T-Unit, the number or words per T-unit was found not to be

significantly correlated to holistic scores (Grobe, 1981; Nold &

Freedman, 1977; Stewart & Grobe, 1979; Stewart & Leaman, 1983).

The finding that Coordination did not load on any of the three

factors in this study runs contrary to the conclusion of Homburg

(1984) in his study of 30 writing samples by non-English speakers.

Homburg found that the number of coordinating conjunctions per

composition was a significant predictor of holistic scores for

non-native English speakers. Homburg's findings again suggested a

different agenda for holistic scoring by teachers of non-native

speakers of English.

The results of the instant study were, therefore, consistent with

reported research literature, at least to the extent that such

research literature was based on writings of native speakers of

English. Because of the reliance on regression analysis, there is an

implication in prior research literature that a unitary writing

construct is measured by the holistic score, which writing construct

is composed of the subskills that correlate with the holistic

scoring. Furthermore, although they investigated a different set of

atomistic writing subskill scores from those included in the instant

study, both Freedman (1981) and Chapman et al. (1984) suggested that












the holistic score loaded on a single factor. The results of the

instant study, however, clearly suggested that there is not one, but

instead are two distinct writing traits measured by holistic scoring,

namely the factor identified as Holistic/Coherence/Words and the

factor identified as Holistic/Mechanics/Handwriting.


Implications for Further Research

This factorial validity study suggests that holistic scoring

loads highly on two distinct writing constructs. Factor analysis is,

however, but one method available to investigate construct validity

(Allen & Yen, 1979; Crocker & Algina, 1986). The factor analysis

should be replicated to confirm the factorial validity of the

holistic score. In addition, the relationship of the holistic score

to the three writing traits should be investigated by using other

methods of construct validation, including multitrait-multimethod

matrix analysis, experimental studies, and comparisons of scores of

defined groups.

Furthermore, different discourse modes and topic selection should

be investigated by replicating the factorial validity and by applying

other methods of establishing construct validity. It may be that the

factors in this study identified as Holistic/Coherence/Words and

Holistic/Mechanics/Handwriting are not stable over different

discourse modes and topics (Cooper, 1977; Lloyd-Jones, 1977; Moss et

al., 1982; Odell & Cooper, 1980; Quellmalz et al., 1982).












Further studies of construct validity should also be done to

determine whether the results of this study on college freshmen and

sophomores are stable across different age groups. Additionally, in

that Benton and Kiewra (1986) and Freedman (1979) suggested that

overall content and overall organizational ability were significantly

correlated to holistic scoring, researchers should attempt to

incorporate overall content and overall organization into future

construct validity studies. Finally, in that Holistic appeared to be

more strongly related to the factor identified as

Holistic/Coherence/Words (Holistic factor loading = 0.78) than to the

factor identified as Holistic/Mechanics/Handwriting (Holistic factor

loading = -0.37), future researchers should determine whether the

different levels of factor loadings reported in the instant study are

the result of greater variation in the former than in the latter

variables or whether the CLASP scorers in fact paid more attention to

the former than to the latter variables.
















APPENDIX

ROTATED FACTOR PATTERNS FOR FOUR- AND
S FIVE-FACTOR SOLUTIONS














Table 10. Rotated factor pattern (varimax rotation) for four-factor
solution.



Variable -Factor 1 Factor 2 Factor 3 Factor 4
.....................................................................


Holistic -0.34 0.80* 0.05 -0.05

Agreement 0.55* -0.22 0.00 0.19

Punctuation 0.70* 0.04 0.13 0.16

Spelling 0.72* -0.07 0.02 -0.16

Capitalization 0.63* 0.15 -0.04 -0.22

Nominal 0.02 -0.18 0.49* 0.06

Adjectival -0.08 0.25 0.78* -0.18

Adverbial 0.19 -0.12 0.53* 0.31

Coherence -0.06 0.76* -0.03 0.09

Coordination 0.11 -0.08 0.05 0.77*

Nords/T-unit 0.01 0.19 0.94* -0.04

words 0.26 0.76* 0.06 -0.04

Handwriting -0.35 0.21 -0.05 0.58*



* p< .05.












Table 11. Rotated factor pattern (varimax rotation) for five-factor
solution.



Variable Factor 1 Factor 2 Factor 3 Factor 4 Factor 5




Holistic -0.31 0.77* 0.20 -0.17 0.00

Agreement 0.48* -0.13 -0.24 0.36 0.07

Punctuation 0.74* -0.04 0.15 0.00 0.24

Spelling 0.72* -0.08 -0.02 0.05 -0.15

Capitalization 0.66* 0.11 0.03 -0.11 -0.18

Nominal -0.09 -0.04 0.11 0.72* -0.13

Adjectival 0.03 0.08 0.95* -0.01 0.00

Adverbial 0.08 0.06 0.13 0.77* 0.13

Coherence -0.08 0.81* -0.02 0.03 0.05

Coordination 0.11 -0.10 -0.04 0.14 0.77*

Words/T-Unit 0.05 0.11 0.89* 0.36 0.02

Words 0.25 0.78* 0.08 0.04 -0.06

Handwriting -0.31 0.13 0.07 -0.18 0.66*


-----------* p<---------.05.
* p < .05.















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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH


Gregory K. West-was born in Morgantown, West Virginia, on May 26,

1949. He completed a B.A. in English literature at Ohio State

University in 1971, an M.A. in classical Greek at Ohio State

University in 1975, an M.A. in linguistics at Ohio University in

1976, and a J.D. at the University of Florida in 1983. Prior to

receiving the J.D., he was an instructor in the English department of

Ohio State University from 1976 through 1979, teaching composition,

grammar, and technical writing. After completing the J.D., he was

appointed judicial law clerk to the Honorable Howell W. Melton,

United States District Judge, Middle District of Florida, serving

from 1983 through 1985. Since 1985 he has practiced law in the area

of tax-exempt governmental finance and is currently associated with

the firm of Mahoney Adams Milam Surface & Grimsley, P.A.,

Jacksonville, Florida. He has published articles on the technical

writing of both native and non-native speakers of English in TESOL

Quarterly, The Journal of Technical English, and elsewhere.












I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it
conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is
fully adequate, in scope and quality, as a dissertation for the
degree of Doctor of Philosophy.


Ja s Algina, Chairp rson
Pro essor of Founda ions of
Education


I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it
conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is
fully adequate, in scope and quality, as a dissertation for the
degree of Doctor of Philosophy.

S _- < -
Lihda Crocker
Professor of Foundations of
Education


I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it
conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is
fully adequate, in scope and quality, as a dissertation for the
degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
,'.I N / /

'Micha1 y. Nunnery
Professor of Educationay Leadership


This dissertation was submitted to the Graduate Faculty of the
College of Education and to the Graduate School, and was accepted as
partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of
Philosophy.


December 1988 -l_______ x ___
Chajrperson, Foundat(ons of
Education



Dean, College of Education --


Dean, Graduate School




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