Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Science (MS)

Degree Name

Speech-Language Pathology

Department or School/College

Department of Communicative Sciences and Disorders

Committee Chair

Ginger Collins

Commitee Members

Annie Kennedy, Gregory Madson


adolescent writing, coherence, metadisourse


University of Montana


Discourse, a series of sentences that communicates a topic, consists of two distinct yet connected components. The first element is the propositional content or the meaning of the sentences, and the second consists of the words and expressions that enhance the communicative efficiency and effectiveness of the factual message. Metadiscourse markers, members of the second linguistic category, guide the reader through the text and establish a means for the writer to interact or influence the reader. The use of metadiscourse in writing and speaking embodies the concept that communication is more than just the exchange of information, facts, and figures. Effective use of metadiscourse increases the coherence or holistic meaning of the written piece and also distinguishes maturity in writing. Although coherence is considered fundamental to proficient writing ability, it is an element that is difficult to learn, teach, and assess. In this study, metadiscourse markers in essays written by 69 adolescent students were counted, categorized, and compared to the Subtest 8, Story Construction of the Test of Written Language-Third Edition (TOWL-3), (Hammill & Larsen, 1996). It is hypothesized that there will be a correlation between the number of metadiscourse markers and the standard score of Subtest 8, Story Construction of the TOWL-3, (Hammill & Larsen, 1996). Essays given a high score on this subtest, indicating a well-constructed essay, should show a greater overall number of metadiscourse markers when compared to essays given a lower-quality rating. Being able to quickly assess coherence in writing as indicated by the use of metadiscourse in a student’s writing sample is an important tool for the Speech-Language Pathologist who is involved in writing assessments and interventions of school-age students.



© Copyright 2012 Susan Gold Sanford