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The cognition of grammatical structures

Gitlin, Gloria
Students today have a need to express themselves. However, there are fewer and fewer students who can put their ideas on paper. Students are embarrassed by this development, and it affects their sense of self-worth. The purpose of the study was to find a method of instruction which would help students access their thoughts, discover their ideas, and convey them to others. The method used was one of associating grammatical structures to student cognitions. Over several years of observation of student performance and interaction with the students, as well as giving feedback, it was discovered that when students became more aware of grammatical structures, they were able to better express themselves. Over several years, this process/method demonstrated that increased awareness of grammatical structures and operations resulted in an increased awareness of cognitions, and in clearer, more coherent, and more interesting compositions. This increased awareness had a side-effect that was not anticipated. This improved performance by the students helped them increase their confidence in their ability to perform, and consequently boosted their belief in their ability to engage in the worthy exercise of meaningful communication. This conscious awareness of grammatical structures translated into an increased awareness of their cognitions and an increased awareness of self and the surrounding environment, which in turn increased their sense of self-worth. It continues to be a major goal of instruction to show the students the value of purposeful communication.