Friday, May 21, 2004

Audience Awareness: When and How Does It Develop?

Audience Awareness: When and How Does It Develop? When do students actually think of their audience when they are writing? I would say early in life but this article has some other views.

From the site:

Many theorists contend that the purpose of writing is to communicate with an audience, which can be defined as actual readers or as the writer himself. Scholars also seem to agree on another point: "no matter who/what the audience is (from real people to fictional construct), writers adjust their discourse to their audiences. In other words, writers do things to bring their readers into their texts, to establish a community that includes themselves and their reader." (Wildeman, 1988)

A strong case can be made for teachers to use audience-oriented teaching strategies that encourage children to write for a wide range of readers. Examples of such assignments would be to have the student write letters or something that would be read by parents, friends, local community leaders, or sports heroes. Yet questions remain about how writers, especially student writers, actually learn to consider an audience of readers. These questions involve complex issues that are current topics of investigation.


Can teachers expect students as young as those in elementary school to write with an audience in mind? Research suggests that a developmental trend exists in which children gradually develop a sense of audience in their writing.

Young children apparently understand that they can use writing to communicate with a reader, and they intend to write in a manner that demonstrates this understanding. Kroll (1984) found that nine-year-old children wrote letters in which clear problem statements and explicit requests for help indicated audience awareness. "Few of the letters manifested either gross egocentrism or a blatant disregard for the reader's needs." (p.425) Yet the nine year olds frequently did not provide essential information about themselves or instructions so the reader could respond to the letter.


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