Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Dr. John W. Hill

Second Advisor

Dr. Carol Lloyd

Third Advisor

Dr. Susan Nittrouer

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Neal Grandgenett


At-risk students have failed to achieve under the traditional transmission-absorption teaching methods often used in classrooms. This study utilized two discovery learning methods, self-generated and other-generated, and compared their effects on the writing productivity of at-risk students. It was hypothesized that students in the self-generated learning group would write more than students in the other-generated learning groups. All students constructed box products in a prewriting math activity. Students in the self-generated learning group constructed individual products. Self-generated learning included such constructs as child-directed learning, individual learning and hands-on learning. Students in the other-generated learning group constructed a single group box product. Other-generated learning included such constructs as teacher-directed learning, group learning, and observation. The box product was changed each week with the product becoming successively more complex--Week 1, three different-sized boxes; Week 2, a box kite; Week 3, a box house; and Week 4, a box space station. Following completion of each product, in both self-generated and other-generated learning groups, there was a teacher directed group discussion to review, transfer, and generalize learning from the box production activity. Students in both the self-generated and other-generated learning groups then utilized the writing process to write about their box products. The written product consisted of two parts: 1) directions on how to construct the box product, and 2) discussion demonstrating transfer and generalization of the learning. Written productivity was measured by "T-units" (Hunt, 1965), words in T-units, and gross number of words in the written product. During Week 3 the self-generated learning group produced significantly more T-units than did the other-generated learning group. All other results for the four weeks showed no significant differences between the two groups for T-units, words in T-units, or gross number of words in the written product.


A Thesis Presented to the Department of Special Education and Communication Disorders and the Faculty of the Graduate College University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Master of Science University of Nebraska at Omaha. Copyright Mary Ruth Bresley May, 1993