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It is hardly surprising that so many first-year students struggle with their new responsibilities.

Theoretical Rationale for the Study help with research papers This study is based on the cognitive theory of learning. The authors observe that principles of perception, insight, and meaning are significant for cognitive theorists. In this approach, learners attempt to solve problems by testing different explanations until one is identified as the solution. Unlike UNIVERSITY AND HIGH SCHOOL ARE JUST VERY DIFFERENT essay writers cheap 20 behaviourists, cognitive process theorists hold that the control for learning lies within the individual rather than the social group. The theory of instruction proposed by cognitive theorists is one in which learners attempt to make sense of new situations by drawing on their prior knowledge. Thus, students do not learn by memorizing information but instead acquire understanding of new experiences. By acquiring the knowledge and skills necessary to understand phenomena through a series essay writers cheap of problem-solving exercises, students are able to apply knowledge regardless of the situation in which they find themselves. As children develop, new schemata emerge and pre-existing schemata are modified and merged with the new cognitive structures (Ormrod, 1990).

Piaget (1966) theorized that, when individuals interact with their environments, they develop and shape their schema. According to Piaget, people interact with their environment through two processes known as assimilation and accommodation. In assimilation, an individual interacts with the environment based on existing schema, while, in accommodation, an individual modifies an existing schema to take into account the new experience.

These two processes are complementary and learning results both from assimilation and accommodation. UNIVERSITY AND HIGH SCHOOL ARE JUST VERY DIFFERENT 21 Ormrod (1990) believes that: learning is reflected in the process of accommodation, because it is through accommodation that cognitive changes occur. However, an environmental event cannot lead to accommodation of schemata unless that event can be related (assimilated) to those schemata in the first place, (p. The ability for students to use that which they already know and integrate it with the new material to be learned is an important principle in cognitive learning theory. Tennyson and Rasch (1988) propose that instructors develop learning situations that focus on the acquisition of higher-order thinking skills and processes. In this situation, students are encouraged to take their existing knowledge and use it to solve new problems. Students who engage in solving problems learn to extend their prior knowledge through discovery rather than acquiring it from the instructor. When students take the time to understand the new material, they are better able to retain it. The research of Flower and Hayes (1981) built on the findings of Emig (1971) in also using think-aloud UNIVERSITY AND HIGH SCHOOL ARE JUST VERY DIFFERENT 22 protocols to determine how experienced writers compose texts. The foundation of their model was based on an understanding of cognitive science.

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Flower and Hayes (1981) theorized that simple cognitive operations could help writers make complex writing decisions during the writing process. They essay writers cheap posited that the writing process consisted of a series essay writers cheap of problem-solving strategies that experienced writers used but inexperienced writers did not. They hypothesized that using a problem-solving custom essays review approach when writing allowed writers to monitor their writing decisions as they composed text and to change direction when the text no longer made sense, thus employing cognitive strategies.

In order to understand the difficulties some students experience in adjusting to the new writing demands placed on them in university, it was important to gain an understanding of their perception of the way in which the skills and supports they have matched the respective challenges they face in the high school writing environment and the university writing environment. One of the greatest challenges, however, appears to be the assimilation into the discursive practices of university. The purpose of my study was to investigate the challenges faced by first-year students as they negotiated the transition from the writing environment of high school to the writing environment of university. Research Questions A combination of qualitative and quantitative methods was utilized in this study. The quantitative component was used to get a base-line measure of how students perceived their writing environment in high school.

The qualitative individual interviews gave a more detailed picture of how selected high school and first-year students perceived the difference in the writing environments of high school and university. UNIVERSITY AND HIGH SCHOOL ARE JUST VERY DIFFERENT 24 The quantitative survey addressed question one in a more general way and was administered to one hundred and forty-four grade 12 students from four high schools in a western Canadian city, who indicated that they would be going on to study at one particular western Canadian University. The qualitative component consisted of twenty selected students who had agreed to participate in one of three focus groups or eleven individual interviews. Significance of the Study Approximately twenty-five percent of first-year students drop out of university, despite rating themselves as having been academically well-prepared for their studies (University of Manitoba, 2007). The students who drop out have said that they had difficulty keeping up with their studies or that they found the programs too demanding. Many of the students also indicated that their grades were not what they had expected when they began university. One of the specific difficulties students encounter in their first-year is the challenge of learning to write in the various disciplines. If students are made aware that they need to acquire the domain specific discourse knowledge required for each course they attend, they will, perhaps, have an easier time adapting to their new writing environment.

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