Date of Award

Spring 5-12-2017

Document Type


First Advisor

Kathleen Wood

Second Advisor

Thangi Appanah


Today’s Deaf and Hard of Hearing college students have had a myriad of sociolinguistic experiences and come from a variety of linguistic backgrounds. Like other English Language Learners (ELLs), it is quite common for many of them to have difficulties with the writing demands of their college classes. What we know about Deaf students’ writing from previous studies has largely focused on grammar errors alone. Three of these studies examine the grammar and syntax errors of Deaf college students’ writing: Goldberg (1986); Sayers & Channon (2007); and Berent et al. (2008). All of these studies occurred, it could be suggested, before the prevalence of modern [bilateral and combined electric and acoustic stimulating (EAS)] cochlear implants, widespread bilingual education, closed captioning, videophone communication, texting, social media, and the Internet. Today’s Deaf ELLs writers must manage several socially complex rhetorical skills. Rhetorical skills, for the purposes of this paper, are the places or platforms for writing, genres, audiences, topics, expected conventions or formatting, points of view on topics, and evidence used to support those points of view. While previous studies focused on grammar, the social motivation for writing, especially, requires a focus on the rhetorical decisions students must make for every writing assignment. This study is a step in that direction and is an examination of the grammar and rhetorical features of ten first-year college students’ writing from the fall of 2016.

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