Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Flower, Scriver, Stratman, Carey, and Hayes, "Cognitive Process in Revision"

Flower, Linda S., Karen A. Scriver, James F. Stratman, Linda Carey, and John R. Hayes. "Cognitive Processes in Revision." Advances in Applied Psycholinguistics. Sheldon Rosenberg ed. New York: Cambridge, 1987. 176-240.

This team-authored article advances the cognitive process work done by Flower and Hayes in the early 1980's by modeling the sub-processes of (generic) revision. The models were derived from protocol studies where expert and novice participants talked through the work of revision. This chapter comes less than a year after the same group's 1987 Braddock Award winning essay, "Detection, Diagnosis, and Strategies of Revision," which bears a high degree of similarity to this piece.

The point of their study is to "present a new model of the revision process in written composition--a model based on the results of thinking-aloud protocol studies" (176). If the 1981 cognitive process model can be said to have evolved--to have moved, that is, in any way at all--it is through this work on revision, through this presentation of a new (sub-)model. Importantly, here they name the model as a "theoretical model." What makes it theoretical? "Theoretical" seems to suggest that is extrapolated (i.e., removed) from the protocols. Maybe they are presented so as to achieve a degree of generality (in scale) adequate to stand in for the gist of the protocols. The theoretical model lends granularity to the complex data; it carries a substitutive property.

This model has a visual corollary--an outcropping of the cognitive process model from 1981. Boxes and arrows--like the 1981 specter--the processes of revision are slotted into a taxonomy and linearized.

Revision Model, p 185

The relation of these two models (the new and the old) in this article follow newness--child before parent. This is the opposite of the sequence of presentation in CCC, in "Detection, Diagnosis, and Strategies of Revision," where they are brought on stage the only other way possible: first parent, then child. Does this matter?

Included here are other interesting dimensions of their study: discussions of task definitions and problem representations (how can I fix this mess?). These are the particulars of the study--a checklist of tasks, considerations of the ways experts and novices are distinct from one another. I won't, for now, dwell too much on the details of the terminology, the study itself, or the suggested results (a continuum model to account for a spectrum of activity for revising and rewriting). The visual models and the discursive explanations of the models and the schemes they reify shifts--it evolves--in a moment like this one. The singular, blocky cognitive model, a monument since 1981, bears out something new in 1987--a model of revision.

Cognitive Process Model, p 186 (from 1981)

Phrases: Cooper and Holzman critique (180), models (180), theory-building (185), task definitions (190), task environment (191), problem-presentation process (192), scope (217)

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