Publication Date


Type of Culminating Activity


Degree Title

Master of Arts in English, Rhetoric and Composition



Major Advisor

Bruce Ballenger, Ph.D.


There is much debate in composition theory about how students use features of speech in their writing. Proponents of allowing students to use speech features in writing suggest it promotes productivity; critics suggest that doing so is detrimental to students’ understanding of academic writing. In this study, the author compares two student assignments: the audio essay, an assignment that asks students to compose an essay that is recorded, and the research-based essay, which is composed as a text only. Using Corpus Linguistics computer software tools, grammar features are analyzed for similarities and differences between the essays. Grammar features are also examined to understand if the use of certain speech features indicates better rhetorical understanding of audience by students, and to see if speech features in writing diminish the academic quality of writing.