Education and Human Sciences, College of (CEHS)


First Advisor

Roger H. Bruning

Date of this Version

Fall 10-9-2013


Dempsey, M. (2013). Self-efficacy for metalinguistic control and its relationship to writing quality. (Doctoral dissertation).


A DISSERTATION Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Major: Psychological Studies in Education (Cognition, Learning, and Development), Under the Supervision of Professor Roger H. Bruning. Lincoln, Nebraska: October, 2013

Copyright (c) 2013 Michael S. Dempsey


Currently influential models of writing processes, such as Flower and Hayes (1980) and Hayes (1996) do not attend explicitly to metalinguistics—writers’ ability to monitor and control linguistic skills. Dimensions of metalinguistic ability—metaphonology, metasyntax, metasemantics, metapragmatics, and metatext—arguably are central to the writing process and to writers’ success as they compose. The purpose of this study was to discover if a relationship existed between metalinguistic self-efficacy and (1) ratings on essays written by participants and (2) participants’ self-reported average grade on college papers. Essays were rated using two rubrics, one analytic and the other holistic, which were developed from metalinguistic constructs. The data were analyzed to answer three questions related to metalinguistic self-efficacy and writing quality: (1) exploratory factor analysis was used to determine if five metalinguistic factors would be observed; (2) correlational analysis was used to identify relationships between the metalinguistic self-efficacy measure and the quality of participants’ essays as well as their self-reported college paper grades; and (3) regression analysis was used to determine if the metalinguistic dimensions revealed were equally related to writers’ essay quality and to self-reported college paper grades. The study yielded multiple factors through factor analysis. The correlational analysis revealed an overall relationship between metalinguistic self-efficacy and participant writing quality as well as with self-reported paper grades. Finally, the regression analysis showed that some metalinguistic factors revealed stronger relationships to writing quality than others. Metalinguistic ability, then, was observed to influence writing quality, though not as strongly as anticipated at the start of the study.

Advisor: Roger H. Bruning