Analysing children’s persuasive texts : the use of hedging and intensification

Dooley, Karen & Mills, Kathy A. (2014) Analysing children’s persuasive texts : the use of hedging and intensification. In AARE-NZARE 2014 : Speaking Back through Research, 30 November - 4 December 2014, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia.

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Research Quality

This is a dialogue between two Australian literacy scholars about two persuasive writing techniques that posed difficulty for the students in our research. This dialogue flows from the analysis of Year 6 writing samples from an ARC Linkage Project, URLearning (2009-2013) - the focus of the symposium. We use vivid examples of writing from students’ handwritten persuasive texts on topics that were chosen by teachers. The persuasive structure in the texts followed the Toulmin (2003) model: a thesis statement, three arguments with evidence, and a conclusion. The findings show that to realise the effective power of rhetorical persuasion, students need an expanded lexicon that does not rely on intensifiers, and which employs a greater range of advanced hedging techniques to use to their advantage.

National & International Importance

The study is potentially of national and international relevance, given that argumentation or persuasion is a key life skill in many professional, personal, and discourses. It is also a requirement in the International English Language Testing Systems (IELTS) tests, which are a critical gateway for tertiary studies in many English-speaking countries (Coffin, 2004).


The research is timely given the Australian Curriculum English, in which persuasive texts figure prominently from Preparatory to Year 10 (ACARA, 2014). The recommendations are also timely in the context of educational policies in other parts of the world. For example, in the United States, the Common Core Standards: English Language Arts, mandates the teaching of persuasive texts (Council of Chief State School Officers & National Governors Association, 2013)

Implications for practice/policy

The findings of the study have specific practical implications for teachers, who can address the persuasive writing techniques of hedging and intensification with which children need targeted support and explicit instruction. The presentation is positioned at the nexus of teacher practice to better address the national priorities of the Australian Curriculum: English (ACARA, 2014), while having implications for applied linguistics research by identifying common problems in students' persuasive writing.

Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 79374
Item Type: Conference Item (Presentation)
Refereed: Yes
Additional URLs:
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > EDUCATION (130000) > CURRICULUM AND PEDAGOGY (130200)
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Children & Youth Research Centre
Current > Schools > School of Curriculum
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Education
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2014 The authors and publisher
Deposited On: 11 Dec 2014 02:46
Last Modified: 12 Feb 2016 02:42

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