Mini-lesson: The importance of noun phrases in writing


Complex noun phrases are used by all good writers of English because of their efficiency in providing detail. Noun phrases allow writers to include a great deal of information without using too many words. It is important that you be able to recognize and use them in your writing to make it efficient, academic and ‘reader-friendly’. Most academic texts use a high percentage of complex noun phrases, so practice in constructing them will definitely help both your reading and your writing.
Look at the following:
  1. This ICOSA website is modern. It is interactive. It can be accessed by Hong Kong tertiary learners. The tertiary learners are interested in English independent learning.

This piece of writing does not ‘flow’ well. This is called ‘choppy’ writing because it contains several short, simple SVO (subject + verb + object) sentences, making it uncomfortable for the reader. This is a very basic and inefficient way of writing.

Now read this:
  [V]  
  1. This modern and interactive ICOSA website can be accessed by Hong Kong tertiary learners interested in English independent learning.
This one sentence uses two noun phrases (in red colour). It contains exactly the same information as in the first example, but flows much better. It is the noun phrases which make the writing more efficient and reader-friendly. Notice that noun phrases may appear on either or both sides of the verb.
Here are some other good examples of well-written sentences using noun phrases:
 [V] 
  • These highly educated and well qualified young people cannot find well-paid work offering medical insurance and other basic benefits.
 [V] 
  • This newly established minimum wage law has brought a great deal of criticism from many factions of society.
 [V] 
  • Possessing too many labor-saving machines can result in laziness, atrophy and a general lack of appreciation of the benefits of manual labour.

Now complete the academic article about test anxiety in students below by re-constructing its complex noun phrases.
Activity instructions

Re-type the bold-faced words in the correct order in the boxes below to make noun phrases that complete each sentence. The first one has been done for you.



    Anxiety is

    Example:
  1. fear / uncertainty / human / a/ basic / emotion /consisting of / and


    Hint:
    a basic human emotion…


    Hide hint.

    Answer:
    a basic human emotion consisting of fear and uncertainty


    Hide answer.

    that typically appears when an individual perceives an event as being
  1. to / the / or /self-esteem / a / ego / threat


    Hint:
    a threat to the…


    Hide hint.

    Answer:
    a threat to the ego or self-esteem


    Hide answer.

    (Sarason, 1988). In some instances, such as avoiding dangerous situations, anxiety can be helpful. However when taken to extremes, it may produce unwarranted results. One of
  2. causes / threatening / students / anxiety / the most / today / events / that / in


    Hint:
    the most threatening events…


    Hide hint.

    Answer:
    the most threatening events that causes anxiety in students today


    Hide answer.

    is testing. When students develop
  3. fear / poorly / an extreme / examination, /of / on / an / performing


    Hint:
    an extreme…


    Hide hint.

    Answer:
    an extreme fear of performing poorly on an examination,


    Hide answer.

    they experience test anxiety. Test anxiety is
  4. contributing / factor / a / major/ outcomes / to / a / of / negative / variety


    Hint:
    a major factor contributing…


    Hide hint.

    Answer:
    a major factor contributing to a variety of negative outcomes


    Hide answer.

    including psychological distress, academic underachievement, academic failure, and insecurity (Hembree, 1988). Many students have
  5. exams / to / ability / the / cognitive / do / on / well


    Hint:
    the cognitive…


    Hide hint.

    Answer:
    the cognitive ability to do well on exams


    Hide answer.

    but may not do so because of high levels of test anxiety. Because of
  6. emphasis / testing, / the / placed / on / societal


    Hint:
    the societal…


    Hide hint.

    Answer:
    the societal emphasis placed on testing,


    Hide answer.

    this could potentially limit their educational and vocational opportunities (Zeidner, 1990).

    CHARACTERISTICS OF TEST ANXIETY

    Test anxiety is composed of three major components: cognitive, affective, and behavioral. Students who experience test anxiety from the cognitive perspective are worriers lacking self confidence. They may be preoccupied with negative thoughts, doubting their academic ability and intellectual competence (Sarason & Sarason, 1990).


    Furthermore, they are more likely to overemphasize the potential negative results and feel helpless when in testing situations (Zeidner, 1998). Some students may feel

  7. question / the /need / to / correctly. /every / on / test / answer / the


    Hint:
    the need to…


    Hide hint.

    Answer:
    the need to answer every question on the test correctly.


    Hide answer.

    When this does not occur they may think of themselves as being incompetent, thus fueling negative thoughts such as, "I knew I was not going to pass this test," "I know I am going to make a poor grade," or "Everyone knows I am not smart." In order for students to have
  8. academic / opportunity / the / for / success, / best


    Hint:
    the best…


    Hide hint.

    Answer:
    the best opportunity for academic success,


    Hide answer.

    negative thinking must be minimized and controlled. From the affective perspective, test anxiety causes some students to experience physiological reactions such as increased heart rate, feeling nauseated, frequent urination, increased perspiration, cold hands, dry mouth, and muscle spasms (Zeidner, 1998). These reactions may be present before, during, and even after the test is completed. In conjunction with the physiological reactions, emotions such as worry, fear of failure, and panic may be present. When students are not able to control their emotions, they may experience higher levels of stress, thereby making it more difficult for them to concentrate.

    Test-anxious students express anxiety behaviorally by

  9. skills. / test-taking / procrastinating / and /study /and / inefficient / having


    Hint:
    procrastinating and…


    Hide hint.

    Answer:
    procrastinating and having inefficient study and test-taking skills.


    Hide answer.

    Zeidner (1998) contends that test-anxious students have
  10. information /a /more /difficult / time / and / it / larger / patterns / of meaning. / organizing / into /interpreting


    Hint:
    a more difficult time interpreting information…


    Hide hint.

    Answer:
    a more difficult time interpreting information and organizing it into larger patterns of meaning.


    Hide answer.

    In addition, some students may physically feel tired or exhausted during test administration because they do not have a healthy diet, have poor sleeping habits, and fail to routinely exercise.

    CONCLUSION

    Test anxiety is something that impacts students from all ethnic backgrounds and grade levels. Helping students learn to effectively manage such anxiety is a challenging task that requires a genuine team effort. Students, parents, teachers, school counselors, and school administrators must all find ways to be actively involved in reducing test anxiety. We live in a test-taking society and when students are anxious during tests, they are less likely to perform up to their academic potential.

REFERENCES


Hembree, R. (1988). Correlates, causes, effects, and treatment of test anxiety. Review of Educational Research, 58, 7-77.


Sarason, I. G. (1988). Anxiety, self-preoccupation, and attention. Anxiety Research, 1, 3-7.


Sarason, I. G., & Sarason, B. R. (1990). Test anxiety. In H. Leitenberg (Eds), Handbook of social and evaluative anxiety (pp 475-496). New York: Plenum Press.


Syncamore, J. E., & Corey, A. L. (1990). Reducing test anxiety. Elementary School Guidance & Counseling, 24, 231-233.


U. S. Department of Education (1993). Help Your Child Improve in Test-Taking.


Washington, DC: U. S. Government Printing Office.


Wilkinson, C. M. (1990). Techniques for overcoming test anxiety. Elementary School Guidance & Counseling, 24, 234-237.


Zeidner, M. (1990). Does test anxiety bias scholastic aptitude test performance by gender and sociocultural group? Journal of Personality Assessment, 55, 145-160.


Zeidner, M. (1998). Test anxiety: The state of the art. New York: Plenum Press.


Source: http://www.eric.ed.gov/PDFS/ED479355.pdf


ERIC Identifier: ED479355 Publication Date: 2003-09-00 Author: Harris, Henry L.; Coy, Doris R Source: ERIC Counseling and Student Services Clearinghouse


Copyright: http://www.ericdigests.org/about.html

Copyright© 2012-2013 UGC ICOSA Project, Hong Kong. All rights reserved.