This research goes beyond a teacher’s frustrations in correcting grammar in student compositions. Instead the study focuses on personal narratives, and how memory, with its fascinating works, leads the way to the reconstruction of significant events in a young person’s life. What stories about themselves are embedded in young people’s memory or memories? What are the stories telling about themselves as individuals? Why are they telling their stories? The direction of the study and its findings should be useful to the English Department faculty as well as to colleagues in other departments and also the Guidance Office, as we pursue a collective effort to understand where young people are coming from as they undertake the necessary transition from high school to college (and a women’s college at that) where they must deal with a new set of expectations and high-order tasks that demand certain skills.
The idea for this project finds theoretical support from a previous study by Pillemer (1998) who cites that our personal narratives such as autobiographies contain a series of personal event memories. These memories shape our personalities, perceptions, and belief systems.
Using the above framework this study underscores the value of memory in identifying significant moments in young people’s lives, not necessarily all of them fond memories, but significant enough to change a perspective in life, question conventional knowledge and beliefs or at the very least form a meaning that becomes clear to the individuals themselves.
The research examines the student papers that went through a process in the first semester of school year 2006-2007. All the essays were of the narrative type.