Date of Completion


Document Type

Open Access Capstone

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

First Advisor

Delores B. Gallo

Second Advisor

Carol Smith

Third Advisor

Patricia Cordeiro


The study involved 53 sixth graders in a small, rural town in southeastern Massachusetts. Its purpose was to identify some of the grammatical concepts held by these students. The survey is presented. Briefly, these students lack understanding of basic grammatical concepts (such as the subject/verb relationship and subject versus object). These and other misconceptions indicate that students do not understand the role of word function in language. A central finding about students' attitudes toward grammar study is that students do not realize that they have intuitive knowledge of their native language. Although students are not sure what grammar is, most of them believe that grammar should be studies in the middle school. This thesis suggest that teachers strive to identify students' misconceptions about language and devise ways to bring about changes in understanding. New learning ideally should be interactive as opposed to additive. A learner must relate a new idea to what is already known. A series of five lessons on language structure and a series of four lessons on contemporary usage are recommended. All lessons reflect a critical and creative thinking approach to learning. In this thesis, grammar is defined as meaning sentence structure but including usage. Grammar has always been a traditional part of the English language arts curriculum despite the fact that the study of grammar in isolation has been rejected by the National Council of Teachers of English. This thesis agrees with that view. The current literature on the teaching of grammar is reviewed. Grammar studies generally recommend integrating grammar into writing and reading, a whole language approach. Literature on early adolescent learner readiness is also reviewed. Three main issues are identified as being crucial to the well-being of early adolescents and their success in school: social- emotional development, biological development (i.e. brain growth), and cognitive development.