Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science

Degree Discipline



"The prime function of an essay," said Thomas R. Cook in an article in the Education Magazine, "is to express the personality of the writer."

Just how important this assertion by Cook is to this study will be discovered as the paper progresses, for this thesis is a study of the written compositions of the English students enrolled in the 0. J. Thomas High School, Cameron, Texas, during the school year 1951 - 1952, to show how they reveal the cultural background of the student.

As an English teacher in Cameron, Texas, I have harbored an ever growing desire to know the cultural background of the students I teach. This knowledge, I reasoned, would be of much value to me in providing methods and techniques of teaching grammar and literature to help the student develop an appreciation for the cultural values of life and better fit him for life in an ever changing society.

I was not entirely ignorant of the student*s cultural environment, for Cameron is a very small town, and it is a simple matter to know general facts about the student*s cultural background. General information, however, was not what I wanted. What I sought was a method of obtaining direct, uninhibited information about the student's cultural background through the student himself without his being aware that he was imparting such knowledge. Considering writing as a means of self-expression, I realized that a study of the student's written compositions would reveal the information I desired. The purposes then of this study are:

To know the cultural background of the students I teach

To know the factors in the home and community environment which contribute to the existing cultural status of the students

To employ methods and techniques of teaching English grammar and literature to meet the varied language needs of the high school English students according to their cultural background.

Thorough research has revealed that this is not the first venture into a study of this nature. Related studies have been made and articles have been written which in some manner, if not always in the area of composition, bear some definite relation to this study.

In 1945 - 1946, Lolita Allen Boone of Prairie View State University, Prairie View, Texas* made a critical study of the English teachers in a certain Texas County, particularly as their attitudes, abilities, and interests affected the background of their students.

In Volume fifty-four of the School Review Magazine of December 1946, an article titled "Use of English Compositions to Gain Understanding of Pupils" appeared which discussed at length compositions as a source of understanding pupils.

L. B. Cross in Volume thirty-eight of The English Journal of December 1949, in an article titled "Teaching English Aids Cultural Understanding," pointed out the many phases in English teaching through which the teacher learned the cultural background of her students. Finally, in December 1941, an anonymous article called "Psychological Factors in Creative Writing" appeared in the Education Magazine. This article discussed psychological factors revealed in student writing.

Committee Chair/Advisor

Anne L. Campbell

Committee Member

Anne L. Campbell


Prairie View A & M College


© 2021 Prairie View A & M University

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Date of Digitization


Contributing Institution

John B Coleman Library

City of Publication

Prairie View





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