In Québec, the situation regarding the learning of French grammar is a source for concern, especially when it comes to applying grammar knowledge in writing situations.
Teachers use two different teaching approaches to facilitate student learning of grammar concepts: deductive learning (explanation of a concept followed by exercises) or inductive learning (observation of examples before verifying the hypothesis and exercises).
The teacher must constantly adapt his or her approach to the situation.
Our principal objective was to evaluate the effect of inductive vs. deductive methods for teaching grammar on the learning of the complément du nom by Secondary 1 students, and their impact on the development of writing skills.
Our learning topic, the complément du nom (CN), is a concept from the New Grammar whose characteristics facilitate its proper use in writing, particularly during the revision and rewriting stages.
A mixed research methodology was used to collect data from a sample of 269 Secondary 1 students, and from three teachers. We conducted knowledge tests, an analysis of written texts and interviews with the students and teachers. The results of the knowledge tests showed no significant difference between the improvement of students who received inductive instruction and those who received deductive instruction, with the exception of slightly better performance among students taught using a deductive approach when it came to making agreements. What did emerge from this experiment was the observable effect that learning about CN had on their writing, regardless of the teaching approach used.
On the other hand, students who showed a strong improvement confirmed that, with either approach, cognitive engagement on the part of the student remains the key element in the effectiveness of the educational intervention. We can therefore conclude that neither approach is significantly superior to the other for the purposes of teaching CN, but that the teacher must adapt his or her approach to the situation, taking into account the context, the learners and the specific characteristics of the learning topic.
François Vincent, Université du Québec en Outaouais
Deposit of the thesis: December 2014