The teaching and learning of poetry at postgraduate level: a cognitive stylistics approach

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Polytechnic of Namibia, Departments of Language and Communication


The major purpose of this research was to enhance the methods for the teaching and learning of poetry at Adama Science and Technology University (Ethiopia) through a cognitive stylistics practice. The study was pursued with the conviction that the poetry writing skills of postgraduate learners can be enhanced through a cognitive stylistics method. The research was conducted on the basis of an experimental research design which was started in 2013 and ended in 2014. A total of 20 postgraduate students participated in the study. These students were again classified into an experimental group (10) and control group (10) randomly. The students in the experimental group took the course through a cognitive stylistics method. Areas in the cognitive stylistics unit included: verbal irony, cognitive metaphor, image–schema, figure and ground, implicature, contextual effects, relevance and aboriginal poetry. Active learning methods (ALM) were also integrated into the cognitive stylistics framework so that the students could vigorously dominate the learning and teaching of poetry. However, the students in the comparison group took the same course with a traditional teaching method. Prepared notes and lectures on themes, techniques, figures of speech and literary elements were given. The teacher-cum-researcher often dominated the teaching and learning process. Each group was given similar pre- and post-tests, designed specifically for this research purpose. Before the classroom experiment was carried out, a pilot study was conducted in 2013 with a different group of postgraduate students. The selection of the poems and the revision of the tests were finalized after the pilot study was completed. After the completion of the course, both sample groups took a test out of 20. As the mean pretest score showed, both the control and experimental groups performed differently in their creative writing pretest. The experimental mean score which was 9.88 was a little higher than the control mean score of 9.31. But, the t-test result for the pre-test showed that there was no significant difference between the mean scores of both the experimental and control groups. However, the tvalue of the cognitive stylistics post-test was 15.168 and 9.726. The table value of t-critical was 2.10 with 18 degree of freedom and at a significance level of 0.05. Because the t-value of 15.168 was much greater than the t-critical value of 2.10 for two tailed test, at 0.05 level of significance for 18 degree of freedom, the null hypothesis was rejected. Therefore, the cognitive stylistics method enhances poetry teaching and learning in a tertiary context in Ethiopia. It was then recommended that poetry teachers can integrate the cognitive stylistics method while teaching poetry at postgraduate level.


Associate Professor, Department of Communication, PoN (NUST), Windhoek, Namibia


Poetry, Teaching and learning, Postgraduate students, Cognitive stylisitics method, Poetry writing skills, Verbal irony, Cognitive metaphor, Aboriginal poetry, EFL


Woldemariam, H. Z. (2014). 2. The teaching and learning of poetry at postgraduate level: a cognitive stylistics approach. Nawa: journal of language and communication, 8(2), 16+