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Research does suggest that garbled sentences full of hedging reflect fuzzy thinking and unfamiliarity with the discourse. Even students who are good writers in other contexts will write in halting ways when approaching a new discourse. (When I think of how much overgeneralization I see, I think that many students do respond to that by going to the opposite extreme and hedging everything.) Does that explain what you're seeing at all?
Yes, I've read that, too, but this seems to be something different. I'm not sure. I'll be "poofing" this, though, because I don't want to seem critical of them.
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