An Investigation of Chinese University EFL Learners

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Bereiter and Scardamalia 1987 formulated two types of composing process models one. the knowledge telling model for young and immature writers and the other the knowledge. transforming model for expert writers Both models recognize content knowledge and. discourse knowledge as the two important sources of knowledge writers draw on to generate. ideas and attend to discourse requirements, In writing process research the interactions among online cognitive strategies and writers. knowledge as topic and genre knowledge have received researchers attention and some. studies Kellogg 1987 Olive Kellogg 2002 Olive 2004 have found that the writer s. extensive topic knowledge gives rise to lower cognitive effort and affects the writing process. In a review article McCutchen 2000 explained how multiple sources of knowledge are. coordinated during writing processes under working memory constraints and she presented a. developmental account of writing expertise Writers genre knowledge and topic knowledge. are reported to be important sources of knowledge to distinguish novice and expert writers. ESL EFL writing research indicates various results about composing processes and. cognitive strategies underlying diverse task types or tasks with different topics different. amount of L1 use in narration and argumentation Wang Wen 2002 Woodall 2002. various strategy uses with culture topics Zamel 1982 Manchon et al 2000 more. rescanning of already produced text Raimes 1985 and more high level problem solving. episodes Cumming 1989 in the completion of argumentation over narrative no pausal. differences Miller 2000 and qualitatively similar restructuring strategy Roca De Larios et. al 1999 in argumentation and narration tasks students wrote more and with greater fluency. and satisfaction when their writing involved them personally while they wrote with less. facility when the writing was more objectified, In sum though the importance of various sources of writers knowledge in composition. has long been recognized Bereiter Scardamalia 1987 Flower Hayes 1980a writing. research has only touched upon the knowledge about writing Schoonen Glopper 1996. 88 and this line of study is greatly limited in its scope of subjects and knowledge categories. First compared with the attention given to the influence of topic content knowledge and. genre knowledge upon composition little attention is paid to writers knowledge about. writing such as knowledge of discourse conventions knowledge of audience and knowledge. of writing plans which are stored in writers long term memory in Hayes and Flower s. cognitive writing process model 1980 Second there have been few studies of Chinese EFL. learners knowledge of English writing Therefore a descriptive examination of Chinese. university EFL students knowledge about writing process and product is warranted. 1 2 Studies on writers knowledge of writing, In this section a few relevant studies will be introduced in greater detail In the case study of. a longitudinal documentation of one undergraduate s writing development in historical. writing Beaufort 2004 established a conceptual model which contains five key areas of. domain specific knowledge that expertise writers must draw on in developing disciplinary. DEFINING FEATURES, Discourse community Knowledge of overarching goals for communication underlying values and. knowledge meta discourses of the discipline, Subject matter knowledge Knowledge of specific topics central concepts and appropriate frames of.
analysis for documents Also critical thinking skills to apply manipulate. draw from subject matter knowledge for rhetorical purposes. Genre knowledge Knowledge of standard genres used in the discipline and features of those. genres rhetorical aims appropriate content structure linguistic features. Rhetorical knowledge Knowledge of the immediate rhetorical situation needs of a specific audience. and specific purpose s for a single text, Writing process Knowledge of how to get discipline specific writing tasks accomplished. knowledge metaknowledge of cognitive processes in composing and phases of writing. Table 1 Five knowledge domains in disciplinary writing expertise Beaufort 2004 148. During the course of four observations a distinguishable gain in students subject and. discourse knowledge was detected while other types of knowledge were seen the least. development This study shed light on the developmental trend of students domain. knowledge in writing in a natural context, Schoonen and Gloper 1996 made an attempt to probe the relation between student. writers knowledge about writing process and product and their writing performance In their. study 9th grade student writers were instructed to write an essay to provide advice on what. constitutes a good composition Students compositions were coded according to a preset. scheme and accordingly their knowledge about what constitutes a good composition and how. to write it was revealed Findings show that overall these students have relatively more. declarative knowledge knowing what amounts to a good composition than procedural. knowledge knowing how to proceed to write The study also indicates a link between. certain aspects of writers declarative knowledge and writing proficiency. Victori 1999 conducted a qualitative evaluation about to what extent metacognitive. knowledge may influence student writers writing approach namely the writing processes. and strategies they employ during writing Two effective and two less effective student. writers were chosen to verbalize the writing process while writing an argumentative essay. These students also attended an interview about their knowledge of writing The comparison. between the think aloud protocols and interview data suggests that there is a difference. between effective student writers employment of metacognitive knowledge and strategies. when composing and indicates that less effective students poor writing performance is. attributable to the differences already mentioned between metacognitive knowledge and. cognitive strategy uses, In short the extant literature shows a positive link between writers knowledge of writing. and their writing performance and development Building upon these studies the current. investigation takes Chinese university EFL students as subjects and attempts to probe their. knowledge of English writing,2 1 Subjects, This study is part of a larger project which aims to examine the linguistic features in English. writing by Chinese university English majors 25 students in the project were randomly. chosen from a larger cohort of 90 participants to take a discourse based interview These 25. interviewees were taken as subjects for the current investigation They are junior students. majoring in Business English in a Chinese university Most of the students age between 20. and 21 and the average age is 20 4 They have been studying English for 9 to 13 years. 2 2 Writing performance, Students were asked to write a timed essay in the classroom The instruction for the writing.
goes as follows, Some people say that the Internet provides people with a lot of information and much convenience Others. think access to so much information creates problems and brings potential troubles What is your opinion. You are given 40 minutes to write a 250 word argumentative essay with specific reasons and examples to. support your opinion, Their writing was scored first independently according to the official TEM Test for English. Majors a nation wide test for university English majors in China writing rating rubric by. two EFL professionals in the university who are experienced English writing raters Then. they met to fix the final score for each piece of writing The score distribution of these. writings is illustrated in the following table,SCORE FREQUENCY. Total 25 100 0, Table 2 Distribution of students written performance. 2 3 Discourse based interview data, Writers knowledge about writing in their long term memory is diverse and the most.
frequently discussed knowledge includes knowledge of audience knowledge of discourse. conventions and knowledge of writing plans which have been proved to be essential to the. success of writing performance Flower Hayes 1980a Bereiter Scardamalia 1987 The. current study focuses on these three types of knowledge. To elicit data about students knowledge about writing every student was invited to. participate in a discourse based interview which took place within 48 hours of writing It is. reported that a 95 accuracy in recall could be achieved if a discourse based interview takes. place within two days of the event Uysal 2008 For the sake of ease and clarity both the. interviewer and interviewees spoke Chinese during the interview process. The following questions were developed to probe students knowledge in above. mentioned areas, 1 Did you plan or outline before you started to write How Please describe in detail. 2 While you were writing did you imagine an audience for your writing or who did you think you were. writing to, If yes who was it How did this audience impact your writing. If no why you were not imagining an audience for your writing. 3 What do you think makes good argumentative writing in English Please explain. I conducted the interview and recorded all interview sessions Each session lasted about 15. 20 minutes Finally I obtained a total of 8 hour recording and transcribed it verbatim. I studied the transcriptions carefully and identified various themes according to three. knowledge categories namely the knowledge of audience knowledge of discourse. conventions and knowledge of writing plans The transcriptions were coded under each. knowledge category and counted their occurrences,3 1 Knowledge of audience. Students responses to the question Who did you think you were writing to varied a lot and. a careful examination of the transcriptions helps identify four categories of audience explicit. readers as teachers or raters implicit readers as teachers or raters readers as others and no. readers at all The four categories will be elaborated in detail with examples from student. writers responses, The first category explicit readers as teachers or raters means that students are explicitly. aware that the readers are raters or course teachers and bear this reader in mind during the. process of writing Altogether 5 students fall into this category. 1 It is you the teacher who is the reader of this article Before writing you should think who will be. your readers If writing a professional article you might use many professional terms while for. scientific publicity of course you shouldn t use these professional terms It is of utmost importance to. think about audience EW113789, 2 To you the teacher you should be aware of your position whatever you are doing including your.
viewpoints Different positioning will influence your perspective and depth EW113796. A total of 15 students belong to the second category implicit readers as teachers or raters. which accounts for the greatest proportion of participants 60 These students did not keep. the reader in mind consciously during the process of writing but subconsciously they wrote. for the raters or course teachers They normally didn t keep teacher as reader at the surface. level to produce their writing every time but the default teacher as reader has shaped or. impeded their way of thinking and writing, 3 I write normally for teachers certainly there are influences upon our writing by thinking of. audience we must abide by formal requirements it is not possible to write according to your own. wishes EW113795, 4 Subconsciously it is for teachers normally it is for teachers Once I learn writing in the school. the reader is the teacher I will be restrained from explaining much for some viewpoints if I know I am. writing for teachers EW113804, Students reported that as they had teachers or raters as readers they could write simply by. just following teachers advice on how to write including the structure diction and tone this. would often secure them a good mark However students also expressed their dissatisfaction. for this practice They complained that they didn t reveal their true feelings in their writing. and they wrote like the Ba Gu Wen eight legged essay a form of essay writing in the. imperial examination to select civil servants in ancient China It is known for its rigid. requirement for the structure Sometimes even worse teacher as reader caused. considerable stress, 5 I thought the reader must be teachers and I should write in a formal way more like Ba Gu Wen eight. legged essay EW113786, 6 I would imagine how teachers read this article particularly for CET4 6 writing I would put the.
most advanced vocabulary at the first and last paragraph I would think about the choice of words. and phrases and how teachers read these for this article it is horrible when I think how teachers. will read my writing I try to write a better article to get a high score because I know the only. reader is the teacher EW113794, Then comes the third category readers as others which means that students treated others as. readers instead of raters or course teachers 2 students fall into this category In example 7. the student explicitly stated that he wrote for himself and according to his own standards. while in example 8 the student preferred to write like a journalist. 7 I wrote for myself While writing I normally require it to be clear in line of thinking correct in.

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