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Title: Computer assisted tracking of university student writing in English as a foreign language
Author: Alghamdi, Fatimah M. A.
ISNI:       0000 0004 2693 0214
Awarding Body: University of Southampton
Current Institution: University of Southampton
Date of Award: 2010
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The study tracked development along university levels in writing in English as a foreign language of students of two disciplines: English Language and Literature, and Computer Science. Informed by the cognitive process theory of writing, other theoretical accounts of development in writing and findings of relevant literature, the study set out to test hypothesized development in fluency, revision behaviour, writers‟ awareness and concerns and text quality in the writing of university students. Moreover, the study aimed to find out if students from the two majors demonstrate different developmental patterns in terms of these variables; and if variation in text quality can be related to writing process and awareness. The study utilized a computer logging program (ScriptLog) as the main recording, observing and playback research tool; elicited responses to immediate recall questions; and obtained independent text assessment. It also employed stimulated recall procedure to get a closer look at a small proportion of individual writing sessions. Quantitative data analysis revealed that along the university levels English majors demonstrated systematic development in their writing process and product, with progressively increased fluency, higher-level and more global revision orientation, and better awareness of the demands of task and audience. They also exhibited considerable and consistent improvement in text quality. Computer Science students, on the other hand, displayed a different pattern. In their fourth level there was a notable increase in the rate of production and the proportion of conceptual revisions, but a significant decrease in text quality compared with their three-semester juniors. In their eighth semester, they demonstrated improvement but remained in a lesser position than their English-major peers in fluency measures and text quality. These findings assert the significance of formal L2 knowledge in assisting automatic access to the mental linguistic repertoire and reducing concerns over local and surface-level linguistic details; and they stress the importance of continued formal facilitation of L2. In addition, a number of participants attended individual writing sessions wherein their writing activity was followed by stimulated recall interviews. A close investigation of participants‟ reports of their writing strategies and concerns asserts the trends found in the quantitative analysis. However the qualitative inquiry offers more insight into the development of university students. It appears that the tertiary academic experience has in the long run benefited both groups of writers. Senior participants of both majors were able to take authority of their texts. They acted less at surface and local levels and more at conceptual and global levels, moving information around and changing larger chunks of text in order to minimize ambiguity and respond to the demands of audience. They showed consideration and utilization of content knowledge they had acquired in their subject area.
Supervisor: Archibald, Alasdair Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: LB2300 Higher Education ; PE English ; QA76 Computer software