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Title: The impact of teaching topical structure analysis on EFL writing with special reference to undergraduate students in Libya
Author: Attelisi, Abdulhameed Ali Salem
ISNI:       0000 0004 2739 090X
Awarding Body: University of Newcastle Upon Tyne
Current Institution: University of Newcastle upon Tyne
Date of Award: 2012
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In the ESL writing literature, coherence, cohesion and other rhetorical features are still the main difficulties that face ESL learners. Coherence is claimed to be the most abstract but essential criterion of English writing, but it is difficult to describe, teach and learn. This study investigates the impact of teaching Topical Structure Analysis (TSA) on the writing performance of Libyan university students studying English as a foreign language. Its main aim is to explore the effect of teaching this strategy in promoting EFL students’ awareness of coherence and further improving it in their writing. TSA is a text-based analysis technique that refers to the semantic relationships which exist between sentence topics and the discourse topic. These relationships are studied by looking at sequences of sentences and checking how the topics within them work together through the text to build meaning progressively. Three possible types of progressions of sentences were identified: parallel, sequential, and extended parallel progression. In order to explore the impact of teaching TSA on EFL Libyan university students, quantitative and qualitative methods were adopted. quasi-experimental design, semi-structured interview and observation were used to collect the data required for the study. Sixty-three third-year university students whose major was English were divided into control and treatment groups. For three months, both groups were placed in the same conditions and taught the same traditional syllabus used in the university. The only difference was that the treatment group was explicitly taught TSA as a iii learning and revision strategy. In order to compare achievement in the two groups, pre- and post-tests were carried out. Students’ compositions were rated by three native English speaking teachers who used different approaches to scoring. Moreover, the essays were analysed according to TSA procedures, and pre- and post-test scores of both groups and the results of the structural analysis of pre- and post-test essays were compared. This was followed by interviews with six participants from the treatment group who were asked about their experiences, opinions and how they handled TSA. In addition to the experimental method and the qualitative interviews, the present researcher recorded observations of both groups to be used as another source for data of this study. The results demonstrated that the treatment group achieved significant progress, which was reflected in post-test scores which were higher than both their pre-test scores and the pre- and post-test scores of the control group. The topical structure analysis of the post-test essays further showed a balanced use of the three types of progression. On the other hand the qualitative data revealed that the participants in the treatment group were more aware of the essence of coherence. This was manifested by students’ consideration of the planning and revising stages, and they also tended to ask for feedback from the teacher and their peers and to write more than one draft before the final version of their compositions. Discussion of the findings suggests variant pedagogical implications for the teaching of writing in Libyan universities and other similar contexts.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available