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Title: Investigating the writing strategies of fourth year Libyan university students of English : strategy differences between good and poor writers of English
Author: Elshawish, M. F.
ISNI:       0000 0004 5348 3536
Awarding Body: Nottingham Trent University
Current Institution: Nottingham Trent University
Date of Award: 2014
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The present study is an investigation of the composing processes and writing strategies of fourth year Libyan university students majoring in English as a foreign language. The study predominantly adopts a qualitative approach, using a number of research methods, namely think-aloud protocols, semi-structured interviews, and observations. The student participants involved in the investigation belonged to two groups: good writers (N=5), and poor writers (N=6). The teacher informants (N=3) are among those who teach composition classes to students in the English department, and have long experience in teaching in the university stage of education. The composing sessions were audio-taped, transcribed and coded for analysis, along with the drafts and the final written compositions. The think-aloud sessions were followed by semi-structured interviews that were conducted with both students and teachers. The research was guided by three questions: (1) What strategies do Libyan students of English as a foreign language use while writing in English? (2) Do proficient and less proficient writers differ in their strategy use? (3) If yes, how and why do they differ? Analysis of the data collected from think-aloud protocols revealed that the subjects made use of various strategies, and sub-strategies while composing. The good writers‘ use of strategies differed from the poor writers‘ in terms of frequency and quality, and there seems to be a variation in recursiveness in subjects‘ writing process in relation to their writing proficiency and language competence. Moreover, findings showed that implementation of think-aloud instructions varied between the two groups – thinking aloud and writing in English at the same time appeared to be a problematic task for the poor writers and consequently this may have affected their strategy use in terms of frequency and kind. Also, analysis of data gathered from the semi-structured interviews with both students and teachers showed that the subjects‘ writing development was affected by a number of factors. These factors were connected to the subjects‘ language proficiency level, their motivation, and their past learning experience. The students‘ level of language proficiency appeared to affect their writing behaviour, particularly in their planning, scanning and use of L1 strategies. Subjects‘ motivation differed between the two groups. The good writers showed more enthusiasm and interest in practising and developing their writing skills influenced by the positive instruction they received in writing during the secondary stage of education and also by their desire to get a job they were interested in after graduation. In contrast, there was a lack of motivation on the part of the poor writers as a consequence of previous learning experience at the secondary stage of education, and also their view about the unimportance of writing for them upon graduation. The other factor was related to the students‘ past learning experience and their reading habits. The different instructional approaches students were exposed to at the secondary school stage influenced their writing behaviour. The reading habits of subjects in both groups also appeared to affect their writing skills. The good writers who read a lot in secondary school and had continued to do so in college appeared to have less difficulty in expressing their ideas in writing than the other poor writers. Therefore, one major finding of this work is that the writing process investigated has to be seen in context. Factors such as L2 proficiency, motivation and past learning experience have a significant bearing on writing in L2 and have to be taken into account when studying the composing process as well as the final written product. A tentative composing process model, based on the students‘ writing processes and strategies observed, is proposed with respect to the aforementioned factors which appeared to be responsible for the differences in strategy use between the two groups of participants. Suggestions for further research, and implications for EFL, particularly for Libyan university students, are also provided.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available