The development of L2 writing in a computerized process-centred learning project

Aqeel Hamed A. Alshammari (2011). The development of L2 writing in a computerized process-centred learning project PhD Thesis, School of languages and comparative cultural studies, The University of Queensland.

       
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Author Aqeel Hamed A. Alshammari
Thesis Title The development of L2 writing in a computerized process-centred learning project
School, Centre or Institute School of languages and comparative cultural studies
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2011-10
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor Dr. Peter White
Dr. Noriko Iwashita
Total pages 268
Total colour pages 13
Total black and white pages 255
Language eng
Subjects 130204 English and Literacy Curriculum and Pedagogy (excl. LOTE, ESL and TESOL)
200399 Language Studies not elsewhere classified
200401 Applied Linguistics and Educational Linguistics
Abstract/Summary This study adopts a holistic approach to investigate the relationship between individuals' overall socialization process into a particular learning context and their second language (L2) writing development. It particularly seeks to explore how L2 learners' understanding and enactment of L2 writing processes in an innovative technology-rich project-based learning environment are influenced and develop over a semester-long writing course. Although there is an abundance of L2 learning research that addresses various issues of L2 writing development and the use of information and communication technology (ICT) in L2 writing, this research is characterized by fragmentation which largely diminishes its explanatory adequacy. For example, although they are highly interrelated, social and cognitive aspects of L2 writing tend to be artificially separated in the literature which results in a lack of understanding of how they interact and mutually contribute to the development of learners' expertise. Similarly, the use of technological applications in L2 writing has not been sufficiently incorporated into theories of writing development. For example, L2 writing research on the use of ICT is mostly driven by technological features and their role in L2 writing classrooms, but barely explains how the use of ICT develops in conjunction with the actual processes of writing. These limitations are mainly attributed to a lack of a comprehensive framework that can reconcile these various aspects into a unified theoretical perspective. Inspired by these limitations, the present study proposes an alternative semiotic approach to L2 writing development through the incorporation of the concept of 'process writing' into the overarching psychological principles of socio-cultural theory (SCT). This approach maintains a pluralistic perspective of writing expertise that envisages a dialectical relationship between social and cognitive factors contributing to its development. The development of writing expertise in this perspective is explained as the increasing level of self-regulation over the writing process. Because the concept of 'process writing' simultaneously refers to the actual act of writing and process-cent\ered writing instruction, it provides a useful conceptual tool that incorporates both social and individual types of regulation. It also represents an encompassing rubric to refer to all types of actions and strategies that writers perform during the course of carrying out writing. Because ICT intersects with almost all aspects of writing, its use during writing is perceived as a particular constitutive component of the enactment of 'process writing'. IV Based on this understanding, a project-based writing course was designed and implemented in a setting that encourages and involves the use of wide range of technological applications. Process-centered writing instruction was provided throughout the activity of carrying out the project. The participants are ten advanced intermediate students from different backgrounds, studying Arabic as an L2 in the Arabic Language Institute, Saudi Arabia. The whole project course was considered as a unified case study and was investigated to explore how participants' socialization process through the project influenced their understanding and enactment of process writing, as well as their understanding and enactment of ICT as a writing tool. Research data include participants' final reports on their perceptions and experiences during the project, which were written as a part of an overall portfolio assessment system designed for the purpose of the project. In addition to this primary source of data, other parts of the participants' portfolios, interviews of participants and the researcher's observations were also used as supplementary sets of research data. These data were anal according a scheme borrowed from Blin's (2005) study of the development of L2 learners' autonomy. This scheme was derived from Engestrom's (1999) version of activity theory to enable the analysis of the activity system that took place during the unfolding process of carrying out the project. In terms of findings, participants were able to recognize the innovative characteristics of the project which differed considerably from what they were used to in their L2 writing classes. The project, in general, contributed to alter participants' perception of writing and focused their attention on the procedural aspects of carrying out their writing activities. With a varying degree of success, participants were able to use various components of 'process writing' to regulate their activities. ICT was a crucial factor to facilitate a more connectivity among the class community, and hence maximizing the role of other-regulation during the project. Although the project contributed to raise participants' awareness of ICT as a facilitative tool in the writing process, participants' limited technological abilities hindered their full utilization and incorporation of ICT in their writing processes. Therefore, most of them focused on ICT as a goal for learning rather than as a tool in the writing process. These finding are discussed, based on the overall theoretical proposal of the study, to explain the development of L2 writing expertise.
Keyword sociocultural theory, activity theory, process writing, computer-assisted language learning, project-based language learning, L2 Arabic
Additional Notes 65, 69, 80, 88, 130, 155, 159, 163, 171, 265-268.

 
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