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Posts Tagged ‘writing’

These thoughts come from reading an article comparing summarization skills in L1 and L2:

Yu, G. (2008). Reading to summarize in English and Chinese: A tale of two languages? Language Testing 25 (4), 521-551.

  • Reading comprehension is accepted as a prerequisite skill to summarization (pp. 521-522)
  • Summary skills can be used to improve reading ability (p. 522)
  • Summarization ability is necessary for academic succes (p. 522)
  • Is summarization a reading skill or a writing skill, or both. Perhaps neither, it’s a hybrid subskill (p. 522)
  • There has been a recent revival in integrated reading-writing tasks (p. 523)
  • Summarization skills are more complex and seperate from basic reading skills (p. 524)
  • Students with weaker overall proficiency were more likely to do verbatim copying (p. 525)
  • Students who copied claimed that it was easier since they did not have to understand the meaning of the words/phrases (p. 542, 544-545)
  • Problem-solving strategy use was more common among better summarizers (p. 526)
  • L2 summaries tend to be of poorer quality than L1 summaries, have less important information, and have more false information (p. 527)
  • Although general reading comprehension scores slightly relate to summary writing scores, there is still a great deal of difference between the skills (p. 536, 544)
  • General comprehension reading skills may be very different from the reading skills needed for summaries, and other skills or factors may be involved in summarization ability (p. 544)
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I ran across this very helpful article recently that does with reading and listening comprehension skills that I have been doing with reading-writing subskills.

Song, M-Y. (2009). Do divisible subskills exists in second language (L2) comprehension? A structural equation modeling approach. Language Testing, 25 (4), 435-464.

In essence, the author asks: to what degree does student performance on a test suggest that reading, listening, and 2-3 identified subskills exist as separate constructs (as evidenced by structural equation modeling)? In comparison, I have been trying to identify the degree to which reading comprehension, writing ability, synthesis comprehension, and paraphrase writing ability are all subskills of reading-to-write tasks. So this article provided quite a bit of theoretical framing and technical analysis that I need to further refine my own study. (more…)

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Given the University’s need to assess the English language proficiency of in-coming transfer students from the community college system, I was able to continue assessing the effectiveness of our ESL placement test. Earlier this week, a group of transfer students took the new grammar/vocabulary test, as well as the existing oral interview, and a revised writing test. Now that I have additional examinee data, I have been able to conduct an initial item analysis. (more…)

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ESL writing ability has always been an interest of mine; perhaps it extends back to my undergraduate degree in English, or maybe even further, to my start in blogging back in 2002. Whatever the reason, I made sure I attended at least a few sessions on reading/writing this year. This was in stark contrast to previous years in which I focused almost exclusively on R/W. In fact, when I finally met up with a former professor on the second night of the conference, he remarked, “Where have you been? I haven’t seen you in any of the writing sessions?”

As divided as my time was this year, I still managed to make it to a few valuable sessions. What follows is my reflection on those sessions:

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Here’s another article that I found during the fall, but didn’t get around to formally reviewing until now.

Mateos, M., Martin, E., Villalon, R., & Luna, M. (2008). Reading and writing to learn in secondary education: online processing activity and written products in summarizing and synthesizing tasks. Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 21, 675-697.

This article is different from most I have been reading. Rather than deal with L2 learners, it deals with L1 high school students in Spain. The research team explore how these students approach summary and synthesis tasks in terms of processing activities and the quality of the final written products.  My full reaction follows the jump.

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I finally took a moment this afternoon to read through this article that I found at least a couple months ago. It was one of the few cases where my Google Alert actually showed up something useful. In fact, in the last year that I have had that Google Alert, this may have been the ONLY useful link that came through. Even so, I maintain that it was worth it because:

  1. This article came from a journal that I was previously unaware of and would never have thought to browse, and
  2. This article is critically tied to my research topic, and my planned study could be considered the “next step.”

Here’s the full reference citation:

Ascension Delaney, Y. (2008). Investigating the reading-to-write contruct. Journal of English for Academic Purposes, 7, 140-150.

(more…)

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Here are my quick notes on the following article, the next chapter in the book I’ve been reading:

Carson, J. G. (2001). A task analysis of reading and writing in academic contexts. In D. Belcher and A. Hirvela (eds.), Linking literacies: Perspectives on L2 reading-writing connections (pp. 48-83). Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press.

Carson conducted a qualitative study into the reading, writing, listening, and speaking demands of students in undergraduate and graduate history, psychology, and biology courses. Her purpose was to identify the degree to which these language skills were required by students in these courses. Of her results, this is what I found most relevant to my research:

  • students writing exams needed to be able to synthesize information (p. 78);
  • the ability to paraphrase was important for students, especially for out-of-class assignments (p.79);
  • writing in these courses was most important in the form of note-taking skills from textbooks or lectures (p. 80);
  • there was no task that did not involve the integration of language skills (R, W, L, S). It was essential that students had strengths in all skills and that they could use them together (p. 80); and
  • Carson states that her study suggests that there is evidence of the “notion that ‘good readers will be good writers'” (p. 81). However, she does not make it clear how/why this may be true. She does point out though that this connection is most valuable when considering specific tasks rather than when considering overall proficiency.

There is overwhelming evidence in addition to Carson that paraphrase, summary, and synthesis skills are essential to academic success. I am also intrigued by the idea that note-taking ability is also seen as important. I always try to teach graphic organizing and note-taking skills in reading and writing classes, and Carson’s assertion that note-taking is an essential skills prompts me to include a measurement for note-taking ability into my research study.

Lastly, although Grabe (in the previous chapter) cited sources that indicated that good reading did not necessaryily mean good writing (and vice versa), Carson here claims there is a connection. This apparent conflict could be resolved by understanding that the Grabe citations were referring to overal R/W abilities, whereas Carson is making the claim in relation to specific integrated tasks in which success in one skill is dependent on success in another.

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