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ERIC Number: ED541320
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2012
Pages: 276
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: ISBN-978-1-2673-6744-0
Effect of Instruction on English as a Second Language Students' Discourse Synthesis Writing
Zhang, Cui
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, Northern Arizona University
Recently, the number of English as a second language (ESL) students who study in the United States has rapidly increased. This increase poses serious challenges for the U.S. universities in which the students are enrolled as well as for the students themselves. One of the challenges the students face is a lack of training in one type of writing frequently required in academic settings, specifically discourse synthesis writing. Discourse synthesis writing is a type of writing that integrates information from multiple source texts. It is challenging because it requires the utilization of critical reading, writing, and thinking abilities (McGinley, 1992). Previous research on discourse synthesis writing has identified three operations in the writing process for both English first language (L1) and second language (L2) writers, which are selecting, organizing, and connecting (Plakans, 2009b; Spivey, 1991, 1997). However, no study to date has examined the possible effect of classroom instruction on ESL students' ability to write discourse synthesis essays. It is thus important to know if academic preparation programs such as English for Academic Purposes (EAP) programs can successfully teach discourse synthesis writing to the ESL students to assist them in their academic preparation. The goal of this dissertation is to examine if semester-long classroom instruction makes a significant difference in ESL students' discourse synthesis writing. Participants for the study were high-intermediate level students from two intact classes (one control class and the other experimental) at an intensive English program in a U.S. university. The study utilized a pretest/posttest design, in which the participants were asked to produce problem-solution discourse synthesis essays and invited to participate in retrospective interviews. A follow-up delayed posttest and interview was administered two and a half months after the instructional semester, in which several volunteer students from both classes wrote the same type of synthesis essays and talked about their perception of instruction. Analysis of the students' essays written at pretest and posttest showed significant differences between the control and experimental group students' synthesis essays in overall quality, rhetorical patterns, and content information representation. Students' retrospective interviews confirmed that the students in the experimental group were more aware of the problem-solution synthesis writing requirement, were more strategic in using information from the source texts in their essays, and were positive about the usefulness of the synthesis writing instruction. At delayed posttest, the volunteer students from the experimental group were able to produce problem-solution synthesis essays that were similar to the ones they wrote during the instruction semester; however, they were not sure of the usefulness of the synthesis instruction for their writing in the current semester, indicating students' difficulty in transferring instruction into new learning contexts. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
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Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: United States