Genre, academic writing and e-learning: An integrated tertiary level Taiwan-based study
Lin, H.-C. (Antonia). (2010). Genre, academic writing and e-learning: An integrated tertiary level Taiwan-based study (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/3998
Permanent Research Commons link: https://hdl.handle.net/10289/3998
The research reported here has two main focus points: online learning and the teaching of academic writing to learners of English as an additional language. At its core is a study involving an intensive genre-centered writing course conducted in a tertiary educational institution in Taiwan and delivered in three modes - face-to-face, fully online and blended. That study, preceded by a pilot study conducted in New Zealand, involved a writing course that focused on cognitive genres (e.g. argument) that have been identified as being fundamental to academic writing. It included model texts (constructed in segments with accompanying discussion of their language and structure) and writing exercises. Analysis of post-course questionnaires and focus group discussions revealed a high level of satisfaction with the course. Analysis of pre-test and post-test writing tasks in terms of a wide range of criteria provided evidence of improvement in the writing of course participants in a range of areas. Although those involved in blended and face-to-face modes were most positive about the advantages of the course, it was not necessarily always the case that they outperformed online group members in terms of improvement in writing. Also included are two questionnaire-based surveys of samples of teachers of English in tertiary level educational institutions in Taiwan. The first investigated attitudes and practices in relation to the integration of instructional technology into teaching. Although the vast majority of survey participants believed that it was important to incorporate instructional technology into their teaching, this was not necessarily reflected in their more specific beliefs and practices. Very few reported having spent more than a few hours attending instructional technology-related workshops, more than half indicated that very little or none of the interaction in their language classes was computer-mediated, only approximately one third reported having used a learning platform in the six weeks prior to the survey, and over one third reported that they had never used a learning platform. The second questionnaire-based survey investigated attitudes and practices in relation to the teaching and assessment of writing. Although survey participants were familiar with process-centered approaches to the teaching of writing, they appeared to be much less familiar with genre-centered approaches. Using model texts as a way of introducing, demonstrating and explaining language in use seemed to be the exception rather than the rule. Additionally, although they reported spending a considerable amount of time grading and commenting on their students' writing, most of them indicated that they did not design grading criteria that related specifically to course content, and many of the sample comments on student writing that they provided were of a type that is unlikely to help students to improve their writing. Overall, the study provides evidence that a genre-centered academic writing course can be associated with a high level of student satisfaction and can lead to demonstrable improvement in student writing. However, it also demonstrates that teachers of English at tertiary level in Taiwan are generally unfamiliar with this sort of approach and that many of them are not yet ready to provide their students with options in terms of delivery modes.
The University of Waikato
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