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The effects of proficiency in English as a foreign language, gender and writing beliefs on the writing processes and products of undergraduate Omani students

The effects of proficiency in English as a foreign language, gender and writing beliefs on the writing processes and products of undergraduate Omani students
The effects of proficiency in English as a foreign language, gender and writing beliefs on the writing processes and products of undergraduate Omani students
The ability to write comprehensible and well-structured text is extremely important in academic and professional contexts. Identifying the factors that affect the effectiveness of academic writing is also an important first step in improving the efficiency of teaching writing, particularly in foreign language contexts. Drawing upon cognitive writing process theory and research, this study set out to investigate some of the factors accounting for differences in the writing performance of 77 undergraduate Omani writers studying an English Language Teaching Program. In particular, the study aimed to explore the influence of proficiency in English as a foreign language, gender and writing beliefs on the first language (Arabic) and foreign Language (English) writing processes and text quality of undergraduate Omani writers. The study also attempted to test whether variation in text quality could be explained in relation to writing processes.

In order to achieve these aims, the participants were asked to produce two argumentative texts, one in Arabic and one in English. Language of writing and writing topics were counterbalanced. The participants' English Language proficiency was assessed using the Oxford Placement Test. Keystroke logging was used as the main instrument to record, observe and analyse the participants' writing processes. This was complemented by the participants' responses to an immediate recall questionnaire administered immediately after completion of the writing tasks. The Writing Beliefs Survey was used to identify writers' writing beliefs about the writing process. The quality of their written texts was assessed by two independent assessors.
The results showed that writers produced better text quality when writing in Arabic in comparison to English. When writing in Arabic, writers also wrote more fluently, revised and paused less, and required less time to complete the writing task. A key feature of this difference was that when writing in Arabic, writers were able to produce language in larger bursts than in English. Writers with greater English language proficiency were also able to produce relatively larger bursts when writing in English.
Generally, English language proficiency played an important role in writers' English writing process and product. High English language proficiency was associated with better text quality, and more importantly, influenced writing processes, (including planning, revision, and writer's awareness towards their audiences). Low English language proficiency reduced the extent to which initial planning focused on text organization and the audience and disrupted writers' ability to carry out more global revisions. Interestingly, the results also indicated that English language proficiency was associated with Arabic writing as well. This suggests that performance on the English language test may reflect general language ability and motivation as well as English language knowledge itself.
The study also found that females were linguistically more competent than males in English language and more motivated towards writing than males in both languages. This enabled them to produce better text quality and to cope with the writing process demands more successfully than males. Effects of writing beliefs were less clear cut. Although the study suggested that Omani writers' writing beliefs were consistent with those found in previous research, there was little evidence that these were associated with text quality and writing process in Arabic, contrary to previous research. However, there was evidence that writers' beliefs about audience and writing as a recursive process in English were related to both writing process and text quality.
The thesis concluded by providing teachers of English as a foreign language with some implications about how to deal with their students' writing issues resulted from their less well developed proficiency in English as a foreign language and lack of motivation. Besides pedagogical implications, the study also offered theoretical and methodological implications and suggested a number of recommendations for future research.
University of Southampton
Al-Saadi, Zulaikha, Talib
d33ecf2a-29a3-4172-8ac5-d9ae48d6d277
Al-Saadi, Zulaikha, Talib
d33ecf2a-29a3-4172-8ac5-d9ae48d6d277
Galbraith, David
c4914b0d-4fd1-4127-91aa-4e8afee72ff1

Al-Saadi, Zulaikha, Talib (2018) The effects of proficiency in English as a foreign language, gender and writing beliefs on the writing processes and products of undergraduate Omani students. University of Southampton, Doctoral Thesis, 308pp.

Record type: Thesis (Doctoral)

Abstract

The ability to write comprehensible and well-structured text is extremely important in academic and professional contexts. Identifying the factors that affect the effectiveness of academic writing is also an important first step in improving the efficiency of teaching writing, particularly in foreign language contexts. Drawing upon cognitive writing process theory and research, this study set out to investigate some of the factors accounting for differences in the writing performance of 77 undergraduate Omani writers studying an English Language Teaching Program. In particular, the study aimed to explore the influence of proficiency in English as a foreign language, gender and writing beliefs on the first language (Arabic) and foreign Language (English) writing processes and text quality of undergraduate Omani writers. The study also attempted to test whether variation in text quality could be explained in relation to writing processes.

In order to achieve these aims, the participants were asked to produce two argumentative texts, one in Arabic and one in English. Language of writing and writing topics were counterbalanced. The participants' English Language proficiency was assessed using the Oxford Placement Test. Keystroke logging was used as the main instrument to record, observe and analyse the participants' writing processes. This was complemented by the participants' responses to an immediate recall questionnaire administered immediately after completion of the writing tasks. The Writing Beliefs Survey was used to identify writers' writing beliefs about the writing process. The quality of their written texts was assessed by two independent assessors.
The results showed that writers produced better text quality when writing in Arabic in comparison to English. When writing in Arabic, writers also wrote more fluently, revised and paused less, and required less time to complete the writing task. A key feature of this difference was that when writing in Arabic, writers were able to produce language in larger bursts than in English. Writers with greater English language proficiency were also able to produce relatively larger bursts when writing in English.
Generally, English language proficiency played an important role in writers' English writing process and product. High English language proficiency was associated with better text quality, and more importantly, influenced writing processes, (including planning, revision, and writer's awareness towards their audiences). Low English language proficiency reduced the extent to which initial planning focused on text organization and the audience and disrupted writers' ability to carry out more global revisions. Interestingly, the results also indicated that English language proficiency was associated with Arabic writing as well. This suggests that performance on the English language test may reflect general language ability and motivation as well as English language knowledge itself.
The study also found that females were linguistically more competent than males in English language and more motivated towards writing than males in both languages. This enabled them to produce better text quality and to cope with the writing process demands more successfully than males. Effects of writing beliefs were less clear cut. Although the study suggested that Omani writers' writing beliefs were consistent with those found in previous research, there was little evidence that these were associated with text quality and writing process in Arabic, contrary to previous research. However, there was evidence that writers' beliefs about audience and writing as a recursive process in English were related to both writing process and text quality.
The thesis concluded by providing teachers of English as a foreign language with some implications about how to deal with their students' writing issues resulted from their less well developed proficiency in English as a foreign language and lack of motivation. Besides pedagogical implications, the study also offered theoretical and methodological implications and suggested a number of recommendations for future research.

Text
Zulaikha Al-Saadi thesis - Version of Record
Restricted to Repository staff only until 19 November 2020.
Available under License University of Southampton Thesis Licence.

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Published date: October 2018

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 427370
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/427370
PURE UUID: b2845414-c8f2-4a6c-a451-9a90fa899ccf
ORCID for David Galbraith: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0003-4195-6386

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 14 Jan 2019 17:30
Last modified: 25 Jul 2019 00:32

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Contributors

Author: Zulaikha, Talib Al-Saadi
Thesis advisor: David Galbraith ORCID iD

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