L2 writing development: the case of two high-achieving and two struggling college-level students
PublisherUniversidad de Córdoba, UCOPress
L2 writing pedagogy
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Researchers and language practitioners have long been interested in the quest for theory-based, research-supported constructs that can adequately characterize L2 writing proficiency and development. The ongoing scholarly inquiry in this research area has led to the mounting recognition that complexity, accuracy and fluency (henceforth, CAF) constitute a conceptual framework capable of charting L2 writing proficiency and benchmarking development. Against this background, the present study aims to investigate four college-level semester-one students’ L2 writing development over a time frame of twelve weeks. Couched within the constructivist paradigm, which advocates learner independence, meaningful learning and collaboration, the study examines the extent and nature of the progress that two highachieving L2 students made as compared with two struggling peers with regard to their written productions. On the basis of case study methodology, a thick description is provided for each student on account of his measurable progress as assessed by theoretically motivated indices of complexity and accuracy. The paper also explores the time spent on online Moodle activities by the four participants to ascertain whether or not a relationship existed with the progress made. Complexity was measured by mean length of t-unit, mean length of clause and number of clauses per t-unit; accuracy was measured by mean number of error-free t-units and the ratio of error-free t-units to total number of t-units. The writing program in which the participants were engaged was based on the use of Moodle as a platform where students have access to myriad supplementary materials including website links, videos, PowerPoint slides, book chapters and exercises handouts. They were also required to post their written assignments in the Moodle-hosted blog and to participate in forums designed for the exchange of feedback. The implications of the results for L2 writing instruction are discussed.