Friday, January 11, 2013

The mediation of technology in ESL writing and its implications for writing assessment

RRR Unit 5:

The mediation of technology in ESL writing and its
implications for writing assessment

Jiang Li

     The author in this paper aimed to investigate the effects of the two writing conditions “ computer-based and pen and paper –based writing” and to throw some light on the practice for assessing ESL writing. The participants in the study were 21 Mandarin speaking who had positive attitude toward computer- assisted writing .They were experienced word-processing users and had strong motivation to use word processing .The author based his study on six methods with more focus on Think aloud protocols and questionnaires .First, think aloud protocols aimed to produce a detailed record of what a writer attends to when he/she is writing. The second method is the higher and lower order thinking processes .Lower level thinking processes are mechanical demands of producing written language including or other means of transcriptions, spelling , capitalization, punctuation and formatting. Whereas higher order thinking processes concern with meaning a writer intends to communicate to readers. Third, higher and lower level revisions are used to distinguish the functions of the text .Fourth , the questionnaire was conducted to investigate how much the participants are interested in using computers .Fifth, two writing tasks were assigned to participants .One on a Macintosh computer using JEdit and Trace-It softwares and the other one with pen and paper. Based on the data analysis and findings,  the author concluded that:
1.Think-aloud was significantly higher in computer writing.
2.Writers made more revisions when writing on computer than when writing with a pen  and paper.
3.Writers created essays with higher quality argumentation on computer.
4.Participants spent much more time writing on computer.

    The author pointed that his study and other studies have found that computers have reshaped the thinking , writing and revision processes of writing.


     In my point of view, it is true that computers have affected people’s life. It might be awful to imagine our life without computers. People feel comfortable using them not just in writing. Hence, writing is just one aspect in which computers could be used for. Let’s imagine if we ask a 5 year old child to choose between a game in a magazine and a game in a computer , directly he’ll pick up the one in the computer because it will provide him with all means of interest. Although the other one which is in the magize might have more interest!
In this study , participants in the computer –based writing were provided with programs that help to check spelling , edit , cut and paste,…etc.
Doing things in the computer were easy and direct , but those involved  in pen and paper writing feel frustrated because they had to do everything themselves ; cross mistakes out  , edit things without being provided with any means of help.
      From a personal standpoint, I agree with the author when he addressed that “ it is fair enough to let people choose the tool that they feel more comfortable with and that they can do a better job with” . To illustrate this point, I can say that although I am skillful in using word processor , yet I feel much more comfortable when jotting down my thoughts  in a piece of paper before typing them in a computer!

Badriya Al Mamari

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