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Effects of media on planning strategies and performance of advanced ESL writers

, Boston University, United States

Boston University . Awarded


The aim of this study was to obtain descriptive and evaluative information about the planning strategies of six advanced ESL writers as they composed in two media: word-processing and pen and paper. The study incorporated a counterbalanced, repeated measures design for the medium and the topic, with the subjects writing two argumentative essays on different issues. A videotaped verbal protocol provided data on the subjects' underlying thought processes as they wrote. Background interviews, post-writing session interviews, the writers' planning notes, and evaluations of the finished essays supplied additional data. A content analysis focused on the number and type of planning instances in the two conditions, providing the basis for a comparison of strategies according to the medium employed, the preferred medium, and the preferred topic. The study also examined the subjects' rereading patterns to determine how often and why ESL writers reread their text, as well as the relationship of rereading to planning.

For the subjects in this study, the writing medium had only a minimal impact on planning strategies and no discernible effect on rereading strategies. Topic preference exerted a far more powerful influence than the medium in determining the amount of planning, as well as the length and quality of the finished product. The writers exhibited more conceptual and overall planning for the topic that was more personally relevant and familiar. Furthermore, the essays written on the preferred topics received higher evaluations than their non-preferred counterparts.

This study supports the theory that the writing task and the writer's background knowledge strongly influence planning and composing strategies. It also demonstrates that although there are differences in how writers adapt technologies to their needs, each individual's basic schema persists regardless of the medium. Finally, the study reveals that second language writers exhibit a wide range of composing and planning styles, which may reflect their underlying orientation towards idea generation, as well as their problem-solving heuristics.


Couch, P.J. Effects of media on planning strategies and performance of advanced ESL writers. Ph.D. thesis, Boston University. Retrieved March 26, 2019 from .

This record was imported from ProQuest on October 23, 2013. [Original Record]

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