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«Vijay Kumar Mallan A thesis submitted for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy at the University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand July 2005 Dedicated to ...»

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THE INFLUENCE OF CONTEXTUAL FACTORS ON

REVISION STRATEGIES: THE CASE OF FOUR

MALAYSIAN NATIVE SPEAKERS OF ENGLISH IN A

MAINSTREAM E.S.L. CLASSROOM

Vijay Kumar Mallan

A thesis submitted for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy

at the University of Otago, Dunedin,

New Zealand

July 2005

Dedicated to

Margaret, Vinoth and Vinesh

i

ABSTRACT

This case study explored the revision strategies of four Malaysian native speakers of English when they composed aloud while writing an argumentative essay. Think aloud verbal protocols were analysed using the grounded theory approach in conjunction with written texts.

The findings suggest that contextual factors influenced classroom practices. The contextual factors included a teacher who was not provided with adequate training, administrative policies which did not provide support for the development of writers based on their abilities, writing instruction which viewed revision as a process of error correction and public assessment practices which were non-transparent. These classroom practices influenced the participants‟ beliefs about revision. These beliefs affected the quality of their essays as judged by Malaysian public examiners. Additionally, the findings suggest a mismatch between classroom instruction and public examination.

Suggestions are made to address these concerns by considering the theoretical underpinnings of the cognitive process, socio-cultural and community of practice models of writing and learning. These include instruction on revision strategies, considering alternative assessment practices, providing formative feedback, ability streaming, focussing on critical reading skills and providing adequate support to the teacher.

ii

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

I‟m indebted to my wife and sons who have been the source of strength and aspiration. I thank my wife for her unconditional love, support and encouragement over the years. Margaret, Vinoth and Vinesh endured my hours lost in concentration, made the times in between the happiest I‟ve ever known, and blessed me with the one thing no dissertation writer can do without : a reason to finish.

Each member of my dissertation committee has made a unique contribution to this study and to my own personal and professional growth.

I owe my highest gratitude to Dr. Tamsin Meaney for being a true mentor and for always being available when needed. My gratitude goes to her for her thoughtful insights, professional rigour and intellectual contributions. She always provided me with illuminating reactions. Her meticulous reading of my drafts and great attention to details gave me the kind of feedback that always encouraged, revitalized and propelled me forward with enthusiasm. I am sure we will continue to be friends and colleagues always.

I also have deep gratitude for Dr. Elke Stracke, for her unwavering support, encouragement and interest she gave to this research. She steered me into productive directions with insightful feedback. I am grateful that she kept me within sights of my goals. The PhD Applied Linguistics Club that she initiated provided the much needed peer support. She has been a positive role model throughout the process and has taught me a great deal about being a committed academic, an adept researcher and a devoted practitioner. Her work ethic is a model for me.

Dr. John Taylor provided a thoughtful blend of encouragement and intellectual prodding. I am grateful to him for his firm support and kindness. I thank him for constantly reminding me that I could be successful in the doctoral programme and life beyond. His patience, guidance and perceptive mind kept this study in focus.

Special appreciation is extended to Universiti Putra Malaysia for sponsoring my studies. I also thank the students, examiners and the teacher who participated in this research project for their generous contribution of time and energy. I would also like to thank Otago University for encouraging me to network with scholars in the field by providing me conference travel grants.

Many thanks to Professor Braj Kachru (Emeritus Professor of Linguistics, University of Illinois), Professor Linda Flower (Professor of Rhetoric, Carnegie Mellon University), Professor Ericsson Anders (Conradi Eminent Scholar and Professor of Psychology, Florida State University) and Associate Professor Dr Sali Zaliha Mustapha (University Putra Malaysia) for guidance in the initial conceptual framework of this research.

iii

–  –  –

TABLE OF CONTENT

Abstract………………………………………………………………………………………i Acknowledgement……………………………………………………………………………ii List of abbreviations…………………………………………………………………………iii Table of content……………………………………………………………………….……..iv List of appendices………………………………………………………….…………...…...vii List of figures and tables…………………………………………………..…………...……viii CHAPTER ONE





INTRODUCTION

1. Scope of study

1.1. Brief background

1.2. Previous research

1.3 How native speakers are identified

1.4. The Malaysian Native Speaker of English

1.5. Purpose of the study

1.6. Overview of chapters in the study

CHAPTER TWO

REVISION AS A WRITING STRATEGY

2. Overview of chapter two

2.1. What is revision?

2.1.1. Cognitive processes in writing

2.1.2. Dissonance models

2.1.3. Meta-cognitive models

2.1.4. Socio-cultural model

2.1.5. Community of practice model

2.1.6. Choice of model

2.2. Revision and text quality

2.3. Revision studies on inner circle high school students

2.3.1. Focus on meaning level revision

2.3.2. Extent of revision

2.3.3. Influence of audience

2.3.4. Reading comprehension

2.3.5. Topic knowledge

2.3.6. Delay in revision

2.4. Summary of chapter two

CHAPTER THREE

METHODOLOGY

3. Overview of chapter three

3.1. Case study research

3.2. The Think Aloud method

3.2.1. Retrospective protocols

3.2.2. Concurrent protocols

3.3. Theoretical concerns

3.3.1. Reactivity

3.3.2. Veridicality

3.4. Methodological concerns

3.4.1. Selection of participants

v

3.4 2. Warm up sessions

3.4.3. Observer effect

3.4.4. Choice of topics

3.5. Data

3.5.1. Verbal protocols

3.5.2. Written essays

3.5.3. E-mail interviews

3.5.4. Questionnaire

3.6. NVivo

3.7. Analytical procedures

3.7.1. Data management

3.7.2. Data coding

3.8. Summary of chapter three

CHAPTER FOUR

CASE STUDIES

4. Overview of chapter four

4.1. Case study one: Shoba

4.1.1. Revision process

4.1.1.1. First draft revision

4.1.1.2. Second draft revision

4.1.1.3. Final draft revision

4.1.2. Evaluation of written product

4.2. Case study two: Melinder

4.2.1. Revision process

4.2.1.1. First draft revision

4.2.1.2. Second draft revision

4.2.1.3. Final draft revision

4.2.2. Evaluation of written product

4.3. Case study three: Stephanie

4.3.1. Revision process

4.3.1.1. First draft revision

4.3.1.2. Second draft revision

4.3.1.3. Third draft revision

4.3.1.4. Final draft revision

4.3.2. Evaluation of written product

4.4. Case study four: Divya

4.4.1. Revision process

4.4.1.1. First draft revision

4.4.1.2. Second draft revision

4.4.1.3. Final draft revision

4.4.2. Evaluation of written product

4.5. Summary of chapter four

CHAPTER FIVE

DISCUSSION

5. Overview of chapter five

5.1. Comparison of revision strategies among participants

5.1.1. Comparison across first drafts

5.1.2. Comparison across second drafts

vi 5.1.3. Comparison across third drafts

5.2. Comparison of strategies with inner circle native speakers

5.3. Assessment of final written products

5.4. Conflicting agents

5.4.1. The class teacher

5.4.2. Textbook

5.4.3. Administrative policies

5.4.4. Transparency in SPM

5.5. Classroom practices

5.5.1. Writing instruction

5.5.2. Feedback

5.5.3. Sentence level reading

5.5.4. Sentence level writing

5.5.5. Planning

5.5.6. Revision as process of discovery

5.6. Summary of chapter five

CHAPTER SIX

SUMMARY, IMPLICATIONS AND SUGGESTIONS

6. Overview of chapter six

6.1. Research questions

6.2 Theoretical Implications

6.3 Pedagogical Implications

6.3.1. Instruction on revision strategies

6.3.2. Assessment

6.3.3. Classroom feedback

6.3.4. Ability streaming

6.3.5. Reading and text generation

6.3.6. Teacher development

6.4. SPM 2002 results

6.5. Reflection

6.5.1 The think aloud methodology

6.5.2 NVivo

6.5.3 Quantitative data

6.6 Suggestions for further research

6.6.1 Ethnographic studies

6.6.2 Intervention studies

6.6.3 Studies on beliefs

6.6.4 Outer circle native speakers

6.6.5 Writing communities

6.7. Conclusion

REFERENCES

vii

LIST OF APPENDICES

APPENDIX 1: MODIFIED SPM MARKING BAND

APPENDIX 2: INFORMATION SHEET

APPENDIX 3: CONSENT FORM

APPENDIX 4: QUESTIONNAIRE

APPENDIX 5: FIRST WARM UP SESSION

APPENDIX 6: SECOND WARM UP SESSION

APPENDIX 7: SAMPLE PROTOCOLS, WRITTEN TEXT AND CODING

APPENDIX 8: SHOBA‟S DRAFTS

APPENDIX 9: MELINDER‟S DRAFTS

APPENDIX 10: STEPHANIE‟S DRAFTS

APPENDIX 11: DIVYA‟S DRAFTS

APPENDIX 12: MINIMUM WRITTEN EXERCISES IN SCHOOL

viii

LIST OF FIGURES AND TABLES

FIGURE 1: FREE NODES

FIGURE 2: TREE NODES

FIGURE 3: MODEL EXPLORER

FIGURE 4: TEXT WITH LINK TO MEMO

FIGURE 5: MEMO

FIGURE 6: CODING STRIPES

FIGURE 7: DOCUMENT BROWSER

FIGURE 8: SEARCH TOOL

FIGURE 9: ASSAY TOOL

FIGURE 10 : SHOBA‟S REVISION STRATEGIES IN HER FIRST DRAFT

FIGURE 11: SHOBA‟S REVISION STRATEGIES IN HER SECOND DRAFT

FIGURE 12: SHOBA‟S REVISION STRATEGIES IN HER THIRD DRAFT

FIGURE 13: MELINDER‟S REVISION STRATEGIES IN HER FIRST DRAFT

FIGURE 14: MELINDER‟S REVISION STRATEGIES IN HER SECOND DRAFT

FIGURE 15: MELINDER‟S REVISION STRATEGIES IN HER THIRD DRAFT

FIGURE 16: STEPHANIE‟S REVISION STRATEGIES IN HER FIRST DRAFT

FIGURE 17 : STEPHANIE‟S REVISION STRATEGIES IN HER SECOND DRAFT

FIGURE 18: STEPHANIE‟S REVISION STRATEGIES IN HER THIRD DRAFT

FIGURE 19: STEPHANIE‟S REVISION STRATEGIES IN HER FOURTH DRAFT

FIGURE 20: DIVYA‟S REVISION STRATEGIES IN HER FIRST DRAFT

FIGURE 21: DIVYA‟S REVISION STRATEGIES IN HER SECOND DRAFT

FIGURE 22: DIVYA‟S REVISION STRATEGIES IN HER THIRD DRAFT

FIGURE 23: FACTORS AFFECTING REVISING STRATEGIES

FIGURE 24: SUMMARY REPRESENTATION OF REVISION STRATEGIES OF MNSE

FIGURE 25: MALAYSIAN NATIVE SPEAKERS IN MAINSTREAM ESL CLASSROOMS

FIGURE 26: MALAYSIAN NATIVE SPEAKERS BEYOND MAINSTREAM ESL CLASSROOMS............147 TABLE 1: REVISION STRATEGIES OF PARTICIPANTS WHILE REVISING FIRST DRAFTS

TABLE 2: REVISION STRATEGIES OF PARTICIPANTS WHILE REVISING SECOND DRAFTS............101 TABLE 3: REVISION STRATEGIES OF PARTICIPANTS WHILE REVISING THIRD DRAFTS...............104 TABLE 4: ASSESSMENT OF FINAL WRITTEN PRODUCTS

1

–  –  –

Revision is fundamental. It is the writer‟s workshop. It is the anvil on which writing and thinking are shaped. We must, therefore, make revision a central component of writing instruction (Cramer, 1992: 4).

1. Scope of study This study examined revision strategies of four Malaysian Native Speakers of English when they revised an argumentative essay. Data was collected from think aloud protocols, students‟ drafts, final version of essays and from comments of the essays from the classroom teacher and markers of public examinations at the end of high school public exam in Malaysia.

Detailed reports of the students‟ thinking processes were then related to classroom teaching and the public examination standards. The findings demonstrate how contextual factors influenced the participants revising of their writing.

1.1. Brief background

As this study is about students in the Malaysian secondary education system, it is useful to provide details of that system by looking at the Malaysian Education Policy, the English syllabus, how English is assessed in the public examination and finally teacher training. The Malaysian National Education Policy stipulates that English is taught as a second language in Malaysia. English is introduced to Malaysian students at the age of 7. It is taught for an average of 90 minutes per week in primary schools and 240 minutes per week in secondary schools (Nunan, 2003: 594). At the time of this study in 2002, all other subjects were taught in Malay, the national language. However, as a result of a change in the education policy, students enrolled in the first years of primary, secondary and pre-university classes from 2003 are taught Mathematics and Science in English.

The Malaysian Education system follows the Integrated Curriculum for the Secondary Schools.



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