Date of Award

8-2009

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

English

First Advisor

Jeannine M. Fontaine, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Jean Nienkamp, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

John A. Mueller, Ed.D.

Abstract

This study explores the possibilities of applying certain aspects of contemporary Western composition pedagogical approaches in university-level advanced EFL writing classes at a Chinese university. A series of writing workshops were conducted outside of the regular English curriculum, where the research focus was on students’ attitudes toward this process-oriented writing workshop experience. The research design was to apply principles of the qualitative method and naturalistic inquiry in the classroom setting. Through prolonged engagement in a collective case study, multiple data sources were collected and triangulated for better understanding and interpretation of the phenomenon. Contemporary Western composition pedagogy applied in this writing workshop addresses the five elements of Silva’s ESL writing model (1990), which involves the roles of EFL writer, the native English reader, EFL written text, and the context of EFL writing, as well as the interaction of these factors throughout the composing process in an EFL setting. Applying this Western approach to the EFL writing workshop at a Chinese university provided scaffolding for students as they went through writing processes, and helped them develop some appropriate social, cultural, and contextual language awareness in English writing. This writing pedagogy encourages student self-expression and emphasizes writing for real purposes, audiences, and contexts. By attending a series of workshops, Chinese students were exposed to various aspects of an incorporated writing pedagogy and reported significant improvement in their confidence in writing, and in the acquisition and use of Western writing strategies. Incorporating aspects of Western pedagogy in this EFL writing workshop helped students develop demonstrable language competence and confidence to express their thoughts within appropriate contextual awareness. Besides the reports on students’ attitudes, four EFL writing teachers shared their concerns and dilemmas on current EFL writing instruction in China. They also contributed some attempts to seek to improve and invent effective ways of teaching EFL writing. The study sought to understand the teaching and learning of English writing from both student and teacher perspectives. This study also has implications for how to teach writing effectively to an increasing ESL student population at universities in the United States.

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