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Argumentative Writing On A Controversial Topic English Language Essay

Introduction

Argumentative writing is an opinion _based discourse in which a speaker or writer takes a particular stance on a controversial topic and attempts to convince the listener or reader to adopt that opinion (as sited in Golder , 1996) . Based on (Golder,1992) , argumentation is generally considered to be a cooperative ,open _ended activity taking two opposing points of view into account.

Knudson postulated that arguing orally is open to the extent that there are inputs from the conversational partner.An argumentative essay is closed in that there are no inputs because there is no conversational partner.

Considering argumentative writing , the role of gender differences are taken into account as well. Hyde and Linn drew up their theory in 1998 , indicating a slight female superiority in performance. In yet another view, Halpern (1986) concurred that females have better verbal abilities than males.

Pajares and Valiante (2001) supported gender differences , they reported that girls have stronger writing self _efficacy , writing self _concept, self_ efficacy for regulation , value of writing , and task goals. According to aforementioned statements, gender stereotypic beliefs play a major role in gender differences.

Review of related literature

Throughout the history of language teaching there have been many different views among teachers regarding the role of argumentative writing and gender differences . A study by Roussey and Gombert (1996) states that 8_year _old children had difficulty recomposing the argumentative text in accordance with the standard schema. This study shows that 8_year _old children , regardless of their level of writing expertise, are capable of processing the argumentative valence of statements. The difficulty arises when they must integrate semantically opposed statements into a coherent text , a task which is facilitated by proper mastery of the argumentative schema.

Knudson(1988,1989,1991) defines the role of prior knowledge about a given topic . He argues that instructional strategies that are effective with narrative, descriptive, and informational writing may not be effective with argumentative writing.

Golder and Coirier (1996) looks at the “minimal argumentative structure” in which the speaker takes a stance and supports it with text that derives its argumentativity from the presence of this stance . They argue that full mastery of the negotiation process is not present before the ages of 15 to 16. In their study , Golder and Coirier (1996) considered that children can not distinguish between the different levels of production of an argumentative text until the age of 13_14.

Pajares , Johnson , and Miller(1999) argue about the nature of gender differences in the writing self _beliefs of learners . Based on this study, students’ self efficacy beliefs about their own writing capability had a direct effect on their essay _writing performance is potentially vast. They also identified that instructional approach to writing instruction have as a key priority the building of a child’s sense of confidence in writing.

Pajares and Valiante (2001) determine whether gender differences in writing motivation and achievement could be a accounted for by students’ stereotypical beliefs about gender. They argue that writing achievement were rendered nonsignificant when students ‘s feminine orientation beliefs were controlled. As a whole they state that many gender differences in writing are due to gender orientation rather than of gender. Based on their study feminine orientation is adoptive , whereas a masculine orientation may be beneficial only when escorted by a feminine orientation.

In the other study which is done by Pajares and Valiante (1999) regarding gender differences , girls had higher writing competence and stronger perceived value of writing. There were no gender differences in writing self_ concept or writing apprehension. They reported that girls believed themselves superior to the boys , and the boys tended to agree. They also considered the question of why middle school girls report equal writing confidence as do boys even though the girls obviously believe themselves superior writers.

According Liu and Braine (2005), cohesion is important both to the reader and the writer to create and comprehend a text. They identify that teachers should concern more text cohesion and coherence in their teaching and evaluation of writing . This concern can enhance the students ‘ awareness of the importance and use of cohesive devices in their writing.

Hidi, Berndorff, and Ainley (2002) as another researchers who endorse argumentative writing , in this study highlight that a combination of motivational and instructional variables can be best utilized in an intervention program to improve students’ emotional and cognitive experiences during argument writing . This study states that general interest , genre_ specific liking and self_ efficacy are extremely important in argumentative writing. They created positive emotional environments for students by providing authentic writing tasks to improve interest and confidence in their ability to carry out argument writing tasks.

A study by Hyde and Linn (1988) show that the magnitude of the gender difference in erbal ability is currently so small that it can effectively be considered to be zero. They analyze various types of verbal ability (e.g, vocabulary, reading comprehension and analogies) but found no gender difference . They also indicated that gender differences in cognitive abilities are nonexistent.

Statement of the problem

Reviewing the related literature showed that a number of studies have investigated the implications of argumentative writing and gender differences in writing. Although argumentative writing appears to play a great role in the field of education and is to some extent influenced by argumentative writing and gender differences, educators assess various ideas in this field and they do not have an obvious view in this regard. So, unlike most studies which consider argumentative writing and gender differences separately, the present study intends to investigate the relationship between argumentative writing and gender. This study wants to show that which one (female or male) argues well in their writing.

Significance of the study

Having more information about the relationship between argumentative writing and gender differences will provide teachers with valuable insights and help them change their views regarding educators' writing. Spending a few times on this skill shows in academic environments students listen, read, and speak more than they write, specifically argumentative writing.

During acquiring this skill, learners face with some problems: hence they need strategies to compensate these problems to develop this skill. Language learners have to be aware of the existence of these strategies and teachers have to teach them intentionally.

Pajares and Valiante(2001) believe gender_ stereotypical beliefs, self_efficacy and even confidence are the main reasons for gender differences in argumentative writing. They believe not only the strategies have to be taught, but also they have to be instructed explicitly. Next stage involves strategy use ; it can be thought as a compensatory activity. While learners use strategies effectively in appropriate time, overcoming with deficiencies is possible.

Research questions

The present study attempts to answer the following questions:

1. Do different genders write differently in argumentative writing in Iranian EFL learners?

2. What are the different styles used by different genders in argumentative writing of Iranian EFL learners?

Research hypotheses

In response to the above questions, the following null hypotheses are formulated:

1. There is no relationship between argumentative writing and gender differences of Iranian EFL learners.

2. There is no specific difference between the styles used by different genders in argumentative writing of Iranian EFL learners.

Method

In this section participant, instruments, and procedures are described.

Participants

Participants of present study will be 100 advanced- level of Iranian learners who are learning English as a second language.50 of these learners are female and the other 50 are males to consider the gender differences in writing. They will be homogeneous with respect to their proficiency level.

Instruments

To conduct the present study the following instruments will be employed. To determine the learners' proficiency level, the Michigan Test of English language proficiency (MTELP) will be administered as a pretest. No training is needed before pre-test.

A standard Michigan grammar test and a writing test will be administered to determine the students' grammar and writing accuracy. After 10 sessions instruction on learners' confidence, self-efficacy, and their stereotypical beliefs, a post-test will be administered. They will be given several topics to choose one of them based on their interest to write about. Then, after considering their composition, the level of their argumentation will be identified.

Procedure

For the purpose of the present study the following procedures will be followed. First of all, 100 EFL learners will be selected. Second, a Michigan test will be administered as a pre-test to determine the proficiency level of the learners and to homogenize them. Third, the grammar and writing test will be administered; then questionnaire will be used to identify the learners' writing types. Finally, the collected data will be submitted to statistical analysis.

Data analysis

Having administered the test and gathered the required data, four multiple regressions will be conducted to determine the influence of masculinity, femininity, and the joint influence of masculinity and femininity on each of the motivation and achievement variables-writing self –efficacy, writing self-concept, self-efficacy for self-regulation, writing apprehension, value of writing, each of the achievement goals, and writing achievement.

Limitations and delimitations

There are a number of limitation and delimitation in this study, including the following: The more population participates in a study, the more generalization will be the results, but the number of the sample decreases practically, because of some restrictions in time and administration properties. The number of participants should be to the extent that the researcher can manage them appropriately. Institutional policy is able to make some limitations. For example, educational system of each institute may affect the methods of teaching and learners' preferences for learning.

It may happen that some learners do not participate in the study; some of them may copy the text from somewhere or search on the internet. Students' awareness about strategy use before and after instruction will not be investigated. In addition, the result of this study may not be transferred to ESL contexts since it is conducted in an EFL context.

Definition of key terms

In this section key terms in the present study are defined as follows:

Argumentative writing: argumentation is generally considered to be a cooperative, open-ended activity (Golder, 1999) which necessarily involves a "negotiation space" where the point of view being presented can be refuted. The presence of two opposing types of arguments in a discourse, those for and these against the point of view under consideration, is indicative of an "elaborate" argumentative activity. (Roussey and Gombert, (1996)).

Self-efficacy and writing: Hidi (2002) defines self-efficacy as a cognitive construct that represents individuals' beliefs about their ability to act and successfully produce outcomes at a given level.

Writing self-concept: the judgments of self-work associated with one's self-perception as a writer.

Self-efficacy for self-regulation: judgments of capability to use various self-regulated learning strategies which correlate with writing competence. It increase confidence in academic capabilities and assessing self-regulatory strategies is important in studies of academic performance, as these strategies are critical components of academic motivation.


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