The Theories And Approaches Education Essay

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This chapter begins by laying out the theoretical dimensions of the research by clarifying cognitive theory, cognitive process theory of writing, and sociocultural approach. Moreover, it reviews the research conducted on writing, revision and goal setting by going through the related literature.

2.1 Theories and Approaches

The development of cognitive and sociocultural theoretical perspectives has influenced studies and the pedagogy of second language writing (Roca de Larios and Murphy, 2001). Cognitive and sociocultural theory are different in that cognitive theory sees writing as a goal-centered problem solving activity (Pittard, 1999; Grabe and Kaplan, 1996; Berlin, 1988; Flower and Hayes, 1980) while sociocultural theory defines writing as a social activity (Grabe and Kaplan, 1996). Moreover, cognitive theory emphasizes the significant role of revision in the process of writing while the crucial role of audience and the context in which communication takes place is found to be the main concern in sociocultural theory (Grabe and Kaplan, 1996).

In spite of the fact that these two theories have different perspectives toward writing, combining them has been the main effort of practitioners for it is believed that second language writing cannot be separated from either cognitive or sociocultural theory (Pittard, 1999; Flower, 1994). Therefore, studies in the field of learning and teaching writing have taken advantage of both cognitive and sociocultural developments.

2.1.1 Cognitive Theory

Jean Piaget (1896-1980) first developed cognitive theory that refers to "perception, thought processes, the encoding and expression of meaning, and the acquisition of concepts and language" (Rivers, 1968, p. 86). In other words, the theory mostly focuses on the process of learning, including second language learning. Moreover, among all other theories that support the process of second language writing, the strongest position toward this issue is taken by cognitive theory.

The purpose of cognitivists is to teach writing while focusing on the process rather than the product. In addition, the attention has shifted from inductive approach that focuses on language usage to deductive approach, that emphasizes language use (Allami and Salmani-Nodoushan, 2006). Focusing on deductive approach, the goal of learning is communication and the goal of teaching is to make the students communicatively competent in order for them to use the language correctly, efficiently, and appropriately.

Communicative competence, which is proposed by Hymes (1971), highlights the importance of studying people knowledge while communicating which focuses on whether an utterance is appropriate in a specific context or not rather than just being concerned about linguistic structures to see whether a sentence is grammatical or not (As cited in Bereiter and Scardamalia, 1987; Widdowson, 1983). However, the important role of grammar and structures which are the main concern of linguistic competence, is not ignored in cognitive theory although it is not a high priority. Students need to be familiar with linguistic competence in order to correctly put their thoughts into words and to get their meaning through effectively. Grammar may help the writer in this manner also.

2.1.2 Cognitive Process Theory of Writing

The cognitive process theory of writing, proposed by Hayes and Flower (1980), is a branch of cognitive theory. It is believed that cognitive process theory is the most dominant model of cognitive theory in writing (Hayes, 1996; Flower and Hayes, 1981; Hayes and Flower, 1980).

According to Hayes and Flower's (1980) model of composing, the process of writing consists of planning, translating, and reviewing. It is also believed by other practitioners that these three elements are three major cognitive strategies which a writer should consider in the process of writing (Chien, 2007, Berninger, Whitaker, Feng, Swanson, and Abbott, 1996; Scardamalia and Bereiter, 1986).

Planning is divided into three subcategories: generating ideas, organizing, and goal-setting during which writers refer to their background knowledge to organize their ideas and to set goals (Hayes and Flower, 1980). The next strategy, which is translating, is when writers put their thoughts into words. In this part of the writing process, they need to deal with all the requirements of written English. The last part, which is the main concern of the current study, is reviewing that depends on evaluating and revising (Flower and Hayes, 1981). During this stage, writers go to reread the text and reconsider the ideas and the way they are organized to find the parts that need to be improved. The whole composition process proposed by Flower and Hayes (1980) is presented in Figure 2.1.


Text Produced So Far

Writing Assignment

Topic Audience

Writer's Long Term Memory

Knowledge of Topics & Knowledge of Audience

Stored Writing plans

Knowledge of sources based on Literature Search


Revising/ Reviewing






Goal Setting


Figure 2.1. The Cognitive Process Model of the Composing Process (Flower and Hayes, 1981, p. 370)

Writing is described as a "complex, recursive, and creative process" (Silva, 1990, p. 15). As it is shown in figure 2.1, there is no specific order for different stages in the process of writing. This means that different stages can be repeated in no specific order (Hayes, Flower, Schriver, Stratman, and Carey, 1987; Flower and Hayes, 1981) and the order can vary regarding the tasks and individuals (Berlin, 1988). In addition to the process of writing, the complexity of the revision process is discussed by Myhill and Jones (2007), who say that revision is not a "post-textual production reviewing activity" (p. 339) and can be done during each stage of writing.

The process of revision is the main element in the cognitive and process approach that helps the students to learn about communicative competence. During the process of revision, students can experience playing the role of a reader to evaluate their own essays (Allami and Salmani-Nodoushan, 2006) in terms of meaning and communication with an audience. Being communicatively competent, student writers are able to write for different purposes, to diverse audiences, and in a variety of contexts (Hairston, 1982; Gregg and Steinberg, 1980).

It is believed in cognitive theory that student writers should be able to take the role of a reader, reread what they have written, reconsider the goals of communication with an audience, check how organized their ideas are, how clear their position is, and how comprehensible and cohesive the text is for the intended reader. Students cannot evaluate their compositions and distinguish the mistakes they have made regarding both use and usage unless they take the role of a reader and look at the essay from other perspectives (Midgette et al., 2008; Allami and Salmani-Nodoushan, 2006; Flower and Hayes, 1981). Paying attention to the intended audience in writing is the part in which cognitive and sociocultural theory, correlate and show agreement in their perspectives toward writing.

2.1.3 Sociocultural Theory

Sociocultural theory has rarely been the base of other theories and researches on language learning and teaching for most of them are based on cognitive theory perspectives and are not engaged in broader social context (Barnard and Campbell, 2005). Hayes and Flower (1980) and their fellow assume that learning process routs in cognitive theory. However, sociocultural theory has come into consideration in the process of learning more recently (Turuk, 2008; Barnard and Campbell, 2005) and has influenced studies and theories of learning and teaching to a great extent (Turuk, 2008).

Lev Semyonovich Vygotsky (1896-1934), a Russian psychologist, first proposed Sociocultural theory that affected the field of education and educational psychology. Vygotsky (1978) advocates social context as the main concept in sociocultural theory and puts emphasis on its fundamental role in cognition and learning. Vygotsky (1978) also emphasizes the role of individuals' interaction in a specific context and feedbacks and instructions they receive from each other that can guide them in the learning process.

It is believed in sociocultural theory that human learning cannot be studied separately from "social and cultural forces" (Barnard and Campbell, 2005, p. 76). In other words, learning is not due to the individuals' effort without any instruction and mediation from others in their environment, but it is due to individuals' collaboration and interaction in the learning context (Turuk, 2008; Glassman and Wang, 2004) in which sociocultural forces play an important role (Kozulin, Gindis, Ageyev and Miller, 2003; Wertsch, 1991).

Having emphasized the central role of other people in individuals' learning process and having argued about the important role of strategy instructions and guidelines individuals receive in their social life, Vygotsky discussed the importance of, and the need for, audience awareness in second language learning (Barnard and Campbell, 2005). Students need to be taught about audiences in the society that are broader than just peers and teachers inside the classroom context. People in the social context as a whole should be considered as audience for learning social activities. Furthermore, it is suggested that teachers are required to provide students with instructions that facilitate the process of learning. From this perspective, instruction is beneficial when it makes students aware of the nature of an activity, the context in which that activity is done, and the role of other people in that specific context (Shayer, 2002).

Overall, recognizing the importance of external factors such as social context and the role of other people in an individual's learning, theorists and researchers in the field of language teaching and learning came to see writing as a social activity, which is both cognitive and sociocultural, and language as the most important tool for interacting, collaborating, and communicating with audiences in the social context. According to John-Steiner and Mahn (1996, p. 199), having integrated cognitive and sociocultural theory, a growing number of "Piagetian and Vygotskian researchers" (e.g., Damon and Phelps, 1989; Tudge and Rogoff, 1989; Slavin, 1987, 1983) studied cooperative learning, which is the interest of both theories in order to enlighten classroom activities.

2.1.4 Theoretical Framework

As discussed in the earlier sections, studies of second language writing have been influenced by the development of both cognitive and socio cultural theories (Roca de Larios and Murphy, 2001). Theoretical perspectives of these two theories shape the framework of the current study (see Figure 1.2).

Writing is seen as a goal-centered activity in cognitive approach (Pittard, 1999; Grabe and Kaplan, 1996; Berlin, 1988; Flower and Hayes, 1980). Besides emphasizing the process of writing, cognitive approach put an emphasis on the individual process of revision during which writers can go through what they have written to make improvement, by having clear goals in mind to follow.

Writing Is a Social Act

Emphasizes the Role of Social Context and Audience

Sociocultural Theory (Vygotsky, 1896-1934)

Second/Foreign Language Writing

Overall Writing Performance

Performance in Aspects of Essay Writing

Revision plus Goal Instructions

Content plus Audience Awareness Goal

Revision Is a Goal Directed Process

Emphasizes the Process of Revision

Cognitive Process Theory

(Hayes &Flower, 1980)

Writing Is a Goal Oriented Process

Emphasizes the Individual Process of Revision

Cognitive Theory

(Piaget, 1896-1980)

Figure 2.2. Theoretical Framework

The importance of the revision process is also discussed by Flower and Hayes (1980) proposing cognitive process theory of writing. In their theory, Flower and Hayes describe the process of revision as the main element in cognitive and process approach that helps students to learn about communicative competence (Allami and salmani-Nodoushan, 2006). As it is discussed, revision is the best time to teach students about other components of writing rather than linguistic competence, and help them to reconsider the goals of writing and revising to make corrections in order to improve the quality of their writings.

On the other hand, sociocultural theory defines writing as a social activity and emphasizes the role of audience and social context and the way they can affect the process of this activity (Grabe and Kaplan, 1996). It is believed in sociocultural theory that the goal of writing is communicating with audience that their needs and expectations shape the content of writing. Therefore, it is necessary to make students aware of the reader and help them write and revise for an intended audience. Based on theoretical perspectives of cognitive and sociocultural theories in second language writing, this study was to figure out the effects of content- and audience-based goal instructions for revision on students writing performance.

For better understanding of application of these theories in the area of second and foreign language learning and teaching, we go through the literature in this domain, which is supported by both cognitive and sociocultural theory.

2.2 The Related Studies on Revision

In this section, studies done on teaching writing and revising are discussed in order to determine the effects of different methodologies of teaching and learning on this specific skill. Studies in this area fall in to two main categories. First, studies that aimed to find out the effectiveness of students' receiving feedback from diverse audiences such as teachers, peers, or actual readers, for the students to revise their essays and improve the quality of their compositions. Second, studies that were based on providing students with some established goals and specific instructions during the process of revision to make them able to take the role of a reader and guide them what to do and what to look for while revising their own essays. More discussion will be done on this issue in the next sections.

2.2.1 Instructions for Revision via Feedback from an Audience

It is universally believed that revision is the most important part of the writing process and it is a key to good writing in terms of both meaning and structure (Truscott and Yi-ping Hsu, 2008). Revision " involves identifying discrepancies between intended and instantiated text, deciding what could or should be changed in the text and how to make desired changes, and operating, that is, making the desired changes" (Fitzgerald, 1987, p. 484). Nature of the writing process requires the writer to cope with setting multilevel goals that is why writers need to go for "text review, evaluation, problem detection, and repair" (Beal, 1993, p. 644).

The main components of revision process are identified as evaluation and correction (Beal, 1987; Fitzgerald, 1987), that are described as "an ongoing cycle" by Beal (1993) ; meaning that writers firstly, need to detect the mistakes and areas that need improvements, and secondly, improving them by making changes and corrections and repeat this process many times.

It is observed that the most challenging part of revision for the students is evaluating the text and identifying the mistakes rather than making corrections (Beal, 1993). Crawford et al. (2008) found that a large number of revisions done by students are at word and phrase level and a smaller number, at sentence and paragraph level. It shows that students have problem with detecting mistakes regarding meaning, organization of ideas, and communicating with an audience. That is why they fail to make any meaning-based changes while revising.

One recommended way to solve students' problem in evaluation and help them revise more effectively is providing them with response from teachers (Ferris and Roberts, 2001; Ashwell, 2000; Fathman and Whalley, 1990). That means giving students feedback from teachers in order to make the students aware of the mistakes and areas that can benefit from revision. Another way, which is less common in academic situations and more complicated, for helping student writers to improve their writing, is getting feedback from peers (Hu, 2005; Liu and Hansen, 2002; Honeycutt, 2001; Berninger et al., 1996; Graves, 1981). Providing feedback, from either peers or teachers, has been an accepted part of pedagogy (Kietlinska, 2006) since "it allows students to develop strategies for detecting and repairing problems in communicating with an audience" (Berninger et al., 1996, p. 44). Teacher Feedback for Revision

The goal of teachers is to find effective methods to facilitate students' learning and help them improve (Lee and Schallert, 2008). Just like other teachers, writing teachers spend an extensive amount of time giving feedback on students' essays (Conrad and Goldstein, 1999). To investigate the effectiveness of the comments that teachers provide, and to discover the best way to provide students with feedback, many studies (e.g., Bitchener and Knoch, 2008; Ellis, Sheen, Murakami, and Takashima, 2008; Lee and Schallert, 2008; Sheen, 2007; Hyland and Hyland, 2006; Ferris and Roberts, 2001; Ashwell, 2000;) have been done in this area.

Ferris and Roberts (2001) studied the effects of different kinds of feedback (coding, underlining, and no feedback) on ESL students' writing to examine how explicit error feedback should be to make students more self-regulated in editing their own writing. The results revealed that groups, which received feedback, revised more successfully than the no-feedback-group. However, no significant difference was found between different kinds of feedback. The same results were found in another study by Bitchener and knoch (2008) who investigated the effects of different kinds of corrective feedback (direct, oral and written meta-cognitive) on 144 migrant and international students' writing and compared to no corrective feedback. It was found that students (both migrants and internationals) could benefit from all types of corrective feedback in order to improve their accuracy. Moreover, those who received feedback, independent of the type of feedback they received, performed much better than those who did not receive any feedback.

In order to compare the effectiveness of feedbacks based on content with those on form, Ashwell (2000) compared four methods of providing EFL students with feedback: form, content, form and content, and no feedback and their effects on students' revisions. The results show that groups who received feedback significantly improved their writing accuracy, independent of the type of feedback they had received. Although the group with no feedback had also improved, the improvement was not as significant as in the other groups. Fathman and Whalley (1990) also found that feedbacks based on both content and form are more effective for improving the ability of ESL students to make corrections and improve their writing quality.

Besides other studies done on teacher feedback, there are studies (e.g., Ellis et al., 2008; Sheen, 2007) that investigated the effects of focused and unfocused written feedback on EFL and ESL students' writing and revising. Ellis et al. (2008) found teacher corrective feedback to be equally effective for both focused and unfocused groups in that they both performed significantly better than the no corrective feedback group.

Overall, it is found that feedback is an indispensible part of revision and helps to construct a "cooperative pedagogical environment" (Hyland and Hyland, 2006, p. 222), that can facilitate learning, and to increase the communication between students and teachers. Furthermore, many studies have shown that all feedbacks from teachers have resulted in improvement in writing (Ferris, Pezone, Tade, and Tinti, 1997) and success in the revision process (Ellis et. al., 2008; Ferris and Roberts, 2001; Ashwell, 2000; Fathman and whalley, 1990). They are even more effective when the comments ask for detailed information; give clear cues and provide specific strategies to students to revise (Bitchener and Knoch, 2008; Ferris, 1997; Cohen and Riel, 1989; Ziv, 1982).

However, some theoreticians have questioned the effectiveness of written feedback on students' essays (Truscott and Yi-ping Hsu, 2008; Sommers, 2006; Truscott, 1996; Hillocks, 1982; Sommers, 1982). Zamel (1985) for example, disagreed that teacher feedback is always effective for students to improve their composition writing.

Truscott and Yi-ping Hsu (2008) in their study examined if native students learning and improvement is due to corrective feedback given on their assignments in an English as a first language context. The sample in their study were divided in to an experimental group, who received feedback, and a control group, that did not get any feedback. The experimental group revised significantly better than the control group. However, in the next session no significant difference was found between groups when they wrote a narrative "as a measure of (short-term) learning" (p. 292). They argued that although teacher feedback might be effective in helping students learn revision strategies and make their writing more accurate, it does not necessarily lead to those corrections being effective for students to improve their writing ability. Such theoreticians believe that teachers' comments are not adequate and they are usually referring to minor problems.

Moreover, it is assumed that students may misunderstand the comments due to their being ambiguous (Hyland, 1998; Land and Evans, 1987; Zamel, 1985). Sommers (1982) points out that "teachers' comments can take students' attention away from their own purposes in writing a particular text and focus that attention on the teachers' purposes in commenting" (Sommers, 1982, p. 149). Rutz (2006) and Sommers (2006) discuss other variables rather than just providing teacher feedback and conclude that no communication will occur between teachers and students unless they give clear and comprehensible comments on the essays. As Sommers (2006, p. 250) mentions, "feedback plays a leading role in undergraduate writing development when, but only when, students and teachers create a partnership through feedback".

Having reviewed most of the studies done on teachers' corrective feedback, Guenette (2007) argues that studies in this area cannot be compared since the design and methodology applied were not the same. In addition, corrective feedbacks' being beneficial or not depends on variables such as "the classroom context, the type of errors students make, their proficiency level, the type of writing they are asked to do, and a collection of other variables that are as of yet unknown" (Guenette, 2007, p. 51). Peer Feedback for Revision

As we mentioned earlier, another method to help the students in revision process by getting feedback from an audience is peer review, which is also referred to as "'peer feedback', 'peer revision', 'peer response', 'peer tutoring', and 'peer critiquing'" (Hu, 2005). Peer review is also an essential element of "process-oriented writing instruction" (Hu, 2005, p. 321). Many studies (e.g., Min, 2008; Cho, Schunn, and Charney, 2006; Min, 2006; Hu, 2005; Sue-Chan and Latham, 2004; Tsui and Ng, 2000; Berg, 1999; Roskams, 1999; Zhang, 1995; Zhu, 1995; Jacobs, 1989) are done to determine the effects of peer feedback on students' quality of revisions and consequently on writing performance.

According to many practitioners, peer review is a "challenging task" (Min, 2008, p. 285) for which peer reviewers are not prepared enough and do not have adequate knowledge to provide helpful feedback (Tsui and Ng, 2000). Students' not being prepared for peer review is the reason why students cannot make sure about the feedback they receive from their peers (Raskams, 1999) and prefer teacher feedback to peer feedback (Zhang, 1995). Thus, some researchers began to train students to make them be more successful in peer review.

Min (2006), for example, investigated the impact of trained peers' feedback on EFL college students' both type and quality of their revision. Based on the results, it was found that peers provide the student writers with more comments after being trained and number of revisions done based on the received comments from peers, and the number of better-quality revisions was significantly higher than pre training session. Therefore, training peer reviewers can positively and significantly affect the feedbacks being effective and revisions being in higher quality, Min (2008) claims.

Altogether, studies on peer feedback resulted in making students aware of their weaknesses and improving the quality of their revisions (Min, 2006; Tsui and Ng, 2000; Berg, 1999), and providing more feedback (Min, 2005; Zhu, 1995). Peer feedback is also found to be useful in making students involved in interactive learning and collaboration between readers and writers (Tsui and Ng, 2000; Zhu, 1995), affecting their attitude toward peer feedback positively (Hu, 2005) and producing a sense of audience (Tsui and Ng, 2000). Moreover, it is beneficial in helping students to feel responsible (Tsui and Ng, 2000; Jacobs, 1989) and developing their writing ability (Jacobs, 1989).

However, it is yet difficult to make sure that advantages of peer review are the same for students from diverse cultures with different levels of proficiency (Lundstrom and Baker, 2009). Students who come from different cultures may refuse or hardly accept comments from their peers due to having experienced a teacher dominant environment in their culture. Moreover, students with different levels of proficiency may have different attitudes towards comments they receive. It is also found in the study done by Kamimura (2006) that despite EFL students from different levels of proficiency got benefit from peer comments, the way they used those comments was different. They also differed in their understanding of the comments. Mendonca and Johnson, (1994) and Nelson and Carson, (1998) pointed out that although ESL students claimed that peer comments were helpful for them to find their weaknesses and make corrections, they were not so sure about the comments they receive from their peers and prefer teacher's comments over peers'.

Having reviewed all merits and demerits of teacher and peer feedback, practitioners discussed about another drawback of providing students with feedback from either teachers or peers that is making students' image of audience narrowed down to teachers and peers only. According to sociocultural theory standpoint, writing is a social activity and is a tool to communicate with people in a specific context (Vygotsky, 1978, 1986). Hence, the audience needs to be practiced in a broader context such as society rather than only in second language writing classroom context (Elbow, 1987; Hillocks, 1986). Feedback from Actual Readers for Revision

Being concerned about the socio-cognitive skills, which are necessary to practice audience awareness in writing classes, Cohen and Riel (1989) carried out a study to compare the effects of writing to a teacher verses writing to a distant audience through a computer network on EFL students' quality of writing. Results indicated that being aware of the goal of writing, which is communication with an audience to share ideas, students who wrote to a distant audience scored significantly higher than those who wrote to their teacher. It was found from the results that writing to a real audience who was going to read the essay and make communication with the writer directed students to consider writing as a means of communication and helped them write better.

In another study, Holliway and McCutchen (2004) compared the effects of feedback from actual readers on students' revision of descriptive papers. Students were asked to describe a geometrical figure in a way that a reader could recognize the figure among a set of similar ones. Some students take the role of a reader and read other students' description. Likewise, some of the students got feedback from actual readers. The results indicated that those who experienced to be a reader of others descriptions were more successful in revising and improving the quality of their writings than those who received feedback from an actual reader. This study made it known that taking the role of a reader and give feedback is even more effective than receiving feedback from an audience.

These findings are also supported by Lundstrom and Baker (2009) who came to find out the effect of peer review on ESL reviewers' own writing to see if they can benefit from revising other students writing in order to improve the quality of their own writing. The study was carried out at an institute in nine classes. In order to determine which was more beneficial: giving or receiving feedback, students were divided into two groups, those who were reviewers and did not receive any feedback and those who received feedback and did nor review any papers. Analysis of the results, gained from a writing test before and after the treatment, revealed that reviewers who focused only on reviewing other students' writings could significantly improve and perform much better than those who focused on how to use the comments. It is also pointed out by Min (2005) that students who were trained on how to review other students' essays believed that being trained to review their peers' essays has led them to be better writers.

It can be concluded that students actually learn how to evaluate their own essays and become self-regulated reviewers by being taught how to effectively review other students' essays and give effective feedback on them (Rollinson, 2005). Thus, being able to assess their peers' essays, they will be able to revise their own essays to find the areas which need improvements, and consequently become better writers, (Matsuhashi, Gillam, Conley, and Moss, 1989, Beach, 1989; Ferris, 2003; Thompson, 2002).

In order to make students more 'self-regulated' and independent from teachers or peers, some researchers (e.g., Ferretti, MacArthur and Dowdy, 2000; Nussbaum, 2005; Chien, 2007; MacArthur and Lembo, 2008) studied the effects of teaching student writers how to review and revise their own writing through some specific goal-based instructions. We are going to discuss the findings of the studies that have focused on providing students with instructions to revise their own essays in the following section.

2.2.2 Revision and Goal Instructions

According to MacArthur (2007), professional writers have sufficient knowledge of revision goals and are use to reviewing and revising in all stages of writing in order to reconsider all aspects from content and organization to linguistic components. Unlike professional writers, developing writers do not have any goals and usually limit their revision into making small changes in language (Midgette, et al., 2008). That is also supported by Chien (2007) who studied cognitive and meta-cognitive strategies and their effects on EFL students' writing. 18 students with a high level of English proficiency and 18 students with a low level of English proficiency were chosen participate in this study to find out their difference in strategy use between groups. It was found from the results that revision strategies used by students by high and low levels were significantly different. Thus, it can be assumed that teaching revision goals and strategies to the students can help them become better writers.

Studying the effects of goal-providing and comparing general goals with specific goals, many researchers have studied the effectiveness of goal instructions on students' argumentations and narratives. Ferretti et al. (2000), for example, argue that specific goal instructions are more effective for being clear and providing students with more guidance. It is found by the researchers that specific goal instructions are beneficial for the students to improve the quality of their writing, Nussbaum (2005) states.

Nussbaum (2005) has examined the effects of a variety of goal instructions (General and specific) on students' reasoning and argumentation in an interactive context. The most effective goals were the goal to persuade and the goal to generate reasons. Students with the specific goal instruction, which was "to produce as many reasons as possible", performed more meaningful and more "contingent" arguments (p. 286). According to Nussbaum (2005), persuasion plays an important role in making students willing to produce effective arguments. In order to persuade students in the best way, the goals of an activity need to be explained to the students along with the elements of a good argument (Duschl and Osborne, 2002) and instructions are to make the goals of the activity explicit for the students (Nussbaum, 2005).

Goal instructions are also applied to facilitate the process of revision and help students to revise effectively. As discussed by MacArthur, (2007), expert writers define revision "as a matter of evaluating all aspects of their writing that affect whether they have achieved their purposes" (p. 143). Moreover, revision is seen as a goal-centered process in cognitive approach (Bereiter and Scardamalia, 1987; Hayes et al., 1987; Hayes, 2004; Midgette et al., 2008) and as a social act to communicate with an audience in sociocultural approach. Thus, having the intended audience and the goals of communication with an audience in mind, they set goals, reread, evaluate, and revise their writings (MacArthur, 2007), while beginners are not able to differentiate between revision and edition since they are not concerned about the goals of the activity (Midgette, et al., 2008).

Some researchers have studied the effects of setting goals for the students during the process of revision (e.g., Fidalgo, Torrance, and Garcia, 2008; Sengupta, 2000; Graham, MacArthur and Schwartz, 1995; Matsuhashi and Gordon, 1985). The studies done by Matsumashi and Gordon (1985) investigated the effects of revising goals on basic writers' writing performance in an English as a first language context. Students were randomly divided into three goal conditions, a general goal to improve the quality of the paper, a specific goal based on content, which was to add five more reasons or examples, in order to improve the quality of the paper, and the same specific goal without looking at the papers while thinking about additional information. The results indicated that those with specific goals for revision did higher quality revisions and revised more effectively than those with a general goal did.

In another study Graham, et al. (1995), studied the effect of goal instruction on fifth and sixth grade students' narratives in an English as a first language context. Students were divided into a general goal to improve the quality of the paper, a goal to add information, and a goal to add information while they are provided with suggestions that help them to do so. Students in specific goal group made greater meaningful corrections and improved the quality of their revisions and final drafts significantly.

The same results were found by Sengupta (2000), who investigated the effects of explicit revision strategy instruction on second language secondary learners. The two treatment groups and the control group were given pre and posttest. After the treatment, writing performance of those who were taught how to revise and received instruction in pre and posttest were scored and compared with the group that did not learn revision strategies. Results indicated that providing students with explicit strategy instruction during revision had a great impact on students writing performance. "Explicit instruction in revision may contribute towards developing an awareness of discourse-related features in second language writing", Sengupta (2000, p. 97) suggests.

All these studies have found that specific goal instructions would affect the quality of students' revision and consequently improve the quality of their writing (Fidalgo et al., 2008). However, the missing point in them is that they all have examined the effect of content-based goal instructions and ignored rhetorical goals (Midgette et al., 2008). Although the central role of audience, that is emphasized in sociocultural theory, is the main concern of rhetoricians. According to Midgette et al. (2008), rhetorical goals and content goals are inter-related. In other words, they complete and support each other. "This interaction between the rhetorical and content problem spaces is inherently an evaluative, revising process" (Midgette et al., 2008; p. 134). Thus, besides considering the content, one must be concerned about the intended audience. Believing so, Midgette et al. (2008) assume that "assigning specific goals for revision that guide students to consider both content and audience might prompt students to make meaning-changing revisions" (p. 134). Along with the study done by Midgette et al. (2008), some other studies have determined the effect of audience awareness goals in planning versus revising (Roen and Willey, 1988), or during planning instead of revising (Ferretti et al., 2000; Nussbaum and Kardash, 2005).

The findings of Roen and Willey's (1988) study support the idea of applying audience awareness during revising. They investigated the effects of providing audience awareness goals on students' writing performance during revising verses planning. The students were given audience-based question to consider the role of the audience before planning or revising. Those who received audience questions before planning were not improved. However, the other group could benefit from the audience questions to improve the quality of their essays by receiving them before revising.

Focusing on the issue of counterarguments, Nussbaum and Kardash (2005) compared a group with no goal with two goal-directed groups for revision in an English as a first language context. They found that the group who was to generate counterarguments wrote essays in better quality than those who were asked to provide more reasons and those who had no goal did.

One of the most recent studies on effect of specific goals for revision focused on content and audience on students' revising on persuasive writing was done by Midgette et al. (2008). They have gone further and in their study and asked the respondents to reread their own writings to revise based on the goals for revision assigned to them. Their study was on goal instructions for revision focusing on content and audience awareness and their effects on elements of persuasive discourse and, consequently, the overall persuasiveness. Students were divided into three conditions: a general goal to improve the essay, an a content goal to improve the content, and a content plus audience goal to improve the essays based on both content and communication with an audience. Having completed the task of writing a persuasive essay, students in were given some time to revise their essays based on the revision goal instructions they had received. Students who received audience-based goal instructions were more successful than other groups to consider opposing reasons. Students in both specific goal conditions produced more persuasive essays in comparison to essays written by students in the control group.

Most studies in the field of writing and revision process have focused on the effects of feedback on students' revision and writing performance and a small number of them have investigated the effectiveness of goal instructions during revision. Moreover, previous studies in this particular field have mostly dealt with English native speakers and ESL students and not with those who are considered as EFL students specially those who study in English as a Second Language context. Furthermore, there is a lack of research in identifying the effect of goal instructions for revision over time through a pre- and post-test design.

This study is to examine the effect of revision goals focused on rhetorical goals; content and audience awareness, on EFL learners' writing performance and on four aspects of essay writing. Furthermore, the current study was to examine the effect of teaching revision goal instructions to the students in a longer period than just in one session.