Analysing Efl Revision Usefulness English Language Essay

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Writing is one of the imperative skills of communication in English learning and teaching. However, studies have shown that English learners are unsuccessful in writing and specially in revising which its substantial role in the writing process is obviously known (Midgette, Haria, and MacArthur, 2008). The main reason for students' poor performance is found to be inappropriate and narrow pedagogical methods teachers use to teach writing (Schriver, 1992) that is they do not teach the process of writing and revising.

Revision is the most important part of the process of writing during which expert writers reread their essays from other perspectives to reconsider the goals of communication with the intended audience. It is believed by most expert writers that it is essential to write and rewrite drafts and go through this process so many times (Reid, 1988). Students must be taught not only about the final product but also about the process of writing, that is writing many drafts and revising them until they can go through the final one (Grabe and Kaplan, 1996; Leki, 1992). However, practitioners believe that teachers do not pay enough attention to the revision strategies. Studies done about revision are a lot but whether teachers apply the revision strategies in their classes to teach students how to revise is under question (Reid, 1995).

One of the aspects to be considered in the process of revision is the audience that is going to read the essay. Audience has been one of the angles of the rhetoric triangle since ancient time. In order for the writers to revise and write more effectively, it is necessary to consider the needs, knowledge, attitudes, and expectations of the audience. However, it is observed that most of the piece of writings written by students are not easy to comprehend for us as readers (Schriver, 1992) since they are not concerned about the goal of writing that is communicating with an audience. Therefore, it is crucial for students to be aware of the audience and goals of communication with that audience and to learn the revision strategies in order to improve their writing performance.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

The process of writing and revising is emphasized in cognitive approach, and "process-centered approaches" have become the basis of methodology for teaching EFL writing in the last two decades (Lee, 2006, p. 308). However, the process of writing during which students can improve their essays is being ignored by the teachers (Reid, 1988). Thus, in writing classes, the focus of teachers and consequently students is on the product and not the process of writing (Barnard and Campbell, 2005), especially when it comes to the assessment of writing (Hinkel, 2002). Students usually try to do their best to write an essay that is their first and the final draft. They hardly ever reread what they have written to improve the quality by adding new information or ideas, and correcting the probable mistakes they have made in communication with the audience. Crawford, Lloyd and Knoth (2008) found that most of the students' revisions are at word and phrase level and a few number of them are at sentence or paragraph level even when they are asked to revise their essays.

One of the reasons why students go to edit their writing in terms of grammar and mechanics is due to the way their essays are going to be scored which is based on linguistic competence and not communicative competence. Therefore, they often correct the surface structures such as grammar and spelling mistakes (Polio, Fleck, and Leder, 1998; McCutchen, Francis, and Kerr, 1997; Butterfield, Hacker, and Albertson, 1996; Ferris, 1995; Fitzgerald, 1987).

Another reason why students go for edition instead of revision, and the most relevant to the current study, is that they are not able to differentiate revision from edition. That is due to the fact that "struggling writers have limited conceptions of revising and unclear goals and purposes for writing" (MacArthure, 2007, p. 143). In other words, they do not have any clear goals established for them to focus on while revising (MacArthur, 2007). Therefore, when student from young to college ages are asked to revise their drafts, they usually think neither about the content nor about the overall organization of their ideas and go to edition stage, that is editing grammar and mechanics at sentence level (Scardamalia and Bereiter, 1983; Hays, 1982; Graves, 1981; Newkirk, 1981; Atlas, 1979; Flower, 1979; Kroll, 1978).

Overall, it is necessary to teach students the difference between revision and edition, revision strategies, and improve their ability to revise for an audience rather than teachers by making them aware of the goals of communication with an audience. This study is designed in order to find out the effective methods of teaching students how to revise and improve the quality of their essays.

1.3 Objectives

The purpose of this study is to determine:

The effects of general goal for revision on EFL learners' writing performance.

The effects of content plus audience awareness goals for revision on EFL learners' writing performance.

The differences in quality of final products between two different goal conditions, a general goal to improve the paper and a goal to improve content and communication with an audience.

The effects of general and content plus audience awareness goals for revision on aspects of essay writing, Task Response (TR), Cohesion and Coherence (CC), Lexical Resource (LR), and Grammar Rang and Accuracy (GRA).

In this study, the researcher aimed to find out the effect of two different revision goals on EFL learners' writing performance, and to see if there was any difference between goal conditions in their writing performance after the treatment. Moreover, finding out the effects of general goal and content plus audience goal for revision on EFL learners' writing performance in each aspect of essay writing, Task Response (TR), Cohesion and Coherence (CC), Lexical Resource (LR), and Grammar Rang and Accuracy (GRA) was another purpose in this study.

1.4 Research Questions

This study seeks to address the following questions:

RQ1 Is There any difference in writing performance of EFL learners in General Goal (GG) condition and those in Content plus Audience Goal (C*AG) condition in pre-test?

RQ2 Is there any difference in writing performance of EFL learners between pre-test and post-test in GG condition?

RQ3 Is there any difference in writing performance of EFL learners between pre-test and post-test in C*AG condition?

RQ4 Is there any difference in writing performance of EFL learners in GG condition and those in C*AG condition in posttest?

RQ5 Is there any difference in students' performance in each aspects of essay writing between pre-test and post-test in GG condition?

RQ6 Is there any difference in students' performance in each aspect of essay writing between pre-test and post-test in C*AG condition?

RQ7 Is there any difference in students' performance in each aspect of essay writing between GG and C*AG in post-test?

1.5 Hypotheses

Based on the above research questions it is anticipated that:

Ho1 There is no significant difference in writing performance of EFL learners in GG condition and those in C*AG condition in pre-test.

Ho2 There is no significant difference in writing performance of EFL learners between pre-test and post-test in GG condition.

Ho3 There is no significant difference in writing performance of EFL learners between pre-test and post-test in C*AG condition.

Ho4 There is no significant difference in writing performance of EFL learners in GG condition and those in C*AG condition in posttest.

Ho5 There is no significant difference in TR between pretest and posttest of EFL learners in GG condition.

Ho6 There is no significant difference in CC between pretest and posttest of EFL learners in GG condition.

Ho7 There is no significant difference in LR between pretest and posttest of EFL learners in GG condition.

Ho8 There is no significant difference in GRA between pretest and posttest of EFL learners in GG condition.

Ho9 There is no significant difference in TR between pretest and posttest of EFL learners in C*AG condition.

Ho10 There is no significant difference in CC between pretest and posttest of EFL learners in C*AG condition.

Ho11 There is no significant difference in LR between pretest and posttest of EFL learners in C*AG condition.

Ho12 There is no significant difference in GRA between pretest and posttest of EFL learners in C*AG condition.

Ho13 There is no significant difference in TR between GG and C*AG conditions in post-test.

Ho14 There is no significant difference in CC between GG and C*AG conditions in post-test.

Ho15 There is no significant difference in LR between GG and C*AG conditions in post-test.

Ho16 There is no significant difference in GRA between GG and C*AG conditions in post-test.

1.6 Operational Definitions

1.6.1 Writing

Writing is known as a means of communication. In cognitive approach, it is described as a "goal-oriented" (Berlin, 1988, p. 481) problem-solving process (Pittard, 1999; Grabe and Kaplan, 1996), during which a writer takes many steps and uses many strategies to communicate with a variety of audiences for different purposes in diverse contexts.

1.6.2 Revision

Revision is defined as looking again (Callaghan and Dobyns, 2007). It is a crucial step in the process of writing through which writers can relook, "reread, reflect, reconsider, respond" and "rewrite" (Reid, 1988, p. 79) in order to make some improvements. Revision is not only focused on mistakes related to the linguistic competence which affect the surface structure but also on those related to the communicative competence which affect communicating with an audience (Midgette et al., 2008). Having the intended audience and the purpose of the writing in mind, writers in this study review the essays to find out if the goals of communication have been achieved or not.

1.6.3 Rhetoric

Rhetoric is the art of asking and answering questions on a topic. That is to find the best answers to someone's questions, who is also involved in the conversation about the topic (Callaghan and Dobyns, 2007). In addition, rhetoric is considered as an art to persuade the audience to act in a way that is desired (Lawson-Tancred, 1991). It is to affect the audience that can vary from a listener to a reader, by making some arguments on a subject.

1.6.4 Audience

Audience can be considered as a reader who can vary from a child to an elderly, a classmate to a teacher, or a single reader to a group of people. Writers need to be concerned about the reader's needs, expectations and probable attitudes toward the subject to make an appropriate communication.

1.6.5 Content

Content refers to all the information contained in a piece of writing, which has to be appropriate based on the purpose and the audience it is written to. In this study, content means the degree to which students' argument stated a clear opinion about the topic, provided supporting reasons for their opinion, elaborate their reasons with examples and explanations, and addressed alternative opinions. The scale also asked raters to consider the presence, clarity, relevance, and significance of the content.

1.6.6 Performance

How language learners perform in a writing task and how able they are in presenting a high-quality argument refers to their writing performance. The performance of the language learners is a means to assess their ability in that particular skill. EFL learners' writing performance, in this study, was evaluated in terms of overall quality of the essays and the quality of each aspects of essay writing.

1.6.7 Editing

Editing is considered as correcting and removing mistakes, which are in the surface structure. Editing, in this study, means making corrections regarding to the linguistic components at word and sentence level such as punctuation and spelling.

1.6.8 EFL learner

EFL stands for English as a Foreign Language and non-native speakers who study English in a non-English-speaking country are considered as EFL learners. EFL learners vary widely in their first language since they may come from different countries with different languages. English learners from China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam, and Yemen in this study, for instance, are considered as EFL.

1.6.9 General Goal for Revision

General goal for revision in this study is for the students to improve their essays generally. There is no specific instruction given to the students in GG condition in revising step and that is what make GG condition different from C*AG condition.

1.6.10 Content plus Audience Goal for Revision

Content plus audience goal for revision is more specific than general goal in that it focuses on content as well as audience awareness. The instruction provided for the students in this condition contains guidelines for the respondents to improve the content of their essay and make them aware of the intended audience to whom they are writing. Content goals, however, "specify all things the writer wants to say or to do to an audience" (Berlin, 1988, p. 264), that are dependent on the audience and rhetorical features.

1.7 Limitations of the Study

In the current study, neither individuals' revisions were analyzed nor was the quality of their first and final drafts compared. Since students were systematically assigned in two homogeneous groups, any difference in the quality of the final drafts in each condition was considered as a result of the revision goal instructions.

In order for the study to be generalizable beyond all ESL and EFL students in Malaysia, the researcher has taken a great care in sampling procedure and selected them from different levels of proficiency. However, no one can be very confident that the sample fully matches the intended population (i.e., EFL students in Malaysia

The sample chosen for this study is limited to a total number of 26 ESL/EFL students studying in school of English language, Unity College International (UCI). A small sample was chosen since close observation was necessary in order to prevent threats to the experiment.

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