The Role Of Attention English Language Essay

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This chapter first reviews the role of attention, which is one of the important factors that affect learners' production. Then it discusses two theoretical rationales for task planning research: the output hypothesis and focus on form. The chapter continues with the description of types of planning and illustrates how each type of planning has been carried out in previous studies on task planning, followed by findings of past task planning studies. Finally, writing instruction will be discussed.

2.2 Role of attention

According to Baddeley and Logie (1999), working memory consists of a phonological loop, visuo-spacial sketch pad, and central executive component. The phonological loop processes acoustic information, whereas the visuo-spacial sketch pad processes graphic information. These two components exist independently, but both of them are controlled by the central executive which, in turn, is controlled by attention.

The question of how learners process language is a central issue in the field of SLA. Particularly, the concept of attention and its role in language acquisition is one of the most extensively researched and discussed topics to date. Although there has been a problem of vague definitions of attention and other similar terms such as consciousness and awareness (Tomlin & Villa, 1994), it has been generally agreed that attention is essential for L2 acquisition to occur (Long, 1996). Tomlin and Villa (1994) review the research of cognitive processes in SLA as well as in cognitive science, and they analyze conceptions of attention in depth. According to their fine-grained analysis, attention includes three functions: alertness, orientation, and detection. Tomlin and Villa (1994) also explain that awareness is "a particular state of mind in which an individual has undergone a specific subjective experience of some cognition content or external stimulus" (p. 193). In their view, awareness is different from consciousness because consciousness includes multiple meanings, such as perception, understanding, and intention. This study follows Tomlin and Villa's (1994) definitions of the terms attention, awareness, and consciousness unless specified otherwise.

In his ongoing research, Schmidt (1990, 1995, 2001) has argued that attention plays a central role in L2 acquisition. Referring to research in psychology and cognitive science, Schmidt states that "attention is necessary for all aspects of L2 learning" (2001, p. 3). As basic assumptions on attention in psychology, Schmidt (2001) presents the following six points (pp. 11-16):

attention is limited;

attention is selective;

attention is subject to voluntary control;

attention controls access to consciousness;

attention is essential for the control of action; and

attention is essential for learning.

These six assumptions are intertwined with each other, but assumptions 1, 3, and 6 in the list above are directly related to aspects of task planning. First, according to Schmidt (2001), the principal view of attention in psychology is that it involves a limited capacity for cognitive processing. Strong support for this concept comes from studies in working memory. Baddeley and Logie (1999) have proposed that the central executive, a main component of working memory, plays a vital role in controlling attention. Based on empirical studies conducted in neurological science, Baddeley and Logie (1999) suggest that the phonological loop and the visuo-spacial sketch pad, the two specialized systems in working memory, have capacity constraints. These systems serve the central executive, which results in limiting the capacity of the central executive (Baddeley, 2003; Baddeley & Logie, 1999).

Research in psychology also suggests capacity limits for attention. In reviewing the literature on psychological experiments on attention, Pashler (1998) found consistent results that could be interpreted as capacity overload. For example, when research participants are involved in processing multiple stimuli simultaneously, their performances become less accurate as the stimuli become more complex. Although there may be considerable differences between processing language for learning and non-language stimuli, these findings indicate the possibility of limitations in attentional capacity.

In SLA research, some researchers believe that attention is limited because of limited capacity of human for information processing (Schmidt, 2001; Skehan & Foster, 2001; VanPatten, 2004). VanPatten (1990) did a study in which he compared learners' listening comprehension when they were asked to pay attention to meaning only or to both meaning and form simultaneously. The results revealed that the learners, especially those with lower L2 proficiency, had difficulty attending to form while processing meaning, suggesting that meaning and form compete for attentional resources. Given that L2 acquisition is more complex than L1 acquisition, involving multiple factors, VanPatten (2002b) claimed that L1 processing models are not applicable to L2 processing.

Robinson (2003) acknowledges that there are restrictions on the ability to process linguistic information, but questions the idea that capacity limitation is the cause for various processing problems. He claims that it is not capacity limits, but a limit in the control of cognitive functions and interference during attentional resource allocation that are responsible for processing overload (Robinson, 2003).

Although discussion and controversy is going on with respect to capacity limitation in attention, the results of research in SLA clarified that attention will experience certain limitations during processing, which relies on task difficulty and cognitive requirements (Robinson, 2003; Skehan, 1998). Without considering the reason of limitation related to attention, the demand of task planning is regarded to decrease the attention load during the performance (Ellis, 2005). When enough time is available for planning, learners are able to devote their attention to different aspects of language to retrieve information in working memory before they begin to perform the task, leading to the production of more proficient speech or writing.

According to Sangarun (2005), when learners are provided with time to plan, they have an opportunity to decide what to pay attention to, which can be meaning, form, or both meaning and form. He investigated the effects of guided planning. The participants in her study were instructed to plan for a task under one of three conditions: focusing on meaning, focusing on form, or focusing on both meaning and form. Finally, he reported that the participants were generally able to allocate their attention as instructed. Schmidt (2001) states that people have the ability to attend to one specific stimulus with or without an opportunity to plan, but these studies on planning show that learners can voluntarily control their attention to certain aspect of language regardless of the presence of a specific instruction to do so.

Finally, Schmidt (2001) claims that attention is necessary for learning. He explains that any learning, including language learning, requires the stimuli to be stored in long-term memory, and attention is essential for this process. In SLA research, VanPatten (2004) has also argued that learners need to attend to input for further processing. Leow (1998) conducted a study to investigate the necessity of attention, specifically the necessity of detection, following Tomlin and Villa's (1994) term, for L2 learning. The results showed that participants who detected novel grammatical items were able to recognize these forms more frequently and were able to use the forms more accurately than those who did not detect them. These results suggest that detection leads to learning at least at a morphological level.

2.3 The output hypothesis

The output hypothesis was first presented by Swain (1985). The basic idea of this hypothesis is that language production, whether speaking or writing, plays an active role in facilitating L2 learning when certain conditions are met (Swain, 2005). In the 1980s, the mainstream premise in SLA research was based on input as represented by Krashen's input hypothesis (Krashen, 1985). Krashen (1985) states that language acquisition takes place when learners receive input that is slightly above their current proficiency level (i+1). In his position, language production emerges as a consequence of acquisition, but it has no contribution to language acquisition.

Swain (1985) questioned Krashen's claims based on her observations of French immersion classes. Although immersion students exhibited higher proficiency in listening and reading compared to students in regular French as a foreign language programs, speaking and writing abilities were not developed to a degree similar to that of comprehension. Swain (1985, 2005) pointed out that what was lacking for students in the immersion program was production, particularly production that is pushed to be appropriate both grammatically and sociolinguistically.

In a series of articles (Swain, 1995, 1998, 2005), Swain presents three functions of production in the processes of second language learning: 1) the noticing/triggering function, 2) the hypothesis-testing function, and 3) the metalinguistic function. The noticing/triggering function of output is that learners may notice something about their interlanguage, specifically that they lack the linguistic knowledge to express what they want to communicate, as they try to speak or write in the L2 (Swain, 1995, 1998, 2005). This noticing leads learners to realize that they do not know a certain linguistic form. Swain (1998, 2005) suggests that there are multiple levels of noticing. For example, learners may notice a certain L2 form because it appears frequently or because it has salient features. Learners may also notice that there are some differences between the L2 form in discourse produced by native speakers and the form in their interlanguage. Finally, learners may notice that they do not know how to deliver their message in the L2. Swain (1995, 1998, 2005) claims that noticing may prompt learners to generate new L2 knowledge or to strengthen the knowledge that they have already gained.

The second function of output is hypothesis testing (Swain, 1998, 2005). Learners may examine their hypothesis of how some aspects of the L2 works by trying it out in speaking or writing. In other words, learners may produce language to test whether it is comprehensible and whether it is formed correctly (Swain, 1995). By doing so, learners are expanding the current level of their interlanguage. At times, learners receive feedback on their output, which may trigger reformulation of their hypothesis. Swain and Lapkin (1995) propose that the process of this type of reformulation is one of the ways that language learning takes place.

Last, Swain (1995, 1998, 2005) discusses the metalinguistic function of output; that is, speaking serves as a mediating tool to reflect on language production. Learners may talk about someone else's or their own language production, and by talking about language, what they notice and the hypotheses they form and test will become accessible for examination (Swain, 1998). Output enables learners to articulate, transform, and reflect on their thoughts and to draw their attention to inconsistencies, if there are any.

Referring to linguistic output within a sociocultural theoretical framework, Swain (2005) states its role as follows:

Speaking (and writing) are conceived of as cognitive tools that mediate internalization; and that externalize internal psychological activity, resocializing, and recognizing it for the individual; tools that construct and deconstruct knowledge; and tools that regulate and are regulated by human agency. (p. 480)

Swain (2005) states that even research methods such as think-aloud and stimulated-recall protocols serve processes of learning, and should not be considered as data collection tools only. Think-alouds and stimulated recalls assist learners in understanding and restructuring their experiences, and they play an important role in learning.

De Bot (1996) reviews Swain's output hypothesis from a psycholinguistic perspective and explains that one of the important roles of producing output is to transform learners' declarative knowledge into procedural knowledge. To describe the development of procedural knowledge, de Bot (1996) states that language production involves various stages of form-function connection.

Although the interlocutor of the learner plays an important role, benefits of output for language acquisition are not fully dependent on external feedback (de Bot, 1996; Swain, 2005; Swain & Lapkin, 1995). For example, Swain and Lapkin (1995) state that noticing a gap in their linguistic knowledge may occur spontaneously when learners have trouble producing output, and external feedback is not always necessary to trigger noticing. Also, with regard to hypothesis testing, de Bot (1996) explains that learners develop internal speech and monitor its form and meaning before they speak. Since learners' receptive knowledge is generally more consistent than their productive knowledge, they are able to reform and improve their production as they examine their hypotheses internally. When learners produce an utterance after going through these processes, their output reaches its optimal level if the system of internal hypothesis testing is working properly. When learners have an opportunity to plan, they can afford to spend time to evaluate their internal speech, and it is possible that they notice a gap in their L2 knowledge and test their hypothesis against their internal norm. In this sense, planning can assist learners in producing better output, which may lead to learning.

In addition, de Bot (1996) argues that noticing a gap and trying to solve the problem of inconsistencies between the message and linguistic form by themselves, rather than by receiving the correct form in the input, results in more successful learning. When learners detect a problem and actively search their memory for the solution, they focus on a particular aspect of production processes. As they get involved in analyzing the source of the problem, their metalinguistic knowledge is strengthened. The deeper the analysis, the more solid the memory becomes, which results in interlanguage development.

2.4 Form-focused instruction

Focus on form has been discussed as the rationale for task planning research in recent years (Ellis, 2005; Ortega, 1999). It is a pedagogical approach that is generally presented in contrast with focus on forms and focus on meaning. What distinguishes the notion of focus on form from those of the other two terms is the way that learners process linguistic and communicative information. Doughty and Williams (1998a) summarize the fundamental difference in the three concepts by explaining that "focus on form entails a focus on formal elements of language, whereas focus on forms is limited to such a focus, and focus on meaning excludes it" (Doughty & Williams, 1998a, p. 4). Focus on form is a condition where learners' attention is drawn precisely to a linguistic feature as necessitated by a communicative demand (Doughty & Williams, 1998a). Reviewing the definitions of focus on form that have been proposed in the past research, Doughty (2001) states that "focus on form involves learners briefly and perhaps simultaneously attending to form, meaning, and use during one cognitive event" (Doughty, 2001, p. 211). Doughty and Williams (1998b) claims that focus on form is more beneficial for learning than focus on forms or focus on meaning.

Reviewing several studies of focus on form (Lightbown & Spada, 1990; Lyster, 1994; Spada & Lightbown, 1993; White, 1991), Long and Robinson (1998) reported generally positive effects of focus on form on learning. However, they criticized that many of the studies assumed the occurrence of focus on form by simply providing instruction that was rich in focus on form. The level of attention that learners allocated to form and meaning cannot be scrutinized unless researchers look into learners' conscious mental processes upon receiving form-focused instruction. It is also helpful to examine what learners are doing internally because, due to the nature of classroom dynamics, it is difficult to find out what aspects of instruction directly resulted in learning (Lyster, 1994). Long and Robinson (1998) suggested the use of finely tuned measures, such as questionnaires, to examine to what extent the instructional treatments actually triggered the intended focus on form.

According to Ellis (2005), focus on form can be regarded as one of the fundamental approach for language processing that put an emphasis on theoretical frameworks of planning study. He emphasized that focus on form can be taken into account in three situations including pedagogic, discoursal, and psycholinguistic contexts. As far as planning research is concerned, focus on form can be studied from a psycholinguistic perspective. He explains that the opportunity to plan for a task extends the limits of attentional capacity and allows learners to shift their attention to formal aspects of the language while preparing for meaningful language use, which may enable them to connect form and meaning. Because of the time allowed for planning, learners are able to access their knowledge, even knowledge that is not available for automatic processing (Ellis, 2005).

The preceding overview of the role of attention, output hypothesis, and focus on form provides some support that task planning may create optimal conditions for language learning to take place. During cognitive processing, attention undergoes certain constraints. Since L2 learners have limited language proficiency, they are not able to allocate their attention to all of the aspects of oral or written production. The opportunity to plan for a task may reduce the cognitive load that is involved in writing by creating extra capacity in attention resources. From the perspective of output hypothesis, task planning may assist L2 learners in producing better output by allowing them to spend time to evaluate their linguistic knowledge. Furthermore, when learners are allowed to plan for a task, they may be able to shift their attention to form while being engaged in meaningful language use, which may lead to language learning.

Turning to task planning, there are different types of planning. In the next section, each type of planning that has been investigated in prior studies is described in detail.

2.5. An introduction to planning

All language use, either written or spoken, involves planning because one has to decide what to express and how to express it (Ellis, 2005). Planning can happen at discoursal, sentential, and constituent levels, and may take place before or during a task, resulting in different types of planning that will be talked about below. As Ellis (in press) points out, research into the effect of planning has theoretical interest because "it serves to test claims regarding the nature of variability in learner language and the validity of models of L2 speaking such as that of Levelt (1989)". In addition, studies on planning may also be of practical interests as it may have pedagogical implications that can inform teachers in task-based instruction, "where one of the options available for implementing tasks concerns whether or not to allow students time to plan and, if so, what kind of planning and for what length of time" (Ellis, in press)

Rehearsal

Pre-task planning Strategic Planning

Planning Pressurred

Within-task planning Unpressured

Figure 2.1 Types of task-based planning (Ellis, 2005, p. 4)

Figure 2.1 illustrates two major types of planning by Ellis (2005): pre-task and within-task planning, depending on when the planning takes place. Each type subsumes two sub-categories. Ellis (in press) slightly revised the categorization and distinguished between three major types: rehearsal (e.g., Bygate, 1996,2001; Lynch and McLean, 2000, 2001; Bygate and Samuda, 2005), pre-task planning (e.g., Crookes, 1989; Foster and Skehan, 1996; Skehan and Foster, 1999; Wigglesworth, 1997), and within-task planning (Yuan and Ellis, 2003; Ellis and Yuan, 2005). More recently, Wang (2009) was able to include five different types of planning in one study. The findings confirmed the effects of strategic planning in general, but on-line planning alone was found to be insufficient to make a difference in task performance unless some pre-task preparation is involved. Out of her five planning types, task repetition (cf., Bygate 1996,2001) appeared to be the most powerful in that repeating a task achieved comprehensive effects in almost all performance areas: fluency, accuracy, complexity and lexis, whereas other types of planning can, due to the trade-off effects, only push learners for improvement in certain aspects. The following discussion will be devoted mainly to pre-task strategic planning, given its relevance to this study.

2.5.1. Classification of planning

As principal types of planning, Ellis (2005) presents pre-task planning and within-task planning. The major difference between the two is the timing of the planning with respect to task performance; that is, whether the planning occurs before or during the task performance.

2.5.1.1. Pre-task planning

Pre-task planning happens before performing task. Ellis (2005) states that pre-task planning is different from pre-task activities, like brainstorming, with regard to access to the task materials. During pre-task planning, learners are provide with the actual materials for the task, while during the pre-task activities, learners are not equipped with the materials that they are going to use for performing the task. There are two types of pre-task planning including rehearsal and strategic planning.

Regarding the difference between rehearsal and strategic planning, Ellis (2005) considers rehearsal as task repetition. In other words, learners perform "the same or slightly altered tasks whether whole tasks, or parts of a task" (Bygate & Samuda, 2005, p. 43). As far as strategic planning is concerned, learners are devoted a period of time before performing task, during which they deliberate on the information they need to deliver and how to convey it to carry out the task. In other words, strategic planning gets learners involved in thinking about the content and the language they need for the task performance.

The second difference is related to the time allocated for task performance. Regarding rehearsal planning, the interval of time between the initial performance and the repeated performance varies across studies. For example, in the study by Bygate (2001), the interval was ten weeks, while in Kawauchi's (2005a, 2005b) study, the initial and repeated performances took place within a short time period. The participants in her study performed a narrative task, responded to a questionnaire, and then performed the same task for a second time (Kawauchi, 2005a, 2005b).

When repeated performance improves over the first performance, it is considered that learning has occurred between the two task performances. However, the degree that the first performance has influenced the repeated performance in terms of learning may depend on the length of the interval. When there is a long interval between the two performances, the improvement that was observed in the repeated performance may suggest that the memory from the first performance remains effective for a long time. At the same time, improved performance may be the result of learning unrelated to the effects of rehearsal. On the other hand, if the interval between the first and the second performances is short, the improvement in the second performance may be considered as the outcome of repeating the task. However, it cannot be determined if there is any long-term effect on learning of repeating a task.

As far as strategic planning is concerned, the planning time in the previous studies is different from one minute to one hour but in most studies the learners had a ten-minute preparation time before performing task (Kawauchi, 2005a, 2005b; Yuan & Ellis, 2003).

In most of the cases such as Sangarun, 2005; Skehan & Foster, 2005 learners were given permission to take notes to prepare for the main performance, but there are a variety of other activities for strategic planning, such as writing a composition, reading a story, and practice.

2.5.1.2. On-line planning

On-line planning, also called within-task planning, is a kind of planning that learners are having access to it while they are busy with doing task . Yuan and Ellis (2003) defined online planning as follows:

On-line planning is the process by which speakers attend carefully to the formulation stage during speech planning and engage in pre-production and post-production monitoring of their speech acts. (p. 6)

Further, according to Ellis (2005) online planning can be classified into two categories: pressured and unpressured planning. The difference between them is the time given to learners for the task performance. In pressured on-line planning, learners have a time limit to complete the task, which restricts their time to engage in planning during the task. On the other hand, in unpressured planning, learners are allowed to spend as much time as they wish on the task.

Although pre-task planning is different from on-line planning, sometimes it is possible to utilize both kinds of planning for performing a task. According to Ellis (2005), there are four planning conditions, which are necessary for task performance: (a) no pre-task or within-task planning, (b) pre-task planning, but with no within-task planning, (c) no pre-task planning, but with within-task planning, and (d) both pre-task and within-task planning. Under condition (a), when the learners are allowed neither pre-task nor on-line planning, they perform the task immediately after receiving the task instruction. Under condition (b), the learners have the opportunity to plan for the task before the performance, but have limited time during the task, thus minimizing on-line planning. Under condition (c), in contrast, the learners have no opportunity to plan before the task performance, but they have unlimited time to carry out the task. Under condition (d), the learners receive time both before and during the task so that they are able to engage in both pre-task and on-line planning.

Most of the past studies such as the studies done by Crookes (1989), (Skehan & Foster, 1997, 2005) focused on the effects of planning by comparing student performance under conditions (a) and (b). However, only a few studies like Yuan & Ellis (2003) have studied the effect of condition (c) on task performance, and no study has been done to date on condition (d). Therefore, our understanding of how planning interacts with L2 learners' written production is limited to when they have an opportunity to plan before the task, and we have little knowledge of how planning affect L2 learners' task performance when they plan during the task, or when they plan both before and during the task.

2.5.2. Processes of planning

In the last 20 years, the majority of studies on task planning have been concerned with L2 learners' oral production. However, we have little knowledge about what L2 learners really do to plan for a task. What strategies do second language learners use while planning leading to a higher-quality speech?

Ortega (1999), in one of his studies, tried to answer the above questions, and she made some findings based on learners' conscious use of strategies during pre-task planning by using retrospective interviews. The subjects performed story-retelling tasks three times including once for practice, once preceded by strategic planning, and once without planning. Each performance was immediately followed by an interview, using the researcher's observations, her field notes and participants' notes during planning, and the pictures for the task as stimuli to elicit accurate responses from the learners.

Ortega (1999) came to this conclusion tha the following strategies as the most commonly used approaches by the learners:

Sort out essential from inessential, known from unknown.

Identify what you don't know, then proceed.

First work on main ideas, organization, or both, then work on details.

Don't take unnecessary risks, that is, if they are not essential for the task.

Concentrate on identified problem spots.

When rehearsing, go in order first, then be flexible.

When practicing, go from more to less support, and go through the story in different ways.

Estimate your time before deciding what to do next. (Ortega, 1999, p. 127)

He also identified three types of cognitive strategies that most of the learners used while planning: writing, rehearsal, and memorization. First, the participants were allowed to write notes during the pre-task planning time, and 27 of the 32 participants took advantage of this opportunity (Ortega, 1995a). Half of the 27 reported that their activities during the entire ten minutes of planning involved their notes, whether writing, reading, or revising them, whereas the other half engaged in writing only during the first half of the planning time and spent the rest of the time on other activities, with or without their notes. The five informants who did not write notes stated that writing would not help them since they knew that they would not be allowed to look at their notes while performing the task.

Ten years after her first attempt to illustrate what learners did during the strategic planning phase, Ortega (2005) reanalyzed the same interview data from Ortega (1995a, 1999) as well as the data she obtained from the participants in Ortega (1995b). She transcribed the interviews and classified the learners' strategies into three categories: metacognitive strategies, cognitive strategies, and social/affective strategies. Ortega (2005) found that the learners used metacognitive and cognitive strategies at almost the same frequency. Also, she found that advanced-level learners and low-intermediate learners used different types of strategies. Advanced learners put their efforts equally on retrieval and rehearsal strategies to prepare for task performance.

Finally, Sangarun (2005) studied L2 learners' behaviors during planning by using think-aloud protocols. As a result, she resulted that learners mainly focused on meaning irrespective of the type of planning instructions they received. On the other hand, there were some differences in what they did while planning, depending on the instructions.

2.5.3. Strategic planning

Strategic planning is operationalized by providing learners time to prepare prior to a task. Researchers have varied in the time allocated to participants. Most relevant studies have taken 10 minutes as the standard but there were some exceptions. Wigglesworth (1997) gave 107 ESL adult only 1 minute to plan as it was in a testing situation. She found that planning did not produce significant differences between the planned and the unplanned performances when they were rated by two trained raters who employed an analytic rating scale to measure fluency, grammar and intelligibility. However, the twenty-eight participants' performances were analyzed in term of a host of 'hard criteria' - fluency, complexity and accuracy measures similar to other studies. In such cases, there were significant gains in terms of fluency, complexity and accuracy for planners, especially those at a higher proficiency, and in tasks with higher cognitive load.

Tavakoli and Skehan (2005) allowed 5 minutes planning time. They reported highly beneficial results on all aspects of task performance, including accuracy (in addition to the more predictable results in complexity and fluency).

Elder and Iwashita (2005) adopted a 3-minute approach in investigating strategic planning, in which very different results were obtained as both subjective holistic rating scores and objective analytic measures failed to tell the differences between planners and non-planners. They provided a long list of explanations to account for such a finding. Firstly, this simple narrative was monologic in nature and was conducted in a language laboratory. Secondly, the task instruction did not guide learners towards any focus on form. Thirdly, participants were not familiarity with speaking under planned conditions. Fourthly, three minutes could be too short, and so on (see Elder and Iwashita, 2005, for other explanations). To the present author's knowledge, only one study (Mehnert, 1998) explored the effects of different lengths (1, 5 and 10 minutes) of planning time systematically.

She discovered that fluency increased as more planning time was given, but the difference between 5 and 10 minutes planning was smaller than that between 1 and 5 minutes, showing an asymptotic route. The same study found that only the 10 minutes condition produced significant greater complexity, while accuracy was able to make a difference only between non-planners and the 1 minute planners. Except for the first minute, it appeared that more planning time did not bring about greater accuracy. Except for the studies just mentioned, 10 minutes seem to be a standard planning time in most other studies which will be discusses below in terms of other categories.

2.5.3.1 Interactivity in strategic planning

Pre-task planning can be carried out in different forms according to its interactivity. For example, Foster and Skehan (1999) had three planning groups: solitary, teacher-led and group planning doing a decision-making task (a debate on what kind of person could stay on an overloaded balloon stead of being thrown out). Significant accuracy effects were observed in the teacher-led group, while greater complexity and greater fluency were achieved when participants planned on their own. Group-based planning did not lead to performance significantly different from the control group.

2.5.3.2. Attention manipulation in strategic planning

Effort has also been made to manipulate learners' attention to different areas of performance. Foster and Skehan (1999) tried to direct learners attention to different foci (towards language or towards content), but there was little evidence that these different foci had any effect on performance. In Sanguran's (2005) study, three types of guided planning - form-focused planning, meaning-focused planning and form-/meaning-focused planning - were examined. Though strategic planning in general had beneficial effects on complexity, fluency and accuracy, the three guided planning types did not make a difference because learners tended to focus on meaning expression even if they were instructed to pay attention to other areas. Mochizuki and Ortega (2008) asked their guided planners to focus on the use of a single grammatical structure (English relative clauses). They reported a trend for non-guided planners to be more fluent than non-planners and guided planners. The guided planners did produce more accurate relative clauses than the unguided planners, but there were no group differences in the more general accuracy and complexity measures. Summing up, the above research suggests that learners do not respond very actively to guidance in planning.

2.5.3.3. Qualitative research into planning

Most of the studies on planning are based on a quantitative paradigm, but there are a few exceptions which investigated what learners actually do when they are given planning time. Wendel (1997) conducted an interview with the participants immediately after the completion of the tasks. Not too surprisingly, they responded differently when asked what they were doing in planning, but all reported that they had focused on sequencing the narrative events in chronological order. Wendel's conclusion was that learners do not benefit from planning the details of grammatical usage off-line. An introspective interview approach was employed by Ortega (1999) for the same purpose. Ortega reported that learners worked on the main ideas and organization first and then on the details, showing an identifiable manner. Quite differently from Wendel (1997), she found that learners also attend to form when planning, though considerable individual variation exists in this respect. Ortega (2005) further examined this issue by eliciting metacognitive responses from learners doing strategic planning. Using interviews again, she confirmed her (1999) study that learners did attend to form during planning. She concluded that "pre-task planning created the mental space for learners to negotiate with themselves many aspects of the language and allowed them to utilize various funds of explicit knowledge that guided their conscious attention towards areas in which they were well aware of holes and gaps vis-a-vis the specific task demands" (p.1 05-1 06).

Regarding strategic planning, one of the influential studies was done by Yuan and Ellis (2003). They compared learners' oral narrative performance under no planning and strategic planning 25 conditions, and they obtained results that generally supported the findings of previous studies (Crookes 1989; Foster and Skehan, 1996; Mehnert, 1998). Yuan and Ellis used two measures for fluency: the number of syllables per minute and the number of meaningful syllables per minute. To calculate meaningful syllables, they excluded repeated, reformulated, or replaced parts in the speech were excluded. Yuan and Ellis (2003) found that the planning group produced more syllables per minute in both measures than the no planning group did. Although these differences between the two groups failed to reach statistical significance, the results of other studies such as Ortega (1999), Tajima (2003), and Wendel (1997) indicated that the speech rate under the planned condition was significantly higher than that under the unplanned condition.

Turning to complexity, the strategic planning group in Yuan and Ellis (2003) produced syntactically more complex speech than the no planning group with a statistically significant difference, which again replicated the results of previous studies (Crookes 1989; Foster and Skehan, 1996). The complexity measures used in those studies generally included the number of words 26 per utterance, the number of clauses per T-unit, and the number of subordinate clauses per T-unit.

In addition, some studies focused on the effects of planning on the vocabulary of the subsequent L2 oral production. Most of the planning studies that investigated lexical complexity used either type-token ratio (Ortega, 1999). For example, Ellis (2009) resulted that pre-task planning may positively influence syntactic complexity rather than lexical complexity.

Kawauchi (2005a, 2005b) did a study on the effects of strategic planning on lexical density, which is defined as a ratio of lexical words such as nouns, verbs, and adjectives, to the total number of words produced by the learners. She found that participants across three proficiency levels showed significant improvement in lexical density when they had an opportunity to plan.

Although prior studies generally suggested a positive impact of planning on the fluency and complexity of L2 learners' oral production, mixed results were obtained regarding accuracy. The results of Yuan and Ellis (2003) revealed that the strategic planning group was more accurate than the no planning group when comparing error-free clauses and correct verb forms, but not at a statistically significant level. Crookes (1989) also found that the planning group performed more accurately than the no-planning group, but the difference was not significant.

In sum, research on strategic planning has generally found positive effects of pre-task planning on fluency and complexity in L2 speech. However, its effect on accuracy has not been conclusively shown because past studies have obtained mixed results. Yuan and Ellis (2003) pointed out that one of the reasons for these mixed results could be planning while the learners were engaged in the task. That is, those studies did not consider how much time the participants spent on the task and, therefore, there was a possibility that a different amount of on-line planning was allowed depending on the study.

2.5.3.4. Theorization in planning research: Robinson Vs Skehan

Though previous research (e.g., Crookes, 1989; Foster and Skehan, 1996, 1999) has demonstrated that pre-task planning generally emerges as a beneficial means for improving L2 speakers' oral speech, and its pedagogical value in task-based learning is accordingly worth exploring, divergent opinions exist as in which areas and in what way planning exerts its impact on task performance. In addition to what has been discussed previously, Crookes (1989), for example, reported that planning gave rise to complexity and fluency, with accuracy unaffected. However, Foster and Skehan (1996) found that planning did promote accuracy, especially for the unguided planners, in that they probably used the planning time to rehearse language, hence greater accuracy. As Ellis (2005) mentioned recently, two positions appeared in theorizing the effects of planning on task-based performance, known as the Skehan-Robinson Debate. Obviously theorization of this kind should belong to the theoretical ground above, but the fact that both theories has developed from or has been tested against the empirical backdrop discussed above makes it a more natural place for a mention of this debate here - It follows logically from the planning research literature.

Skehan (1996a, 1998) argued for a limited processing capacity model in which L2 speakers have to trade off their aspects of language due to a limited processing capacity. L2 learners vary in the extent to which they prioritize fluency, complexity and accuracy. Some task conditions and task characteristics predispose learners to focus on fluency, others on accuracy, and yet others on complexity.

Skehan (1998) drew a distinction between an exemplar-based system and a rule-based system. The exemplar system is connected with fluency as it helps learners access their memory-based system for ready-made chunks; the rule-based system, however, is associated with accuracy and complexity because the two aspects of performance require syntactic processing. Deriving from this view, planning can free up attentional resources and helps to improve performance in some areas, depending on which areas learners choose to emphasize. In general, Skehan's model may predict that strategic planning allows learners to attend to the rule-based system and become less reliant on the exemplar-based system, thus enabling them to be more willing to task risks (higher complexity) at the expense of accuracy (trade-off).

From a different perspective, Robinson (1995, 2001a, 2001b) holds a multiple-resource view of processing, argumg that L2 learners, like native speakers, are capable of parallel processing and attend to more than one aspect of performance at the same time. He believes that complexity of language is decided by the complexity of tasks, and that there is no competition between complexity and accuracy. Robinson suggests two categories of features in determining task complexity: resource directing and resource depleting. Tasks requiring higher cognitive load, like those with reasoning, are resource directing; whereas tasks given favorable conditions, for example, providing planning time, are resource depleting. Therefore the prediction which Robison makes is that planning prior to a task results in exhaustion of attentional resource, thus leading to increased fluency but decreased complexity and accuracy. In the literature there is clearly more evidence (e.g., Foster and Skehan, 1996, 1999; Mehnert, 1998; Ellis, 1987; VanPatten, 1990; Wang, 2009) in support of Skehan's model, which Robinson (2001 b) conceded. That being said, given the range of interlanguage measures and the diverse operationalizations of planning across the studies, it is not easy to offer a clear-cut evaluation on the effects of pre-task planning (Ortega, 1999). A reexamination ofthe construct of planning would seem beneficial in future studies.

2.6. Instructional approaches for writing instruction

Current frameworks for understanding writing and composition have evolved from primarily focusing on the text to examining the text in social context. Attention of writing instructors and writing researchers has shifted from a cognitive approach to a socio-cognitive or socio-cultural approach (Bhatia, 2004; Prior, 2006; Graham, 2007).

Although no single approach to writing instruction will meet the needs of all students, secondary educators need to be able to select strategies that will be most appropriate for their classrooms, small groups, or individual writers (Graham & Perin, 2007a). The following section will describe current frameworks and instructional approaches that have informed the development of the intervention employed in this study. Rather than explaining the history and evolution of these approaches, the purpose here is to focus on a general understanding of how such writing approaches and writing theories would be relevant to writing research at the secondary level.

2.6.1. Writing is Cognitive

Understanding how we learn to write and the processes involved with writing is a complex undertaking. Nystrand (2006) gives an historical overview of writing research by examining the cognitive and social processes of writing from the 1970s. Nystrand notes that prior to the 1970s, writing was viewed as a prescriptive process; writing instruction at the secondary level focused primarily on teaching grammatical rules and the rhetorical structure of the expository five-paragraph essay. The predominant thinking at the time reflected the psycholinguistic and cognitive view that effective writing and reading instruction had to do with one's innate rule-governed language ability. The frameworks to understand these innate linguistic processes were confined to surface-level features of language (Bhatia, 2004). Other writing researchers at the time focused on teaching writing by combining sentences (Mellon, 1969) and gaining insights into the prewriting process by examining a 12th grader's cognitive pauses and starts during composing (Emig, 1971). Janet Emig's investigation ofa l2-grade student's composing process was one of the first investigations at the secondary level to better understand the cognitive process during composing. Writing research and instructional methods evolved from an emphasis on writing mechanics and grammar to addressing ways to improve writing content (Baker, Gersten, & Graham, 2003).

As Graham (2007) has noted, the Hayes and Flower (1980) cognitive process model of the writing process served as the impetus from which many of our teaching models have developed. Their model of the writing process consisted of three components: (a) factors in the writer's environment that affected the writing task that are not under the writer's control (e.g., the writing assignment, topic, audience, and motivating cues); (b) cognitive processes that described the mental process of composing and are largely under the writer's control (e.g., planning, generating text, organizing, and reviewing or editing); and (c) long-term memory storage (e.g., knowledge of the topic, knowledge of audience, knowledge about the composing process) (Hayes & Flower, 1980).

Cognitive writing researchers then became interested in the knowledge of expert writers and to what degree their knowledge differed from novice writers. Bereiter and Scardamalia (1987) devised two models to explain the composing processes of such writers. Whether expert or novice each writer approached a writing task via three components: (l) mental representation of an assignment; (2) content knowledge; and (3) discourse knowledge. Bereiter and Scardamalia use the term discourse knowledge to refer to the form of writing (narrative or persuasive), structural elements needed to convey narrative or persuasive writing, and ways in which those elements are organized. Additionally, novice writers generated text by using their readily available or preexisting knowledge of the topic; such knowledge could be activated by topic or genre identifiers, memory, or personal experience. The authors referred to this as knowledge telling, which allowed the novice writer to access already existing cognitive structures or one's natural ability. The second model, knowledge transforming, represented the expanding competence of a more expert writer; the authors referred to this as "a more studied ability involving skills that not everyone acquires" (p. 6). The expert writer's ability to transform his or her knowledge largely depended on his or her knowledge of the topic's discourse and the literary genre. Although Scardamalia and Bereiter began to consider the competence of a writer and examine the context and readership of a written text, they maintained that the composing process was largely an individual endeavor.

A feature of these cognitive models is that each of the major components of the models consisted of subcomponents or discrete processes that could be developed for instructional purposes. That is, these models provided a way for teachers to develop a pedagogical approach to writing instruction that went beyond features of grammar and spelling. Cognitive learning theories laid the foundation for describing the processes a writer goes through while composing, but questions remained about the social influences that affect the writer's behavior as well as motivation to write and perceptions about writing.

2.6.2. Writing is Socio-Cognitive

From the late 1990s, writing researchers have examined the social and metacognitive factors that shape writing to better understand how writers acquired the cognitive and metacognitive knowledge and skills that allowed them to undergo the composing process (Graham, 2007). A socio-cognitive lens viewed the writer constructing meaning through acts of interpretation, negotiation, and reflection (Flower, 1994). Hayes's 1996 revised model from the earlier Flower and Hayes model reflected the incorporation of social influences on the writing process. The key areas that Hayes expanded were the following: ( a) social aspects (e.g., expanding the writing task to include a social component of audience and collaborators); (b) cognitive aspects (e.g., text interpretation, reflection, and text production, as well as the role of long-term and working memory); and (c) metacognitive aspects (e.g., motivation and affect, which included goals, beliefs and attitudes) (Hayes, 1996). Although social forces began to account for how writers engaged in the writing process, the writer still performed alone.

Zimmerman and Riesemberg (1997) also presented a socio-cognitive model that emphasized the writer's self-regulation processes as interdependent interactions. While the social context played a role in producing a written product, Zimmerman and Riesemberg noted that much of the generation of text was a result of the complex system of interaction among social, motivational, cognitive, and behavioral components. The social factor focused on increasing the writer's awareness of audience or who will be reading the text. Harris, Graham, Brindle, and Sandmel (in press) noted that Zimmerman and Risemberg's model was influential for describing the composing process and role of metacognition because it focused on (a) the degree to which the writer exerts attention to complete the task, perceives his or her writing competence, and undergoes the process of change with regard to his or her thoughts, feelings, and writing performance and (b) the role of self-regulation. Questions, however, remained about the role of self-efficacy and the degree to which individuals engaged in on-going self-reflection during the writing process or to what degree peer-editing or group feedback improved writing.

2.6.3. Role of metacognition

Linda Flower (1994) defined metacognition as the writer's strategic knowledge (goals, strategies, and awareness) for constructing meaning. Metacognition can be viewed as having two components: (a) being able to talk about what you know, what you don't know, or how your knowledge is organized (declarative knowledge) and (b) knowing how your thinking operates by monitoring and controlling your thinking (i.e., procedural knowledge) (Flower, 1994; Harris et al., in press). One way to examine metacognition as a learning strategy is through the process of self-reflection (Hacker & Dunlosky, 2003; Flower, 1994). Self-reflection through talk-alouds is something students must be explicitly taught how to do. One way to teach students self-reflection is to model one's thinking process. The implications for using self-reflection in the classroom are far reaching: (a) the teacher is able to model a variety of problem-solving strategies, (b) the learner is able to monitor his or her own thinking through group or self-talk, and (c) the learner becomes motivated by recognizing the links between outcomes and the use of his or her own strategies (Flower, p. 227).

2.6.4. Role of self-regulation

Drawing on social learning theorists as early as the 1960s, Zimmerman (1989) proposed a social cognitive model that described the self-regulated learner. According to Zimmerman's model, a learner acquires knowledge and skills to complete a task based on the interaction among (a) the learner, (b) his or her environment, and (c) his or her behavior. Self-regulated learners "personally initiate and direct their own efforts to acquire knowledge and skill rather than relying on teachers, parents, or other agents of instruction" (Zimmerman, p. 329). That is, the learner controls or regulates his or her acquisition of knowledge and skill by using self-regulated learning strategies to meet academic goals, as well as to perceive that he or she can meet those goals. In the case of a struggling writer, his or her knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs about writing play an important role in determining how he or she completes a writing task (Graham, Schwartz, & MacArthur, 1993). Self-regulation becomes an essential learning strategy for monitoring the writing process and is well-documented in the literature for improving the writing of adolescents who struggle with writing (see Graham & Perin, 2007).

Expanding on Zimmerman's premise of the self-regulated leamer, Graham and Harris (2003) developed an approach to writing instruction that identifies elements that develop writing competence with regard to "changes in strategic knowledge, subject-matter knowledge, and motivation" (p. 328). Over the past 2 decades, Karen Harris, Steve Graham, and their colleagues have developed a strategies instruction approach referred to as self-regulated strategy development (SRSD) (Harris, Graham, Mason, & Friedlander, 2008). The components of SRSD address not only the writing process but also the struggling writer's attitudes and beliefs about writing, his or her motivation, and self-efficacy (Harris et al., 2008).

2.6.5. Role of self-explanation

In the late 1 990s, the focus for some researchers moved away from strategies that are effective for performing a task (such as problem-solving or remembering) to activities for learning domain knowledge, which may be more effective for learners to apply across domains (Chi, 2000). Bangert-Drowns, Hurley, and Wilkinson (2004) found using writing to learn more effective when students are prompted to reflect on their current knowledge, areas of confusion, and learning process.

The assumption underlying such activities for learning is that a learner will acquire new knowledge (whether declarative or procedural) by being actively involved in the construction of his or her knowledge (Chi, 2000; Wellman & Lagattuta, 2004). Self-explaining is a type of learning activity that requires the learner to be actively engaged in this process. Self-explaining is "the activity of explaining to oneself in an attempt to make sense of new information, either presented in a text or in some other medium" (Chi, p. 164). An example of self-explaining would be the writer describing why he or she made specific changes and what the writer would change or do differently next time. Wellman and Lagattuta (2004) maintained that when one generates explanations for understanding, one revises and perfects his or her understanding, which plays a central role in learning. Neuman and Schwarz (2000) examined the role of self-explaining in solving algebra word problems. They found that self-explanations were positively associated with improving students' ability to solve algebra problems. Pine, Lufkin, and Messer (2004) found that in the development of children's knowledge of the balance beam, children who explained their own reasoning made significantly more progress than children' who were shown whether their judgments were correct or incorrect. However, children who had to explain someone else's predictions for the balance beam made the most progress in their understanding. Therefore, for students who struggle with the planning and composing process of writing a persuasive essay, it is hypothesized that requiring secondary students to provide explanations for improving their persuasive writing ability may help them better monitor the areas of their writing that are problematic (see Wellman & Lagattuta, 2004).

2.7. Framework for Instruction: Self-Regulated Strategy Development

As early as 1988, Graham and Harris identified several areas in which instruction has failed to improve writing skills for students with disabilities. The authors noted that (a) adequate time needs to be allocated to classroom writing; (b) writing activities need to encourage student interest, develop cognitive processes for composition, promote skills to complete assignments, and connect to broader social, recreational, and occupational needs; ( c) teachers need to utilize the social context of the classroom to enhance learning; (d) writing activities need to be integrated into other classroom activities; (e) teachers need to aim instruction directly at improving writing fluency or utilize dictation techniques so students can focus on the higher order cognitive processes of organizing and developing ideas; and (f) students need to develop explicit knowledge about text structures or genres and the conventions involved (Graham & Harris, 1988). The subsequent research of Graham and Harris and colleagues has focused on how classroom teachers can improve writing instruction through the development of the self-regulated strategies development (SRSD) instructional model.

The SRSD model emphasizes the systematic and explicit individualized instruction of skills students need to carry out the planning, drafting, and revising processes that are essential to writing effectively. Students are engaged in collaborative writing and goal-setting activities where they learn the genre structures (narrative, informational, persuasive) of a text and write for a specific purpose. The SRSD model includes multiple instructional components designed to (a) improve students' strategic behavior (e.g., teaching students more sophisticated strategies for accomplishing a task like persuasive essay writing); (b) enhance their self-regulation skills (e.g., teaching students how to set goals, monitor their progress, provide self-instructions, and reinforce their use of the strategies, the task, and their behaviors); (c) increase their content knowledge (e.g., teaching information or skills students need to use the strategies or self-regulation procedures); and (d) boost motivation (e.g., valuing effort in learning, using positive reinforcement, and making positive effects of instruction visible and concrete (Graham & Harris, 2005). Graham and Harris also identified five critical characteristics of SRSD instruction (p. 329-330):

Strategies and needed knowledge are explicitly taught to master processes and knowledge other students acquire more easily.

The SRSD model stresses interactive learning between teacher and students. Children are viewed as active collaborators who work with the teacher and each other during instruction.

Instruction is individualized regarding the processes, skills and knowledge to a child's needs and capabilities.

Instruction is criterion-based. Students do not proceed to later stages of instruction until they have met the criteria for doing so. Also, instruction does not end until the student can use the strategy and self-regulation procedures efficiently and effectively.

SRSD is an ongoing process in which new strategies are introduced and previously taught strategies are upgraded.

The six stages of SRSD instruction represent guidelines for instruction, but stages can be "reordered, combined, or modified to meet student and teacher needs" (Graham & Harris, 2005, p. 330). Harris et al. (2008) provide an overview of these six stages of instruction to include the following: (1) develop background knowledge (e.g., concepts of self-instruction and technical terms or vocabulary) for learning and using identified writing strategies; this stage also includes teaching pre-skills students need (e.g., the structure of an essay; thesis statement); (2) discuss it refers to the teacher and student discussing the significance and steps of the identified writing strategies, as well as the importance of goal setting, persistence, and motivation; (3) model it refers to the teacher or student modeling the use of the identified writing strategies using self-instructions or think aloud statements; (4) memorize it refers to the stage by which students' have memorized the steps of the identified writing strategies; (5) support it refers to the teacher's gradual fading of support until the students have mastered the strategies and are writing independently; and (6) independent performance is when students are using self- instructions independently and are only provided with additional instruction or booster sessions, if needed by the student.

Over the past 20 years, research has been conducted on the effectiveness of SRSD with promising results for struggling writers. Graham and Harris (2003) conducted a meta-analysis of SRSD studies involving students in second through eighth grade. The authors report that at the time of publication, 26 studies had employed SRSD, and 18 of the studies examined writing (some studies investigated effects on reading and math). Graham and Harris examined overall (across all studies) and differential (different student groups) effects of SRSD writing instruction with effect sizes calculated for quality (overall value of a student's composition), elements (basic parts of a composition or genre elements), story elements, and length (total words in a composition). For large group studies, effect size was calculated by subtracting the posttest mean of the control group from the posttest mean of the SRSD group then dividing by the standard deviation for the control group. The standard for evaluating the magnitude of effect size (ES) is .20=smal1 effect, .50=medium effect, and .80=large effect (Cohen, 1988). For single/within participant design studies, the effect size was calculated using percentage of nonoverlapping data points (PND). The standard used for evaluating PND scores are as follows: >90% = very effective; 70% to 90% = effective; 50% to 70% = questionable, and <50% = ineffective (Graham & Harris, 2003).

The authors noted several significant results with regard to

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