Using an e-Portfolio System to Improve the Academic Writing Performance of ESL Students

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© 2012


Many intensive English language programmes that English second language (ESL) students enrol in adopt a process approach to writing, interpreting writing as a cognitive process that is highly private or individualistic (Atkinson, 2003), where writers use specific cognitive phases, such as pre-writing, drafting, and revising, to generate their text. However, Lefkowitz (2009) claimed that the interpretation of the process approach is often superficial, focusing on improving grammatical accuracy, rather than on the generation, formation and revision of ideas. To tackle the problems of providing appropriate, regular feedback within a "socially and culturally situated" approach to writing, and to tackle the issues of motivation, attitude and confidence among ESL writers, which difficulties with writing are likely to engender, an e-portfolio system was used to support students on an ESL writing course as they worked through the key phases of the writing process. The system provided a framework within which they could write to and receive feedback from each other, as well as from the teacher. 46 ESL students from an English Centre were divided into a conventional group and an e-portfolio group. They submitted a series of essays over a number of weeks on which they received both peer and teacher feedback. Data were gathered using an online questionnaire, samples of writing, online tracking and interviews. The post-intervention test results indicated no significant improvement among the control group's motivational constructs and performance in writing, but significant differences were found in the experimental group's writing performance and in the students' perceived value with regard to writing, writing self-efficacy and writing process approach self-consistency. These findings suggest that e-portfolio software, by facilitating both writing, and the provision of regular peer and teacher feedback on writing, has the potential to encourage a significant improvement in ESL students' writing self-belief and writing performance.

Keywords: writing process approach, ESL writing self-beliefs, writing self-efficacy, process-writing self-consistency, e-portfolio, writing motivational constructs.


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Alshahrani, Ali; Windeatt, Scott. (2012). Using an e-Portfolio System to Improve the Academic Writing Performance of ESL Students. In Linda Bradley, Sylvie Thouësny (Eds), CALL: Using, Learning, Knowing, EUROCALL Conference, Gothenburg, Sweden, 22-25 August 2012, Proceedings (pp. 10-14).

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