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Title: Influence of writing instruction and cognitive skills on undergraduate students’ academic writing
Authors: RAEDTS, Mariet 
Rijlaarsdam, Gert
Issue Date: 2012
Source: SIG Writing Porto 2012: Program & Abstracts, p. 89-89
Abstract: We examined the effects of students' cognitive skills and three types of writing instruction on a academic writing task, i.e. writing a section for a literature review. Previous experimental studies compared the effects of two instruction types: observational learning and learning by doing (e.g. Braaksma et al.,2002; Couzijn, 1999; Groenendijk et al., 2011; Raedts et al., 2007; Zimmerman & Kitsantas, 2002). We added a third instruction method to our experimental design: learning from text models written by peers. One hundred and twenty-seven undergraduate students at a Belgian university participated in a 2-hour writing course in which instruction type was manipulated. Regardless of condition students received a 10-page course text. Each section dealt with one aspect of the writing task (e.g. choosing a suitable title or writing the conclusion) and ended with an exercise. Control group students (N = 48) completed the exercises themselves (learning-by-doing). Students in the learning-from-text-models condition (N = 40) evaluated peer answers. Students in the observational condition (N = 39) observed and evaluated a video-based peer model performing the exercises under think aloud conditions. One day after the intervention, all students wrote a summary text based on the same research articles. A two-way ANOVA yielded a significant main effect of instruction type on students’ synthesizing skills (F (2, 121) = 6,194, p = .003). Post-hoc analyses only showed significant differences between the learning-by-doing condition and observational learning (p = 002). Students’ cognitive skills (measured by a logical reasoning test at the beginning of the academic year) had no main effect on their writing performances; nor did we find an interaction between condition and cognitive skills. Hence, our findings provide evidence that observational learning facilitates the transfer of complex writing skills to a comparable writing task irrespective of student's thinking capacities.
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Category: C2
Type: Proceedings Paper
Appears in Collections:Research publications

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