Mary Gitzen

Face to face: Conferencing as esl writing instruction

Mary Gitzen

  • School: Purdue University (0183)
  • Degree: Ph.D.
  • Date: 2002; pp: 196
  • Advisor: Silva, Tony
  • Source: DAI-A 64/11, p. 3934, May 2004
  • Subjects: Education, Bilingual And Multicultural (0282); Education, Language And Literature (0279); Language, Rhetoric And Composition (0681)
  • ProQuest Document Number:
  • ISBN: 0-496-61535-1
  • UMI Number: AAT 3114042

Abstract:

    • The purpose of this study was threefold: first, to investigate whether ESL composition students would report that conferencing addressed their individual needs, second, to examine conference interactions for evidence of effective instruction, and third, to interview students and examine their texts for evidence that they retained and used instructional strategies targeted for conference discussion. Little study had been done of conference teaching with ESL writing students, who typically display a wide range of levels of language competence, of purposes and goals for their study, and of educational and cultural backgrounds. Other research indicated that effective teaching occurs when expert and novice interact, that higher order thinking is stimulated by direct tutorial instruction, and that conference teaching enhances development of skills necessary for independent thinking and learning. Students reported that some of their needs were effectively met by conference teaching, while others were no more effectively met than in other writing classes. Analysis of audiotaped conferences suggested that novice-expert interaction resulted in increased motivation for the writing task, increased student input and control of the instructional agenda, opportunities for instructor modeling of effective thinking and strategies, and timely critique and performance shaping. Analysis of audiotaped interviews further suggested that conferences had enhanced higher order thinking as seen in acceptance of multiple solutions to problems and of inherent uncertainty in research, attempts to impose meaning and order on data, and mental effort directed toward elaboration and judgment-making. Coding of student texts suggested use of higher order thinking skills and enhancement of independent thinking and learning as seen in attempts to self-regulate learning, to scaffold on previous learning, and a sense of pride and validation of efforts. Benefits of conferenced writing instruction may extend beyond its previously theorized capacity as a medium for individualized instruction and enhanced student participation, to include its effectiveness for stimulating higher order thinking and fostering independent learning and thinking.