CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION
1.1 Research Background
Writing is one of the four basic language skills of English, which can objectively reflect the ability of learners to use language. As one of the critical forms of language output, writing is not only an essential skill but also the most difficult part of English instruction. Among the four language skills, writing coherent, fluent, and extended articles is the most difficult one, especially for second language learners (Nunan, 2001). Therefore, how to conduct effective writing teaching has always been a hot topic. Writing assessment is an indispensable part of the writing teaching process, which is the feedback to the information expressed by the learners (Ellis, 1994). Effective writing feedback can not only activate students’ motivation in writing, maintain writing enthusiasm, and improve writing skills, but also help teachers improve the effectiveness of English writing teaching. Therefore, how to effectively assess writing is of great significance to developing learners’ writing ability. According to the New English Curriculum Standard (2022), students should play a significant role in the assessment, and all the assessment activities should aim at promoting students’ learning. Therefore, effective writing assessment should continuously help students improve their writing ability as well as give opportunities for students to participate in assessing their own writing.
In the context of current English education in China, traditional writing assessment still occupies a dominant position, which means teachers have become the only assessors of writing assessment (Matsuno, 2009). However, teachers spend a lot of time and energy on writing assessment, pointing out the problems of student’s work, and marking out the errors in the essays, but students have not paid enough attention to it (Wang, 2014). Therefore, relying only on teachers’ writing feedback is time-consuming and inefficient. Students’ ownership in the assessment process has also been completely ignored, which is contrary to the assessment idea advocated at present. Therefore, more effective assessment forms should be involved in writing assessment.
1.2 Significance and Purpose of the Research
This research is of great significance both theoretically and pedagogically. For the theoretical significance of this research, this research chooses domestic middle school students as the research objects to further explore the effectiveness of co-constructed rubrics in the second language environment, aiming to enrich the research achievement of the application of the writing rubrics as well as the connotation of the theories related to writing assessment and self-assessment.
In the sense of pedagogical significance, the co-constructed rubrics in this research shift the subjects of assessment from teachers to students, which has a positive impact on both two sides. For students, co-constructing rubrics can guide them to fully understand the writing assessment criteria, allowing them to continuously improve their writing ability according to the criteria. At the same time, the co-constructed rubrics can further enhance the student’s dominant position in the assessment process, thereby enhancing students’ interest in self-assessment and writing, which is conducive to the development of students’ ability to use meta-cognitive strategies and achieve learning autonomy. For teachers, the co-constructed rubrics can provide teachers with an efficient way of assessment. First, the co-constructed rubrics can ensure that students can effectively self-assess under the premise of better understanding the assessment criteria. This effective assessment method can reduce the teachers’ burden of giving feedback because teachers only need to provide appropriate guidance and corrections based on students’ self-assessment. Second, a large number of studies have confirmed the importance of timely feedback (Black & Willam, 1998).
CHAPTER TWO LITERATURE REVIEW
2.1 Writing Ability
Writing is the process of understanding the information conveyed by others or expressing one’s own information. Generally speaking, writing ability refers to accurate vocabulary and rules, appropriate rhetorical and discourse abilities, and combining language meaning and form to express ideas and achieve communicative purposes (Jiang, 2017). Although there is still no commonly accepted model or framework for writing ability (Pan, 2019), different scholars have integrated writing ability into two specific models of writing, namely the cognitive model and the inclusive model. The cognitive writing model believes that all writing processes include three parts: forming ideas, transforming ideas into language, and revising & examining texts. Therefore, the writing ability based on the cognitive writing model consists of the three elements of planning, writing, and revising. Specifically, it can include the ability to master the thought process of writing, the ability to control the writing process, the ability to convey information, the ability to use multiple expressions, and the ability to revise (Bereiter & Scardamalia, 1987). The inclusive writing model believes writing is not only a language behavior but a complex cognitive process affected by social and cultural contexts, and various influencing factors must be comprehensively considered. Based on the inclusive model, Heaton (2000) proposed five specific writing abilities: (a) Language use: the ability to write correct and appropriate sentences. (b) Mechanical skills: the ability to correctly use habits specific to written language.
2.2.1 The Definition of Self-assessment
The definition of self-assessment is an evolving process. Initially, self-assessment is defined as students’ participation in making judgments about their learning and their achievements and results (Boud & Faltcikov, 1989). It relates to students’ involvement in confirming standards, which helps them determine the extent to which they have completed their work (Boud, 1995). Then, self-assessment is regarded as a process of judging the quality of one’s own work, such as students’ self-assessment, which is based on clear criteria to improve their future work (Rolheiser & Ross, 2000). This process encourages students to criticize their work and improve themselves through revision. Students are trained to criticize their work, make decisions about their thinking, and ultimately improve their learning (Noonan & Duncan, 2005; Black & William, 2010). Over the past decade, self-assessment has been defined as a formative assessment process. Through this process, students focus on the quality of their works and assess the extent to which they reflect specific and clear objectives or standards (Andrade & Valtcheva, 2009). According to McMillan and Hearn (2008), self-assessment is a guided and teachable process consisting of four steps:(a) Working with students to develop assessment criteria;(b) showing students how to apply the assessment criteria and providing them with the necessary practice time to apply the assessment criteria;(c) giving students feedback on the results of the application of the assessment criteria;(d) setting learning goals and strategies to be achieved in the future. Therefore, effective self-assessment requires both students and teachers to participate in the whole assessment process.
CHAPTER THREE METHODOLOGY ................................... 21
3.1 Research Questions.................................. 21
3.2 Participants ........................ 21
CHAPTER FOUR RESULTS AND DISCUSSION ............................ 33
4.1 Analysis of Students’ Writing Performance in Pre-test and Post-test ............ 33
4.1.1 Comparison of the Writing Scores in Pre-test and Post-test ................ 33
4.1.2 Comparison of the Writing Scores in Four Specific Writing Abilities.....................34
CHAPTER FIVE CONCLUSION ............................. 60
5.1 Major Findings .................................. 60
5.1.1 The Effects of Co-constructed Rubrics on Students’ Writing Ability ............60
5.1.2 The Students’ Perceptions of Co-constructed Rubrics ......................... 61
CHAPTER FOUR RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
4.1 Analysis of Students’ Writing Performance in Pre-test and Post-test
4.1.1 Comparison of the Writing Scores in Pre-test and Post-test
Table 4-1 presents the writing performance of EC and CC on the pre- and post-tests. The post-test results reflected the changes in students’ writing ability after the intervention. It can be seen that compared with the mean score of the pre-test, the mean score of CC decreases by 0.73 points, and the mean score of EC increases by 1.44 points, which made the mean score of EC’s post-test higher than that of CC by 1.76 points.
CHAPTER FIVE CONCLUSION
5.1 Major Findings
In English writing instruction, students' participation in the construction and use of writing self-assessment rubrics positively impacts the learning of English writing. The co-constructed writing self-assessment rubrics play an essential role in improving students’ writing ability and their writing attitudes. The main findings are as follows.
5.1.1 The Effects of Co-constructed Rubrics on Students’ Writing Ability
Firstly, the application of the co-constructed writing self-assessment rubrics can improve middle school students’ writing ability, especially the structure and the content parts.
By comparing the mean scores of EC and CC on the pre- and post-writing tests, EC showed a significant improvement in overall writing ability and performed significantly better than CC on the post-test, which proved that the co-constructed writing self-assessment rubrics improved the writing ability of middle school students. This finding is in agreement with several related studies (Jacome,2012; Becker,2016; Ghaffar et al., 2020). According to the “Assessment as Learning” theory, students’ participation in assessment activities is also the learning process, and the assessment criteria are also the learning objectives. All assessment activities should be student-centered and learning-oriented. The co-constructed writing self-assessment rubrics allow students to become the creators and implementers of the assessment criteria. This further increases the students’ sense of ownership of the assessment process and enhances the transparency of the criteria, guiding students to understand the writing assessment criteria better. At the same time, the process of co-constructing and using writing self-assessment rubrics, supported by the noticing hypothesis, allows students to consciously notice the gaps between their writing and good writing so that they are able to recognize their weaknesses and set future learning goals based on the criteria, thus enabling them to improve their writing ability continuously.