Analysis of structural relationship between multiple document comprehension, argumentative writing, self-regulatory processes, and deep understanding

Submitted by: Sungmin CHANG
Abstract: The purpose of this study is to collectively and empirically examine a hypothesized model that specified structural relationships between multiple document comprehension, argumentative writing, self-regulatory processes, and deep understanding. Although considerable research has been conducted focusing on direct and indirect linkages between various individual difference variables and deep understanding (e.g., Bråten et al., 2014), rather less attention has been paid to structural relationship between sub-processing factors of learning from texts and deep understanding. This study hypothesized that students’ perception of task-based needs (planning) and reflection of provisional writing product (monitoring) predict their deep understanding both directly and indirectly, mediated by selection of relevant materials (multiple document comprehension) and integration of information (argumentative writing).
Data were collected from 664 high school students writing an opinion essay about the topic provided with multiple documents. Participants followed 6 detailed phases, separated by different time units, and produced 3 times of writing products, 4 times of source lists, 6 times of reflective journals, and 2 times of writing workshop records.
Modeling of hypothetical relationships between components was tested by applying a structural equation model. "Deep understanding," the dependent variable of learning-from-texts, was measured by applying an analytic assessment of six experts according to a criterion validated through factor analysis. On the other hand, four predictive variables that explain deep understanding were measured by applying a transformative design that quantifies the results of qualitative content analysis on a five-point scale.
One of the main findings of this study is that, as expected, participants' planning and monitoring processes were found to predict deep understanding. Multiple document comprehension and argumentative writing, which can be identified through visible products (texts), are affected by planning and monitoring. This suggests that invisible self-regulatory processes as well as visible linguistic performances are essential to achieving the desired learning outcomes. Our result is consistent with traditional conceptualization of the importance of self-regulatory processes in learning-from-texts (Moos & Azevedo, 2008), which demonstrates the problem of previous writing activities in content subject classes that allow students to unilaterally acquire the information of reading materials and integrate them independently of the writers' own rhetorical perspective.
The finding that visible linguistic performances are mediated by monitoring, particularly, corresponds to a recent paradigm in which generation and reviewing are known to dynamically interact with each other (Galbraith, 1999). The writers' task representation is never a one-time interpretation and continually changes as it responds to additional representation or resolves several constraints for linguistic performances; thus, various activities, such as a writing workshop for peer-tutoring, need to be applied to facilitate epistemic reentries that allow students to continually generate additional representations before producing final products (texts).
Of note is also that multiple document comprehension did not have direct effects on deep understanding, while argumentative writing had a direct effect. This shows the importance of instructions for text-producing such as integrating information by applying an argumentative schema, in addition to comprehending important information from given reading materials. It is especially important, in the context of educational situations teaching learning-from-texts, that the sub-processes should be publicly open and persistently identified in order to check the achievement of students. This is consistent with a previous study (Klein et al., 2016), which defines learning-from-texts as "a dialogue between rhetorical and content problem solving.“

[Keyword] multiple document comprehension, argumentative writing, self-regulation, deep understanding

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