A little glimpse into synthesis writing interventions from different nations: similarities and differences
Liselore van Ockenburg
Thanks to modern media, information sources are numerous and readily available. One of the greatest challenges educators currently face is teaching students how to find, analyze and process information from reliable sources. These cognitively demanding, but essential, skills come together in writing a synthesis: a text that is a representative and at the same time well-integrated reflection of the information from sources. A synthesis task enables students to acquire and practice the aforementioned skills.
A considerable amount of empirical research has been conducted over the past two decades to understand the cognitive processes necessary to produce synthesis texts (Mateos, Martín, Villalón, & Luna, 2018, Spivey & King, 1989) and to find effective instructional and learning activities for synthesis writing (Barzilai, Zohar, & Mor-Hagani, 2018). Overall, earlier research has shown that there are multiple possible ways to compose a good synthesis, as well as multiple effective approaches to teach students how to write better synthesis texts.
This symposium aims to provide a picture of this broad spectrum of possible teaching approaches by exploring different types of synthesis writing interventions. Attention will also be paid to how differences in national contexts may entail specific requirements for synthesis writing interventions.
The symposium’s different papers describe intervention studies that focus on: (1) participation in oral discussions (Lidia Casado, UAM, Spain), (2) feedback on the writing process (Nina Vandermeulen, Belgium, UA), (3) modelling the synthesizing processes (Liselore van Ockenburg, The Netherlands, UvA), and (4) an aspect of teaching writing synthesis, a case from Vietnam (Thảo Trần Nguyên Hương, Vietnam).
Despite their varying approaches, the common goal of all these studies is to improve students’ ability to write synthesis texts. This symposium therefore offers participants a unique opportunity to discover what we can learn from each other.
Mateos, M., Martín, E., Villalón, R., & Luna, M. (2008). Reading and writing to learn in secondary education: Online processing activity and written products in summarizing and synthesizing tasks. Reading and Writing, 21(7), 675-697.
Spivey, N. N., & King, J. R. (1989). Readers as writers composing from sources. Reading Research Quarterly, 7-26.
Barzilai, S., Zohar, A. R., & Mor-Hagani, S. (2018). Promoting Integration of Multiple Texts: a Review of Instructional Approaches and Practices. Educational Psychology Review, 1-27.
Keywords: synthesis writing, intervention studies, teaching and learning of writing
- Nina Vandermeulen & Elke Van Steendam & Gert Rijlaarsdam
Nina Vandermeulen (University of Antwerp)
Marije Lesterhuis (University of Antwerp)
Elke Van Steendam (KU Leuven)
Gert Rijlaarsdam (University of Amsterdam)
Mariëlle Leijten (University of Antwerp)
Luuk Van Waes (University of Antwerp)
Background: Feedback is crucial for students' learning process (Hattie & Timperley, 2007). It plays an important role in acquiring a highly complex skill such as writing. Currently feedback aiming to improve the writing process is scarce. In practice, teachers usually give feedback on the writing product (i.e., text quality). However, given that it is the writing process that generates the product, feedback on the writing process is valuable and should be taken into account as well.
Aim: We conducted an intervention study to explore the effects of two types of process-oriented feedback. Process-oriented feedback provides information on certain writing activities and the moment at which these activities take place during the writing process. In the position-setting feedback condition, students compared their writing process to that of students with a similar text quality score. The students in the feed-forward feedback condition, compared their writing process to better scoring students.
Method: A total of 67 Dutch students (grade 10) were randomly assigned to one of the feedback conditions. Each student wrote three synthesis texts (texts in which information from different sources is integrated) at three measurement occasions and received individual feedback at measurement occasion 2 and 3 prior to writing a new text. The individual feedback was integrated into a semi-automated tool. Writing processes were logged and analysed with key stroke logging software Inputlog (Leijten & Van Waes, 2013). Text quality was rated holistically using a rating scale with benchmark texts. Questionnaires measured the students' attitude towards the feedback.
Results: In our presentation we will focus on the development and concrete implementation of the different feedback types in our tool. Moreover, we will present results on the effectiveness of the feedback: in the feed-forward condition the intervention was effective. When comparing the students' progress to a national baseline study (serving as control group), we can conclude that in one week they made a progress comparable to more than one year of regular schooling. The feedback was not only effective in terms of increase in performance, it also met the principles for effective feedback and was perceived rather positively by the participants.
Hattie, J., & Timperley, H. (2007). The power of feedback. Review of Educational Research, 77(1), 81-112.
Leijten, M., & Van Waes, L. (2013). Keystroke Logging in Writing Research. Using Inputlog to Analyze and Visualize Writing Processes. Written Communication, 30(3), 358-392.
Keywords: feedback, writing processes, intervention study, keystroke logging
- Lidia Casado Ledesma & Isabel Cuevas Fernandez & Elena Martín
Lidia Casado (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid)
Isabel Cuevas (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid)
Elena Martín (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid)
Currently we live in an “information society” in which argumentative competence and critical thinking are essential skills that need to be developed in the schools. Therefore, it is essential to design methodological proposals that enhance these competences and test their effectiveness. This study aims at assessing the effectiveness of an intervention program in secondary education, which was designed to improve the writing of argumentative synthesis and the perspectivism of the students.
The majority of studies that have explored the impact of oral discussions on the quality of argumentative essays consider refutation as the highest level of argumentative competence (García-Mila et al., 2013; Simonneaux, 2001). However, refutation strategies are often associated with one-sided reasoning (Nussbaum & Schraw, 2007). For that reason, the discussions employed in this study were not conducted as traditional debates. The intervention program was based on the participation in reflective discussions aimed at reaching a conclusion that integrated both sides of a controversy. The controversies were presented through texts that exposed opposing views about different issues in science. These kind of discussions attempted to promote the integration of arguments and counterarguments, instead of strategies of refutation.
Participation in oral discussions is a common element to all the conditions of the program. In all the modalities, students were organized in small groups with the purpose of reading controversial texts, discussing about them and reaching integrative conclusions. However, the intervention program combined two components: modeling (with/without modeling) and external tools (with/without guide). According to that, we defined four experimental conditions/intervention modalities:
- C1: modeling (teaching of the processes to reach integrative conclusions) + external tool (written guide) + practice (participation in oral discussions).
- C2: modeling + practice.
- C3: external tool + practice.
- C4: practice.
A total of 216 students (between 14 and 15 years old), from three different Spanish high schools, participated in the study. A quasi-experimental design with pre and post measurement was used, with two components as inter-subject variable. All students wrote two argumentative synthesis from texts presenting opposing views (pretest –before oral argumentation activities- and posttest -after oral argumentation activities-). Students also answered a questionnaire about taking perspectives, in pre and posttest tasks.
At the conference we will focus on the procedure of the intervention and we will present preliminary results about the effect of the programs on the quality of the final synthesis.
García-Mila, M., Gilabert, S., Erduran, S. y Felton, M. (2013). The effect of argumentative task goal on the quality of argumentative discourse. Science Education, 97,497–523.
Nussbaum, E.M. y Schraw, G. (2007). Promoting argument–counterargument integration in students’ writing. Journal of Experimental Education, 76, 59–92.
Simonneaux, L. (2001). Role-play or debate to promote students’ argumentation and justification on as issue in animal transgenesis. International Journal of Science Education, 23, 903–927.
- Nguyen Huong Thao Tran & Tanja Janssen & Gert Rijlaarsdam
Teaching writing based on sources is more and more common in higher education around the globe, and may positively influence students’ learning processes and outcomes. This reading-writing task is cognitively demanding, and requires training for both teachers and students (Martinez et al., 2015). Moreover, it is a requirement of the Vietnamese curriculum 2018. However, until now it is rarely taught in Vietnamese education.
The present study aims to design and test a short course how to write argumentative texts based on sources on Vietnamese high school students. We based the course design on (1) an analysis of the current qualities of students’ argumentative texts and the writing processes connected with these texts, and (2) on course design principles distilled form the research literature.
Students of two classes at a high school in Mekong Delta, the South of Vietnam will participate in a pretest-posttest design and in a trialing training course. The three-phase training course, which includes sample analysing, modelling and informed practice, focus on two main aspects: adequate and accurate information synthesis of sources and argumentation behavior.
Data includes pieces of writing performance collected during three phases, pair texts, and individual texts in pretest and posttest.
The assumption is that the training course would have a positive impact on students' written texts. After the effectiveness is assessed, the further study is designing a training course to instruct pre-service teachers how to teach writing argumentative texts based on sources.
Martínez, I., Mateo, M., Martín, E. & Rijlaarsdam, G. (2015).Learning history by composing synthesis texts: Effects of an instructional programme on learning, reading and writing process, and text quality. Journal of Writing Research, 7(2), 275-302.
Mateos, M., Martín, E., Cuevas, I., Villalón, R., Martínez, I., & González-Lamas, J. (2018). Improving written argumentative synthesis by teaching the integration of conflicting information from multiple sources. Cognition and Instruction, 36(2), 119-138.
Rijlaarsdam, G., Braaksma, M., Couzijn, M., Janssen, T., Kieft, M., Broekkamp, H., & van den Bergh, H. (2005). Psychology and the teaching of writing in 8000 and some words. BJEP Monograph Series II, Number 3-Pedagogy-Teaching for Learning (Vol. 127, No. 153, pp. 127-153). British Psychological Society.
- Liselore van Ockenburg & Daphne van Weijen & Gert Rijlaarsdam
The ability to critically analyze and integrate information from sources is a prerequisite for successful participation in our current information-driven society. Nevertheless, in Dutch secondary education little or no attention is paid to acquiring these skills. We think that these skills can be practiced through synthesis writing assignments. Therefore, we designed a learning module for (14 to 15-year-old) students in secondary education to teach them how to synthesize information from three different sources into a new text.
In this presentation, we will present the design principles and the key-learning activities in the intervention, based on the outcomes of our systematic review of 16 (quasi) experimental writing interventions (Van Ockenburg, Van Weijen & Rijlaarsdam, in press). In addition, observational learning forms an important part of the intervention. Observational learning separates task performance from learning, which may reduce cognitive overload and therefore leaves more room for learning (Rijlaarsdam & Couzijn, 2000).
In film clips strong performing peers model how they perform a synthesis task. One model shows a writing approach that is based on a planning strategy and the other model shows a writing approach that is based on a revision strategy (Kieft, Rijlaarsdam, Galbraith, & Van den Bergh, 2007)
We tested the feasibility and effect of the intervention in a quasi-experimental switching replication design. The intervention took place in five intact classes of a school in Den Bosch, The Netherlands (n = 130). Before the intervention, we measured students' writing process preferences and writing attitudes using questionnaires, and collected writing performance measures at three occasions during the intervention.
During our presentation we will focus on the following questions:
(1) To what extent does the module we tested meet the needs of students and teachers?
(2) Which aspects of the module must be modified to improve its effectiveness and user-friendliness?
The intervention is currently being carried out and the data collection will be completed by the end of January 2019. We hope to present the preliminary results regarding the effectiveness of the intervention in our presentation as well.
Kieft, M., Rijlaarsdam, G., Galbraith, D., & van den Bergh, H. (2007). The effects of adapting a writing course to students' writing strategies. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 77(3), 565-578.
Rijlaarsdam, G., & Couzijn, M. (2000). Writing and learning to write: A double challenge. In New learning (pp. 157-189). Springer, Dordrecht.
Van Ockenburg, L., Van Weijen, D., & Rijlaarsdam, G. (accepted for publication). Learning to Write Synthesis Texts: A review of intervention studies. Journal of Writing Research, xix), ##-##.