How do Students Deal with Sources in Writing-from-Sources-Tasks? An Insight into Students’ Texts and Task-Solving-Processes

Submitted by: Anica Betz
Abstract: Scientific and professional writing requires the ability to use information from different sources (e.g. texts, diagrams, pictures) for text production. Despite a long international research tradition (e.g. Spivey 1984), only lately in educational policy in Germany there is a growing awareness for the so-called writing-from-sources and since 2012 this new type of writing-task is established in the educational standards for the A-level exams.
Previous research concerning writing-from-sources focuses on the specific competences involved in reception, reproduction, and production (e.g. Jakobs 2003), as well as on relevant cognitive processes connected to the conjunction between reading and writing (e.g. Segev-Miller 2007, Britt & Rouet 2012). However, research regarding the underlying reading and writing processes and the specific demands while solving material-based-writing-tasks is still needed. Therefore, in our study we investigate both the students’ reading and writing activities, and the resulting texts. The purpose is to analyse how students process reading and writing while working on writing-from-sources-tasks, but also to investigate the resulting texts regarding different research questions, e.g. how students synthesise different sources into their own texts and if a conjunction between processes and resulting texts can be described.
In our pilot study we identified action-defined time slices during the overall writing process and related them to specific features in students’ texts. We observed students (11th grade, N = 5) working on an argumentative material-based-writing-task for the A-level exam (duration: 210 minutes). Recorded videos of the reading-writing-processes were rated using four main categories: reception, processing of the sources, writing, and non-reading-and-writing. We observed a high variance in individual processes in all categories while solving the task. To get access to the conjunction between processes and resulting texts we further analysed the students’ resulting texts on the basis of a coding manual. Coding was aimed at describing the integration of the given sources in students’ own texts under the perspective of text genre (e.g. selection, dominance, and linguistic pattern used to refer to sources). Especially with regard to source integration in texts we observed genre related differences. Our results will be discussed under the perspective of writing-from-sources-arrangements in learning environments.

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• Segev-Miller, R. (2007). Cognitive Processes in Discourse Synthesis: The Case of Intertextual Processing Strategies. In M. Torrance, L. van Waes & D. Galbraith (Eds.), Writing and Cognition: Research and Applications (pp. 231-250). Amsterdam: Elsevier.
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