Writing strategies, English proficiency and rhetorical patterns influences on the written outputs of Indonesian students with English as foreign language. (2022)
Type of ContentTheses / Dissertations
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
The quality of international students’ writing in English is influenced by several factors, such as writing strategies, level of English proficiency, and the rhetorical patterns used. However, how these variables might work together to improve writing quality has not been explored; and few studies have considered the impact of these variables on students in Indonesia, where English is taught as a foreign language.
The present research reported on the writing strategies used by English Education undergraduates in Indonesia. The study investigated the potential influence of writing strategy use, English proficiency level, and choice of rhetorical patterns on participants’ writing outputs. Writing outputs investigated comprised essays and letters. These were written in English and Indonesian, the national language of Indonesia. This study was based on Hayes’ (2012) model of the adult writing process and Kaplan’s hypothesis (1966) about cultural differences in thought patterns that are likely to influence writing.
This research involved two smaller-scale pilot studies and one main study. The first pilot study was conducted to develop measures. Twenty-eight university students majoring in English Education at one of the universities in Indonesia participated in the study. Vocabulary and reading comprehension tests were used to assess English proficiency, showing good levels of internal consistency. Three writing measures (an essay in English, an essay in Indonesian, and a letter in English) were also used, and good to excellent levels of inter-rater reliability were identified. A writing strategies questionnaire indicated that participants were moderate users of most writing strategies, consistent with predictions based on the research outlined in the thesis.
Pilot study two involved 19 university students from four cities across four provinces of Indonesia; the aim was to investigate if there were specific differences in the writing patterns used by individuals from different parts of Indonesia. Measures of writings in the form of essays and letters, each written in English and Indonesian, were administered to the participants. The findings suggested that patterns were not related to the background province of the participants.
In the main study, 135 university students majoring in English Education from two universities completed the same measures as those trialled in the pilot studies. The writing strategies questionnaire, vocabulary and reading comprehension tests, writing performance measures, and assessments of rhetorical patterns were all used in the study. Findings revealed that the writing strategies used were similar to those used in study one (i.e., metacognitive, cognitive, and compensation strategies with an addition of one social strategy). Participants were found to use similar strategies in composing their essays and letters in English and Indonesian. In addition, participants with different English proficiency levels, based on vocabulary measure scores, reported using similar strategies. Participants’ vocabulary size correlated with assessments of essay and letter performance in English only, whereas reading comprehension showed a weak relationship with Indonesian essay writing scores. Participants generally produced better writing scores in Indonesian and seemed to face difficulties in English grammar and vocabulary. Regarding the rhetorical pattern used in organizing their writing works, participants were indicated to prefer the deductive pattern in writing essays, but the inductive pattern when writing letters.
The key finding was that the participants with different English proficiency used the strategies at a similar frequency. The writing questionnaire may have missed out on other strategies used by the participants such as strategies related to technology use. They may also use strategies influenced by culture or writing instructions in the classrooms. Therefore, it is questionable whether the writing strategies provided in the writing strategies questionnaire are useful to be used by EFL undergraduates to improve their writing quality. Regarding the different rhetorical patterns employed by the participants when writing essays, it was indicated that essays pattern tends to weaken Kaplan’s hypothesis. On the other hand, the pattern of the letter indicates that the students use circular, respectful, indirect, non-assertive, but authoritative patterns as indicated by Kaplan’s hypothesis on Asian students writing patterns. The findings from this study should be beneficial for writing instructors and students regarding the most influential strategies. This study also informs the writing instructors that the native culture and writing instructions received in the classroom might influence the patterns used by the students. It is expected that this study will benefit the writing instructors and students in Indonesia and other countries where English is taught as a second or foreign language.
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