Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Secondary Education

Major Professor

Wei Zhu, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Jeffra Flaitz, Ph.D.


English as a second language, Writing processes, Pre-writing, Computer-mediated communication, Intertextuality


This study addresses a gap in the second language writing research through examining processes occurring during the pre-writing and drafting stages of adult second language learners' writing when computer-mediated communication (CMC) pre-writing activities are involved. The theoretical framework adopted in the study is Writing-as-process approach with a focus being the pre-writing and drafting stages of the writing process. The design of the study is a parallel component mixed method design with an ongoing dominant qualitative stage and a nested less-dominant quantitative stage. In the qualitative stage of the project, two case studies were conducted: a group case study of the 60 intermediate level ESL learners who participated in the study and a more focused instrumental case study of eight learners selected based on their post-treatment writing gains.

The research focus was on the social environment, including the learning task, peer interaction, mode of communication, and the intertextual connections between pre-writing discussions of the participants and their first drafts. The qualitative stage findings suggested that the CMC mode of communication (synchronous vs. asynchronous) affected differently the participants' patterns of interaction as well as the intertextual connections of their first drafts with the pre-writing discussions.

In the quantitative stage, the researcher compared the first-draft writings of students who participated in asynchronous and synchronous pre-writing discussions (treatment) through the analysis of eight textual features of students' first drafts, namely: (1) syntactic complexity, (2) the amount of information present in a single focus, (3) the quantity of overall information present, (4) lexical information per clause, (5) vocabulary complexity, (6) rhetorical soundness, (7) presentation and development of main ideas, and (8) overall language use. The first five textual features, presented with continuous scores, were analyzed using five ANCOVA tests with significance level alpha being set at .05; the concomitant variables were the corresponding pre-treatment scores for each of the measures. Textual features 6-8, presented with ordinal scores, were analyzed through two-tailed Mann-Whitney U tests.

While no differences were found for any of the eight proposed features when the writings of the participants in the asynchronous CMC and the synchronous CMC groups were compared, the consideration of the qualitative findings suggested that further analysis of an additional textual aspect of students' first drafts, more specifically - distinct lexical items, could be informative. The quantitative analysis of distinct lexical items of students' writings completed after synchronous and asynchronous pre-writing discussions was performed through the application of a two-tailed t-test.

The results of this analysis led to the conclusion that at significance level alpha = .05, the CMC mode in which the pre-writing discussion was completed influenced differently students' first drafts on a lexical level: the intertextual connections between the pre-writing interactions and the first drafts of the participants from the asynchronous group at a lexical level were significantly stronger than those of their counterparts who participated in synchronous pre-writing discussions.