A survey on the use model essays in learning essay writing of english major students at ctu

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CAN THO UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF EDUCATION ENGLISH DEPARTMENT A SURVEY ON THE USE MODEL ESSAYS IN LEARNING ESSAY WRITING OF ENGLISH MAJOR STUDENTS AT CTU B.A. Thesis Supervisor: Đỗ Xuân Hải, M.A Student: Nguyễn Thị Phương Thắm Code: 7062924 Class: English Language Teaching 01 Course: 32 Can Tho, April 2010 ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS I would like to express my deep gratitude to my supervisor, Mr. Do Xuan Hai for his support during the process of the research. Thanks to his helpful instructions, my thesis was finished on time. I wish to give my best regards to Ms. Ngo Thi Trang Thao for her valuable source of materials and advice during the data collection and analysis process. I am strongly grateful to Ms. Le Xuan Mai and Ms. Chung Thi Thanh Hang, who gave me valuable comments to improve my thesis. I am also indebted to Ms. Bui Minh Chau and Mr. Le Cong Tuan for their precious advice in choosing the research. I would like to extend my thanks to 70 students in English Language Teaching classes for their completion of the research questionnaires. I wish to give my sincere thanks to all of my friends for their help and encouragement. Lastly, a big thank you goes to my family for their care and support during the research process. Nguyen Thi Phuong Tham 1 ABSTRACT Writing academic essay is an essential course in the curriculum dictated by Can Tho University (CTU). To compose good essays, English major students at CTU employ many learning strategies including consulting model essays. Despite this fact, until now, there is no research on the effect of model essays in learning writing at CTU. For this reason, this descriptive research attempts to explore what aspects of language English major students at CTU notice when consulting model essays. A questionnaire including 30 factors that could be noticed in model essays was designed to collect data from 70 students majoring in English Language Teaching who experienced two essay writing courses. These factors are relevant to 4 main categories: lexicon, form, discourse and content. SPSS software was employed to process collected data. The results revealed that students notice all the factors mentioned in the questionnaire but the degree of noticing on each category is unequal. Students notice most the factors in terms of form while lexical factors receive less attention. 2 TÓM TẮT Viết luận là một môn học quan trọng trong khung chương trình đào tạo Tiếng Anh chuyên ngành của Trường Đại học Cần Thơ. Để có thể viết được những bài luận tốt sinh viên chuyên ngành Tiếng Anh tại Đại học Cần Thơ đã áp dụng nhiều phương pháp học khác nhau trong đó có việc tham khảo các bài luận mẫu. Mặc dù các bài luận mẫu được sinh viên sử dụng khá phổ biến, cho đến nay vẫn chưa có một nghiên cứu nào về hiệu quả của việc sử dụng các bài luận mẫu trong việc học viết luận ở Trường Đại học Cần Thơ. Vì lí do trên, bài nghiên cứu này được thưc hiện nhằm tìm hiểu xem những yếu tố ngôn ngữ nào được sinh viên chuyên ngành tại Đại học Cần Thơ chú ý khi họ tham khảo một bài luận mẫu. Một bản câu hỏi đã được thiết kế bao gồm 30 yếu tố ngôn ngữ có thể được chú ý trong bài luận mẫu nhằm thu thập số liệu từ 70 sinh viên chuyên ngành Sư phạm Tiếng Anh, những người đã trải qua hai khóa học viết luận tại trường Đại học Cần Thơ. Các yếu tố này liên quan tới 4 nhóm chính gồm từ vựng, ngữ pháp, ngôn từ và nội dung. Phần mềm phân tích số liệu SPSS đã được sử dụng trong quá trình xử lí số liệu. Kết quả nghiên cứu cho thấy tất cả các yếu tố ngôn ngữ được đề cập đến trong bản câu hỏi đều được chú ý tuy nhiên mức độ chú ý của sinh viên đối với từng yếu tố có sự khác biệt. Sinh viên chú ý nhiều hơn ở các yếu tố ngữ pháp trong khi các yếu tố về từ vựng nhận được ít sự chú ý nhất. 3 TABLE OF CONTENTS ACKNOWLEDGEMENT ABSTRACT TÓM TẮT TABLE OF CONTENTS LIST OF TABLES CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION CHAPTER 2: LITERATURE REVIEW 1. Essay writing Definitions of essay Structure of an essay Requirements of a successful essay 2. Model essay Definition of model essay Studies on using model essays in writing 3. Reading and Writing connection 4. Noticing in SLA CHAPTER 3: METHOD 1. Research design 2. Participants 3. Instruments 4. Research procedure CHAPTER 4: RESULTS 1. Result for research question 1 2. Result for research question 2 The degree of noticing on four main categories The degree of noticing on factors in each categories The degree of noticing on items in terms of lexical The degree of noticing on items in terms of form The degree of noticing on items in terms of discourse The degree of noticing on items in terms of content 4 1 2 3 4 6 7 10 10 10 10 11 12 12 12 14 15 17 17 17 18 18 20 20 21 21 22 22 23 24 25 CHAPTER 5: SUMMARY AND DISCUSSION 1. Summary 2. Discussion and implications 3. Limitations and suggestions for further research 4. Conclusion REFERENCES APPENDIX 5 27 27 27 28 29 30 33 LIST OF TABLES Table 1: Relevant participant characteristics Table 2: Reliability Statistics Table 3: The proportion of ticked times in the whole questionnaire. Table 4: Mean score and SD of 4 main categories Table 5: Mean and SD of items in lexical category Table 6: Mean and SD of items in form category Table 7: Mean and SD of items in discourse category Table 8: Mean and SD of items in content category 6 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 Chapter 1: INTRODUCTION Writing academic essays is a skill that English major students must acquire for their studies at university. At Can Tho University (CTU), for example, English major students are expected to finish five academic writing courses in the curriculum. Among these courses, Writing 3 and Writing 4 are two courses relating directly to essay writing. Specifically, in Writing 3, students are introduced to the structure of an academic essay in general and how to write argumentative essays and compare/contrast essays. Writing 4 is a step further, requiring students to write three types of essays: classification, argumentative and cause/effect. During these courses, students often consult various learning materials to help them write the required essays. Among these materials are model essays. Effects of model essays on learning writing have been a controversial issue. Qi and Lapkin (as cited in Abe.M., 2008) stated that model essays can be a useful reference tool for students to improve their essay writing in both meta-language factors (lexicon, syntax, semantics, discourse) and language-related factors (structure, organization). The argument was based on the findings about the effect of noticing in L2 writing in Robinson (1995) and Swain (2005) as well as the findings about the connection between reading and writing in Trosky and Wood (1982); Tierney, Soter, O'Flahavan, and McGinley (1989) and Doyle (Eds.). However, many researchers argue that the process of making meaning in L2 cannot be achieved by referring to written texts (Murray, 1980) and model essays prevent L2 learners from having creativity (Goby, 1997). Despite the objections, from a practical point, model essays are a useful pedagogical tool (Sublett, 1993). From my personal experience as well as my observation, many English-major students at Can Tho University have used model essays as a tool of reference during the process of learning essay writing. Despite this fact, I realize that until now, there are no research studies into English majors in Can Tho University and the use of model essays as reference tools to assist essay writing. Apparently, knowing what students pay attention to in model essays is the first step on the way to find out what students learn from model essays and what effects of model essays on learning essay writing. Understanding how model essays affect learners’ studying will help model essays to be used in the most effective way. For example, teachers could provide students with model essays that are suitable to each specific types of essay to enrich their vocabulary, review sentence structures or enhance their critical thinking. Those 7 reasons urged me to investigate on what aspects of language that students notice when consulting model essays. With this purpose, I concentrate on answering the following research questions:  What language factors do students notice when consulting model essays?  To which extent do students notice those aspects of language in the model essays? To find the answers for the two questions, I designed a questionnaire including language factors that appear in an essay. The degree of noticing is divided into 5 scales: always, usually, sometimes, rarely and never. By analyzing students’ answers in the questionnaire, the tendency of their noticing are revealed. Basing on the findings about noticing in using model essays in Hanaoka (2007) and Abe (2008), I hypothesize that students pay attention to both meta-language factors and language-related factors in model essays and they tend to notice lexical factors more often than the other factors. The results are expected to give an insight into what students pay attention to in the model essays and into the frequency of their noticing. The current study consists of five chapters: introduction, literature review, method, results and summary and conclusion. Chapter 1: Introduction This chapter presents an overview for this study that includes the reason for choosing this study, the research questions, the data collection method, the analysis method, and the summaries of each chapter. Chapter 2: Literature review In this chapter, previous studies in using model essay in learning writing, the role of noticing in SLA and the connection between reading and writing will be reviewed. Chapter 3: Method This chapter displays in general the periods in the process of the research including the research design, description of participants, instruments and research procedure. Chapter 4: Results This is the chapter in which the results and findings about students’ noticing when consulting model essay are reported. The frequencies of noticing on many aspects of language that students notice when consulting the model essay are also analyzed in this chapter. Chapter 5: Summary and discussion 8 This chapter summarizes the main findings as well as discusses the similarities and differences in the findings between this study and previous studies. Some limitations of the study are also mentioned. Besides limitations, there are unanswered questions relating to this study need to be considered. Therefore, some suggestions for further studies are made in this part. 9 Chapter 2: LITERATURE REVIEW This chapter gives an overview of essay writing including the definition, structure and requirement of an essay. It also focuses on presenting previous studies relevant to using model essays in writing. The relationship between reading and writing as well as the noticing in second language acquisition (SLA) are also mentioned in this chapter. 1. Essay writing 1.1. Definitions of essay An essay is “a group of paragraphs written about a single topic and a central main idea. It must have at least three paragraphs, but a five-paragraph essay is a common assignment for academic writing.”(Zemach & Rumisek, 1990, p.4). Huxley (1989) notes that "Like the novel, the essay is a literary device for saying almost everything about almost anything, usually on a certain topic. By tradition, almost by definition, the essay is a short piece, and it is therefore impossible to give all things full play within the limits of a single essay" (p.32). The term essay is used broadly for many different kinds of papers which discusses, explains, analyzes, interprets or evaluates a topic in an organized and coherent manner (Huxley, 1989). Since this study tends to do research on academic essay at university, the term “essay” in this study refers to which is defined by Zemach & Rumisek (1990). 1.2. Structure of an essay In general, an essay includes three parts: the introduction, the body paragraphs and the conclusion. The introduction is the opening of the essay. It raises the topic and narrows down to the specifics of the problem that will be discussed in the paper. The introduction often provides background information about the broad topic, identifies the relevant problems or issues, and takes the reader step by step to an understanding of why the specific focus of this paper is relevant to that subject. To create interest in the readers so that they will want to read on, the introduction often begins with a hook- an interesting statement that can engage readers' attention. The introduction also includes a thesis, which contains the statement of the essay’s topic and the writer’s assertion about that topic. The supporting details of the essay are included in the body paragraphs. An essay may have only one body paragraph (three-paragraph essay) or three body paragraphs (five-paragraph essay). However, in terms of college writing, five- 10 paragraph essay is encouraged by professors. They provide information and arguments that follow logically from the issue expressed in the introduction and support it consistently throughout the paper. Each paragraph has a topic sentence that clearly states the content of the paragraph. The concluding sentence may be a restatement of the idea mentioned in the paragraph or a suggestion for the content of the next paragraph. The conclusion restates the thesis of the introduction in different words. The conclusion can summarize main ideas mentioned in the body paragraphs. An essay can have a close conclusion or an open conclusion. The close conclusion finishes all the issues mentioned in the essay while the open conclusion tends to lead the readers to another issue which will be presented in another essay. The issue must logically follow the information provided to the reader in the paper. 1.3. Requirements of a successful essay Each type of essay has its own characteristics; therefore, it has different requirements. However, generally, there are some standards for a successful essay. Rimes (1994) exposed what writers have to deal with as they produce a piece of writing in a diagram. Diagram on what writers have to deal as they produce writing CONTENT Relevance Clarity Originality Logic ……… SYNTAX Sentence structure Sentence boundaries Stylistic choices ……….. GRAMMAR Rules of verbs Agreement Article Pronouns ………. Clear, fluent, effective communication of ideas MECHANICS Handwriting Spelling Punctuation ………. AUDIENCE The readers PURPOSE The reason for writing WORD CHOICE Vocabulary Idiom Tone ORGANIZATION Paragraphs Topic & support Cohesion & unity 11 THE WRITER’S PROCESS Getting ideas Getting started Writing drafts Revising According to Rimes (1994), three basic requirements of an essay are clarity, fluency and effective communication of ideas. In order to come up these requirements, writers have to deal with eight main factors including content, syntax, grammar, mechanic, organization, word choice, purpose, audience and the writing process. Strauch(1996) also proposes three essential standards toward a successful piece of writing. The first standard required is a clear and convincing content. The essay needs a main idea, convincing supporting details and an appropriate tone. Another standard is a clear organization. An essay has to open with the introduction which contains the main idea, then paragraphs with supporting ideas and close with the conclusion. The last standard mentioned is standard grammar. This is the goal for excellent writer. Developing writers, however, need to put the emphasis on progress, not perfection. Hedge (1988) introduces three standards to base on when grading an essay. Specifically, grading criteria consists of: organization of content (clarity, coherence, paragraph development), range (grammatical structures, vocabulary), complexity of sentence structure, accuracy of grammar (tenses, agreement,...), accuracy of spelling and punctuation and fluency (feel for the language, appropriateness, use of idioms,...). 2. Model essays 2.1. Definition of model essays Very often, model essays and sample essays are considered to be the same by English learners. In the research on using model essay as a feedback tool in IELTS test, Abe (2008) clearly distinguishes between model essay and sample essay. According to him, a model essay is a model text written by a native or a writer of native- like proficiency while a sample essay means a text composed by a non-native writer. The term “model essay” in this study refers to the notion which is defined by Abe. 2.2. Studies on using model essay in writing Qi and Lapkin (2001) suggested that “positive modeling of native-like writing may be more helpful to the learner than error correction” (p.89). Thus, model essays, can be found in almost academic writing textbooks as a guidance that enables learners to pay attention to many aspects of the target language. Knudson (1991) conducted a study on using model essay to improve writing skill. Teachers presented students with two excellent persuasive essays. One convinced the readers that UFOs exist, the other claims that there was no such thing as a UFO. Students were encouraged to analyze these models and discuss with the teacher. Students were asked to emulate the critical elements, patterns, and forms 12 embodied in the models in their own writing. The following day, students received the essay persuade that there was no existence of the UFO. Then they were required to write an argumentative essay on a new topic. The effect of this writing instruction was positive, though small (effect size=0.25). Not all techniques are effective with all students, sometimes it requires a sufficient investment of time to reveal its potential (Graham & Harris, 2005). If the students have enough content knowledge, model essay is really a useful tool (Smagorinsky, 1992). The question about what aspects of language L2 writers notice was posed by Swain and Lapkin (1995). Their empirical study investigated the role of output in L2 writing context, examining whether the learners’ output could allow them to become aware of language problems they encounter in composing. The participants, Frenchimmersion students in Canada, were asked to speak (think aloud) whatever was on their mind in L2 composition. During analysis of think-aloud protocols, the units called, language-related episodes (LREs) were identified and categorized into several groups according to the type of language problems. The results revealed that the participants noticed language problems, which promoted them to modify their output. Based on the results, they concluded that “noticing may occur because of either internal or external feedback which may prompt, for example, the generation of alternatives and assessment of them through simple inspection through to complex thinking” (p.386). In exploring the role of noticing in a three-stage second language writing task, Qi and Lapkin (2001) conducted a research with two Mandarin background adult English-as-a-second language (ESL) learners. By conducting a pretest and a posttest, Qi and Lapkin tried to access whether or not the participant successfully improved their writing skill by using model essays. The finding indicated that using model essays relates directly to L2 writing improvement thanks to the promotion of noticing. Based on Qi and Lapkin’s (2001) study, Hanaoka (2007) found out the role of model texts in promoting noticing in a four-stage study consisting of output, comparison, and two revision stages. 37 Japanese participants were asked to write on whatever they noticed as they compared their original text with the models. Data was coded into four categories: lexical, grammar, content and other. The result of this study reveals that the participants noticed the lexical aspects far more frequently than the other three categories. In addition, the participants noticed their respective linguistic problems and autonomously found solutions in the models. Partly replicating the methodology in Qi and Lapkin’s (2001) research, Abe (2008) conducted a study in exploring the role of model essay as feedback tool in IELTS writing test. The research was conducted with two groups of English learners: university students and EAP students. The participants were required to do two writing tasks: writing an argumentative essay and a descriptive report. Then they 13 compared their own essays with the model essays. The participants’ think-aloud protocols were recorded. Data was categorized into: lexical, form, content, discourse and other. By analyzing participants’ verbal comments, Abe (2008) found that there was a substantial difference in the quality and quantity of learners’ noticing according to their proficiency and the type of tasks undertaken. In conclusion, these studies exposed that model essays relate to the improvement of writing skill through the noticing on aspects of language appearing in the model essays. Swain and Lapkin (1995) explored that English learners noticed language problems through model essays, which helped them to modify their output. The role of noticing in the improvement of writing skill was stated in Qi and Lapkin (2001). The finding that lexical factors are noticed more often than other factors of the model essays was explored by Hanaoka (2007). Following Hanaoka’s (2007) research, Abe’s (2008) study on using model essays as feedback tool in IELTS writing test revealed that the noticing among language factors were less unequal than in Hanaoka (2007). Abe (2008) also found that there was a difference in the quality and quantity of learners’ noticing depending on their proficiency and the type of tasks undertaken. 3. Reading and Writing connection Reading has long been considered as an effective and supportive skill for writing. “The more our students read, the more they become familiar with the vocabulary, idiom, sentence patterns, organizational flow, and cultural assumptions of native speakers of the language” (Raimes,1994,p.34). Some L2 writing researchers argue that L2 learners should be encouraged to use a model essay for improving their writing skills in terms of the relationship between reading and writing. For many years, reading and writing researchers (Trosky & Wood, 1982; Tierney, Soter, O'Flahavan, & McGinley, 1989; McGinley, 1992) have acknowledged the importance of the connection between the reading and writing processes. Reading and writing are usually described as parallel processes (Trosky & Wood, 1982; Tierney & Pearson, 1983) where the activities of readers are congruent to or mirror images of the activities of writers. Ferris and Hedgcock (1998) argue that L2 writers have to be exposed to various types of reading material since it is difficult to acquire L2 writing skills by only writing. Eschholz (1980) points out that what L2 learners write depend on what they read and they can improve their L2 writing skills by reading. He also argues that given the opportunities to learn rhetorical modes, L2 learners can eventually apply their knowledge about those modes to their writing. Based on Cumming’s (1995) empirical study, which demonstrates the significance of rhetorical aspects of texts in model essays, Smagorinsky (1992) discusses that model essays are the most helpful tool if L2 writers have a sufficient amount of content knowledge. Thus, some 14 researchers emphasize the necessity of a model text illustrated in an academic writing textbook, which enables L2 writers to pay attention to the various aspects of target language (Hyland, 2003). However, there are also several objections to using model essays in an L2 writing context. Murray (1980) points out that the process of making meaning in L2 cannot be achieved by referring to written texts. In addition, Goby (1997) asserted that model essays prevent L2 learners from having creativity, which she believes is one of the important aspects of L2 writing skills. Writing instruction with model essays has also been criticized by other researchers (Collins & Gentner, 1980; Judy, 1980) for laying emphasis not on content but on form. They insist that language form and the content of composition are inseparable. Even among researchers who claim that model essays can be beneficial pedagogical tools, there has been agreement that reading model essays is important but not totally sufficient (Ferris & Hedgcock, 1998; Hyland, 2003). However, there has been little empirical research to explore the role of model essays in L2 writing pedagogy. 4. Noticing in SLA Kees de Bot, , Wander Lowie and Marjolijin Verspoor (2005) in their study on second language acquisition (SLA) found that in producing the L2, a learner will on occasion become aware of a linguistic problem (brought to his/her attention either by external feedback- e.g. clarification requests- or internal feedback). That leads to the conclusion that “Noticing is a problem “pushes” the learner to modify his or her output”.(Kees de Bot, Lowie & Verspoor,2005, p.182) In the recent SLA research, the role of attention and awareness which have been considered as key issues in L2 learning (e.g., Ellis, 1993; Robinson, 1995; Schmidt, 1990, 1995, 2001; Schmidt & Frota, 1986; Swain, 1985, 1995; Swain & Lapkin, 1995) are much emphasized. In his research, Schmidt (1990) claims that noticing plays an essential role in SLA and that L2 learners must become “aware” of certain aspects of language, mainly the meaning. Based on the assumption that awareness is significant for language learning, Schmidt emphasizes that awareness at the low level (noticing) is necessary and sufficient for SLA. Schmidt (1990) also states that learners need to notice all aspects of language equally, such as lexicon, grammatical form, sound, and pragmatic features. Some other researchers also claim that awareness is necessary for language learning. For instance, Robinson (1995) defines noticing as “detection plus rehearsal in short-term memory, prior to encoding in long-term memory” (p.296). Schmidt (2001) extends the discussions about the role of noticing. Based on the assumption that noticing and understanding are different in the level of awareness and on the psychological view that attention is of limited capacity, he states that “limited 15 attention resources are directed first at those elements that carry message meaning, primarily lexicon, and only later, when the cost comes down, towards communicatively redundant formal features of language” (p.13). Finally, Schmidt emphasizes that what aspects of language an L2 learner notices in the input depends on the individual differences. Even though there is general agreement on the importance of awareness and noticing, some disagreements also exist in the other SLA studies. Tomlin and Villa (1994) disagree with Schmidt’s conclusion about the important role of noticing in SLA and point out the necessity of finer discussion about the concept of attention. Dividing the function of attention into alertness, orientation, and detection, they claim that detection, “the cognitive registration of sensory stimuli” (p. 192), which does not require conscious awareness, is vital for language learning. Robinson (1995) viewed noticing as “what is both detected and then further activated following the allocation of attentional resources” (p. 297), although he agrees with Schmidt in that awareness is necessary for SLA. Although there are a number of views on noticing, little is known about what aspects of language are noticed in L2 essay writing. Supported by the studies of Hanaoka (2007) and Abe (2008), the current study also tend to explore what aspects of language students notice during the process of learning essay writing. 16 Chapter 3: METHOD This chapter gives information on research design and the research process. Firstly, the research design is introduced. Following the research design, the participants and instruments’ characteristics are described. The research procedure including two stages of data collection process and data analysis process are presented after the instruments’ description. A research schedule is also included in this chapter. 1. Research design: This study is designed as a descriptive one. It tends to find out which language factors in model essays are noticed by students. The degrees of noticing on the factors are displayed through the statistic which is collected from a large group of students who experienced two essay writing courses at CTU. The collected data were analyzed with the use of SPSS software. 2. Participants: The participants in this study were 70 students (9 males and 61 females) majoring in English Language Teaching. Because of the fact that few male students at CTU choose English as their major, the majority of participants in this study are females. As there is a slightly different in the learning program of Writing 4 between two major English Language Teaching and Bachelor of Language, I focus on finding participants in one major English Language Teaching. To assure that the participants have sufficient knowledge in essay writing to finish the questionnaires, I choose students who have experienced at least two courses in essay writing (Writing 3 and Writing 4) dictated by the curriculum of English Language Teaching major at CTU. Among them, there are 40 second-year students (7 males and 33 females) who are currently taking Writing 4 class in this semester and 30 third-year students (2 males and 28 females) who have just finished their essay writing classes last semester. Table 1 will summarize characteristics of participants in my study. 17 Table 1 : Relevant participant characteristics Year Second year Third year 7 2 33 28 19.86 19 - 21 Characteristics Gender Age Male Female Mean Range 9 61 % 12.86 87.14 3. Instruments: Borrowing aspects of language in a piece of essay writing mentioned in Qi and Lapkin (2001), Hanaoka (2007) and Abe (2008), I designed a questionnaire to answer two questions:” What language factors do you notice when reading a model essay?” and “To which extent do you notice those factors?”. The questionnaire tends to reveal the aspects of language that are noticed by students and the degrees of noticing on each factor. To make sure that participants understand clearly what a model essay is, I provided the definition of model essay by Abe (2008) in the questionnaire. I listed 30 factors that students can notice in a model essay within 5 degrees of frequency: always, usually, sometimes, rarely and never. In order to help participants to get the point easily, I categorized these factors into 6 groups: vocabulary, form, structure and organization, coherence, unity and content. In addition, I provided examples for some cases such as idiomatic expression, topical words, and transition words and so on. Participants will tick to the cells which indicate the factors they notice and the degree of frequency of the factors. If students notice in other aspects of language, they can fill it out in the questionnaire. 4. Research procedure: After having consulted Qi and Lapkin (2001), Hanaoka’s (2007) and Abe’s (2008) studies on aspects of language in a piece of essay writing, I designed a questionnaire in which 30 language factors are included within 5 degrees of frequency: always, usually, sometimes, rarely and never. The questionnaire and interview questions were sent to two experienced lecturers at CTU, one is my supervisor Mr. Do Xuan Hai , and the other is Ms. Ngo Thi Trang Thao, leader of the discipline of Research Methodology of the English Department. After being improved according to their comments and advice, 11 sheets of questionnaire were delivered to 11 third-year participants to pilot. SPSS software was employed to check the reliability of the questionnaires. The Cronbach’s Alpha is 0.927 that 18 ensures the reliability of this questionnaire. The next 70 sheets of questionnaire which were delivered to participants got Cronbach’s Alpha 0.885. Therefore, the questionnaire is considered to be reliable. The reliability statistics are displayed in Table 2 below. Table 2: Reliability Statistics Cronbach's Alpha Pilot Main 0.927 0.885 N N of Items 15 30 70 30 For data collection process, thanks to the helpful participation, 70 sheets of questionnaire were delivered and collected in one week. 40 questionnaires were delivered to 40 students at Writing 4 class. The left 30 questionnaires are delivered to small groups of students. For data analysis process, collected questionnaires were numbered. The data from questionnaires were transformed into computer and processed by SPSS software. Through digits, I initially analyzed the degree of noticing in general and then the degree of noticing on 4 main categories: lexicon, form, discourse and content. Items 1 to 5 belong to lexical. Items 6 to 13 belong to form. Discourse contains items 14 to 24. Content comprises items 25 to 30 (Appendix). The degree of noticing in each item was also analyzed. The unequal range of noticing was clarified by charts and tables. After the collected data were analyzed, the findings are reported and subject to discussions. 19
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