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Research Paper on Writing Process

Posted by admin as Sample papers

Sample Research Paper on Writing Process

The aim of this research paper is to provide comprehensive assessment of a writing tool developed by a teacher and made available though the Internet, namely the Writing Timeline. This topic is the most appealing because it helps to train Internet research skills and critical thinking along with accumulating factual knowledge about the process of writing. This research paper will have the following structure: first of all, it will provide a short summary of the Writing Timeline as a classroom tool; secondly, it will focus on the advantages and disadvantages of using this tool; and finally, it will refer to extant research on the topic and investigate whether the Writing Timeline is in line with this research.

The Writing Timeline
As explained by Kim, the teacher who designed the Writing Timeline, the rationale behind the creation of this tool was the need to divide long writing assignments into several steps. Copies of the timeline are distributed among students, and they are informed about due dates for each step and how many daily points each step is worth. Kim’s advice is to give all of the points or none of the points for the completion of each step; in exceptional cases, partial points for partial work can be granted. As concerns the final assessment, the completed writing assignment is graded as a 100 point test: half of the points are allotted for ideas and content, and the other 50 points are based on the correct format and required length.

The Writing Timeline is a table consisting of four columns and nine rows. The columns are Check-off (for the teacher to tick off the box for each completed step), Due date, Description, and Points. In turn, each row corresponds to a particular step of the writing process. These steps are as follows: the first brainstorming session, choice of a topic, the second brainstorming session, graphic organizer, the first draft, peer revision conference, the second draft, peer revision and editing conference, and the final draft. Graphic organizer refers to a visual representation of different stages of the writing process, such as the pre-writing stage (getting thoughts and facts together), writing a rough draft (preparing the first draft and the second draft, if necessary), revising (looking for ways to improve the paper), editing (checking for spelling and grammar errors), and publishing the completed paper.

Strength and Weaknesses
This section focuses on the advantages and disadvantages of the utilization of the Writing Timeline. First of all, it is necessary to acknowledge that this tool has certain strengths. As Kim herself notes, students are provided with a plan for completing long writing assignments, and the teacher has an opportunity to talk with them almost every day about their progress or lack of progress. Such a continuous check on the writing process makes it possible to carry out early intervention in case a problem arises and gives students a sense of direction. Furthermore, students can keep track of their own progress, which has an added value of training students’ abilities to work independently from the teacher.

However, there are certain limitations to this approach. The success of the utilization of the Writing Timeline to a great extent depends on the skills and abilities the teacher possesses. If the teacher has all the necessary qualifications and displays required qualities, the Writing Timeline can become a powerful learning tool; alternatively, it will be an impediment to the learning process.

More specifically, the use of the Writing Timeline requires certain flexibility from the teacher’s side, for example, with regard to due dates for each step of the writing process. In the Kim’s model, due dates are subject to change depending on the overall progress of the class. In case most of the students need more time even though they have been working, a deadline for a certain step can be extended. Furthermore, if a student misses a class, special arrangement should be made for him of her in order to allow the student to follow the further steps of the Writing Timeline together with the rest of the class.

Another key skill requires from the teacher in order to effectively implement the Writing Timeline is the ability to offer support and facilitation. For instance, if a student fails to complete a certain step in time, the student receives a zero; however, the teacher conferences with the student about it. Adequate support and facilitation can help the student to catch up with the rest of the class and confront his or her problems with the writing process. The student might feel excessive psychological pressure from having to follow a strict timeline, being wary of receiving a zero if a certain step is not finished by the due time. Therefore, in the absence of support and facilitation from the teacher’s side, students would be enormously stressed and uncomfortable with this planning tool. On the contrary, counseling by the teacher can equip students with the skills necessary to organize their work efficiently and meet the deadlines.

Looking at the disadvantages of the Writing Timeline, the fact that the design of the writing process is pre-arranged by the teacher can prevent students from completing their assignment in a timely manner. Some students might feel that the timeline does not fit their particular needs. For instance, some students tend to spend more time on the choice of the topic, while for others revising and editing is the most time-consuming part. Therefore, a more appropriate strategy would be to offer students to design their personal timelines themselves, with the help of the teacher who should provide them with example timelines and give advice on a continuous basis. In this way, the timeline can be adjusted to meet individual students’ needs; furthermore, students are likely to accept greater responsibility for the progress of their assignments due to the fact that they designed the timeline individually.

If students design the timeline themselves, no deadline flexibility should be allowed. Students have to be able to complete each step of the writing process by the designated due date if they set deadlines themselves. Under the current model, deadlines can be changed and extended; this communicates a wrong message to the students concerning the non-obligatory nature of deadlines. This might slow down the progress of the writing process.

Another questionable aspect of the Writing Timeline is the presence of two peer review conferences. The necessity of two events of such nature can be contested. Students might have problems with sharing their work with fellow students for the reasons of diffidence, competitiveness, or distrust. Furthermore, students are reluctant to accept the authority of their fellow students. While one peer reviewing conference is an objective necessity (Brooklyn College, 2006), two conferences can be seen by the students as a waste of time or excessive psychological burden. Most models of the writing process encompass only one peer review activity (e.g. Gardner and Johnson, 1997; in North Central Regional Educational Laboratory, 2008; Robinson, 2008); this appears to be more logical than having two peer review conferences.

Research on the Writing Process
There are different approaches to the design of the writing process, and certain approaches appear to be of greater utility than the Writing Timeline. For example, Gardner and Johnson (1997; in North Central Regional Educational Laboratory, 2008) suggest that the writing process should consist of the following stages: prewriting (brainstorming; reading literature; creating life maps, webs, and story charts; developing word banks; deciding on form, audience, voice, and purpose); rough draft (getting the ideas on paper without concern for conventions); rereading (proofing rough drafts by reading aloud and reading for sensibility); peer revision (sharing and making suggestions for improvement; asking questions about parts of the story the peer does not understand; improving the word choice; talking about the ways to perfect the assignment); revising (improving what the narrative says and how it says it; writing additions, imagery, and details; eliminating unnecessary content; integrating peer suggestions for improvement; and clarifying ambiguous points); editing (working together on editing for mechanics and spelling); preparing the final draft (producing the final copy to discuss with the teacher); and publishing.

This model offers more clarity with regard to what each step of the writing process entails. Under this model, the four initial stages of the Kim’s Writing Timeline (i.e. the first brainstorming session, choice of a topic, the second brainstorming session, and graphic organizer) are united under the category titled ‘pre-writing activities.’ Indeed, it makes little sense to separate such intrinsically linked activities as brainstorming, choice of a topic, and planning of the writing process. Another advantage of Gardner and Johnson’s model is the presence of the rereading stage, which allows students to take a critical look at their own work before sharing it with a peer revisor. More importantly, the Kim’s Writing Timeline lacks a revising component after the first peer reviewing conference.

The Kim’s Writing Timeline can also be criticized for its inflexibility. As the website of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1999) informs, writing should be seen as a recursive process, i.e. sometimes it is necessary to return to the prewriting step to develop and expand one’s ideas. The Kim’s Writing Timeline perceives writing as a linear process and makes it impossible to return to the previous stage at any point in time. The website of the University of Texas at Austin (2008) reminds of the following:

“In practice, writing rarely progresses linearly, even for experienced writers. Writers more often move ahead, then circle back to earlier stages to conduct more research, rethink ideas and organization, and so on” (para. 6).

In a blog post by Arvind (2006), it is noted that it might be desirable to engage in certain stages of the writing process simultaneously, and this is also not possible under the Kim’s Writing Timeline.

Therefore, taking into account all the advantages and disadvantages of the tool in question, it is better to utilize other techniques for planning the writing process in classroom settings.

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