Linguistic dimensions of impromptu test essays compared with successful student disciplinary writing: Effects of language background, topic, and L2 proficiency

Sara Cushing Weigle, Eric Friginal

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

One important validity question with regard to writing assessment is the degree to which performance on a timed writing test can predict performance on future academic writing. Recent developments in corpus linguistics have allowed scholars to describe in detail the linguistic features of a variety of academic texts, including genres of disciplinary writing and writing on essay tests, which can aid in answering this question. The purpose of this paper is to compare the linguistic features of test essays written by native and non-native speakers with a comparison corpus of successful student writing across a range of disciplines using Biber's (1988) multidimensional analysis framework. Essays written on two different test prompts were analyzed along dimensions of successful student writing revealed by an analysis of the Michigan Corpus of Upper-level Student Writing (MICUSP) conducted by Hardy and Römer (2013). Results demonstrated that test essays differed in significant ways from disciplinary writing, particularly in the natural and health sciences. Furthermore, language background (native vs. non-native), prompt, and language proficiency (i.e., essay scores) were systematically related to scores on all four dimensions. Implications for pedagogy and language assessment are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-39
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of English for Academic Purposes
Volume18
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2015

Keywords

  • Multi-dimensional analysis
  • Validation
  • Writing assessment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Education
  • Linguistics and Language

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Linguistic dimensions of impromptu test essays compared with successful student disciplinary writing: Effects of language background, topic, and L2 proficiency'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this