Source-based argumentation as a form of sustainable academic skill: An exploratory study comparing secondary school students’ L1 and L2 writing

Choo Mui Cheong, Xinhua Zhu, Wandong Xu

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review


Argumentative writing is the most commonly used genre in writing classroom practices and assessments. To draft an argumentative essay in authentic settings, writers are usually required to evaluate and use content knowledge from outside sources. Although source-based argumentation is a sustainable skill that is crucial for students’ academic career, this area remains under-researched. Hence, this paper presents a within-subject study that investigated Hong Kong secondary school students’ argumentation construction in L1 and L2 source-based writing from both product-oriented and process-oriented perspectives. Multiple sources of data were collected, including L1 and L2 source-based argumentative texts, eye-tracking metrics and recorded videos, and stimulated recall interviews. Findings of our study show that the L1 source-based argumentative compositions of the Hong Kong secondary student writers differed greatly from their L2 ones in terms of the argument structure, source use, and reasoning quality. Analyses on four cases further revealed a multitude of factors such as self-regulation and cultural orientations coming into play in similar and different argumentation performance between L1 and L2 source-based writing tasks. This study contributes new knowledge to better understand the argumentation in L1 and L2 source-based writing, yielding meaningful implications on pedagogy and assessment in this field.

Original languageEnglish
Article number12869
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number22
Publication statusPublished - 2 Nov 2021


  • Argumentation
  • Chinese as L1
  • English as L2
  • Eye-tracking
  • Source-based writing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law

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