Students’ and teachers’ perceptions of genre goals: self-regulation and performance of students writing a BA essay in literature
Conference contribution, 2015
This paper reports on the preliminary results of a study that takes the moves from previous research on metacognitive awareness and self-regulation in novice academic writers, posing that effective self-regulation is achieved when writers are able to metacognitively connect perceptions of the task to communicative and rhetorical requirements, and thereby adapt their strategic choices to the specific demands of the task. Meta-analysis research on the development of writing capacities has demonstrated that students who learn to self-regulate towards concrete, achievable writing goals obtain higher levels of writing performance, i.e. text quality (Rogers & Graham, 2008; Graham, McKeown, Kiuhara & Harris, 2012; Graham & Perin, 2007). This research has stressed the need of an approach to academic writing instruction that takes into account the authentic needs and genres that writers are supposed to produce, anchored in specific content and practices (Johnson, 2002; Johns, 2008; Perin, 2011, 2013), thereby echoing theories of genre knowledge/genre pedagogy advocated in L2 academic writing scholarship (e.g. Hyland, 2007; Tardy, 2009). More research is however needed about the strategic and goal-oriented behavior of L2 academic writers, in different disciplines and at different levels. This case study focuses on L2 writers of a Bachelor Essay in English literature, and investigates how they orient themselves towards the genre expectations posed by their immediate learning context: if and how they translate these expectations into specific writing goals, how do they self-regulate towards these goals, if there are misalignments between the students’ and the teachers perceptions of these ‘genre goals’, and ultimately what this means in terms of performance, as assessed by the teachers themselves-the key stakeholders in an learning context. The overall goal is to investigate the writing experience in an authentic setting, and to connect the metacognitive and self-regulatory behavior described by the students with the communicative purpose of the essay they are required to write and the contextual requirements of the learning setting. Another important aim is to identify already-existing practices that support students in developing effective self-regulation, and suggest further improvements for instruction.