|dc.description.abstract||Most composition studies focus on students’ writing processes and written products without integrating reading into their research activities. More recently, researchers have acknowledged the reciprocal reading-writing relationship and begun to examine reading-to-write or discourse synthesis processes. Research shows that discourse synthesis is cognitively demanding and that most second language writers lack linguistic, mental, and sociocultural resources to perform this task effectively. Existing studies have not emphasised the role of self-directed speech as a self-regulatory strategy while students read multiple texts in order to write. This thesis addresses this gap in the literature.
Informed by sociocultural theoretical notions that cognition is socially mediated and that speech is instrumental in learning and development, this qualitative multiple-case-studies thesis examined how five Thai EFL tertiary students applied their knowledge and skills, following explicit concept-based instruction on discourse synthesis, textual coherence, and argumentation.
The researcher designed and delivered a four-week intervention in which the learning concepts, materials, and verbalisation were instrumental in promoting conceptual understanding and reading-to-write performance. Explicitly taught verbalisation or self-directed speech, together with learning materials specifically designed as schemes for task orientation, was a key for self-regulation as participants read multiple texts in order to compose an argument essay.
The study adopted an activity theoretical framework and microgenetic analysis. The analysis aimed to describe the participants as social beings and to outline their self-regulation as it unfolded during a mediated reading-to-write activity. Data from a pre-task questionnaire on strategy use and from a post-task written self-reflection form together with video-recorded data during the end-of-intervention discourse synthesis task and interview data were triangulated to examine how reading-to-write activities were mediated and regulated. Findings were organised around four main themes: participants as readers and writers of English, essay argument structure, microgenetic findings of unfolding self-regulatory behaviour during the discourse synthesis activity, and developmental gains as perceived by the participants during concept-based instruction.
The findings in this study show that participants’ reading and writing difficulties and argumentation were, in part, shaped by the social, historical and cultural factors in the Thai EFL context, and that participants’ strategic application of verbalisation and learning materials mediated their developmental changes and self-regulation. During the discourse synthesis task, participants used self-directed speech as a strategy and demonstrated varying degrees of self-regulation over various task aspects. Successful task completion indicated purposeful mediated learning with strong orientation towards the task, based on conceptual understanding, specific goals, and voluntary inclusion of learning materials as psychological tools. All participants reportedly viewed verbalisation as a useful strategy and most participants were able to describe their increased theoretical understanding of the concepts explicitly taught. However, their conceptual understanding did not always translate into their actual performance.
These findings raise pedagogical implications and highlight the need for human mediators to make explicit the learning concepts, materials and strategies, so that theoretical understanding and learning tools can lead to meaningful task performance. Based on the above findings, this thesis proposes a self-regulation model and calls for future research to investigate how explicit verbalisation training can be systematised.