Friday, 3 October 2014


A.    Background
Teaching how to write effectively is one of the most important life-long skills educators impart to their students. When teaching writing, educators must be sure to select resources and support materials that not only aid them in teaching how to write, but that will also be the most effective in helping their students learn to write.
Students need to be personally involved in writing exercises in order to make the learning experience of lasting value. Encouraging student participation in the exercise, while at the same time refining and expanding writing skills, requires a certain pragmatic approach. The teacher should be clear on what skills he/she is trying to develop. Next, the teacher needs to decide on which means (or type of exercise) can facilitate learning of the target area. Once the target skill areas and means of implementation are defined, the teacher can then proceed to focus on what topic can be employed to ensure student participation. By pragmatically combing these objectives, the teacher can expect both enthusiasm and effective learning.

B.     Problem Formulation
1.      Genre of Written Language
2.      Types of Writing performance
3.      Micro and Macro Skills of Writing
4.      Designing Assessment Tasks
5.      Test of Written English (TWE)
6.      Scoring Methods For Responsive and Extensive Writing
7.      Assessing Initial Stages of The Process of Composing
8.      Assessing Later stagess of The Process of Composing


A.  Genres of Written Language
1.      Academic Writing
Papers and general subject reports
Essays, compositions
Academically focused journals
Short answer test responses
Technical reports (e.g./ lab reports)
Theses, dissertations
2.      Job-related Writing
Messages (e.g., phone messages)
Memos (e.g., interoffice)
Reports (e.g., job evaluations, project reports)
Schedules, labels, signs
Adverisements, announcements
3.      Personal writing
Letters, emails, greeting cards, invitations
Messages, notes
Calendar, entries, shopping lists, reminders
Financial documents (e.g., tax forms, checks, loan applications)
Forms questionnaires, medical reports, immigration documents
Diaries, personal journals
Fiction (e.g., short stories, poetry)

B.  Types of Writing performance
1.      Imitative
To produce written language, the learner must attains skills in the fundamental, basic tasks of writing letters, words, punctuations and very brief sentences. This category includes ability to spell correctly and to perceive phoneme-grapheme correspondences in the English spelling system. It is a level at which learners are trying to master the mechanics of writing. At this stage, form is primary if not exclusive focus, while context and meaning are of secondary concern.
2.      Intensive (Controlled)
Beyond the fundamentals of imitative writing are skills in producing appropriate vocabulry withing a context, collocations and idioms and correct grammatical features up to the length of a sentence. Meaning and context are of some importance in determining corrrectness and appropriateness but in assessment tasks are more concernd with a focus on form, and are rather strictly controlled by the test design.
3.      Responsive
Here, assessment tasks require learners to perform at a limited discourse level, connecting sentences into a paragraph and creating a logically connected sequence of two or three paragraphs. Tasks respond to pedagogical directives, lists of criteria, outliness and other guidelines. Genres of writing include brief narrative and descriptions, shorts reports, lab reports, summaries, brief responses to reading and interpretations of charts or graphs. Under specified conditions, the writer begins to exercise some freedom of choice among alternative forms of expression of ideas. The writer has mastered the fundamentals of sentences-level grammar and is more focused on the discourse conventions that will achieve the objectives of the written text.  Form focused attention is mostly at the discourse level, with a strong emphasis on context and meaning.
4.      Extensive
Extensive writing implies successful management of all the processes and strategies of writing for all purposes, up to the length of an essay, a term paper, a major research project report, or even a thesis. Writers focus on achieving a purpose, organizing and developing ideas logically, using detalis to support or illustrate ideas, demonstrating syntactic and lexical variety, and in many cases, engaging in the process of multiple draft to achieve a final product. Focus on grammatical form is limited to occasional editing, or proofreading of a draft.

C.  Micro and Macro Skills of Writing
1.      Microskills
Microskills  apply more appropriately to imitative and intensive types of writing task.
a)      Produce graphemes and orthograpic patterns of English.
b)      Produce writing at an effecient rate of speed to suit the purpose.
c)      Produce an acceptable core of words and use apprpriate word order patterns.
d)     Use acceptable grammatical system (e.g., tenses, agreement, pluralization, patterns and rules).
e)      Express a particular meaning in different grammatical forms.
f)       Use cohesive device in written discourse.
2.      Macroskills
Macroskills are essential for the successful mastery of responsive and extensive writing.
g)      Use the rethorical forms and conventions of written discourse.
h)      Appropriately accomplish the communicative functions of written text according to form and purpose.
i)        Convey links and connections between events and communicate such relations as main idea, supprting idea, new informations, given informations, generalization, and exemplification.
j)        Distiguish between literal and implied meanings when writing.
k)      Correctly convey culturally specific references in the context of the written text.
l)        Develop and use a battery of writing strategies, such as accurately accessing the audience’s interpretation, using prewriting devices, writing with fluency in the first draft, using paraphrases and synonyms and soliciting peer and instructor feedback, and using feedback for revising and editing.

D.  Designing Assessment Tasks
1.      Imitative Writing
Imitative writing is used for the beginning level English learner which needs basic training in and assessment of imitative  writing: the rudiments of forming letters, words, and simple sentences. We examine this level of writing first.
a)      Task in (Hand) writing letters, words, and punctuation
·         Copying
·         Listening cloze selection task
·         Picture-cued task
·         Form comletion task
·         Converting numbers and abbrebiations to words
b)      Spelling task and detecting phoneme-grapheme correspondences
·         Spelling test
·         Picture cued-task
·         Multiple choices techniques
·         Matching phonetics symbols
2.      Intensive (Controlled) Writing
This next level of writing is what second language teacher training manuals have for decades called controlled writing. It may also be thought of as form focused witing, grammar writing, or simply guided writing. A good deal of writing at this level is display writing as opposed to real writing: students produce language to display their competence in grammar, vocabulary, or sentence formation, and not necessarily to convey meaning for an authentic purpose. The traditional grammar/vocabulary test has plenty of display writing in it, since the response mode demonstrates only the test-taker’s ability to combine or use words correctly. No new information is passed on form one person to the other.
a)      Dictation and Dicto-Comp
b)      Grammatical transformation tasks
c)      Picture cued tasks
·         Short sentences
·         Picture description
·         Picture sequence description
d)     Vocabulary assessment tasks
e)      Ordering tasks
f)       Short answer and Sentence completion tasks
3.      Responsive and Extensive
In this section we consider both responsive and extensive writing tasks. They will be regarded here as a continuum of possibilities ranging from lower-end tasks whose complexity exceeds those in the previous category of intensive or controlled writing, through more open-ended tasks such as writing short reports, essays, summaries, and responses, up to texts of several pages or more.
a)      Paraphrasing
b)      Guided question and answer
c)      Paragraph construction tasks
·         Topic sentence writing
·         Topis development within a paragraph
·         Development of main and supporting ideas across paragraphs.
d)     Strategic options
·         Attending to task
·         Attending to genre

E.  Test of Written English (TWE)
One of the number of internationally available standarized tests of writing ability is the Test of Written English (TWE). Established in 1986, the TWE has gained a reputation as a well-respected measure of written English, and a number of research articles supports its validity ( Frase et al., 1999; Hale et al., 1996; Myford et al., 1996). In 1998, a computer-delivered version of the TWE was incorporated into the standard computer-based TOEFL and simply labeled as the “writing” section of the TOEFL. The TWE is still offered as a separate test especially where only the paper based TOEFL is available. Conrrelations between the TWE and TOEFL scores (before TWE became a standard part of TOEFL) were consistently high, ranging from 57 to 69 over 10 test administrations from 1993 to 1995.
The TWE is in the category of a timed impromptu test-takers are under a 30 minute time limit and are not able to prepare ahed of time for the topic that will appear. Topics are prepared by a panel of experts following specifications for topics that represent commonly used discourse and thought patterns at the university level.
Test preparation manuals such as Deborah Phillips’s Longman Introductory Course for the TOEFL test (2001) advice TWE test takers to follow six steps to maximize success on the test:
a)      Carefully identify the topic.
b)      Plan your supprting ideas.
c)      In the introductory paragraphn, restate the topic and state the organizational plan of the essay.
d)     Write effective supporting paragraphs (show transitions, include a topic sentence, specify details).
e)      Restate your position and summarize in the concluding paragraph.
f)       Edit sentence structure and retorical expression,
The scoring guide for the TWE follows a widely accepted set of specifications for a holistic evaluation of an essay. Each point on the scoring system is defined by a set of statements that address topic, organization and development, supporting ideas, facility (fluency, naturalness, appropriateness) in writing, and grammatical and lexical correctness and choice.

F.   Scoring Methods For Responsive and Extensive Writing
1.      Holistic Scoring
The TWE scoring scale is a prime example of holistic scoring. Each point on a holistic scale is given a systemtic set of descriptors, and the reader-evaluator matches on overall impression with the descriptors.
Holistic scoring is a method by which trained readers evaluate a piece of writing for its overall quality. The holistic scoring used in Florida requires readers to evaluate the work as a whole, while considering four elements: focus, organization, support, and conventions. This method is sometimes called focused holistic scoring. In this type of scoring, readers are trained not to become overly concerned with any one aspect of writing but to look at a response as a whole.
·         Focus
Focus refers to how clearly the paper presents and maintains a main idea, theme, or unifying point. Papers representing the higher end of the point scale demonstrate a consistent awareness of the topic and do not contain extraneous information.
·         Organization
Organization refers to the structure or plan of development (beginning, middle, and end) and whether the points logically relate to one another. Organization refers to (1) the use of transitional devices to signal the relationship of the supporting ideas to the main idea, theme, or unifying point and (2) the evidence of a connection between sentences. Papers representing the higher end of the point scale use transitions to signal the plan or text structure and end with summary or concluding statements.
·         Support
Support refers to the quality of the details used to explain, clarify, or define. The quality of support depends on word choice, specificity, depth, credibility, and thoroughness. Papers representing the higher end of the point scale provide fully developed examples and illustrations in which the relationship between the supporting ideas and the topic is clear.
·         Conventions
Conventions refer to punctuation, capitalization, spelling, and variation in sentence used in the paper. These conventions are basic writing skills included in Florida's Minimum Student Performance Standards and the Uniform Student Performance Standards for Language Arts. Papers representing the higher end of the scale follow, with few exceptions, the conventions of punctuation, capitalization, and spelling and use a variety of sentence structures to present ideas.[1]
  • Development
Developments are all major ideas are set off by paragraphs which have clearly stated or implied topics; the main idea and all major topics are supported by concrete, specific evidence.
  • Style
Style is sentences relate to each other and to the paragraph topic and are subordinate to the topic; word and phrase choice is felicitous; tone is consistent and appropriate.
  • Correctness
Correctness there are no major mechanical errors (e.g., agreement) and only a few minor errors (e.g., spelling).
  • References
References are source material is incorporated logically, insightfully and elegantly; sources are documented accurately, elegantly and emphatically.[2]
Advantages of holistic scoring include:
·         Fast evaluation
·         Relatively high inter-rater reliability
·         The fact that scores represent “standards” that are easily interpreted by lay persons
·         The facts that scores tend to emphasize the writer’s strengths
·         Applicability to writing across many different disciplines
It’s disadvantegs must also be weighed into a decision on whether to use holistic scoring:
·         One scores masks differences across the subskills within each score
·         No diagnostic information is available (no washback potential)
·         The scale may not apply equally well to all genres of writing
·         Raters need to be extensively trained to use the scale accurately
2.      Primary trait scoring
A second method of scoring, primaty trait, focuses on “how well students can write within a narrowly defined range of discourse”. This type of scoring emphasizes the task at hand and assigns a score based on the effectiveness of the text’s achieving that one goal. In summary, a primary trait score would assess:
·      The accuracy of the account of the original (summary)
·      The clarity of the steps of the procedure and the final result (lab report)
·      The description of the main features of the graph (graph description), and
·      The expression of the writer’s opinion (response to an article)
3.       Analytic Scoring
For classroom instruction, holistic scoring provideslittle washback into the writer’s further stage of learning. Primary trait scoring focuses on the principal function of the text and therefore offers some feedback potential, but no washback for any of the aspects of the written production that enhance the ultimate accomplishment of the purpose. Classroom evaluation of learning is best served through analytic scoring, in which as many as six major elements of writing are scored, thus enabling learners to home in on weakness and capitalized on strengths.
Analytic scoring may be more appropriately called analytic assessment in order to capture its closer association with classroom language instruction than with formal testing. Brown and Bailey (1984) designed an analitical scoring scale that specified five major categories and a description of five different level in each category, ranging from “unacceptable” to “excellent”.Here are the five categories:
1.      Organizations (Introduction, body and conclusion)
2.      Logical Development of Ideas (Content)
3.      Grammar
4.      Punctuation, Spelling and Mechanics
5.      Style and Quality of Expression

G. Assessing Initial Stages of The Process of Composing
1.      Focus your efforts primarily on meaning, main idea, and organization.
2.      Comment on the introductory paragraph.
3.      Make general comments about the clarity of the main idea and logic or appropriateness of the organization.
4.      As a rule of thumb, ignore minor (local) grammatical and lexical errors.
5.      Indicate what appear to be major (global) errors.
6.      Do not rewrite questionable, ungrammatical, or awkward sentences; rather. Probe with a question about meaning.
7.      Comment on features that appear to be irrelevant to the topic.

H.  Assessing Later stagess of The Process of Composing
1.      Comment on the specific clarity and strength of all main ideas and supporting ideas, and on argument and logic.
2.      Call attention to minor (“local”) grammatical and mechanical (spelling, punctuation) errors, but direct the writer to self-correct.
3.      Comment on any further word choices and expressions that may not be awkward but are not as clear or direct as they could be.
4.      Point out any problems with cohesive devices within and accross paragraphs.
5.      If appropriate, comment on documentation, citation of sources, evidence, and other support.
6.      Comment on the adequacy and strength of the conclusion.


Advanced writing skills are an important aspect of academic performance as well as subsequent work-related performance. However, American students rarely attain advanced scores on assessments of writing skills. In order to achieve higher levels of writing performance, the working memory demands of writing processes should be reduced so that executive attention is free to coordinate interactions among them. This can in theory be achieved through deliberate practice that trains writers to develop executive control through repeated opportunities to write and through timely and relevant feedback. Automated essay scoring software may offer a way to alleviate the intensive grading demands placed on instructors and, thereby, substantially increase the amount of writing practice that students receive.



  1. Teaching and writing both jobs are very difficult to do. It requires lots of skills and knowledge. So, for knowing more How to become a good writer, you can do some research. Thanks for sharing it.

  2. Are you copy paste from Brown, D. H. (2004). Language Assessment: Principles and Classroom Practices (1st ed.). Longman ??

  3. Yes, it was the main source. We had to use the book only.