Edited By Dagmar Knorr, Carmen Heine and Jan Engberg
Methods of measuring students’ text production competence and its development in writing courses
At the writing centre of Justus Liebig University, Giessen/Germany, students’ writing competence is assessed on the basis of argumentative texts of approx. 250 to 350 words that they compose at the beginning and at the end of the writing courses they attend. These texts are assessed using a (text-) linguistic error classification scheme as well as a holistic evaluation of their stringency, the latter of which is considered an essential quality criterion for argumentative texts. The application of the error classification scheme yields assessments of the texts on four levels (formal correctness, lexical correctness, grammatical correctness and text-linguistic correctness), whereas the holistic evaluation yields an assessment of the texts’ macro-structure and line of argumentation (stringency). The qualities of the texts at each of these levels are used as cues to the sub-competencies that text production competence as a complex competence can be modelled to be composed of. The present article describes the text quality assessment methods used and interprets the results obtained by applying these methods to the L1 texts produced by 20 German students at the beginning of two writing courses in light of Dynamic Systems Theory and McCutchen’s (1996) capacity theory of writing. The results give rise to the hypothesis that higher levels of text-linguistic quality and stringency are not achieved before students have mastered the less complex sub-competencies involved in achieving formal, lexical and grammatical correctness to a certain minimum degree.
Writing competence is a key competence in all disciplines. Students need it not only...
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