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Effects of the Manipulation of Cognitive Processes on EFL Writers' Text Quality



Little is known about the effects of various planning and revising conditions on composition quality in experimental or TESOL education research. This study examined the effects of planning conditions (planning, prolonged planning, free writing, and control), subplanning conditions (task-given, task-content-given, and task-content-organization-given), and revising conditions (initial-essay-accessible and initial-essay-removed) on the text quality of English as a foreign language (EFL) learners' argumentative writing. Participants were 108 19-year-old Chinese EFL learners. The researchers assigned the participants to the experimental and control conditions through stratified random sampling. Results show that the free-writing condition enhanced the quality of the learners' writing; the task-content-given condition and the task-content-organization-given condition produced significantly better quality texts than the task-given condition; and no significant difference in the text quality between the initial-essay-accessible and initial-essay-removed conditions was found. Free writing facilitated content retrieval, which enhanced the overall text quality. The task-content-given condition and the task-content-organization-given condition successfully reduced the cognitive load of the task on the EFL writers' working memory resources. The initial-essay-removed condition resulted in better quality final drafts, albeit with no statistically significant difference. Implications for further research are discussed.