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The effects of word processing use on textual revision across languages: Arabic as a first language and English as asecond language (ESL)

, Michigan State University, United States

Doctor of Philosophy, Michigan State University . Awarded


This study examined the effects of a word processing environment on revision processes of undergraduate and graduate students in both Arabic as a first language (AFL) and English as a second language (ESL). The study was designed to integrate a variety of quantitative and qualitative research methods and procedures in order to reach convergent or even contradictory results and to enrich the interpretation of the study results. Graeco-Latin Square randomization procedures were used to minimize the effects of subjects, topics, and treatment (combination of language and method) orders. The data was collected through interviews, thinking-aloud protocols, observational notes, and subjects' writing essays on videotapes and papers.

The subjects' revisions were classified according to Faigley and Witte's (1981, 1984) taxonomy of revision changes. Data classified as surface and meaning revisions were examined separately by using two factorial statistical models to avoid ambiguity that may have resulted from the combination of surface and meaning on the interpretations of the results. The factorial Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) and Log-Linear Models for repeated measures were used to examine the effects of word processing on surface and meaning revisions respectively across the two languages. As an additional test, a holistic approach was carried out to evaluate the quality of the subjects' essays in both languages.

The results of the study indicated that there were significant differences between word-processed and pen-and-paper essays with regard to the subjects' surface and meaning revisions across the two. The effects of writing methods on either surface or meaning revisions in both languages were stronger than on language effects. This may have been due to the subjects' past experiences in word processing.

Using a factorial design repeated measure (ANOVA), the results revealed that there were no significant differences on writing quality between pen-and-paper and word processed essays in both languages. In this study both quantitative and qualitative methods were consistent in that, first, the subjects benefited from word the processing environment for revision in English as a second language more than in Arabic as first language. This may be attributed mainly to the subjects' lack of typing skills in Arabic more than English as a second language (ESL).

Second, the subjects did not fully take advantage of the word processing environment for meaning revision. This probably resulted from the absence of formal instruction or training on how to use the word processing environment effectively when writing and revising.


Al-Amer, A.S. The effects of word processing use on textual revision across languages: Arabic as a first language and English as asecond language (ESL). Doctor of Philosophy thesis, Michigan State University. Retrieved July 23, 2021 from .

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