Connecting Appraisal & Technology in Second Language Writing Research SLRF 2017

Colloquium: Connecting Appraisal & Technology in Second Language Writing Research

organizer: Kelly J Cunningham

10:45am-12:15pm Friday October 13, 2017

Medenhall 191 | Ohio State University, Columbus Ohio | SLRF 2017

Colloquium Overview:

As technology has become an integral component of academic writing, the search to understand how it impacts students, instructors, and pedagogy has grown. This colloquium considers three technological tools-- e-portfolios, AWE, and screencast feedback -- through studies of evaluation found in written reflections, student interviews, and instructor comments.

Research in computer-assisted language learning contexts has often centered on evaluation. These evaluations are often about a technology (e.g., opinions in interviews) or through a technology (e.g., technology-mediated feedback). One way to understand nuances in such evaluation is through an investigation of the language resources employed. This is achieved through application of the appraisal framework (Martin & White, 2005) situated in Systemic Functional Linguistics.

This colloquium connects three studies employing appraisal analysis to better understand technology in second language writing research. These studies reveal how students evaluate specific technological interventions through interviews and reflective writing and how technology choices may shape instructor feedback. The papers in this colloquium connect SFL, technology, and second language writing research through applications of the appraisal framework.

Reference: Martin, J. & White, P. (2005). The Language of Evaluation: Appraisal in English. New York: Palgrave



Papers to appear in the following order:

Student Appraisals of the Research Writing Tutor

Sarah Huffman

This presentation reports results of a usability study investigating learner perceptions of the Research Writing Tutor (RWT), an emerging AWE (automated writing evaluation) tool. The RWT provides discourse-oriented, discipline-specific feedback on learners’ section drafts of empirical research papers. Qualitative and quantitative analyses of open-ended survey responses and stimulated recall data were conducted using the Appraisal Network to discern how the learners conveyed attitude (emotions, judgments, and appreciation), engagement (assessment of behaviors), and graduation (modifications to the strength of attitude and engagement) as they evaluated the usefulness of and trust in the RWT. Results reveal that while the learners perceive the tool to be helpful and are optimistic about the future usefulness, issues of feedback accuracy and skepticism of AWE systems compound learners’ trust in the technology. Implications point to the tremendous potential for application of appraisal analyses to capture multifaceted depictions of learners’ interactions with and reactions to AWE tools.

Appraisal Analysis of Student Reflective Writing

Kim Becker

Use of ePortfolios is widespread in first and second language communication courses. Research notes that ePortfolios require self-reflection, thus honing student responsibility for learning. To evaluate students’ reflections about ePortfolios, this study examines undergraduate student reflective blog posts from the approach of SFL by employing Martin and White’s (2005) appraisal theory. Chosen for its ability to mine the attitudinal features of students’ discourse (e.g., positive and negative affect, judgment, and appreciation), appraisal theory illuminates the social, emotional, and evaluative meanings of linguistic patterns. The study’s results provide insight into the affordances of ePortfolios as teaching, learning, and assessment tools.

Understanding Text and Screencast Feedback through Appraisal

Kelly J Cunningham

Understanding implications of technology choices in instructor feedback can be difficult given the varied affordances of modes and the often mode-specific frameworks used in analyzing feedback. This presentation focuses on an analysis of the evaluative language resources used by three ESL writing instructors across technology-mediated modes of feedback: screencasts and MS Word comments. Appraisal analysis, an interpersonal analysis situated in Systemic Functional Linguistics, is used to investigate this language resource use across the two types of feedback to show differences in how feedback is conveyed. With a focus on attitude and engagement, this analysis reveals differences in the role of feedback and the position of reviewers across technological modes and the potential of appraisal as a framework to understand instructor feedback. Understanding how such technology shapes instructor feedback can help instructors make informed choices and find tools that best match their intentions.