The impact of an instruction to improve L2 learners’ academic conference abstract writing in multidisciplinary programmes

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review


Writing successful academic conference abstracts is essential for PhD students to enable them to access world-class conferences for the presentation of their research. However, these students often face both discourse-structure and linguistic difficulties in writing their conference abstracts. This study evaluates the impact of genre, process, elicitation and guided learning instruction on students’ performance in academic conference abstract writing. Participants are multidisciplinary L2 PhD students at a Sino-British university. The first dataset used for the impact evaluation comprises post-intervention written abstracts collected from 10 focal students. To evaluate the instruction, a scoring descriptor instrument adapted from the university’s academic writing assessment rubric is used to grade the abstracts’ move-structure, and linguistic features of cohesion, hedging, passive, and present simple. Trends in the scores are analysed statistically. The second dataset consists of students’ questionnaire-elicited experiences of the instruction. Findings show improvements in post-intervention abstracts’ move-structures and linguistic features, which suggests pedagogical effectiveness. Questionnaire responses also display positive perceptions of the pedagogy. Due to the impact of disciplinary genre materials, disciplinary discrepancy is more evident in linguistic structures than in move structures. Writer characteristics also appear to gravitate towards a discipline-centric writing ethos due to the impact of disciplinary-genre materials and the desire to enhance the abstract’s selection chances. Thus, there is potential for language-feature functions, process writing, exact-genre materials and interactive learning process pedagogies to mediate learning and improvement in disciplinary L2 writing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)143-169
Number of pages27
JournalLanguage Learning in Higher Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2020


  • Classroom
  • Conference-abstracts
  • Evaluation
  • Impact
  • Instruction
  • L2-writing
  • Multidisciplinary

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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