Empowering Chinese university EFL writers with persuasiveness and self-regulation through a SRSD-based writing instruction

  • Xiaoli WANG

Student thesis: EdD Thesis


Since argumentation has long been acknowledged for its essential role of enhancing persuasiveness in argumentative writing, writers’ ability to evaluate, judge and compose a sound argument has been studied in depth by researchers and practitioners at all educational levels in the academic domain of second language (L2) writing. However, when assessing the success or failure of a piece of argumentative writing, most previous L2 empirical studies focus on overall writing performance evaluated based on a holistic approach. This overlooks the pivotal role of argumentation in the quality of argumentative writing. Therefore, not much consensus has been reached on assessing the quality of reasoning in L2 argumentative writing, and our knowledge on L2 writers’ perceptions and behaviors on argumentation and argumentative writing is also limited.

This study aimed to examine Chinese university learners’ L2 argumentation and argumentative writing performance with an emphasis on argument soundness before and after a Self-Regulated Strategy Development (SRSD) instruction that integrated self-regulated learning (SRL) and argumentative knowledge and strategies into a general English-as-a-foreign-language (EFL) course, and further explored how students’ understandings of argumentation and argumentative writing and reported use of SRL strategies changed with the instruction.

This thesis drew upon an exploratory case study research design implemented with 46 non-English major students at a Chinese Southeastern Tier-1 university who were recruited by purposive sampling. A mixed-methods approach was adopted to collect and analyze data for addressing the research question from multidimensional perspectives to increase reliability and validity of the research. Data were collected via writing tests and semi-structured interviews before and after the SRSD instruction, which was administered for a 16-week semester to cover the explicit instruction and practice of SRL and argumentative knowledge and strategies.

Quantitative findings indicated that the presence of essay elements significantly predicted essay quality regardless of the intervention, though there was a significant increase in essay length, elements and quality after the intervention. Given this, further investigations on essay elements were conducted in this study. The results revealed that essay quality was significantly influenced by variables of argument soundness, argument elements and reasoning types. There were also positive influences of argument elements and reasoning types on argument soundness and essay quality. There was a significant increase in L2 writers’ performance in argument soundness and overall writing quality evaluated from different dimensions after the instruction.

The qualitative results obtained from interviews found that these students reaped the benefits of the SRSD instruction to obtain more knowledge of argumentation in argumentative writing and developed awareness of the effectiveness of SRL and argumentative strategies on achieving good quality of arguments after the instruction. They also reported deploying more effective SRL strategies and argumentative knowledge and skills to enhance their argumentation and writing performance. All these findings led to a conclusion that the explicit SRSD instruction to a certain extent promoted L2 writers’ performance and their perceptions of argumentation and SRL.

Keywords: argumentation; argumentative writing; L2 writers; SRL; SRSD instruction
Date of AwardJul 2023
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Nottingham
SupervisorGeoff Hall (Supervisor)


  • argumentation
  • argumentative writing
  • L2 writers
  • SRL
  • SRSD instruction

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