Publications by year
(In Press). A comparative study of lexical bundles in IELTS Writing Task 1 and 2 simulation essays and tertiary academic writing. Journal of Academic Language and Learning
A comparative study of lexical bundles in IELTS Writing Task 1 and 2 simulation essays and tertiary academic writing
Higher education institutions place considerable trust in the IELTS (International English Language Testing System) Writing test to predict the linguistic readiness of non-native English-speaking individuals for tertiary academic study. One aspect of the test’s validity is the extent tertiary study readiness encompasses the linguistic forms characteristic of academic writing on English-medium degree programmes. In this comparative study, a bespoke corpus of 1,000 IELTS Academic Writing Task 1 and 2 rehearsal compositions was investigated to uncover the lexical bundles prospective test candidates use most frequently (overall, by structure, and by function), compared with novice and expert tertiary academic writing. It was found simulated essays heavily featured four-word lexical bundles, with a prevalence of: 1) clausal constructions (vis-à-vis nominal structures), 2) discourse-organising ‘template’ forms (on the one hand, on the other hand), 3) epistemic stance bundles (it is clear that), and 4) active verb constructions (I firmly believe that). The results indicate that candidates adopt personalised and persuasive language forms that mark them as novice writers compared with expert L2 and native speakers, likely stemming from the design of the test. The study’s findings are consistent with the theory that writers move from a clausal to phrasal written style as their proficiency develops. The implications for institutional decision-making based on test outcomes are discussed. Abstract
Pearson W (In Press). Review of "The Politics of English Second Language Writing Assessment in Global Contexts" by Todd Ruecker & Deborah Crusan (2018). TESL - EJ, 22(2).
Pearson W (In Press). Utilising Facebook Community Groups for IELTS Preparation: a Thematic Analysis. The Asian EFL Journal, 20(12.2).
(In Press). Written Corrective Feedback in IELTS Writing Task 2: Teachers’ Priorities, Practices, and Beliefs. TESL - EJ
Written Corrective Feedback in IELTS Writing Task 2: Teachers’ Priorities, Practices, and Beliefs
Teacher corrective feedback is widely recognised as integral in supporting developing L2 writers. The potentially high pressure IELTS test preparation classroom presents a context where feedback has not yet been extensively studied. Consequently, teachers’ approaches to corrective feedback on Writing Task 2, the essay component of IELTS Writing, are not well understood. In this exploratory case study, the feedback practices and beliefs of seven teachers at a private language institution in the United Arab Emirates were investigated to uncover how Task 2 feedback is undertaken. A mixed-methods design was adopted to investigate three aspects of teacher response to 104 Writing Task 2 practice compositions: (1) the textual features that teachers focused on; (2) error treatment and commentary techniques; (3) the perceptions and motivations underlying the practices identified. It was revealed that most corrective feedback was grammar-focused, while teachers’ comments tended to relate to a learner’s response to the task, as well as grammar. Feedback techniques varied noticeably in nature and scope, with a preference for ‘appropriating’ techniques such as direct correction of errors and prescriptive comments. It was concluded that teachers adopted idiosyncratic techniques and methods based on their experience, personal beliefs, and theories about feedback. Abstract
(2022). Response to written commentary in preparation for high-stakes second language writing assessment. Asian-Pacific Journal of Second and Foreign Language Education
Response to written commentary in preparation for high-stakes second language writing assessment
AbstractMany L2 learners preparing for high-stakes, on-demand English language tests (e.g. IELTS, TOEFL) undertake classroom-based test preparation involving the provision of teacher written feedback commentary (WFC) on writing that simulates test tasks. The assumption is teachers’ knowledge of both the language and testing system helps develop candidates’ language/test-taking skills and familiarity with task expectations. Prior research has indicated features of WFC’s content and delivery can impact on the extent and quality of student revisions, although preparation for writing assessment settings have yet to be explored. The present study investigated the effects of five WFC content and delivery characteristics (focus, length, explicitness, semantic function, and presence of mitigation) on three rehearsal essays written by eight candidates preparing for IELTS Writing Task 2. The qualities of content and delivery most associated with substantive, positive revisions included comments targeting Task Response, those 50 words or longer, when an explicit revision strategy was provided, the presence of mitigation through personal attribution, and question posing and criticism. The study found learners tended not to act upon descriptive end comments explicating written performance, praise, and comments below five words in length. The implications for teachers in classroom IELTS preparation contexts are discussed. Abstract
(2022). Student Engagement with Teacher Written Feedback on Rehearsal Essays Undertaken in Preparation for IELTS. SAGE Open
Student Engagement with Teacher Written Feedback on Rehearsal Essays Undertaken in Preparation for IELTS
Due to pressure to meet goals, some test-takers preparing for the IELTS (International English Language Testing System) Writing test solicit written feedback (WF) from an expert provider on their rehearsal essays, in order to identify and close gaps in performance. The extent self-directed candidates are able to utilize written feedback to enhance their language and writing skills in simulated Task 2 essays has yet to be investigated. The present study addresses one learner factor deemed prominent in mediating the learning potential of WF, student engagement. The study used assessments of student writing according to the public band descriptors and text-analytic descriptions from three Task 2 rehearsal essays triangulated with five rounds of semi-structured interviews to explore how four learners preparing for IELTS Writing engaged affectively, behaviorally, and cognitively with asynchronous, electronic written feedback provided using the Kaizena app. The study found that, while the learners highly valued WF, they were not always able to understand the intentions behind comments or envisage an appropriate response, leading to negative emotional reactions from two learners in the form of anxiety and frustration. Written progress across the essays was limited, stemming from an initial lack of buy-in to making content revisions and surface-level approaches to WF processing. Moderate behavioral engagement with indirect error treatment was exhibited, although meaningful accuracy gains were apparent for only one learner and content changes meant many errors went uncorrected. The implications for practitioners of IELTS Writing preparation are discussed. Abstract
Pearson WS (2022). Test Review: LanguageCert IESOL B1 (Achiever) SELT. Language Assessment Quarterly, 19(5), 526-537.
(2022). The Teaching English as a Second Language Electronic Journal (TESL-EJ): a Bibliometric Analysis of the First 99 Issues. Teaching English as a Second or Foreign Language--TESL-EJ
The Teaching English as a Second Language Electronic Journal (TESL-EJ): a Bibliometric Analysis of the First 99 Issues
February 2022 marks the 100th issue of the Teaching English as a Second Language Electronic Journal (TESL-EJ), set up in 1994 as the brainchild of a group of scholars who saw the need for a freely distributed electronic academic journal covering a diverse array of interests within teaching English as a second language long before the term “open access” was coined. The present study constitutes a bibliometric analysis of the first 99 issues of TESL-EJ. Through cross-sectional and historical analysis of a range of key metrics, notably the scale of its output and citations by other authors, frequency of topics explored, most productive and influential author affiliations and countries, and the extent of author collaboration, the study analyzes the growth and development of research activity as reflected in the publication’s output during the period under study. The study found that the nature of the journal’s output has evolved over the years from anecdotal practitioner reviews and thought pieces to rigorous empirical research. As a US-based journal, North American scholarship is well-represented across TESL-EJ’s output, particularly in studies contextualized in tertiary-level settings. There has been a consistent tendency towards non-specialist research topics within teaching English to speakers of other languages (TESOL), notably, EFL, writing, language learning, English teacher, English language learner, reflective of the journal’s large, global readership. The implications for the journal’s stakeholders, the editorial team and scholars considering submission, are discussed. Abstract