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Incorporating DIY corpus into English writing in a higher vocational institute in China : students’ outcomes and their perceptions /

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Incorporating DIY corpus into English writing in a higher vocational institute in China : students’ outcomes and their perceptions /

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Student Theses
Publication Information:
Guan, Chao
Hong Kong : The Education University of Hong Kong
General and DIY corpora have been demonstrated to be effective in improving university students’ EFL or ESL writing skills. Often, these students have already achieved a high level of proficiency in the target language English. In recent years, there has been an increasing demand to support Chinese higher vocational institute students who generally possess lower English proficiency. Assisting these students in improving their English learning to meet future career requirements presents a significant challenge at higher vocational institutes in China.This doctoral study examines the effects of implementing teacher-compiled DIY corpora on writing quality, vocabulary knowledge, and learner autonomy. Prior research has mainly focused on corpus-based approaches in EAP courses for advanced English learners (e.g., Charles, 2014; Smith, 2020). However, this study extends the application of DIY corpora to low-proficiency higher vocational institute students. In the mixed-method research, participants were divided into an experimental group of 46 students and a control group of 40 students. Both groups were required to complete four writing tasks using 6-8 target verbs each and a final writing exam. The experimental group followed corpus training adapted from the four-step corpus-based language pedagogy (CBLP) lesson design model from Ma et al. (2022), which included vocabulary knowledge tests, studying DIY corpus printouts, writing essays, and retaking vocabulary knowledge tests.The quantitative results revealed a significant difference in writing quality during the fifth writing task conducted in the examination condition without reference to materials or using aids. Similarly, the frequency of correct target verb collocations exhibited statistically significant differences in the fourth and fifth writing tasks. Moreover, it is shown that accurate use of verb collocation is positively correlated to quality in English writing. In terms of vocabulary knowledge within the writing tasks, the t-test comparing the immediate posttest and the pre-test showed significant difference in the fourth vocabulary knowledge test. The analysis of the mean difference between the delayed post-test and pre-test indicated that both groups retained target vocabulary knowledge, but only the experimental group retained significantly more vocabulary knowledge. Regarding learner autonomy, the questionnaire results implied that participants in the experimental group significantly improved their perceived responsibilities towards English learning. However, both groups enhanced their frequency of English learning activities outside the classroom without a significant difference.In the semi-focused group interviews, participants mentioned that referring to the DIY corpus printouts was an effective writing strategy, and target vocabulary knowledge was reinforced during corpus-aided writing process. As they talked about their voluntary learning supported by the DIY corpus, they also started to understand the value of learner autonomy. They also highly appreciated the comprehensibility of the DIY corpus printouts and provided suggestions for improving the teacher-compiled DIY corpus.Pedagogical implications were made regarding the DIY corpus and the implementation of the CBLP model among lower-proficiency students. The study acknowledges several limitations and offers recommendations for future research. By demonstrating the effectiveness of incorporating DIY corpus to improve students’ writing, vocabulary (verb noun collocations) and learner autonomy, this study makes a valuable contribution to the research on corpus-based language learning among lower English proficiency students by filling a significant research gap
Call Number:
LG51.H43 Dr 2023eb Guanc
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