Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

EssayCritic: Writing to Learn with a Knowledge-Based Design Critiquing System

Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

EssayCritic: Writing to Learn with a Knowledge-Based Design Critiquing System

Article excerpt


Three components in successful foreign language learning according to the call of this special issue are: learners, goals, and contexts. We address them in this paper by formative assessment (process feedback). We focus on the communicative aspects of foreign language learning, writing and speaking, in terms of content (meaning or ideas) and organization of shorter texts, and not on grammar and spelling (acquiring linguistic competences). This is an under-researched theme in language learning and contemporary research explores semantic analyses tools, which we give an example of in this article. It addresses a challenge in many countries today that young people are overexposed to learning spoken English through new media without being activated by reading and writing. The overreliance on speaking for developing language skills may have a negative effect on vocabulary development (Weizmann & Snow, 2001). We address the discrepancy by a computer-based writing aid together with collaboration in small groups, which is informed by a theoretical framework for integrating action (writing) and reflection (thinking aloud or talking), the design-critiquing framework.

Learning analytics (LA) is a relatively new concept in the learning sciences, but it has existed under other names for more than 30 years in smaller scale. LA refers to the analysis of the learning process, in particular the traces of learning that can be captured by tools and adaptive teaching methods. LA data are dependent on observable data collected from any learning episode, including but not limited to educational technology and learning management systems. LA researchers also investigate impacts of learning traces on administrative policy and curriculum reform. Through analytics, institutions (e.g., universities, schools, online education providers) can collect large data sets and apply statistical techniques to predict success or failure, and give advice and suggestions. This may be through informing instructors how specific students are struggling so that they can contact those learners with advice (Baker & Siemens, 2014) or by informing the students directly by presenting automated feedback in the user interface of the educational technology (Fischer et al., 1991). LA departs from purely technical approaches that use data as their sole resource for analysis (educational data mining) and often involve theory to guide the selection of research methods, design of the educational technology, and the interpretation of usage data (Baker & Siemens, 2014).

Literature review

Feedback during the writing process (formative assessment) is an essential component of the teacher's role in English writing classes and is used to improve students' writing skills (Hattie & Timperley, 2007; Black & Wiliam, 2009). Previously, Black and Wiliam (2009) identified the following types of formative assessment in English: (1) clarifying and sharing learning intentions and criteria for success, (2) engineering effective classroom discussions and learning tasks that elicit evidence of student understanding, (3) providing feedback that moves learners forward, and (4) activating students as instructional resources for one another and as owners of their own learning. Moreover, the effective teacher when giving feedback should address three major issues in a student's learning process (Hattie & Timperley, 2007): (1) Where am I going? (What are the goals?) (2) How am I doing? (What progress is being made toward meeting the goals?) (3) Where to next? (What activities need to be undertaken to make better progress?) Thus, effective feedback is able to bridge the gap between students' prior knowledge and the new knowledge encapsulated in a learning assignment or a learning goal.

Peer assessment is an alternative type of formative assessment often used in educational practice to stimulate student collaboration on texts in progress (Birenbaum, 2003). …

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