[lg policy] dissertation: How L2 Legal Writers Use Strategies for Scholarly Writing: A mixed methods study

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at GMAIL.COM
Sat May 22 13:33:04 UTC 2010

How L2 Legal Writers Use Strategies for Scholarly Writing: A mixed methods study

Institution: University of Maryland
Program: Department of Curriculum and Instruction, Second Language
Education and Culture
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2010

Author: Donna Patricia Bain Butler

Dissertation Title: How L2 Legal Writers Use Strategies for Scholarly
Writing: A mixed methods study

Linguistic Field(s): Applied Linguistics

Subject Language(s): English (eng)

Dissertation Director:
Rebecca Oxford
Steve Koziol
Patricia Alexander

Dissertation Abstract:

This dissertation research fills existing gaps regarding the practices and
processes of teaching second language (L2) writers at higher ranges of
proficiency in academic domain context. It is a mixed methods,
longitudinal, descriptive, classroom-based study. The research purpose was
to explore strategic competence as a catalyst for professional proficiency
in the scholarly (academic) writing of international Master of Laws (LL.M.)
students who needed to show analytical thinking and communicative precision
in their research papers and law review articles. The theoretical framework
views scholarly writing in a second language as developmental learning in
two domains, language and law, and as socialized cultural practice.

The study showed how scholarly legal writing was both a cognitive and a
social-cultural process for participants (N=6) as they shifted from the
writer-centered activity of drafting to the reader-centered activity of
revising and constructing knowledge. A triangulated, multi-stage design was
used to collect the quantitative and qualitative data at recursive stages
of writing (that is, pre-writing, drafting, and revising). The instruments
developed for collecting the data raised strategy awareness for
participants in the study and can be used for teaching. The research
contributes to our knowledge of scholarly writing in the professions, helps
us understand challenges and strategies for L2 writers in graduate
programs, provides a useful way to conduct a mixed-methods writing study,
reveals the interface between L2 and L1 academic legal discourse, and
offers tested tools for developing professional-level competence in L2
academic writers.

The study bridges the L1 research and L2 research literature by exploring
how superior language learners used research-based strategies to build on
their existing competences for professional-level research writing. This
highly contextualized, learner-centered research contributes to several
related fields by addressing L2 issues associated with plagiarism, the
native-speaker standard, learner self-assessment and self-editing - all of
which are issues of cross-cultural literacy. The following six fields are
involved in and affected by this study: Applied Linguistics, Content-Based
(Legal) English Teaching, English Composition, International (Legal)
Education, Teaching English for (Academic and Specific) Legal Purposes, and
Professional Development.

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