Reading during an academic reading-into-writing task: an eye-tracking study
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AbstractThe study aimed to establish the types of reading university students engaged on an academic reading-into-writing task through a mixed-methods approach. To achieve this, eye-tracking technology was used to record 30 students’ eye-movements as they engaged in a one-hour computer-based academic reading into writing test task. After the test events, stimulated recall interviews and a cognitive process questionnaire were used to collect more comprehensive data on these students' academic reading processes. The study also investigated whether there were differences in the reading patterns of students with more experience of performing academic reading into writing tasks and those students with less experience. Differences in the way high and low scoring students tackled the task were also investigated. 30 participants (15 first year undergraduates and 15 third year undergraduates or postgraduates) were recruited from a range of UK universities. The participants were observed and their eye movements were recorded whilst they completed the reading into writing task. After the task, participants watched a replay of their reading and writing activity and were prompted to recollect their thought processes during the task. Finally, participants completed a short cognitive processing questionnaire. This research made five key findings relating to university students' academic reading processes in the context of a reading into writing task. Participants spent almost half their time (47 per cent) fixating on their own emerging text and about a third of their time reading the source texts. The task instructions were relatively poorly attended to. The fixations on the written source text were more homogeneous than fixations on the participant emerging work. Fixations on the written source texts reported a shorter mean v fixation duration and contained much higher rates of regression than for reading reported in the literature. Careful reading accounted for less than 30 per cent of reading of the written source texts. Other forms of selective reading accounted for the remaining 70 per cent of reading. The predominance of selective reading appears to result from participants targeting their reading to spend more time on the more relevant sentences, although several factors seem to interact to determine total time on each sentence. When differences between the Year 1 (Y1) and Year 3+ (Y3+) groups were examined, it emerged that the Y3+ group spent much more time fixating on their own work than the Y1 group. It also emerged that the Y3+ group engaged in more selective reading than the Y1 .The increased levels of selective reading may have contributed to the greater attention that the Y3+ group devoted to the more relevant sentences. When the results for the five highest and five lowest scoring participants were compared it emerged that the low scoring participants were much less effective at focusing their attention on the most relevant sentences. In short, these findings suggest that reading during an academic reading into writing task is different to the careful reading described in the literature. It demands a wide range of selective reading skills and strategies in addition to careful reading skills. Task representation can influence the way the writer interacts with the source text(s). The findings imply that development of selective reading skills, in conjunction with developing task representation skills, could help inexperienced students produce better written work earlier in their courses.
CitationLatimer, N. (2018) `Reading during an academic reading-into-writing task: an eye-tracking study.` PhD thesis. University of Bedfordshire.
PublisherUniversity of Bedfordshire
TypeThesis or dissertation
DescriptionA thesis submitted to the University of Bedfordshire, in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of doctor of Philosophy.
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