Technologies for Learning Writing in L1 and L2 for the 21st Century: Effects on Writing Metacognition, Self-Efficacy and Argumentative Structuring
Quality in higher education assumes the challenge of developing in all citizens of the 21st century the cognitive, motivational, and socio-cultural dimensions that provide them with communication competences including the use of information and communication technologies, for the dissemination of sustainable scientific knowledge in different languages. Hence this paper evaluates a didactic-technological process called “Ensayo Científico Multilingüe” or ECM (“Multilingual Scientific Essay”), which guides the construction of argumentative texts in a shared didactic space in the native language (L1) and in the first foreign language (L2).
Although the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in educational contexts stands out as an index of quality, some studies indicate that these technologies, by themselves, do not produce changes in learning. The possibility that ICTs can contribute to a university-quality education is by providing measures that allow verification of the effects on the real improvement of the learning of communication competences of students and, especially, in the learning of written communication for the purpose of scientific dissemination. In order to do so, this research is based on the Metasociocognitive Written Composition (MWC) model that explains university writing as a complex process in which, metacognitively, cognitive-linguistic competences and socio-cultural experiences interact with motivational factors to achieve outreach objectives within a disciplinary field. This interaction always takes place by applying a specific textual genre.
For this research, a mixed quasi-experimental research design was proposed, with a control and an experimental group with 50 university students in each group. This design included two repeated measures (pre-test, post-test) for three dependent variables: (i) metacognition of writing; (ii) self-efficacy of argumentative writing; and (iii) structuring of the argumentative essay, in both L1 and L2. Validated instruments were selected and the correlations between the variables described both before and after the application of the ECM, in L1 and L2, as well as their correlations with the didactic-technological procedures integrated in the ECM: written activities, their extension, languages used, Lesson and Forums.
This article analyses the didactic-technological procedures that may be influencing the improvement in the learning of argumentative writing, both in L1 and L2, with validity and reliability. This enables the establishment of technological strategies for teaching shared in L1 and L2, both real and contrasted.
It can be stated that the ECM creates a shared didactic-technological space in different languages, producing similar effects in L1 and L2, both on writing metacognition and on self-efficacy and argumentative structuring. The ECM enhances the association of writing metacognition with argumentative self-efficacy in L1 and L2. However, these dimensions are not associated with the structuring of argumentative essays, either in L1 or in L2. Furthermore, it is verified that the described variables are associated with the didactic-technological procedures integrated in the ECM in the following ways: (i) the procedure to promote writing metacognition (through the Lesson tool) is associated with argumentative structuring in L2; (ii) the extent of writing activities is associated, only, with argumentative self-efficacy in L1; and (iii) participation in the Forums presents a very low association with all the variables measured.
The present study promotes the application of the ECM by introducing changes in the procedures to improve its effectiveness in argumentative writing learning of a scientific nature, in L1 and L2. In this sense, it is proposed: (i) to adapt and implement the genre-based writing instructions methodology to the technological context; (ii) incorporate more collaborative technologies in the construction of the text; and (iii) reduce the number of forums and replace the extensive activities with micro activities.
Present the ECM in an open mode that allows access to international students and, thus, to be able to validate the instruments in different languages, checking its effects with a diversity of groups.
The results of this research show that it is possible to promote the learning of argumentative writing in L1 and L2 from the first year of university, sharing didactic-technological learning spaces. The potential of ICT to help students manage and acquire better scientific writing skills in different languages and its positive results to meet the needs of students, both in L1 and L2, is especially demonstrated. In short, the procedures, resources, applications, and tools integrated in a didactic process are described, demonstrating their effectiveness, for the development of communicative competences of scientific dissemination. Undoubtedly, this contributes to a quality higher education, so demanded internationally, for the creation of a culture of peace and cooperation that enables sustainable global development.
Another line of research that is being developed in the future is the adaptation of ECM to the teaching of other genres and educational levels, as well as for the integration of people with functional diversity and immigrants.