The Cognitive Processes of ESL Writers Responding to an Integrated Argumentative Writing Task


  • Ibtissem Knouzi York University



Integrated writing task, writing processes, stimulated recall, questionnaire, second language writing, L2 proficiency


Integrated writing tasks, whether used for teaching or assessment, are designed to engage and gauge the actions, skills, and strategies that students need to become efficient writers able to identify, extract and synthesize information from multiple source material in their writing appropriately. Consequently, it is critical to verify that such tasks do engage the cognitive processes and strategies that theory and research indicate are essential elements of successful source use in writing. This study used a mixed methods approach to describe the cognitive processes that ESL learners engage in when responding to an integrated writing task and examine how these cognitive processes vary depending on the students’ English language proficiency (ELP).  

Each of 51 undergraduate ESL students at two levels of ELP (high and low) completed an integrated writing task that involved listening to a lecture, reading a passage about a related topic, and writing an argumentative essay using ideas from both sources and then responded to a questionnaire about their cognitive processes. Additionally, another eight participants were video recorded while completing the writing task and provided stimulated recalls about their writing processes immediately after completing the task. The findings reveal the various cognitive and metacognitive processes and strategies that the participants engaged and the language and discourse aspects they attended to. Additionally, participants with higher ELP tended to interact with the sources and task and to engage in planning and organizing, generating and retrieving, and revising and editing more frequently than did participants with lower ELP. The findings and their implications for the teaching and assessment of source-based writing are discussed.  




How to Cite

Knouzi, I. (2023). The Cognitive Processes of ESL Writers Responding to an Integrated Argumentative Writing Task. TESL Canada Journal, 40(1), 61–80.