A Comparison of the Use of Cohesive Devices in EFL Learners' Performance on Independent vs. Integrated Writing Tasks

Gholamreza Hessamy, Samira Hamedi


This study was an attempt to compare and contrast the frequency of the use of cohesive devices in independent and integrated essays written by 95 upper-intermediate Iranian EFL learners to find out about any possible changes in the type and frequency of using cohesive devices due to the nature of the writing task. The participants were native speakers of Farsi between 18 to 30 years old, studying English as a foreign language in an English language center in Yazd, Iran. The sample included 58 female and 37 male students. They were asked to compose an integrated argumentative essay after reading a text and listening to a lecture on the same topic as it is designed in TOEFL iBT® writing test. The participants first completed an independent task which had a prompt to write about and then completed an integrated writing task with a two-week interval between the writing sessions. The tasks were taken from the TOEFL iBT® writing task. Results indicated that there was a significant difference in the use of almost all types of cohesive devices between the two conditions with the independent task producing essays with lower cohesive device counts. The results revealed that in terms of textual cohesion, the participants preferred using anaphoric references to cataphoric references while substitution and ellipsis in both independent and integrated sample writings were rarely used. The students were also found to be better at using references and lexical cohesion in their integrated writings than in their independent essays. Finally, it can be concluded that the integrated writing task has positive effects on the students’ use of cohesive devices. The results of this study provide evidence on the effect of test method on writing performance and may advocate the use of integrated writing tasks to provide a better picture of students' writing abilities.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.22158/selt.v1n1p121


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