Document Type


Date of Degree


Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Education (Language, Literacy and Culture)

First Advisor

Carolyn Colvin

Second Advisor

Carol Severino


Although there is a considerable body of research examining the effects of teacher written commentary on second language writers' revision processes, scarce attention has been given to examining the larger pedagogical context in which multiple instructional, linguistic, and cognitive factors interact and affect the way students react and use varying kinds of feedback (e.g., teacher, tutor, peers) in the revision of their texts.

The purpose of this ethnographic case study is to document the kinds of strategies used by two ESL students enrolled in a first-year rhetoric course at a Midwestern university when revising different writing assignments. I explore the larger pedagogical context and its influences on the students' revision processes. In this in-depth, long term exploration of the philosophical perspectives and instructional practices of Rhetoric instructors, I document the feedback provided by a writing tutor and analyze the patterns that characterize the focal students' revisions while also illuminating the focal students' perspectives concerning the varying kinds of feedback they receive.

I present the findings in the form of a case study and analyze the data searching for key themes that emerged from data sources that include class observations, interviews with teachers, students, and key administrative staff. I audiotaped tutoring sessions, recorded students' revision think-aloud protocols, collected and examined copies of the students' writing for discourse analysis, collected course handouts and department philosophy statements, kept fieldnotes and a journal to record my observations and reflections.

The results suggest that ESL college students exhibit important rhetorical, cultural, and linguistic differences that may stand in the way of academic success. Rhetoric/composition teachers need greater preparation in order to effectively address these differences. The study also highlights the important role played by writing center tutors in helping ESL students cope with the demands of rhetoric classes and improve their writing skills. Through individualized instruction and specific instructional approaches (e.g., questioning, modeling, and cognitive structuring), the tutor in this study proved successful in stimulating the focal students' analytical and critical skills in the resolution of different tasks thus enhancing the ESL students' chances for academic success.


2, ix, 288 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 279-288).


Copyright 2003 Carmen Mota de Cabrera

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