Deployment of a Web Based Critiquing System for Essay Writing in Hybrid Learning Environment

Deployment of a Web Based Critiquing System for Essay Writing in Hybrid Learning Environment

Fion S.L. Lee, Kelvin C.K. Wong, William K.W. Cheung, Cynthia F.K. Lee
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-380-7.ch024
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This chapter describes the use of a Web-based essay critiquing system and its integration into in a series of composition workshops for a group of secondary school students in Hong Kong. It begins with a review and application of the hybrid learning approach, followed by a description of latent semantic analysis, a methodology for corpus preparation. Then, the distribution computing architecture for essay critiquing system is described. It explicates the way in which the system is integrated with a writing pedagogy implemented in the workshop and the feasibility evaluation result is derived. The positive result confirms the benefits of hybrid learning.
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English is taught as a second language for students in Hong Kong. Among the four language skills, writing seems to be difficult to many second language students and they feel stressful in composition lessons. They have either difficulty in generating ideas to have a good coverage of the composition topic or insufficient time to well-organize their ideas and thoughts within the lessons. Although process writing has been practiced for some time and teachers are encouraged to give feedback to students’ writing drafts, they also find it stressful to provide immediate individual formative feedback within a lesson, especially when the class size is large. To alleviate this learning and teaching barrier, a web-based system called Essay Critiquing System (ECS) is developed. ECS makes use of an automatic text analysis technique known as Latent Semantic Analysis (LSA) to give students just-in-time feedback for reflecting on the essay content and organization of ideas. Based on the feedback, students can further revise their drafts independently and repeatedly until they find their essays good enough to be submitted to teachers for grading. It is believed that it is an effective way to challenge and encourage students to revise their essays’ contents and organization. This teaching mode is related to hybrid learning as it is integrated with both the online composition learning process using ECS and face-to-face meetings in which the teacher reviews the submitted drafts, provides written and/or verbal feedback to the students, and grades the final drafts.

In this paper, a review of hybrid learning and LSA in learning will first be provided. Following a brief overview of ECS, the methodology for preparing the corpus to be used by the critiquing system will be presented in detail. Apart from it, a three-tiered architecture that makes the system scale well to meet the analysis need will then be shown. Finally, the integration of ECS into a process approach to teaching composition and the preliminary results of the feasibility evaluation will be described.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Hybrid Learning: Learning that blends online and face-to-face delivery in which substantial proportion of the content or activity is delivered or carried out online.

Latent Semantic Analysis: A mathematical technique for computing the semantic similarity between pieces of textual information (for example, sentences, paragraphs or essays) with the help of a large corpus.

Pedagogy: The art of professional of teaching.

Sub-Theme: A part of a topic of discussion.

Essay Critiquing System: A system examines critically on essay writing.

Corpus: A collection of writings of a particular kind or on a particular subject.

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