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From Idea to Text
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  1. From Idea to Text John R. Hayes Carnegie Mellon University Presented to the Conference on Writing Development: Multiple Perspectives July 2nd, 2009

  2. Overview • An Experimental Method • Language bursts as a tool for studying writing processes • A Theoretical Issue • Parallel vs. Sequential Processing in writing © 2009 John R. Hayes

  3. The Language Burst Phenomenon • When people write, they typically produce text in short bursts of words separated by pauses and other activities © 2009 John R. Hayes

  4. An Example The best thing about it is that – what?Something about using my mind – it allows me the opportunity to – uh – I want to write something about my ideas – to put ideas into action or to – develop my ideas into – what? – into a meaningful form – oh, bleh! – say it allows me – to use na! – allows me – scratch that – The best thing about it is that it allows me to use – my mind and my ideas in a productive way © 2009 John R. Hayes

  5. Why Might Language Bursts Be Interesting? • May reflect a bottleneck in writing process • Identifying the bottleneck may pinpoint a source of writing difficulty • Related to but different from pause measures • Focused on doughnut rather than hole © 2009 John R. Hayes

  6. A First Study of Language Bursts(Kaufer, Hayes, & Flower; 1986) • Question: In what ways do the writing processes of more experienced writers differ from those of less experienced writers? • Think-aloud protocol study comparing graduate students and freshmen © 2009 John R. Hayes

  7. Results © 2009 John R. Hayes

  8. Bursts and Linguistic Experience (Chenoweth & Hayes, 2001) • Question: How does linguistic experience influence burst length? • Protocol study of American students studying French or German • Each wrote two essays, one in L1 & one in L2 • Students varied in L2 experience • Third-semester vs. fifth-semester students © 2009 John R. Hayes

  9. P = .0052

  10. P < .05

  11. Bursts and Working Me (Chenoweth & Hayes, 2003) • Question: How is burst length changed by reducing working memory resources? © 2009 John R. Hayes

  12. Study Design • Participants wrote one-sentence descriptions of wordless cartoons • Verbal working-memory reduced through articulatory suppression (AS) • In AS, the participant repeats a syllable while performing the task • Writers said “tap,” tapped a foot, or did nothing in time to a metronome (2 beats per second) © 2009 John R. Hayes

  13. Results © 2009 John R. Hayes

  14. Summary of Factors Influencing Burst Length • Burst length increased with: • the writer’s expertise • the writer’s linguistic experience • availability of verbal working memory • Increases in burst length corresponded to increases in fluency • Hypothesis: When writers produce new language that language will be produced in bursts © 2009 John R. Hayes

  15. Our Next Question • Which writing processes are responsible for these effects? © 2009 John R. Hayes

  16. Study 1: Where Do Bursts Happen Where? • Question: Does bursting happen during a simple transcription task? • Participants transcribed texts from one computer screen to another © 2006 J. R. Hayes & N. A. Chenoweth

  17. Results • Bursts were essentially absent in transcription • More than 80 words between breaks in typing • Transcription process not a source of bursts © 2009 John R. Hayes

  18. Study 2: Where Do Bursts Happen? • Question: Will bursting occur in a task that involves translating language but not proposing new ideas? © 2007 J. R. Hayes & N. A. Chenoweth

  19. Study 2: Design • Edited passive sentences into active voice • Groceries bought by the hungry travelers were eaten by a bear • A bear ate the groceries that the hungry travelers bought • Verbal working-memory reduced through articulatory interference • Writer said “tap” or tapped foot in time to metronome © 2009 John R. Hayes

  20. Results and Implications • Multiple bursts are typical in the passives translation task • Translation process can cause bursts • Translation is a bottleneck in the text production process • Application to writing development and second-language learning © 2009 John R. Hayes

  21. Are Writing Processes Parallel or Sequential? • Current models and methods assume sequential processing • Evidence from Alamargot et al. • More evidence suggesting parallelism © 2009 John R. Hayes

  22. An Alternative Possibility • Memory load hypothesis • Chanquoy, Foulin, & Fayol (1990) • Participants composed then sentences with three clauses and then typed them • Typing rate increased from clause one to clause three • Authors attributed increase in rate to decreasing memory load © 2009 John R. Hayes

  23. Memory Load Study • Task: transcribe text • Experimental condition: Remember sentence while typing • Control: No memory load © 2009 John R. Hayes

  24. Results © 2009 John R. Hayes

  25. Conclusion • Both parallelism hypothesis and memory load hypothesis could explain slowing of typing rate. • Results of Alamargot et al. require some parallelism © 2009 John R. Hayes

  26. Strategy Choice Position • Writing processes not intrinsically parallel or sequential • Writer chooses degree of overlap to manage processing load • Most often, sequential processing is chosen © 2009 John R. Hayes

  27. Summary • Sequential assumption may be a reasonably accurate approximation • Models and methods based on this assumption are still useful • We need to explore how often writers’ choose sequential vs. parallel processing and the conditions affecting those choices © 2009 John R. Hayes

  28. Thank you

  29. References • Chenoweth, N.A. & Hayes, J.R. (2001). Fluency in writing: Generating text in L1 and L2. Written Communication, 18, 80-98. • Chenoweth, N.A. & Hayes, J.R. (2003) The inner voice in writing. Written Communication, 20, 99-118. © 2009 John R. Hayes

  30. References (cont.) • Hayes, J. R. & Chenoweth, N. A. (2006) Is working memory involved in the transcription and editing of texts? Written Communication, 23, • Hayes, J. R. & Chenoweth, N. A. (2007) Revision and Working memory © 2009 John R. Hayes

  31. References (cont.) • Kaufer, D. S., Hayes, J. R., & Flower, L. (1986). Composing written sentences. Research in the Teaching of English,20(2), 121-140. © 2009 John R. Hayes

  32. Chenoweth, N.A. & Hayes, J.R. (2001). Fluency in writing: Generating text in L1 and L2. Written Communication, 18, 80-98. • Chenoweth, N.A. & Hayes, J.R. (2003) The inner voice in writing. Written Communication, 20, 99-118. © 2009 John R. Hayes

  33. References (cont.) • Hayes, J. R. & Chenoweth, N. A. (2006) Is working memory involved in the transcription and editing of texts? Written Communication, 23, • Hayes, J. R. & Chenoweth, N. A. (2007) Revision and Working memory. Written Communication, 24, © 2009 John R. Hayes

  34. References (cont.) • Kaufer, D. S., Hayes, J. R., & Flower, L. (1986). Composing written sentences. Research in the Teaching of English,20(2), 121-140. © 2009 John R. Hayes

  35. Results © 2009 John R. Hayes