Developing your academic writing friend: an academic writing tool for independent use
As the popularity of independent learning resources grows, new approaches to education and educational technology must be considered. This thesis introduces and details the development process for the prototype of a new automated feedback tool for research and academic writing called Your Academic Writing Friend, which is designed to help L2 English writers improve their research and academic manuscripts in a self-paced, independent learning environment. In this study, the Academic Writing Check feature of Your Academic Writing Friend was developed. The purpose of this feature is to provide the user suggestions on their writing samples, based on the following typical characteristics of academic writing: academic vocabulary, academic multi-word expressions, and academic grammar. This study also tested the efficacy of the suggestions provided by the Academic Writing Check portion of Your Academic Writing Friend, as judged by current MA in TESOL students who were also teaching a composition course for multilingual writers. These participants were asked to evaluate various text sample pairs and determine which sample (i.e., the original sample or the sample edited by Your Academic Writing Friend) subjectively appeared more “academic”. Three types of text samples were evaluated in this study: (1) samples written directly for this study by the Principal Investigator; (2) L2 English writing samples taken from the Michigan Corpus of Upper-Level Student Papers (MICUSP) corpus, but only incorporating a portion of the suggestions provided by Your Academic Writing Friend; and (3) L2 English writing samples taken from the MICUSP corpus, but incorporating all of the suggestions provided by Your Academic Writing Friend. The results of this study show that Your Academic Writing Friend did improve the relative “academicness” of some writing samples; however, it did not improve the majority of writing samples. These results indicate that this tool shows some promise and may be useful for revising research and academic manuscripts in certain contexts; however, Your Academic Writing Friend requires further refinement prior to its official release.