English Language Learners, Writing Challenges, and Writing Identities: Experiences of Graduate Student Writers in Education
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This qualitative research, grounded within a sociocultural perspective, investigated the experiences of non-native speakers of English when they write in an academic context in graduate level education courses. I explored writing challenges and success, the effects of challenges on writing identity, and strategies and environment that enhance writing competency of 3 English Language Learners (ELLs) in an Ontario University. Data were collected through a survey design including a questionnaire, semi-structured interviews, and post-interview questions. Data analysis adopted a 6-step process for analyzing and interpreting qualitative data described by Creswell (2015). The study’s theoretical framework encompassed Ivanič’s (2004) multilayered view of language, and Ivanič’s (1998) 4 aspects of writing identities. Findings suggest that ELLs’ academic literacy practices are influenced by various elements, their writing identities are constructed and shifted in the academic setting, and their writing challenges have a significant influence on different aspects of their writing identities. In addition, ELLs can improve their writing competency and make progress in their academic literacy if they are provided with an appropriate and supportive learning environment, practices, and strategies. The study discusses implications of findings and suggests areas for further research.
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