1. Introduction

Writing is an essential aspect of language. In fact, along with listening, speaking, and reading, writing constitutes one of the four foundational skills popularly addressed when discussing language. Raimes (as cited in Göçen, 2019) defines writing as “the communication of ideas clearly, fluently, and effectively and the transfer of emotions, thoughts, wishes and dreams by using symbols in an effective way in accordance with the grammar rules” (p.1032). Furthermore, the process of representing sounds involves the writer’s general knowledge, cognitive abilities and emotions, which makes it a complex, effortful, and time-consuming activity. According to the process approach to writing, as its name suggests, writing is a multipart task which starts by developing and organizing ideas, followed by the creation of the first draft. Additionally, a process of revising and editing attempts to improve the text as much as possible before the final version. 

However, it is typical for language students and programs to pay little attention to this skill. Experience shows that far too often, students emphasize attention to speaking, putting an extra effort to improve performance on speaking and pronunciation, thus commonly viewing speaking as the only valuable productive skill. Communicative approaches to language teaching are sometimes misunderstood by assuming that only speaking is to be developed, and other skills are subordinate to speaking production. The downside of this perspective of language learning and teaching is that students go through language programs which do not prepare the learner for proper writing in the target language.

The participants in this study were part of a 4-month reinforcement English program that is aimed at students that have done an 11-month nationwide immersion program that prepares students in a B2 level according to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). It was observed that after studying English for a year in an immersion program, students’ writing skills needed improvement. Students often lacked a basic understanding of sentence, paragraph, and further essay structure. In a context where writing is not often seen as an essential part of language learning, language teaching is still based on traditional teaching principles (Lopez Diaz, et al., 2019). Participants in the study seemed to fail to understand the difference between formal academic writing and creative writing. Hence, formal instruction was needed. As a result, this project aims to contrast the difference in student’s writing production before and after the implementation of process writing with these EFL students. Additionally, this research seeks to apply process writing as a tool to boost their current writing skills by going through the different steps in writing led by a qualified instructor.

Writing is as vital a skill as any other. Although it may be neglected due to the lack of experience in formal academic writing by many inexperienced or poorly trained EFL teachers, writing remains an essential aspect of language learning. Bruning and Horn (as cited in Göçen, 2019) add that students might negatively react when faced with writing because writing is regarded as a complex skill. Applying process writing as an experimental tool to analyze students’ progress may result in restructuring a syllabus that incorporates process writing as part of its core components. Additionally, through process writing, students can divide the tedious task of writing into scaffolded steps, thus being able to produce higher-quality drafts in each step. Process writing can also provide students with tools for self-assessment as they progress through every step. Teachers can focus on one specific step at a time and guide students to write step-by-step and develop analytical skills, as they concentrate on the specific processes involved with each writing step, instead of assessing the writing piece as a whole. 

This study can further suggest ways that improve second language writing skills in Dominican students and techniques for teaching writing in the EFL classroom. Teachers sometimes feel pressure to cover content as demanded by the syllabus or calendar being followed, so it makes it easier for them to target techniques which have already proven effective, instead of wandering around and losing valuable instructional time. Lastly, students will significantly benefit from improving their writing skills since they can take their compositions to track their own progress in the target language.


Overall, this project aims at contrasting the differences in the writing skills of students before and after being exposed to process writing. In order to do so, researchers try to answer the following research questions:

•   What is the current organizational structure of paragraphs written by the students?

•   What are the differences in the organizational structure of the paragraphs written by students before and after implementing process writing?

•   What is the students’ perception of process writing as a new tool for writing in academic contexts?

Although this project refers to other variables involved in the writing process, researchers decided to pay close attention to the organizational structure in paragraphs. For instance, readers may consult Appendix 1 and realize how writing instruction emphasizes the order and use of sentences, building from previous units in the general syllabus. Other studies, however, may expand more on the qualitative aspects of writing as a result of process-oriented writing instruction. 

2. Literature Review 

Writing has been approached differently by many language educators in different contexts. Graham (2007) states that process writing is a creative act, involving positive and continual feedback, instead of someone only interested in the final product. According to Hussain (2017) “Students can become competent in learning L2 writing by modeling and describing the strategies and processes about effective writing. Effective writing includes drafting, planning, generating, and revising ideas” (p.212).

Through this process, feedback is essential for the students to understand what is correct and how it can be done better. However, writing is often neglected. For instance, Lopez (2005) states that “Foreign language students are usually not required to write in their L2 outside the classroom. Besides, foreign language teachers are uncertain about the role of writing in the FL classroom.” On the other hand, Alodwan and Ibnian (2014) add that the process approach to writing gives students the freedom to try new things with the language, and it helps students develop fluency without worrying about a finished product. Bayat (2014) argues that various techniques should be used to eliminate the burden of writing accurately in a foreign language, and process writing appears to be a beneficial approach. Referring to the different stages of process writing, Carolan and Kyppö (2015) assert that in addition to the first draft students write, the revising and editing stage is one of the most fruitful stages. They add that this stage “makes the students think about what they are doing and what they are writing about and thus promotes their skills of critical literacy” (p.23). Therefore, applying process writing could account for students’ achievement in writing while reducing the anxiety of getting a correct finished product without exhausting a proper process. 

2.1. Second language writing 

Among the many studies discussing writing, Polio and Lee (2017) discuss the role of writing in language learning. According to these authors, oral skills production and literacy are related. Writing is an important communication skill and has a significant role in second language acquisition (Chastain, 1988). Writing has relevance to academic success since it is a widespread assessment measure. Students with weak writing abilities may put their academic success at risk. It is commonly believed that students consider writing as a tedious and challenging task, in which they must engage in order to pass exams. 

Similarly, native speakers also consider writing as a complicated task. In the case of foreign learners, writing requires linguistic knowledge, proper grammar use, and vocabulary retrieval. It also needs critical thinking strategies, which will allow the learners to adequately express themselves in the second language (Yavuz-Erkan & İflazoğlu-Saban, 2011). Behavioristic and contrastive rhetoric can be considered the main approaches to teaching writing. In contrast, Arefi (1997) mentions two common approaches in the study of writing: the product-oriented approach and the process-oriented approach. The process-oriented approach deals with the way to reach the final product, while the product-oriented approach deals with the final product and the way it is evaluated. Furthermore, Brown concluded that the writing process and writing product are both critical and, according to the author, should be emphasized (Brown, 2001). A balance between product-oriented and process-oriented writing is needed to give students several opportunities to develop writing proficiency. 

2.2. Process Writing 

Process writing may adhere to many definitions. Listyani (2018) defines it as an approach related to the task environment and the writer’s long-term memory. Such definition implies writing as profoundly influenced by the environment in which it is developed and also proposes a strong connection between vocabulary retrieval and writing. Additionally, it focuses on the process as a means to create the expected product. Many authors, such as Seow (as cited in Listyani, 2018), limit process writing’s steps to planning, drafting, revising, and editing These stages receive different names by different authors in the field of writing; however, they convey the same process-oriented perspective to writing. Table 1 discusses the elements present in each of the Process Writing steps. Furthermore, Seow (2002) asserts that “Process writing in the classroom is highly structured as it necessitates the orderly teaching of process skills” (p.316); thus, teachers implementing this approach need to plan instruction carefully, so it can be effective to students.

Table 1. Process Writing Steps 

Process Writing Steps 


Planning has to do with prewriting, by outlining and brainstorming ideas. This stage tends to be fundamental to the writing process, as students struggle to think about ideas that may connect to what they want to write. Among the many strategies that can be used in this stage, Bae (2011) suggests: brainstorming, listing, clustering, freewriting, reading, skimming, and scanning. Mistakes do not receive attention in this part since the intention is to gather as many ideas as possible. Furthermore, failure at this stage may result in a lack of ideas in the other steps of the process and additional writing time.


Drafting puts ideas together in a coherent fashion. This may, as well, be one of the most challenging stages for students since it is not commonly natural for them to transform outlined thoughts into sentences. Here, students concentrate on getting ideas on paper without worrying about grammatical and mechanical errors (Bae, 2005).


This stage focuses on assessing the text’s alignment and overall cohesion. Students pay close attention to the content and organization of the whole text, looking for cohesion and avoiding engaging in specific internal errors found throughout the text. The teacher can also guide the students to questions related to assignment-specific guidelines.


In the editing part, students dedicate time to the mistakes found in the text. By addressing grammar, word choice, connectors, punctuation, and spelling, students pursue writing accuracy.


Some experts suggest one last stage called “publishing,” in which students share what they have written or in the academic world, they may submit it for scholarly publication (Laksmy as cited in Aziz, 2015). Other authors call it “sharing” (Bae, 2005) and think of it as an opportunity for students to communicate and negotiate on text’s mechanics.

Source: Created by researchers 

2.3. Process Writing and ELT 

As an approach, process writing is a suitable approach to developing and supporting learner’s second language writing proficiency, which benefits the learners in many ways. The need for process writing emerges from the many challenges students face when trying to write in the target language. Accordingly, Aziz (2015) observes that “students have difficulties getting ideas, organizing ideas and developing details, choosing correct words and structuring ideas in (actual) correct sentences, as well as maintaining paragraph unity”. That is why process writing provides an opportunity for students to orderly organize ideas and incorporate them into drafts as it offers students a process to follow. For instance, if students experience difficulty organizing their ideas, these can be addressed in the prewriting stage, in which the teacher provides learners with the appropriate brainstorming strategies. Later, she also argues that the scaffolding technique in the process of EFL writing is an instructional strategy that helps learners’ transition through stages (Aziz, 2015). Another critical aspect of Process Writing is the fact that teachers need to provide feedback consistently. 

Native language and target language correspondence should also be an area of concern. Students regularly draw from their writing competence in the L1 in order to transfer those skills to the target language (L2). For instance, Bae (2011) observes that “previous studies examining the L2 writing process frequently show that skilled L2 writers demonstrate a similar writing process to that of L1 writers.” Thus, when addressing writing in the EFL classroom, teachers need to scaffold writing instruction in a way that it builds on the underlying assumptions in writing into developing more sophisticated texts. Process writing, then, becomes a bridge between the lacking writing competence and the expected L2 competence. Good writing in L1 may or may not ensure L2 successful writing, but it indeed aids its acquisition. Brown (as cited in Listyani, 2018) adds to this by stating that ‘’it is imperative that teachers understand that there are many differences between L1 and L2 writing’’ (p.173). By understanding the underlying differences
 between both, teachers are more capable of understanding students’ realities and struggles throughout the writing practice. Additionally, teachers who are aware of these differences are less influenced by biases related to students’ expected proficiency in contrast to that of their L1. The evolving nature of process writing provides teachers with the opportunity to guide students’ understanding of the expected outcome of their writing as they work on it. Although process writing emphasizes the process over product, teachers can inform students on how this tool helps them develop their writing competence, which affects their overall language proficiency.

3. Methodology

Due to the nature of the inquiry, Action Research (AR) was chosen as the methodological approach for this project. Burns (2010) explains how AR (AR) proves useful and valuable when we, teachers, intend to improve teaching practice and skills, and also gain more understanding of ourselves as teachers, our classrooms and our students. AR involves taking a self-reflective, critical, and systematic approach to exploring one’s own teaching context. AR relied on four fundamental steps: Planning, acting, observing, and reflecting (Burns, 2010). First, within the planning stage, researchers observed, diagnosed, and idealized a systematized response to the problem. The result of such reflection was the creation of writing workshops that specifically address the organizational structure, syntax, and cohesion of paragraphs. Second, within the acting stage, such a plan was implemented, carrying out writing workshops using process writing as the approach. Third, while on the implementation stage, the teacher recorded impressions and reflections based on the development of the lessons. Fourth, within the reflection, researchers engaged in contrasting activities to discern if students had made any progress. In this stage, as well, a survey was sent to students. This survey aimed at collecting their perceptions in that new writing approach. Thus, the process suggested by Burns (2010) was fully exercised during the scope of this research. A mix of quantitative and qualitative tools was used to make sure data is context relevant. These instruments include teacher’s and students’ perception surveys, teacher’s observation of students’ reactions towards the process, and evaluative rubrics for the pre-test and the post-test. The qualitative aspects of AR favor all of these instruments.

3.1. Population and Sample 

This project was implemented in a group of low intermediate class (-B1) of 25 young adults ranging from 19 to 34 years old. All participants completed a one-year immersive program in which they were to achieve a B2 level. The participants are all studying in Dominican universities. Some of these students have part-time jobs, in addition to the English classes. Despite the lack of research in this Dominican context, a previous study with a similar group of students was carried by Lopez Diaz (2019) describing important aspects of the students within this program and the program itself. In general, these students are enrolled in a course to increase their proficiency level by grammar instruction and communicative practice. Communicative approach strategies and Cooperative Learning are both usually implemented by instructors during the course. For the sake of improving students’ proficiency, prior to this study, students were instructed on S+V agreement, statement word order, question word order, use of punctuation marks, and sentence writing–simple, compound, and complex sentences. In order to conduct this study, a sample of twelve students was randomly selected.

3.2. Procedures 

In order to carry out this research, the pretest and posttest design was used. From a classroom of 23 students, a representative amount of 12 students was taken as a sample. Students were first requested to write a paragraph about a topic of their choice. No detail or context was previously given in order to elicit a sample text that would reflect students’ writing styles in the most basic and authentic way possible. Then, the sample paragraphs were holistically graded using a specialized rubric. The teacher remained observant throughout the process. After this, students went through four days of formal instruction on process writing, as detailed in our plan below. Then, students were asked to write another sample text, which was equally evaluated using a rubric to compare the progress, if any. Appendix 1 includes the action plan carried by researchers for the project. 

4. Results and Discussion

After completing a sequence of 4 process writing lessons, students received a survey to capture students’ perception of the progress and usefulness of the lessons. For this classroom research, a sample of 12 intermediate students completed an online survey. Throughout the lessons, all students were asked to write paragraphs, which were then corrected using a paragraph-structure rubric. We consider the teacher’s observation, survey, and pieces of writing for the below discussion and analysis.

Firstly, about 85% of the students responded that the brainstorming phase is of keen importance. The following is an example of a student’s statement that relates to the brainstorming stage: ‘Usually I had problems with ideas, but now I can put in order about what I will write’ (Survey response to question #8, unedited). Being able to organize what would be written in the drafting stage also decreased the amount of time students had initially taken to produce a well-written paragraph. Students initially took an average of 33.2 minutes to produce a paragraph, and after this stage, the students averaged 24.5, which decreased the overall writing time by 8.7 minutes.

However, when asked about difficulties at the time of writing, ‘getting ideas’ only received around 12%. ‘Punctuation and Spelling’, on the other hand, received about 43%. This factor tells us that students’ difficulties present when writing are not necessarily affected by the lack of ideas, but instead could lie in other aspects of the language. This is also supported by students whose writing showed remarkable progress on paragraph structure, but still revealed weak punctuation competence and other grammar errors. The following is an excerpt of a student’s paragraph about the importance of learning English:

‘...Many people think about learning English is so necessary now. To speaking English can help you, to communicate with different people around the word. If you know English nowadays, you could get a naci and easy job.’ (Student #8’s 2nd pretest, unedited). 

By analyzing the previous excerpt, we can assert that the student needs to work on, but not limited to first/third-person singular -s, spelling, gerund and infinitive phrases, and conditionals. Even though the general paragraph structure is present, comprehension is affected by other components. In addition, students were asked how good they considered their writing skills before these series of lessons, and the answers showed some degree of variation. A relatively similar or even amount of responses was obtained for almost every scale when asked about the before-the-lessons writing skills, which reveals the vast diversity and probable lack of prior knowledge about writing in students. During classes, a considerable number of students expressed they were never taught writing skills deductively, and thus lacked knowledge and awareness of explicit rules on writing structure. While in writing, it is necessary to be aware of own thinking processes in order to explore the best way, foresee the possible mistakes, and reach accurate results in thought production and problem-solving (Balta, 2018).

A positive contrast to the statements above was found when students were asked about the lesson results. This time the answers did not vary as much. About 75% of the students answered that upon completion of the lessons, their writing had improved significantly. The students also stated that the drafting stage, which included instruction of paragraph writing structure, had helped in the process. The following is an example of a student’s statement that relates to the drafting stage, when asked how effective it was: ‘Yes, it is because I can organize my ideas perfectly’

Table 2. Comparative table for pretest and posttest scores 


Diagnostic Paragraph –prior to process writing (Based on 20 pts)

Published Paragraph –after process writing lessons (Based on 20)

Improvement (In percentage)

Student 1




Student 2




Student 3




Student 4




Student 5




Student 6




Student 7




Student 8




Student 9




 Student 10




 Student 11




 Student 12




 Student 13




 Student 14




Additionally, revising also received a great deal of attention. The most frequently occurring response was that about 93% of the students think that revising and editing before publishing writing is of utmost importance. The following is an example of a student’s statement that relates to the revising and editing stage: ‘the process of writing has helped me to know how organize my ideas before writing, where to put the point, the coma. all this allows me express myself more clearly’ (Survey response to question #5, unedited).

After analyzing the students’ progress, initially, the class had averaged 8.5. Results evidenced that the target paragraph structure was not in students´ schemas. Cohesion was also weak and demonstrated that students needed work on grammatical and lexical items. Mostly students’ errors reflected weaknesses in the following areas: Punctuation rules (especially the use of commas and periods to join/divide ideas), spelling, conditionals, perfect grammar tenses, present, and past participles, and infinitive and gerund phrases. A final analysis of the students’ progress showed that the class had an average of 14.8, which represents an improvement of 85%. The writing samples produced by the students indicated that, although some grammatical errors such as grammar tenses were still present, general coherence and cohesion of the text had been greatly improved. Despite errors, comprehension was facilitated by the competent organization of ideas and was not affected in many cases.

Lastly, a record of teacher perception of students’ behavior, performance, and the effectiveness of the approach supported the feasibility of this intervention with the student. The simple “journal” included a detailed review of the steps within the lessons and comments on teachers’ perceptions of students’ emotions and attitudes throughout the project. According to the journal, the teacher noticed that students felt confused during the first lesson due to the little exposure they had previously had to writing. Nevertheless, the teacher noted that students were responsive and willing to participate. For the second day, students were faster writers and were already better at organizing their ideas. Teacher reflections also mentioned how several students talked about the helpfulness of the newly implemented lessons. However, towards the third day, when writers were asked to correct and revise, students had to receive guidance regarding what errors to identify. The instructor noted frustration as one of the feelings associated with the revising/editing stage. Another important event was a misunderstanding about the implications of the concept of “topic sentence” as students understood this as related to adding a title to their texts. Finally, the last day when comparing differences between initial pre-test and post-test samples, students themselves felt surprised due to the improvement in the texts’ organizational structure, as noted by the teacher.

5. Conclusion

Writing should no longer occupy a lesser role in language learning and instruction. The diversity in approaches suggests its usefulness and relevance to the language students. Dominican students can make use of process writing as a reflexive exercise to mirror language proficiency and development over a period of time. Process writing instruction, though, calls for instructional quality. As mentioned in the study, teachers themselves need to be able to understand the writing process and its benefits so that they can convey it to students in a way that is meaningful and useful.

This study demonstrated that students’ current organizational structures were lacking in qualitative aspects such as topic sentences, coherence, and cohesion on the paragraph level. In the pretest, most of the students’ writing reflected a lack of those elements or underdeveloped attempts. The pretest scores confirm this deficiency. However, after process writing instruction, students were able to pay closer attention to the quality of those texts; thus, their scores increased due to the presence of higher-quality items such as topic sentences and a more coherent structure. This finding advocates the use of process writing within EFL. Such is the relevancy of this approach that students’ satisfaction surveys demonstrated their preference for process writing.

In sum, the significant increase in students’ grades in the published writings demonstrates how essential Process Writing is to the students’ writing skill development, despite other areas of improvement that may still be present. Additionally, the prominent errors that students continued to show reveal that writing proficiency will depend strictly on the student’s proficiency in the language. Therefore, the population and context will always play a significant role. Although the organization of ideas and cohesion in the paragraph aided the general comprehension of the paragraphs studied, second language writing requires the integration of more skills and other abilities in the language.


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Bayat, N. (2014). The Effect of the Process Writing Approach on Writing Success and Anxiety. Educational Sciences: Theory & Practice14(3), 1133-1141. https://doi.org/10.12738/estp.2014.3.1720    

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Appendix 1. Action Plan 




Intended Outcome 



Feb 25th - March 1st 

●   Analysis. Observe the learning environment and assess a need that can be addressed in the classroom. The research team evaluates possible topics for research, chooses one and studies relevant literature on the matter.

●   Draft a proposal with literature review, topic, and objectives, outline action plan.

Establish a foundation for the research project.

Research Team


Friday March 1st, 2019

●   PRE-ASSESSMENT: Students will write a pre-assessment writing sample; teacher will not demand for any specific standard other than a four-sentences paragraph. 

●   Sample will be analyzed and graded by the teacher using the specified rubric.

●   Students will discuss the importance of writing. Teacher will write observations as students talk about their feelings related to writing. The teacher will be as specific as possible.

●   Teacher will explain prewriting by guiding students through PowerPoint presentation. Students will choose a topic of their choice and will prewrite.

●   Exit ticket: How effective/useful was today’s writing lesson today? Why?

●   Collect a writing sample of all the students that exhibit their current writing skill.

●   Introduce process writing as a tool to improve writing skills. 

Research Team and classroom teacher


Monday March 4th, 2019

●   Teacher will ask students about their impression of yesterday’s lesson. Likes and dislikes. 

●   Students will revisit their ideas in the prewriting stage and will start drafting based on the teacher’s instruction on drafting. Teacher will use resource “Weaving it Together” to explain the paragraph style and structure.

●   Exit ticket: How effective/useful was today’s writing lesson today? Why?

●   Organize ideas coherently into paragraphs.

●   Identify key characteristics in a paragraph.

Classroom teacher



Tuesday March 5th, 2019

●   Teacher will discuss students’ progress based on what they have been doing (positive reinforcement). 

●   Teacher will have two to three students read their drafts. Then, teacher will explain revising for students to read and revise alone.

●   After revising individually, students will also edit individually.

●   Students will work in pairs and will read and suggest changes to each other.

●   Teacher will write observations as students talk about their feelings related to writing. The teacher will be as specific as possible.

●   Exit ticket: Do you see any progress in your writing after today’s lesson? Explain

●    Track progress on writing skill by reflecting on initial draft.

●    Revise a paragraph paying attention to general cohesion.

●    Edit a paragraph correcting internal mistakes.

Classroom teacher


Wednesday March 6th, 2019

●   Teacher will discuss with students the changes their writing went through the day before and will also ask about students’ satisfaction. 

●   Gallery walk: Teacher will hang students’ paragraphs on the wall in order for them to go around and read each other’s’ paragraph and write some comments on it. 

●   Final Exit ticket: Do you think process writing is helpful for you? How has it helped you? 

●   Teacher will write observations as students talk about their feelings related to writing. The teacher will be as specific as possible.

●   POST-ASSESSMENT: Students will be asked to write a paragraph about a different topic, within a specific timeframe. Teacher will not say anything related to process writing. 

●    Comment on each other’s paragraphs and suggest changes.

●    Contrast changes in initial writing and final product by seeing both writing samples.

●    Discuss progress made after process writing instruction.

Research Team and classroom teacher


March 11th-15th 

●   Analysis. See the results and analyze data collected through the implementation and afterwards.

●   Draw conclusions related to relevant teaching implications of the research.

●    Evaluate results and principles based on collected data.

Research Team