USING ACTION RESEARCH TO IMPLEMENT AN ORAL DISCOURSE APPROACH FOR TEACHING COMPOSITION WRITING

Christina Hsui Peng Wong

Abstract


English Composition writing requires thinking as one writes and it demands that a pupil uses written sentences to connect ideas to present a composition story in a coherent manner.  Yet, English composition writing remains a challenge for many pupils and they do not enjoy it.  This research study responds to this challenge by doing four things. First, it gets to the core of what a composition writing lesson should be like, by adopting an “Oral Discourse Approach” as described by Golub (1970) and Wyans (2008), to help pupils generate ideas and supply reasons to ensure that each idea flows logically.  The compilation of written ideas gathered from the entire class would then enable each pupil to construct his or her composition in a coherent manner.  Second, it expands the work of Golub (1970) and Wyans (2008) by incorporating the use of a “Plot Graph” to help pupils order and organize their ideas.  The application of “arrows and numbered boxes” in a Plot Graph helps pupils visualize the flow of ideas in the form of an organized arrangement of written ideas that are logical, thereby showing how a composition story is developed in a step-by-step manner from start to end.  Besides, the plot graph also empowers the rhetorical thought processes of each pupil by enabling pupils to trace how a sequence of events leads to the climax and how the resolution solves the problem. Third, it uses the Dialectic Soft Systems Methodology described by Dick (2002) and Tay and Lim (2004 & 2007) to explain how the process of composition writing can be described as progressing through four dialectics.  The Dialectic Soft Systems Methodology is not a new form of Checkland’s Soft Systems Methodology.  It goes through the same process as the “7-stage” description, except it is presented from a different perspective.  Through the Dialectic Soft Systems Methodology, the classroom-based Oral Discourse Approach can be turned into an individualised approach which a pupil can internalise and apply during examination or personal practice at home. By equipping pupils with a systemic perspective in seeing how each of the parts (which refers to the set of generated ideas, writing tips, and the notion of plot with climax can be applied to any set of picture stimulus) is needed to construct the whole (which refers to the completed piece of written composition that not only describes each picture stimulus but also describes the transition between four consecutive pictures), it can develop and empower each pupil’s rhetorical thought processes, thereby helping them improve in their composition writing.  The expectation from using this structured and individualized approach is that a pupil should be able to appreciate the fact that English Composition Writing is both an opportunity and a constructive modelling process that enables him or her to gain a better insight of a domain (the given set of picture stimuli that each pupil is required to write a narrative composition about) via the process of articulating, structuring and critically evaluating his or her storylines for that domain. Fourth, it demonstrates the cycles that one goes through when embarking on an action research journey.  Further, the combination of the classroom-based Oral Discourse Approach and the individualised Dialectic Soft Systems Methodology approach, offers a complete learning experience for each pupil, that is problem-focused and context-specific.  Apart from improving practice (in composition writing), it also strengthens a pupil’s timeless qualities such as confidence, capacity to think systemically and realisation of his or her natural potential to learn.  Finally, the concepts and approach used in this paper can also be applied to composition writing in other languages.


Keywords


Instructional Approach, Pupils, Systemic Approach

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