Dr. Liza DerKhachadourian
Many university undergraduates consider writing assignments an overwhelming requirement. Traditional instructions rarely provide students with clear directions of how to use the Internet to search for authentic material and complete a task. The aim of this study was to scaffold the competence of EFL university students in writing an informative speech assignment through a Web Inquiry tool, the PowerQuest, in a Public Speaking class. An experimental study was carried at a Lebanese English medium private university. The participants (N=62), Lebanese undergraduates, were assigned into experimental and control groups randomly. The experimental group performed informative speech writing assignments through PowerQuest, whereas the control group followed the traditional way. The theoretical framework for using PowerQuest was the cognitive and constructivist theories. Data collection instruments were scores of pre/post-intervention essays, Likert scale, open-ended questions, and thematic analysis of the post-intervention essays. Data were analyzed qualitatively and quantitatively. Integration of PowerQuest tool made the experimental group engage into higher order thinking skills in a self-instructional, collaborative, motivating, technology-rich environment; they made use of up-to-date and authentic material through reliable domains and met deadlines. They outperformed the control group significantly and reflected a positive perception of the experience. Suggestions and recommendations for further research were shared.
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