Volume 18 Number 3

An Exploratory Study of Pauses in Computer-Assisted EFL Writing
Cuiqin Xu, Nanjing University
Yanren Ding, Nanjing University

The advance of computer input log and screen-recording programs over the last two decades has greatly facilitated research into the writing process in real time. Using Inputlog 4.0 and Camtasia 6.0 to record the writing process of 24 Chinese EFL writers in an argumentative task, this study explored L2 writers’ pausing patterns in computer-assisted writing settings and how their pausing patterns related to writing time allocation, writing fluency, and text quality. Results suggest that while the skilled writers allocated significantly less time to the prewriting stage, they paused significantly longer yet less frequently than the less-skilled group in this stage; however, the two groups displayed no significant difference in pause frequency or duration in the composing stage. Text quality was found to correlate positively with prewriting pause duration and writing fluency but negatively with the prewriting time. Web search and dictionary use were identified as important extra writing activities that gave rise to the observed time allocation and pausing patterns. These findings suggest that computer-assisted L2 writing has features distinct from pen-and-paper writing and that L2 writers need to be informed of how to coordinate and regulate writing resources in an electronic environment.

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