The effects of Concept Mapping Strategy and Aural Vs. Written Prompts on Writing Test Performance Under Different Planning Conditions

Document Type: Research Paper


Isfahan University


This study examined the effects of aural and written prompts under two planning conditions (i.e. pre-task planning and no planning) on complexity, accuracy, and fluency of test takers' writing production. Forty learners in an English institute, who had already been classified as intermediate according to the Oxford Placement Test, were assigned to two planning conditions (i.e. no planning and pre-task planning). Then the planning groups were further divided into another two groups: with aural prompt and with written prompt. Also, concept mapping strategy was applied during pre-task planning time by the test takers. The results obtained from t-test and two-way ANOVA revealed that the candidates who had received the written prompt utilized their planning time better and produced more fluent written texts than those who received the aural prompt. Furthermore, neither concept mapping strategy with aural prompt nor concept mapping strategy with written prompt led to more complex or more accurate writings. Finally, the interaction of no planning condition and written prompt had a significant effect on complexity in comparison with the pre-task planning condition with written prompt. Also, written prompt under no planning condition had a significant effect on complexity in comparison with the same planning condition with aural prompt.
It was concluded that the planned conditions, concept mapping strategy and the received prompts had little effect on the test takers' writing performance.


Ausubel, D. (1963). Cognitive structure and the facilitation of meaningful verbal learning. Journal of teacher education, 14, 217-221.

Ahmadian, M.J., & Tavakoli, M. (2010). The effects of simultaneous use of careful online  planning and task repetition on accuracy, complexity, and fluency in EFL learners’ oral production. Language Teaching Research, 15(1), 35–59.

Ary, D., Cheser Jacobs, L., Razavieh, A., & Sorensen, C. (Ed.). (2010). Introduction to research in education .Wandsworth: Cengage Learning.

Beidogan, H.O., & Bayindir, G. (2010). Effect of concept map supported teaching approaches from rules to sample and sample to rules to grammar teaching.  Procedia Social and Behavioral Sciences, 2, 3954–3964.

Biber, D., Gray, B., & Poonpon, K. (2011). Should We Use Characteristics of Conversation to Measure Grammatical Complexity in L2 Writing Development? TESOL QUARTERLY, 45 (1), 5-35.

Chularut, P., & DeBacker, T.K. (2003). The influence of concept mapping on achievement, self-regulation, and self-efficacy in students of English as a second language. Contemporary. Educational Psychology, 29, 248–263.

Cohen, J. (1988). Statistical power analysis for the behavioral sciences. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

Elder, C., & Iwashita, N. (2005). Planning for test performance: What difference does it make? In R. Ellis (Ed.). Planning and task performance in a second language (pp. 219–238). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Elder, C. A., Iwashita, N., & McNamara, T. (2002). Estimating the difficulty of oral proficiency tasks: What does the test-taker have to offer? Language Testing, 19, 347–368.

Ellis, R. (2005). Planning and task-based performance: Theory and research. In R. Ellis (Ed.). Planning and task performance in second language (pp. 3–34). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Ellis, R. (2009). The Differential Effects of Three Types of Task Planning on the Fluency, Complexity, and Accuracy in L2 Oral Production. Applied Linguistics, 30(4), 474–509.

Eliss, R. (2011). Editorial.  Language Teaching Research, 15 (2), 133-135.              

Ellis, R., & Yuan, F. (2004). The effects of planning on fluency, complexity and accuracy in second language narrative writing.  Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 26, 59–84.

Ellis, R. & Barkhuizen, G. (2005). Analyzing Learner Language. Oxford University Press.

Foster, P., & Skehan, P. (1996). The influence of planning and task type on second language performance.  Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 26 (1), 59-84.

Foster, P., & Skehan, P. (1999). The influence of source of planning and focus of planning on task-based performance. Language Teaching Research, 3, 215-247.

Gul, R.B., & Boman, J. (2006). Concept mapping: A strategy for teaching and evaluation in nursing education. Nurse Education in Practice, 6, 199–206.

Housen, A., & Kuiken, F. (2009). Complexity, Accuracy, and Fluency in Second Language Acquisition. Applied Linguistics, 30(4), 461–473.

Iwashita, N., Mc Namara, T., & Elder, C. (2001). Can we predict task difficulty in an oral proficiency test? Exploring the potential of an Information-Processing Approach to Task Design. Language Learning, 51(3), 401-436.

Kellog, R. (1996). A model of working memory in writing. In C. Levy and S. Ransdell (Ed.). The Science of Writing (pp. 57–73). Mahwah NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Levelt, W. (1989). Speaking: From intention to articulation. Cambridge MA: The MIT Press.

Liu, L.P. (2011). A study on the use of computerized concept mapping to assist ESL learners’ writing. Computers & Education, 57, 2548–2558.

Novak, D.J. (1992). The Theory Underlying Concept Maps and How to Construct Them. Cornell University. Retrieved April 20, 2004, from

Novak, D.J. (2010). Learning, Creating, and Using Knowledge: Concept maps as facilitative tools in schools and corporations. Journal of e-Learning and Knowledge Society, 6(3), 21-30.

Novak, J.D., & Gowin, D.B. (1984). Learning how to learn. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Ojima, M. (2006). Concept mapping as pre-task planning: A case study of three Japanese ESL writers, System, 34, 566–585.

Ortega, L. (1999). Planning and focus on form in L2 oral performance. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 21, 109–148.

Ortega, L. (2005). What do learners plan?  Learner-drive attention to form during pre-taks planning. In R. Ellis (Ed.). Planning and task performance in a second language (pp. 77–109). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Rezazadeh, M. (2011). The Effects of Individual and Collaborative Planning on Fluency, Complexity, and Accuracy in L2 Written Production of Iranian EFL Learners: Focusing on the Relationship among Planned Conditions, Language Proficiency, and Task Type. Unpublished master's thesis, University of Isfahan, Isfahan, Iran.

Pieronek, F. (1994). Using maps to teach note taking and outlining for report writing. The Social Studies, 85, 165–169.

Robinson, P. (2001). Task complexity, task difficulty, and task production: exploring interactions in a componential framework.  Applied Linguistics, 22, 27–57.

Sangarun, J. (2005). The effects of focusing on meaning and form in strategic planning. In R. Ellis (Ed.). Planning and task performance in a second language (pp. 111–141). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Schultz, M. (1991). Mapping and cognitive development in the teaching of foreign language writing. The French Review, 64, 978–988.

Skehan, P. (1996). A framework for the implementation of task-based instruction. Applied Linguistics, 17, 38–62.

Skehan, P. (1998). Task-based instruction. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, 18, 268–286.

Skehan, P. (1998). A cognitive approach to language learning. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Skehan, P. (2009). Modelling second language performance: Integrating complexity, accuracy, fluency, and lexis. Oxford University Press. Applied Linguistics, 30(4), 510–532.

Skehan, P. & Foster, P. (1997). Task type and task processing conditions as influences on foreign language performance. Language Teaching Research, 1, 185–211.

Storch, N. (2005). Collaborative writing: Product, process, and students’ reflections. Journal of Second Language Writing, 14, 153–173.

Tavakoli, P., & Skehan, P. (2005). Strategic planning, task structure and performance testing. In R. Ellis (Eds.). Planning and task performance in a second language (pp. 239-273). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Wendel, J. N. (1997). Planning and second language narrative production. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Temple University Japan Campus, Japan.

Wigglesworth, G. (1997). An investigation of planning time and proficiency level on oral test discourse. Language Testing, 14, 85-106.

Wigglesworth, G. (2000). Issues in the development of oral tasks for competency-based assessments of second language performance. In G. Brindley (Eds.). Studies in immigrant English language assessment. Sydney. National Centre for English Language Teaching and Research Macquarie University.

Wigglesworth, G., & Storch, N. (2009). Pair versus individual writing: Effects on fluency, complexity and accuracy. Language Testing, 26(3), 445-466.

Wigglesworth, G., & Elder, C. (2010). An investigation of the effectiveness and validity of planning time in speaking test tasks. Language Assessment Quarterly, 7(1), 1-24.

Yuan, F. & Ellis, R. (2003). The effects of pre task and on-line planning on fluency, complexity and accuracy in L2 monologic oral production. Applied Linguistics, 24(1), 1-27.