Can Scaffolding Mechanisms of Structuring and Problematizing Facilitate the Transfer of Genre-based Knowledge to Another Discourse Mode?

Document Type: Research Paper


Payame Noor University


A pivotal issue in research on writing concerns whether the knowledge of how genres are constructed and learned in one discipline/genre can be transferred to other contexts, genres, and disciplines. Yet, studies conducted so far have not presented a unified and complete view of how various writing instructional techniques can result in transferability. This study examined the effect of structuring and problematizing scaffolding mechanisms and the mediating effect of learners’ proficiency level on a cohort of Iranian English learners’ ability to transfer the acquired genre-based knowledge to a new discourse mode. Four groups of thirty pre-intermediate learners chosen from eight intact classes and four groups of advanced learners selected from eight intact classes participated in this study. The performance of the participants in structuring scaffolds, problematizing scaffolds, and combined structuring and problematizing scaffolds conditions were compared to that of the control groups. The results of a two-way ANCOVA revealed that scaffolding mechanisms could significantly result in genre-transferability. The results also suggested that scaffolding mechanisms brought about the best results when offered simultaneously. Besides, the result yielded no significantly moderating effect for learners’ proficiency level. Implications for classrooms are discussed.


Azevedo, R., & Hadwin, A. F. (2005). Scaffolding self-regulated learning and metacognition – implications for the design of computer-based scaffolds. Instructional Science, 33, 367−379.

Badger, R., & White, G. (2000). A process genre approach to teaching writing. ELT Journal, 52(2), 153−160.

Baleghizadeh, S., Timcheh Memar, A., & Timcheh Memar, H. (2011). A sociocultural perspective on second language acquisition: The effect of high-structured scaffolding versus low-structured scaffolding on the writing ability of EFL learners. Reflections on English Language Teaching, 10(1), 43−54.

Beaufort, A. (2007). College writing and beyond. Logan, UT: Utah State University Press.

Bruning, R., & Horn, C. (2000). Developing motivation to write. Educational Psychologist, 35, 25−38.

Cheng, F., & Chen, Y. (2009). Taiwanese argumentation skills: Contrastive rhetoric perspective. Taiwan International ESP Journal, 1(1), 23−50.

Cho, K., & Schunn, C. (2007). Scaffolded writing and rewriting in the discipline: A web-based reciprocal peer review system. Computers and Education, 48(3), 409–426.

Choi, J. (2013). Does peer feedback affect L2 writers’ L2 learning, composition skills, metacognitive knowledge, and L2 writing anxiety? English Teaching, 68(3), 187−213.

Clark, I. L., & Hernandez, A. (2011). Genre-awareness, academic argument, and transferability. The WAC Journal, 22, 65−78.

Devitt, A. J. (2004). Writing genres. Corbondale: South Illinios, UP.

Englert, C. S., & Hiebert, E. H. (1984). Children’s developing awareness of text structure in expository materials. Journal of Educational Psychology, 76, 65−74.

Flower, L., & Hayes, J. (1981). A cognitive process theory of writing. College Composition and Communication, 32, 365−387.

Hammann, L. A., & Stevens, R. S. (2003).Instructional approaches to improving students' writing of compare-contrast essays: an experimental study. Journal of Literacy Research, 35(2), 731−756.

Hassan, M. K., & Akhand, M. M. (2010). Approaches to writing in EFL/ESL context: Balancing product and process in writing class at tertiary level. Journal of NELTA, 15(1), 77−88.

Hill, H. (2012). Telling what they know; performing what they say: Genre awareness and the transferability of writing (Unpublished doctoral dissertation), University of Washington, Washington, USA.

Hyland, K. (1990). A genre description of the argumentative essay. RELC Journal, 21(1), 67−78.

Hyland, K. (1999). Academic attribution: Citation and the construction of disciplinary knowledge. Applied Linguistics, 20, 341− 367.

Kamimura, T. (2000). Integration of process and product orientations in EFL writing instruction. RELC Journal, 31 (2), 1−28.

Kanlapan, T. C. E., & Velasco, J. C. (2009). Constructing a self-regulation scale contextualized in writing. TESOL Journal, 1(1), 79−94.

Khodabandeh, F. (2014). Argumentation across L1 and L2: Examination of three instructional treatments of genre-based approach to teaching writing. Prodcedia˗Social and Behavioral Sciences, 98, 968−975.

 Khodabandeh, F., Jafarigohar, M., Soleimani, H. & Hemmati, F. (2013). The impact of explicit, implicit, and no-formal genre-based instruction on argumentative essay writing, The Linguistics Journal, 7(1), 134-166.

Kutz, E., Groden, S., & Zamel, V. (1993). The discovery of competence: Teaching and learning with diverse student writers. Portsmouth, NH: Boynton/Cook Publishers.

Lai, G., & Calandra, B. (2010). Examining the effects of computer-based scaffolds on novice teachers’ reflective journal writing. Education Tech Research Development, 58, 421–437.

Meyer, B. J. F. (1999). The importance of text structure in everyday reading. In A. Ram & K. Moorman (Eds.), Understanding language understanding: Computational models of reading and understanding (pp. 227−252). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Meyer, J. H. F., Land, R., & Bailie, C. V. (2010). Threshold concepts and transformational learning (Editors preface). Roterdam: Sense publisher.

Monem, R. (2010). Metacognitive functions, interest, and student engagement in the writing process: A review of the literature. In M. S. Plakhotnik, S. M. Nielsen, & D. M. Pane (Eds.), Proceedings of the ninth annual college of education and GSN research conference (pp. 64−68). Miami: Florida International University. 

Muncie, J. (2002). Finding a place for grammar in EFL composition classes. EFL Journal, 56,180−186.

Meyer, B. J. F. (1999). The importance of text structure in everyday reading. In A. Ram & K. Moorman (Eds.), Understanding language understanding: Computational models of reading and understanding (pp. 227−252). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Mustafa., Z. (1995). The effect of genre awareness on linguistic transfer. ESP, 14(3), 247−256.

Myles, J. (2002).Second language writing and research: The writing process and error analysis in student texts. TESL-EJ, 6(2), 1−20.

Perkins, D. N., & Salomon, G. (1988). Teaching for transfer. Educational Leadership, 46(1), 22–32.

Qian, L. (2013). A comparative genre analysis of English argumentative essays written by English major and non-English major students in an EFL context. Arab World English Journal, 4(1), 213−223.

Richards, J. C., & Schmidt, R. (2010). Longman dictionary of language teaching and applied linguistics (4th ed.). London: Pearson Longman.

Rounsaville, A., Goldberg, R., & Bawarshi, A. (2008). From incomes to outcomes: FYW students’ prior genre knowledge, meta-cognition, and the question of transfer. Writing Program Administration, 32(1), 97−112. 

Reiser, B. (2004). Scaffolding complex learning: The mechanisms of structuring and problematizing student work. The Journal of the Learning Science, 13(3), 273–304.

Ruan, Z. (2013). Metacognitive awareness of EFL student writers in a Chinese ELT context. Language Awareness, 23(1−2), 76−91.

Russell, D. R.  (1997). Rethinking genre in school and society: An activity theory analysis. Written Communication, 14(4), 504-554.

Samana, W., (2013). Teachers’ and students’ scaffolding in an EFL classroom. Academic Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies, 2(8), 338−343.

So, B. P. C. (2005). From analysis to pedagogic applications: Using newspaper genres to write school genres. Journal of English for Academic Purposes, 4(1), 67−32.

Spivey, N. N. (1991). The shaping of meaning: Options in writing the comparison. Research in the Teaching of English, 25, 390−418.

Stein, N., Bernas, R. S., Calicchia, D. J., & Wright, A. (1995). Understanding and resolving arguments: The dynamics of negotiation. In B. Britton & A. G. Graesser (Eds.), Mode/s of understanding (pp. 257−286). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Veerappan, V. A.  L., Suan, W. H., & Sulaiman, T. (2011). The Effect of scaffolding technique in journal writing among the second language learners. Journal of Language Teaching and Research, 2(4), 934−940.

Vyotsky, L. (1978). Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Wardle, E. (2007). Understanding ‘transfer’ from FYC: Preliminary results from a longitudinal study. Writing Program Administration, 31(1), 65−85.

Wood, D., Bruner, J. S., & Ross, G. (1976). Role of tutoring in problem-solving. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines, 17(2), 89–100.

Yang, W. (2011). Can genre-based instruction be ‘promising’ for transferability?English for Specific Purposes World, 11(33), 1−10.

Yang, W. (2012). A study of students’ perception and attitudes towards genre- based ESP writing instruction. Asian ESP Journal, 18(3), 50−73.