An investigation of learning transfer in English-for-general-academic-purposes writing instruction

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This case study involved a detailed examination of learning transfer from an English-for-general-academic-purposes writing course to tasks that involve writing in other academic courses. Data were gathered over one academic year from 11 students enrolled in the writing course. These students participated in a series of interviews and provided copies of writing they produced in the writing course and other courses. The interview transcripts were examined for reports of learning transfer, and the writing samples were examined for transfer of 10 learning outcomes targeted in the writing course. Findings indicated that a wide variety of learning outcomes did transfer from the writing course across task types and disciplines; however, this learning transfer was more frequent (a) for some learning outcomes (e.g., avoiding fused sentences; framing; using temporal transitions) than for others (e.g., using past perfect verb tense accurately; using similes/metaphors), (b) in some disciplines (e.g., humanities; social sciences) than in others (e.g., natural sciences), and (c) with some task types (e.g., synthesis of multiple sources) than with others (e.g., explanation of calculations). Implications of these findings for research and practice in second language writing education are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)183-206
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Second Language Writing
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2010


  • ESL
  • Freshman composition
  • Transfer of training

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Education
  • Linguistics and Language


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