Discourse synthesis: A research study on the use of semantic information for collaborative writing in secondary education

C.I. Damsa, G. Erkens, J.J.H.M. Janssen

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractOther research output


Discourse synthesis refers to reading and writing activities within a specific type of writing task, which requires students to synthesize information from multiple textual sources and use it to write a new text. The main goal of this research was to reveal how groups of secondary education students make use of semantic information from multiple sources, while undertaking a collaborative writing task. Furthermore, this study sought to identify the degree in which metacognitive activities specific to the discourse synthesis process are reflected in the groups’ chat discussions, during the execution of this task. Students performed a computer-supported writing task based on multiple textual sources. The preliminary and final group products of 10 groups (32 students), as well as the electronic discussions of the group members, were analyzed. For this analysis a semantic analysis instrument developed based on Kintsch and Van Dijk’s (1978) semantic representation theory was applied. In addition, the quality of the group products was assessed using an assessment instrument. The results of the study offer an insight into discourse synthesis activities, such as selecting and integrating semantic information units. The results point to the quantity and the type of semantic information selected from sources, the criteria based on which this information was integrated in the new text, and how groups discussed these activities. Noticeable results are, for instance, the fact that groups synthesized the information selected from sources based on ideas rather than based on authors (sources) and created new conceptual connections among ideas form various sources; or that semantic information was integrated according to a content-based structure.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 28 Aug 2007
EventConference of the European Association for Research on Learning and Instruction (EARLI) - Budapest, Hungary
Duration: 28 Aug 20071 Sept 2007


ConferenceConference of the European Association for Research on Learning and Instruction (EARLI)
CityBudapest, Hungary

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