GRIPS 政策研究センター Policy Research Center


2016/5/25 ~ 2017/3/31

Predicting Writing Achievement in International Graduate Students


Academic success in graduate school depends on a number of academic and non-academic factors. Chief among them is the ability to produce acceptable academic prose as course papers, theses, and other written assignments are the primary way in which students demonstrate their learning. Mastering this ability is even more challenging for students for whom English is an additional language. Understanding what factors are associated with writing quality for such students has important implications both for students and for the university as it can lead to an improved curriculum and writing support structures as well as better screening of applicants at admission.

Research on the validity of predictors of writing achievement has focused on a wide range of cognitive, linguistic, and affective variables including academic preparation, English proficiency, and the amount of support a student has received during their study. However, much of this research has been limited to undergraduate students studying in English-speaking countries, and there is a dearth of research discussing predictors of writing achievement in English as a Foreign Language (EFL) settings, particularly at the graduate level. Yet, available scholarship on academic success highlights the importance of context in evaluating the predictive validity of factors associated with writing achievement.

The main purpose of this study is to evaluate the validity of a set of variables in predicting the writing achievement of a diverse group of international graduate students. Specifically, this study will attempt to answer the following research question: To what extent can the quality of student writing be predicted from a combination of academic preparation, English proficiency, overall academic performance, amount of support received from writing instructors, and advisor’s background (i.e., academic vs. non-academic).

A second purpose of this study is to examine trends in the writing quality of students’ theses/final papers that have occurred over the past 11 years. This analysis will involve looking at changes that have occurred in the writing quality of student papers over time and comparing papers written by students having advisors with differing backgrounds in different programs. This analysis will attempt to answer the following research questions:

  1. How has the writing quality of student papers changed over the past 11 years by program and advisor’s background?
  2. Which advisors produce students with higher or lower quality of writing in their theses/final papers?
  3. Which programs produce students with higher or lower quality of writing in their theses/final papers?