Writing in an electronic age: A case study of L2 composing processes


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Studies on second language (L2) learners writing in English have found that composing is a recursive process requiring planning, formulating and revising. Of particular note among the many studies that have explored the composing processes of L2 writers are two characteristics: 1) They examine the composing processes of writers in real-time while they respond to a prompt. 2) They have been performed on writers who compose using pen and paper. While such research has been valuable for advancing the understanding of the processes taken by L2 writers, both the task (an immediate response to a prompt) and the instruments (pen and paper) do not reflect typical approaches undertaken by L2 university students. This exploratory case study follows the composing processes of “Andrea,” a master’s student, while she wrote a 4000-word essay. Using in-depth logs, a questionnaire and interviews, starting from her receipt of a prompt to the assignment submission, Andrea’s composing processes were categorized and analyzed both qualitatively and temporally. Findings indicate notable differences between Andrea’s time allotment to composing behaviors and that of other studies, suggesting that the cognitive resources used by writers in an electronic environment may be different from those used when using pen and paper. Copyright © 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)295-307
JournalJournal of English for Academic Purposes
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2010


Stapleton, P. (2010). Writing in an electronic age: A case study of L2 composing processes. Journal of English for Academic Purposes, 9(4), 295-307.


  • Composing processes
  • Second language writing
  • Academic writing
  • Cognitive resources


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