Synthesis writing in upper-secondary education: From a baseline of texts and processes to process-oriented feedback

Datum: 18 september 2020

Locatie: Online doctoraatsverdediging - Blackboard Collaborate - - -

Tijdstip: 14 uur

Promovendus: Nina Vandermeulen

Promotor: Gert Rijlaarsdam, Mariëlle Leijten en Elke Van Steendam

Korte beschrijving: Doctoraatsverdediging Nina Vandermeulen - Faculteit Letteren en Wijsbegeerte


It is important that upper-secondary students develop their synthesis writing proficiency as synthesis writing is a common activity in higher education. Independently of the field of study, all students will write multiple synthesis texts during their academic career. Writing synthesis texts -texts which integrate information from different sources- is challenging, given the cognitively demanding nature of this task. The process of source-based writing involves a complex interplay of reading and writing sub‑processes.

This dissertation is structured around three research lines: (1) a national baseline study, (2) process‑product relations, and (3) process-oriented feedback. It outlines the path from baseline, over writing process-product relations, to process‑oriented feedback. The focus strongly lies on synthesis writing processes, using keystroke logging tool Inputlog.

The first research line aims to provide a state‑of‑the‑art on synthesis writing in Dutch upper-secondary education and a baseline for future research. It consists of a national survey on synthesis writing on three dimensions: writing performance, writing processes and writing perspectives. The second research line aims at exploring the relation between the writing process and the quality of the text. This research line consists of two sub-goals. First, we focused on source use during the process and identified effective patterns of source use for both argumentative and informative synthesis texts. Secondly, we formed writing process profiles as we examined configurations of synthesis writing activities across different phases of the writing process and their relation to text quality. The third and final research line focuses on process‑oriented feedback. We aimed at creating an Inputlog process report that would facilitate the use of keystroke logging in the classroom. Moreover, we aimed to develop process-oriented feedback, including a keystroke logging process report and benchmark processes, to improve upper-secondary students’ synthesis writing. The feedback was embedded into a flow that stimulates reflection and self-regulated learning. In an intervention study we tested the effect of the feedback on the students' writing performance and their writing process. The study showed the potential of the process-oriented feedback.