Students’ practices and abilities for writing from sources in English at universities in China
Abstract We surveyed the practices and abilities of 103 students at 4 universities in China to write from sources in English, documenting in their first and second years of Bachelors’ and Masters’ programs (longitudinally and cross-sectionally): (a) students’ self-reported approaches to writing from sources and instruction that had helped them; (b) the frequency, accuracy, and functions of citations in samples of their course papers; and (c) their abilities to summarize a reading passage under test-like conditions. The students wrote with some proficiency in English and emerging competencies in writing from academic sources, confirming, in this context where English is a foreign language, tendencies such as nascent senses of authorial identities and patchwriting documented in prior case studies of Chinese and other students writing at English-dominant universities internationally. Limited evidence for development from the first to second year appeared in undergraduate students increasing the frequency, accuracy, and functions of their citations, moving toward the tendencies maintained by graduate students in both years’ course papers. In their second years, most students also reported greater success in acknowledging source materials and focus on formal aspects of writing course papers. Only half the students indicated they had taken courses that helped them to write from sources.