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An Exploratory Application of Rhetorical Structure Theory to Detect Coherence Errors in L2 English Writing: Possible Implications for Automated Writing Evaluation Software

Skoufaki, S (2009) 'An Exploratory Application of Rhetorical Structure Theory to Detect Coherence Errors in L2 English Writing: Possible Implications for Automated Writing Evaluation Software.' International Journal of Computational Linguistics & Chinese Language Processing: Special issue in Computer Assisted Language Learning, 14 (2). 181 - 203.

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Abstract

This paper presents an initial attempt to examine whether Rhetorical Structure Theory (RST) (Mann & Thompson, 1988) can be fruitfully applied to the detection of the coherence errors made by Taiwanese low-intermediate learners of English. This investigation is considered warranted for three reasons. First, other methods for bottom-up coherence analysis have proved ineffective (e.g., Watson Todd et al., 2007). Second, this research provides a preliminary categorization of the coherence errors made by first language (L1) Chinese learners of English. Third, second language discourse errors in general have received little attention in applied linguistic research. The data are 45 written samples from the LTTC English Learner Corpus, a Taiwanese learner corpus of English currently under construction. The rationale of this study is that diagrams which violate some of the rules of RST diagram formation will point to coherence errors. No reliability test has been conducted since this work is at an initial stage. Therefore, this study is exploratory and results are preliminary. Results are discussed in terms of the practicality of using this method to detect coherence errors, their possible consequences about claims for a typical inductive content order in the writing of L1 Chinese learners of English, and their potential implications for Automated Writing Evaluation (AWE) software, since discourse organization is one of the essay characteristics assessed by this software. In particular, the extent to which the kinds of errors detected through the RST analysis match those located by Criterion (Burstein, Chodorow, & Leachock, 2004), a well-known AWE software by Educational Testing Service (ETS), is discussed.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Automated Writing Evaluation, Discourse Organization, Coherence Errors, Rhetorical Structure Theory
Subjects: P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
P Language and Literature > PE English
Q Science > QA Mathematics > QA76 Computer software
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences > Language and Linguistics, Department of
Depositing User: Admin
Date Deposited: 01 Aug 2011 10:35
Last Modified: 17 Aug 2017 18:18
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/285

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