Neutralizing Trade-off Effect between Accuracy and Fluency in EFL Writing by Mentor Text Modeling: Cognitive Complexity in Focus

Reza Biria, Farahnaz Liaghat


The present study sought to explore the efficacy of a brand-new approach to teaching writing called mentor text modeling in neutralizing trade-off effect between accuracy and fluency in writing tasks with different levels of cognitive complexity. To this end, a total of 60 (30 male and 30 female) Iranian EFL learners were randomly selected and assigned to three groups of comparison, each containing 20 (10 male and 10 female) learners. Employing a pretest/posttest experimental design, learners of the three groups received instruction on advanced writing during an 11-week course. At the commencement of the course, the learners’ fluency and accuracy in writing were gaged through three writing tasks with high, moderate, and low levels of cognitive complexity. Having been exposed to the same instructional input, the learners of each group underwent writing instructions based on one of three approaches to teaching writing, namely, mentor text modeling, product-based approach, and process-based approach. At the end of the study course, the learners’ writing performance was assessed on three tasks parallel to the pretest measures. Results of running correlation analysis indicated that contrary to the two traditional approaches to teaching writing, mentor text modeling was capable of improving accuracy and fluency simultaneously and, as a result, was found to be effective in neutralizing the trade-off effect between accuracy and fluency in writing tasks with high, moderate, and low cognitive complexity levels. The study’s finding may urge EFL teachers to include mentor texts while teaching writing to realize a balanced improvement in EFL learners’ writing competence. 


mentor text modeling, trade-off effect, accuracy, fluency, cognitive complexity, writing competence

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