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EFL Students Argumentative Writings: Appraisal Analysis

Research Proposal

Proposed By:
MUHAMMAD HASBILLAH
NIM: 110110101059

ENGLISH DEPARTMENT
JEMBER UNIVERSITY
2015

A.

Title

An Analysis of Appraisal:Attitude in Undergraduate EFL

B.

Research Area

Students English Argumentative Writings.


The area of this research is Systemic Functional Grammar
focusing on Appraisal Theory analysis as the framework of the

C.

Introduction

study of interpersonal meanings.


1.The Background of Study
In the last few decades, as English has been a language
learned in almost whole parts of the world, it has raised the
growth in any activities of language teaching and learning
cycle. The emergence of this phenomenon somehow embodies
the motivation of learners vying to master the language skills
required as their participation in pedagogical purpose i.e. in
university. One amongst those language skills is writing. The
mastery of writing has taken the researchers and scholars
attention to focus on and been used at any time as the reference
to grade the accomplishment of learners and also the
fruitfulness of ongoing teaching process. The better writing
skill possessed by learners will inevitably show the improving
way of language teaching.
Writing is inseparable to academic situation. Wherever
teaching-learning process is existing, the activity of academic
writing will never be left. It is simply due to in academic
qualification, learners will be always demandedto be capable in
constructing idea or expressing argumentation and evaluationin
a scientific evidence. The only way to represent this evidence is
onlyby writing upand the very possible reason to the
prominence of writing as this skill will reflect the ability of
students in ways they think critically, argue and construe their
understanding into relevant issue. To assess this notion, one
type of writing considered to be the most appropriate and
systematic is through argumentative writings.
The main understanding of argumentative writing is a
2

dynamic literacy practice where the author establishes a


dialogic relationship with an audiencedefending a point of view
and looking to convince, getan adhesion, or persuade (lvarez,
2001 cited in Chapeton, 2013). The idea of this definition can
be understood as in argumentation it is required for the writer to
take a stance or establish position, generate idea, and evaluate
the topic using logic and strong evidence. Johns (1995) cited in
(Wu 2008), on his remark about genre of argumentation,
considers that to determine ones position in writing, the
rationalization, justification and persuasion is necessary. These
will inevitably lead to the involvement of critical evaluation
and assessment. In other word, since we are writing
argumentation, we also at the same time make an evaluation on
it.
Evaluation (and interaction) has been an intriguing issue
in many research areas and successfully attracted the attention
for many scholars to further studies. It is proven through the
proposition of various technical terms employed by experts as
responses to this phenomenon (Liu and Thompson 2009), such
as attitude (Halliday 1994), stance Biber and Finnegan 1989;
Hyland 1999), evaluation (Hunston and Thompson 2000),
metadiscourse (Crismore 1989) and appraisal (Martin 2000).
These various conceptions are different in particular ways and
unfortunately it is overlapping sometimes. In this facet of
complexity, many experts consider interpersonal meaning
appears to be the most-related to evaluative analysis so far.
Briefly noticing, interpersonal meaning works with on how
speakers take position into certain texts.
This research will use Appraisal Theory to see the
evaluation of students represented in their argumentative
writings. Evaluation discussed in this research doesnt cover the

whole aspects of evaluative features but is limited only to the


subsystem of attitude. The writers intention through this
research, therefore, aims to address the attitude of students in
argumentative essay related to a given topic.
This research is objected to the students of the year
2013 of English Department, Faculty of Letters, Jember
University. This school of students is convincingly fitted to the
focus of research after some consideration as they are in the
fourth semester in which all writing skills have been already
given. This comes to assumptions that direct the writer to the
coming up of the main problem necessary to discuss. First,
assuming the level of students and the already-given material
remark that any styles of writing, including argumentative
writing and its characteristic, happen to be familiar to them.
The second assumption comprises the dichotomy between this
assumption and the real happening has slightly shown that most
students are still confused to construct idea and make critical
evaluation in argumentative essay. To prove this latter
assumption in a scientific evidence, the writer with the help of
one writing lecturer as the assessor, conducted pre-research so
called pilot project, with a very small scale consisting only six
participants. These six participants are the representative for
each level of grading categorized as Very Good (A), Good (B),
Satisfactory (C) that later will be tasked to make an
argumentative essay. This pilot testing is worthy to give better
depiction on how students write an argumentative essay. The
result of this pilot test deploys that argumentative essay is still
becoming the burden for most of the participants for any level
of grading. The way they shape critical thinking and distribute
the evaluation in argumentation toward the given topic are still
the hurdle. The end result of this pilot has been merely the

starter to look in depth on how students distribute evaluation in


argumentative writing and also the reasoning behind the
selection of using appraisal theory as the framework for
language of evaluation analysis.
The reason to use Appraisal Theory for this research is
due to this framework is regarded to be the most systematic as
it offers a typology of evaluative resources available in English
(Hyland 2005) in (Liu and Thompson 2009). Also, it provides
discourse-semantic approach to the study of interpersonal
meaning. This means that appraisal, instead of just lexicogrammar-centered,

is

much

closely

related

to

the

communicative concerns of particular context.


2. Research Topic
Appraisal theory as the framework of language
evaluation has three subsytems elaborated as ATTITUDE,
ENGAGEMENT and GRADUATION. As it focuses on only
one subsystem so called ATTITUDE, therefore this will be
inclusive to AFFECT, JUDGEMENT and APPRECIATION.
Based on this,the research topic is to further look the feelings
or attitude of EFL students toward a given topic in their
argumentative writings from the distribution of attitudinal
items.
3. Research Problem
The problem of this research is different attitudes of
students reflected in argumentative writings.
4. Research Questions
This research provides enquiries as in the followings:
1. How students reflect their attitudes towards the given
topics through argumentative writings?
2. How students writings in different academic grading
construct the framework of argumentation based on the
distribution of attitudinal items?

5. Purposes
This research aims:
1. To know the students attitude towards the given topics
through argumentative writings.
2. To know the construction of argumentation framework
on students writings in different academic grading.
6. The Research Significances
This study will be a significant endeavor in capturing
the way how students evaluate a certain text in argumentative
writings by specifically looking at the distribution of attitudinal
items of the text. Attitude by which is one of sub system in
Appraisal theory, is able to describe the students feelings and
positions toward a given context. Further, using stratified essays
based on academic grading will give us wider insight on
attitudinal positions of students and also the accuracy of
argumentative writings genre construction. This also will aid
and contribute a considerable suggestion for the board of
writing lecturers to give a better teaching instruction that
focuses onthe perspective of evaluative meanings rather than
the correctness of grammar. It is in line with the perspective of
linguistic that heeds evaluative language and establishing
critical voice in academic writing are integral to successful
essay writing (Lee, 2008). The plausible reason of this
considerable concern is simply most of students still find
writing difficult to work with.

D.

Review of
Literature

A. Previous Researches
The analysis of evaluation has been becoming a

potential concern of many linguists in recent decades as it gives


a significant contribution and wider insight to look on how
students

stances

implemented

and

how

opinions,

argumentations and positions are constructed in academic


writings. Some previous researches have been conducted to
deal with this issue, while unfortunately there still less attention
is given to EFL students writings. This is also one reason why
this research needs to be attempted.
Some supporting researches are as in the followings:
a. Attitude in Students Argumentative Writing: A
Contrastive Perspective
Liu and Thompson (2009) in the journal of University
of Reading wrote a paper entitled Attitude in Students
Argumentative Writing: A Contrastive Perspective. They
reported on a case study that examined one Chinese university
EFL students argumentative writings in both Chinese and
English by drawing on Appraisal Theory to further explored
similarities and differences in the distribution of attitudinal
values. The findings show that the students English essay
contains a variety of attitudinal items with JUDGEMENT in
the top rank, followed by APPRECIATION and AFFECT in the
second and third rank respectively. This pattern in the use of
attitudinal resources has been regarded as the characteristic of
argumentative genre. While in the students Chinese essay, the
attitudinal items are filled up with APPRECIATION,
JUDGEMENT, and AFFECT in the most and the less numbers.
These dissimilarities in the use of attitudinal values are slightly
induced by the level of proficiency and differentiation in the
tradition of the western and eastern writing rhetoric. This
research observed one EFL student of Chinese University who
has studied English for nine years and is regarded as upper-

intermediate in his English proficiency. In this research, hewas


tasked to write an English essay with a given topic and a week
after a Chinese essay with similar topic. These two essays are
then collected as the main documents for analysis. The result of
analysis is presented in both quantitative and qualitative data
with the former is used to number the attitudinal items
frequency in form of percentage and to ease the interpretation
for the latter data presentation.
This research is at heart contributes my research in
giving me an introductory way in appraisal analysis
specifically in attitude sub-system and some methods and
strategies applicable for this sort of research. Even so, there are
gaps between this research and mine. In my research, the
numbers of participant is merely larger and the essays are
different. If this research used two essays in different languages
of one student, mine will be four essays from different four
students. The opted essays are also grouped based on category
that is academic grading.
b. Evaluation in Chinese University EFL Students
English Argumentative Writing: An Appraisal Study
Liu (2013) in Electronic Journal of Foreign Language
Teaching reported a paper entitled Evaluation in Chinese
University EFL Students English Argumentative Writing: An
Appraisal Study that investigated, as the continuum of related
research with larger scale, the use of evaluative language
between high- and low- rated English argumentative essay by
two Chinese university EFL students. This study found that the
high-rated essay successfully employed appraisal values to
foreground authorial voice and position readers. In more
detailed disclosure, the high-rated essay displayed attitudinal
items that sound more affirmative and authoritative, albeit both

the low-rated and the high rated essays deployed predominantly


Appreciation. This research suggested better pedagogical
implication for English writing instruction in EFL/ESL context
to more put attention to evaluative meanings rather than into
grammar correctness. It is simply due to argumentative writings
appear to be difficult for most students. The method applied in
this research is an observation over 30 third-year Englishmajors from an intact class in a Chinese university attended the
English writing task on a given topic. After all, two essays
denoted later as the high-rated and the low rated essays have
been a primary object of analysis. This research used
quantification data and also interpretation as the continuation of
data presentation therefore it is administered for both
qualitative and quantitative research.
B. Theoretical Review
a. Systemic Functional Linguistics
Systemic Functional Linguistics (SFL) is a
linguistics school first introduced and developed
by English Linguist M.A.K. Halliday in around year
1994. SFL in its development is recognized as a
very useful descriptive and interpretive framework
for viewing language as a strategic, meaningmaking resource (Eggins 2004). This means SFL
doesnt put elements of language as the main
concern but rather pertains on how language
functions to convey meaning that language users
intend to in communicative purpose. In other
words, SFL, instead of looking on what categorizes
as what, is more interested to look who the
participants are, what action is done, and in what

circumstances it is done.
Halliday (2004) points out that all languages
are organized in two kinds of meaning, i.e. the
ideational

and

the

interpersonal,

and

the

combination of these two is called as the textual.


These three meanings work simultaneously within
the language use that we choose to make
meanings in context. Respectively, the ideational
refers to how language represents our experience
of the world and the interpersonal has to do with
the ways in which we act upon one another
through language while the textual refers to the
coherence and relevance into the other two. These
three

types

of

meaning

are

termed

as

metafunction in the terminology of Functional


Grammar.
In

ideational

metafunction

analysis,

Functional will look on the process happening in


the text, to what participants are involved in the
process and also the circumstance of the process.
All these process are split up into six types
represented by verbs. They are material process
(eat, go, bring), mental process (think, like, hate),
verbal process (say, talk, instruct), relational
process (become, stands for), existential process
(to be), and behavioral process (laugh, dream,
cough).
Textual

metafunction

looks

on

how

language-users realize their messages into texts


and to organize any text into coherent whole. The

10

analysis of this metafunction is identified by


Theme and Rheme of clause.
Interpersonal metafunction is the basis of
modeling appraisal. This due to it explores on how
speakers/writers take a position or stance realized
in judgment and attitude into certain texts. In
analyzing this metafunction, we look at mood, to
determine

the

imperative,

form

of

declarative,

the
or

clause,

whether

interrogative,

and

modality, to determine necessity, possibility or


impossibility.

Figure

a.

Ideational,

Interpersonal

and

Textual

Metafunction (Martin & White, 2005: 8)

b. Appraisal Theory
Appraisal Theory is briefly defined as a
linguistic theory on how evaluation is established,
amplified, targeted, and sourced (Martin 2000)
and the emergence of this analytical framework is
quite novel within Systemic Functional Linguistics.
Appraisal

aims

to

describe

various

ways

of

linguistic realization of interpersonal meanings in


language use (Martin 2000). As it is closely related
11

to interpersonal meanings, so basically this theory


concerns on how speakers/writers take a position
in relation to interlocutors/readers and the topics
they are talking. Simply to define, as we are
talking, we do not merely express the utterances
that we want, but still we consider many things
like the knowledge of audience, appropriate word
choices, gesture, and also relation to whom we
talk.
Appraisal

Theory

has

three

sub-system

categorizations namely ATTITUDE, ENGAGEMENT


and

GRADUATION.

In

detailed

explanation,

according to Martin and White, (2005: 35), attitude


is concerned with our feelings, including emotional
reactions, judgments of behavior and evaluation of
things. Engagement deals with sourcing attitudes
and

the

play

discourse.

of

voices

Graduation

around

attends

opinions
to

in

grading

phenomena whereby feelings are amplified and


categories blurred.

12

Figure b. Appraisal Resources (Martin & White,


2005: 38)

c. Attitude
One subsystem that is foremost analyzed is
attitude and it is probably the umbrella of
evaluative language in attitudinal positioning in
texts

(Liu

2013).

This

means

to

look

how

evaluative language is generated within certain


text, we need to see the attitudinal system of the
writing. System here could be identified as the
structure of language.
In further discussion of attitude, there are
then two aspects specific on it. Positive and
negative attitude values or explicit/inscribed and
implicit/invoked attitude values are the things that
worth noticing. Positive attitude value can be
illustrated as an expression of happiness (to be
happy),

whereas

13

negative

attitude

can

be

described to the feeling of insecurity (to be afraid).


The

former,

under

the

appraisal

coding,

is

indicated by + and the latter is -. For


explicit/inscribed attitude values, the feelings are
clearly seen without necessary interpretation, as
the opposite, implicit/invoked attitude values refer
to the feelings as the result of interpretation. As in
the statement he is a good man, it is a kind of
explicit expression of judgment because we simply
do not need interpretation to catch the meaning of
the word. But in the statement like I dont think
he can comprehend anything, we merely could
not decide what is the actual meaning of the
statement only looking at literal meaning but we
need doing interpretation. The difference of these
two is important to deploy that in spite of
Appraisal Theory works on lexis level, but it
appears improbable just to be lexis-minded. We
are to see the whole words construction to
comprehend metaphorical meaning.
In this attitudinal system, there are three
sub categorizations to be noted. They are affect,
judgment, and appreciation (Martin & White,
2005). See the figure c.

14

Figure c. Attitude Subsystems (Martin & White,


2005)

Affect deals with the expression of emotion


such as happiness, fear etc. In broader sense,
affect is divided into four subdivisions, those are
un/happiness (moods of feeling happy or sad),
in/security

(feelings

dis/satisfaction

of

(feelings

peace
of

and

anxiety),

achievement

and

frustration) and dis/inclination (feelings of inclined


or disinclined to something).
Judgment is dealing with moral assessments
of behavior such as honesty, kindness. In general,
Martin & White (2005) pointed out that judgment
is seen through social esteem and social sanction.
Social esteem tends to be the judgments based on
social ethics mostly through oral culture such as
chats, gossips, jokes etc. As the converse, social
sanction refers to the judgments based on legal or

15

religious rules codified in writing. Judgments of


esteem have to do with normality represented in
words

such

as

normal,

natural,

stable

etc.,

capacity represented in words powerful, vigorous,


healthy etc., and tenacity represented in words
loyal, reliable, plucky etc. Those are respectively
elaborated as how unusual someone is, how
capable they are, how resolute they are. Then for
judgments of sanction, there deals with veracity
(how truthful someone is- represented in words
like truthful, candid etc.) and propriety (how
ethical someone is- represented in words polite,
ethical etc.).
Appreciation

is

dealing

with

aesthetic

assessments such as subtlety, beauty etc. There


are

three

types

of

appreciation;

reaction,

composition, and valuation. Reaction is related to


affection, it is typically represented by words like
arresting,

fascinating,

fine,

beautiful,

etc.

Composition relates to our view of order. The


words typical to this are symmetrical, logical,
simple, clear, lucid, etc. Valuation refers to our
considered

opinion.

The

typical

words

are

penetrating, profound, etc.


E.

Research
Design and
Methodology

1. Types of Research
This research analysis is delineated in both numerical
dataandinterpretation respectively. Even though there is a
quantification presented later in this research, it does not remain
predominant. It is simply in form of tabulation that functios to
ease the analysis and depict the assumption in which the

16

primary analysis is still mainly interpretative. In other words,


the result of data analysis will be interpretation not statistical
one. Afterward, the presentation of this research will be
description-based (Mackey & Gass 2005). Therefore, the type
of this research is implicated in quantitative data and
subsequently complimented with qualitative data as a dominant
one.
2. Research Strategy

At the heart of this research is as it encompasses both


qualitative and quantitative methods and also specifically
answers the research problem, hence the strategy of this
research will be concerning the mixed methods. Mixed methods
is termed to research that combines alternative approaches
within a single research project(Denscombe 2007). In
accordance to the research that will put quantification as
objective measurements and interpretation as the basis for
analysis, this strategy will be worth-applied. Further, to assist
this, another strategy that is sampling, will be also
implemented. Doing sampling will be helpful to get the
representativeness and generalizability in a large number of
population. As there are some sorts of possible sampling, this
research will use stratified random sampling that is in a
breakdown of random sampling. This stratified random
sampling will sample the participants based on categories. The
selection of such a way will be useful un this research as it will
categorize participants according to the academic grading.
3. Data Collection

The data of this research is elicited from the


English Argumentative writings by learners of the
year 2013 of English Department, Faculty of

17

Letters, Jember University. The total numbers of


this research participants are 143 learners with
the

assumption

argumentative

that

essays

there

will

available.

be

143

Nevertheless,

concerning the effectiveness of time used to data


processing and also the feasibility of analysis, it
has been considered necessary to confine the
number of essays as the primary data of analysis
opted using stratified sampling or sampling based
on category.So there are only 20 selected essays
sampled and taken randomly yet categorized
asVery Good (A), Good (B), Satisfactory (C), and
Less

than

Satisfactory

representation

of

the

(D)
entire

chosen

as

the

essays.

In

this

research, learners of one writing 4 intact class are


as the participants. The reasoning behind the
selection of these participants is merely they have
already or probably been in a progress of taking
the

entire

skills

of

writing.

Hence,

the

argumentative writing genre is not something


alien to them.
4. Data Processing
The starting process of this research is commenced
through enacting appraisal situation. This means to elicit the
data, thing to do is giving writing task instruction, i.e.
argumentative essay, with a given topic. The topic of writing
will beGramatical Learning for communicative purpose. To
ease the learners and hook up the awareness of argumentation,
they will be given a brief illustration stated as in the following:
Many students say that learning grammar is very
difficult. They find it hard to incorporate the grammatical
18

knowledge into communicative purpose. Others say that


learning grammar is not too difficult and complicated. They are
able to make grammar applicable in communicative way. Based
on this description, what is your opinion? And in what position
are you? You are given 90 minutes to write at least 250 words
argumentative essay with specific reasons and examples if
possible to support your opinion.
After getting the data, in form of students
paper sheets, with the help of the lecturer of
writing class, theessay will be categorized based
on

academic

grading

and

altogether

the

researcher later choose only 20 representative


writings for getting into the next process that is
data analysis.
5. Data Analysis
As it is above-mentioned that interpretation
is becoming the primary way of analysis and
qualitative data as the type of this research, the
writer will provide the description of research data.
Right after collected data is established then the
text analysis will be applied. The analysis will be in
the form of appraisal coding that covers to the
types of attitudinal system of appraisal comprising
three

sub

JUDGEMENT,

systems
and

elaborated

APPRECIATION,

as

AFFECT,

and

later

continue to make a classification of them. Further,


this classification is tabulated and sum up. The
number of attitudinal sub systems within the text
will tell us the frequency of the distribution of
attitudinal values. After recognizing the number of
attitudinal items of the text, the next step is
19

interpreting the feelings and positions of the


students on a given topic in their argumentative
essays

and

also

pay

attention

on

how

argumentation is constructed. After all, drawing


conclusion and describing the result based on the
analysis are snagged. Finally the last but not least,
since grouping and judging attitudinal values in
argumentative essays have been clearly identified,
and

attempt

to

find

possibility

of

better

pedagogical implication for English teaching might


be well-invoked.
F.

References

Denscombe, M. (2007). The Good Research Guide for smallscale social research project (3rd.ed.). Mc Graw Hill:
Open University Press.
Halliday, M. A. K., & Matthiessen, C. M. I. M. (2004). An
Introduction to Functional Grammar (3rd.ed.). London:
Arnold.
Lee, S.H. (2008). Attitude in undergraduate persuasive essays.
Prospect 23, 43-58
Liu, X., & Thompson, P. (2009). Attitude in students'
argumentative writing: a contrastive perspective. In L. J.
OBrien & D. S. Giannoni (Eds.), Language Studies
Working Papers (Vol. 1; pp. 315). Reading: University
of Reading.
Liu, X. (2013). Evaluation in Chinese University EFL Students
English Argumentative Writing: An Appraisal Study.
Electronic Journal of Foreign Language Teaching (Vol.
10, No. 1, pp. 40-53). National University of Singapore.
Mackey, Alison., & Gass, Susan M. (2005). Second Language
Research : Methodology and Design. New Jersey:

20

Lawrence Erlbaums Associates, Inc.


Martin, J.R., & White, P.R.R. (2005). The Language of
Evaluation: Appraisal in English. New York: Palgrave
Macmillan.
Martin, J.R. (2000). Beyond exchange: APPRAISAL systems
in English. In Hunston, S. & Thompson, G. (eds)
Evaluation

in

Text:

Authorial

Stance

and

the

Construction of Discourse. Oxford: Oxford University


Press, 142-177.
Mei, W.S. (2008). Investigating the effectiveness of arguments
in undergraduate essays from an evaluation perspective.
Prospect 23, 59-75.
G.

Schedu Activiti M.1


le

M.2

es
Research Proposal
Writing up
(Chapter 1 to 3)
Seminar
Data Collection
Data Analysis
Writing up
(Chapter 4 to 5)
Submission

21

M.3

M.4

M.5

M.6