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Volume 7 Number 3, Autumn 2010, Pages 1-187   

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Chinese Students' Choice of Writing Topics: A Comparison between Their Self-Selected Topics and Writing Prompts in Large-Scale Tests

    Danbin Wang

Inspired by Glasser's (1998) choice theory, the author set out to explore the differences between Chinese students' self-selected topics and large-scale test prompts. She asked sixty-two English major sophomores to rate a corpus of seventy topics and prompts and to write reflective comments on them with regard to topic authenticity, difficulty, involvement and impact. The results show significant differences in topic orientation, accessibility and impact between students' self-selected topics and test prompts. Factors causing such differences include students' failure to adopt more effective strategies in the topic selection process, their lack of topic choice training in early writing instruction and their inability to learn topic generation from reading prompts. To narrow the above differences, we should give students learner strategy training, add a section of topic choice to course books on basic writing and engage students in reflective writing.

Keywords: choice, self-selected topics, test prompts, EFL writing instruction