Language, Literacy, and Sociocultural Studies ETDs

Publication Date



This study examines the relationship between encouraging visual imagination and ESL (English as a Second Language) writing performance. It was designed as a onesemester case study of two groups: high-intermediate and intermediate ESL writers, using a series of pre-writing activities designed to stimulate visual imagination. As an investigation of imagination across different cultures and languages, this study is intended to shed new light on the role of visual imagination in ESL writing instruction. The data collected in this qualitative research study included four principal methods: 1) participants essay assignments exploring different writing topics throughout the 16-week semester; 2) participants' reflection reports with one or two questions exploring their thought process during writing; 3) the researcher's observation notebook with descriptions of her observations during class instruction; and 4) participants' audiotaped interviews designed to explore their perspectives on the instruction in general, and the usefulness of the pre-writing exercises in particular. The data in this study was analyzed, first, by finding common themes; and second, by using cross-analysis of all viii codes from all data. In addition, the researcher used contextual analysis of the participants' narratives and content analysis of their essays. The research findings show that participants in this study found pre-writing exercises emphasizing visual imagination very helpful in their writing process. The overwhelming majority of the participants expressed that they were able to visualize the writing topic during these exercises, and that these exercises provided them with more ideas to write about. The majority of participants also reflected on the relationship between their past or personal experience and their writing process, and used words 'see', 'saw', 'something I see', or 'look' when asked to describe this process. The participants' perception that pre-writing exercises emphasizing visual imagination were helpful is supported by the rich content and overall improvement in their essay writing during the course of this 16-week intensive ESL writing course. In the absence of significant research in the area of ESL writing instruction and visual imagination, the findings of this study have important implications for the development of hypotheses which may be tested with other populations of ESL students. This may lead to better theories about the role of visual imagination in ESL writing instruction.'


English language--Study and teaching--Foreign speakers, English language--Writing--Study and teaching, Imagery (Psychology), Visualization

Document Type




Degree Name

Bilingual Education

Level of Degree


Department Name

Language, Literacy, and Sociocultural Studies

First Committee Member (Chair)

Pence, Lucretia

Second Committee Member

Celedon-Pattichis, Sylvia

Third Committee Member

Neville, Bernard