Edited by Gary G. Fogal and Marjolijn H. Verspoor
[Language Learning & Language Teaching 54] 2020
Chapter 7. The elusive phase shift
Capturing changes in L2 writing development and interaction between the cognitive and social ecosystems
This chapter explores phase shifts, which occur when dynamic systems enter a period of fluctuation that results in a new stable pattern (Larsen-Freeman & Cameron, 2008). Phase shifts remain elusive in L2 writing research due to a lack sufficiently dense data to detect them and a lack of recognition when they occur. Moreover, the majority of L2 writing research involving phase shift analysis focuses on cognitive factors analyzed with quantitative tools, thus neglecting qualitative methods and the influence of external social factors that may impact change. This chapter examines the definition of phase shifts, reviews relevant complexity theory-inspired quantitative and qualitative methodologies for analyzing L2 writing, and proposes adapting quantitative descriptive research techniques (Ortega & Iberri-Shea, 2005) to investigate social ecosystem variables that may lead to phase shifts.