Chapter published in:Complex Dynamic Systems Theory and L2 Writing Development
Edited by Gary G. Fogal and Marjolijn H. Verspoor
[Language Learning & Language Teaching 54] 2020
► pp. 207–238
Chapter 9A critical appraisal of the CDST approach to investigating linguistic
complexity in L2 writing development
This chapter aims to help the complex dynamic systems theory (CDST) approach to second language acquisition reach its full potential by critically appraising its current applications to complexity in L2 writing development. To further this end, we first review five representative empirical CDST-inspired studies on complexity in L2 writing. Second, we contrastively analyze a dataset of beginning L2 writing productions from both a “traditional” and a CDST perspective. Several issues central to a CDST approach are discussed, including the link between CDST concepts and research methods, the emphasis on variation and variability as a window on and a driver of L2 development, the generalizability of findings, anti-reductionism, and the treatment of measurement noise as important information about L2 development. We identify challenges for applying CDST concepts and methods to L2 (writing) development, illustrate how researchers try to come to grips with these challenges, and offer suggestions for addressing them.
- CDST studies on L2 writing development
- A ‘traditional’ versus CDST analysis of L2 writing development: A case study
- Participants, data, and measures
- A traditional analysis
- A CDST analysis
- Added value of a CDST approach
- Controversial issues
- Link between new (metaphorical) concepts and research methods
- Confirmation and selection biases
- The forest and the trees, or why size matters and extreme anti-reductionism is self-defeating
- To generalize or not?
- Bring the noise
Published online: 04 June 2020
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