Topical Structure Analysis as an Alternative Learning Strategy for Coherent Writing

Yu-Shan Fan, Angela Yi-Ping Hsu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In consideration of the need for a heuristic tool which could help learners to handle coherence problems, this study focuses on evaluating the efficacy of instruction in Topical Structure Analysis (TSA) as a revision strategy for EFL learners. The findings show that students receiving instruction in TSA performed better on topical progressions. More proportions and better quality parallel progressions, sequential progressions, and extended parallel progressions were found to contribute to better overall coherence. In addition, students reported positive feedback in terms of learning and applying TSA. Many of them reported that TSA helped them to reorganize their essays and to examine coherence between sentences. In terms of the guidance given by this strategy, TSA allowed students to become more aware of the relations between sentence topics and overall discourse topics. In addition to the positive changes in students' information organization, the results indicate that instruction in TSA contributes to students' awareness of coherent writing as well as motivating them to become more responsible writers. Instead of merely depending on teachers' comments and guidance, students participated in the revising process more actively and were inspired to interpret coherence using a new perspective.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)115-137
Number of pages23
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes


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