Electronic Theses and Dissertations





Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation (Access Restricted)

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy




Applied Linguistics

Committee Chair

Emily Thrush

Committee Member

Teresa Dalle

Committee Member

Joseph Jones

Committee Member

Mark Conley


Writing assessment is rarely a topic of agreement among theorists, practitioners, instructors, and even students in both first and foreign language graduate classes. Writing assessment in foreign language has the same purpose as in first language classrooms. However, the context of foreign language provides a completely different platform for writing assessment. This study, therefore, explored the perceptions of English as a foreign language (EFL) graduate students regarding writing assessment practices in the Saudi context. Informed by activity theory and the dialogic approach to learning, this study investigated how Saudi graduate students at an M.A. Applied Linguistics program in a public Saudi university cope with and negotiate their teachers’ writing assessment practices. It also explored how the writing assessment practices in the context of this study function in activity theory. This study used a qualitative research design. A total of 10 Saudi M.A. Applied Linguistics students participated voluntarily in this study. The data collection process was conducted over two academic semesters. Data sources included semistructured interviews, students’ writing samples, and the syllabi of the students’ graduate courses. The in-depth data analysis revealed a variety of themes. According to the reported results, the participants pointed out the following issues in their context: prescribed assessment practices, an examination-driven system, lack of research writing experience, lack of assessment instructions, and amount of feedback. Additionally, the participants addressed the top-down rules by authority in the M.A. Applied Linguistics program of this study, and student–teacher negotiations about writing assessment practices. Moreover, the participants emphasized that successful writing experiences at the graduate level requires more appropriate writing assessment practices in their program. Thus, the study concluded with some pedagogical implications for the EFL graduate context. It also offered some recommendations for current EFL assessment practices and several directions for future research.


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

Dissertation or thesis originally submitted to the local University of Memphis Electronic Theses & dissertation (ETD) Repository.