Convergence and Divergence of Process and Portfolio Approaches to L2 Writing Instruction: Issues and Implications

Ricky C K LAM*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


In the L2 writing literature, there has been a rich history of scholarship in theory, research and practice since the 1960s. Two of the most prominent L2 writing approaches are process and portfolio pedagogy. The former approach promotes the use of diverse writing strategies (e.g. pre-writing) to enhance student writers' expression and fluency. The latter emphasizes the documentation of student growth as writers through self-reflection. These two instructional approaches exhibit a range of divergent characteristics, including focus, construct, delivery, and application -especially when adopted in a wider East Asian educational context. Owing to the dearth of research comparing process and portfolio pedagogies, this paper critically reviews the theory, research and practice of these two approaches in L2 writing environments. Salient issues emerging from the analysis of literature include advocacy of an eclectic and context-sensitive approach to process and portfolio pedagogies; a need for more empirical research to substantiate how both approaches support writing improvement; and provision of training for developing knowledge and skills in understanding what process-oriented writing instruction entails. The paper ends with a discussion of implications for L2 writing research and instruction. Two research methods that could help investigate how writing improvement and self-regulated learning can be measured are qualitative and quantitative investigations, namely ethnographic and quasi-experimental studies. In the context of incorporating these pedagogies into other East Asian writing environments, teachers can be encouraged to align teaching, learning, and assessment of writing as regular pedagogical practices and engage in sustainable professional training in giving written feedback to support learning.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)293-308
Number of pages16
JournalRELC Journal
Issue number3
Early online date31 Aug 2015
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2015

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Education
  • Linguistics and Language

User-Defined Keywords

  • L2 writing instruction
  • L2 writing research
  • L2 writing theory
  • portfolio pedagogy
  • process pedagogy


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