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WeCWI and the Science of Instruction: The Most Comprehensive Reference

Updated: Apr 16

Many people have been asking me similar questions even today since Web-based Cognitive Writing Instruction (WeCWI) first emerged in The Digital Education Show Asia 2014 at KLCC, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I have listed the top five most common queries below, and I would love to clear your doubts if they seem relevant to you.

  1. What and why is WeCWI?

  2. How is WeCWI created?

  3. How does WeCWI enhance language and cognitive development?

  4. How effective is WeCWI in improving teaching and learning?

  5. How do I apply to WeCWI as an educator, particularly as a language educator?

The answers to these queries can be found from the WeCWI's research and innovation routes when I presented the paper entitled L2 Writing Challenges for the Undergraduates: A Performance Analysis and a Literature Review on SIL Domains presented at the 3rd ACLL: Annual Asian Conference on Language Learning on 25-28 April 2013 in Osaka, Japan. Since then and till now, my time and effort have been devoted to participating in expositions and competitions, delivering keynotes and speeches, conducting seminars and workshops (local and overseas), publishing scholarly articles, sharing posts on social media with #WeCWI, as well as supervising undergraduate and postgraduate students who were interested in applying WeCWI in their research.

What and Why Is WeCWI?

As the outcome of my doctoral thesis, the formation of Web-based Cognitive Writing Instruction or WeCWI is justifiable. Web-based (We) refers to an Internet-based or e-framework; Cognitive (C) denotes a brain-based basis; Writing (W) indicates the writing process and product; while Instruction (I) stands for a guided orientation. Internet use goes increasingly mobile; its injection into this framework has brought “interactivity” as the biggest gain for WeCWI to become a hybrid e-framework. I have listed 10 rationales for its creation based on the related empirical studies and literature review.

  1. E-learning can be a great fit for all types of learners if you go about it in the right way.

  2. Online learning outcomes are similar and even better than offline face-to-face instruction.

  3. Students can have much more control over their own learning with online instruction.

  4. Web-based instruction (WBI) can only effectively facilitate learning if its pedagogical activity design meets the relevant theoretical rationale.

  5. All learning is brain-based, but teaching is not.

  6. Learning styles is not a theory of instruction but a theory of how the mind works.

  7. The differences in learning styles theory come from working memory.

  8. There is a link between language development and the capacity of our working memory.

  9. Writing is the hardest and most challenging language skill for second language (L2) learners.

  10. Language acquisition theories fall under innatism. which also exists in the cognitive psychology field.

1. Why Is Web-Based?

WeCWI encourages educators to design and develop their preferred online instructional platforms or WBIs using the internet to engage their learners towards language and cognitive developments. WeCWI advocates using Web 2.0 applications like a blog as an instructional tool together with the highly resourceful web widgets and hypertext.

2. Why Is Cognitive?

WeCWI explores the learners’ working memory, which associates with their writing process and product, writing anxiety, and learning styles. Common cognitive mechanisms support the ability to learn both your mother tongue and a second language.

3. Why Is Writing?

WeCWI is initiated through a deductive approach by investigating a problem from the macro perspective (L2 writing challenges commonly faced by the learners, instructors, and institutional e-learning system) before venturing into the micro perspective (learner domain in SIL comprising complexity, deficiencies, interlanguage, and anxiety). WeCWI proposes a solution for the poor writing skill in seven different perspectives faced by L2 learners in the higher education context:

1. the complexity of writing skill

2. low literacy skills

3. interlanguage errors

4. low language proficiency

5. lack of critical thinking,

6. low information literacy

7. L2 writing anxiety

4. Why Is Instruction?

WeCWI embraces a six-step typical writing procedure based on the process genre approach, which includes preparing, modelling and reinforcing, planning, joint constructing, independent constructing, and revising. Following the six-step guided writing procedure, a writing task that demands multiple higher-order thinking skills can be completed within a specific course duration with a better outcome.

How Is WeCWI Created?

Based on my research as seen in my publications, the poor writing skills of Malaysian undergraduates in language and content perspectives as identified in the performance analysis are supported by the past studies prescribed in the system (S), instructor (I), and learner (L) or SIL domains. It summarises the nine L2 writing challenges in these three different perspectives: lecture time, institutional e-learning system, information and communication technology (ICT) research, classroom practice, ICT interest, L2 writing approach, reading habits, language proficiency, and first language.

Besides, there is a high demand for developing supplementary web-based instruction (WBI) and a comprehensive framework to tackle the L2 writing predicaments efficiently. Moreover, LMS (i-Learn) should not be the exclusive mode of e-learning applied in higher education; instead, WBI developed through Web 2.0 should be accepted to be the future e-learning mode in the practice of language teaching.

Why do we need a framework or model for instructional design or ID? It describes how something could exist, as they describe the process by which something can be created, but not the created thing (Gibbons, Boling & Smith, 2014). ID is a system of procedures for developing education and training materials in a consistent and reliable way of using an iterative process of planning outcomes, selecting effective strategies for teaching and learning, choosing relevant technologies, identifying educational media, and measuring performance (Branch & Kopcha, 2014). ID models help to organise learning and can be divided into five phases:

  1. Analysis

  2. Design

  3. Development

  4. Implementation

  5. Evaluation

Therefore, WeCWI offers a systematic and iterative method for creating a learning experience that develops language skills and enhances critical thinking. It can be integrated into the current ID models, such as the ADDIE model. Integrating WeCWI into the ADDIE model involves following the systematic instructional design process while incorporating the specific features and functionalities of WeCWI to develop a WeCWI-enabled instructional tool, platform, or module. The ADDIE model comprises five phases: Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, and Evaluation. Here's how WeCWI can be integrated into each phase of the ADDIE model:

  1. Analysis

    1. Identify learning objectives

      1. Determine the specific language skills and learning outcomes that WeCWI will target, such as improving students' ability to generate ideas, organise thoughts, and improve their writing.

    2. Conduct needs assessment

      1. Assess the target learners' language proficiency levels, familiarity with web tools, and any specific challenges or gaps in their language skills that WeCWI can address.

    3. Define user requirements

      1. Gather input from teachers, students, and stakeholders to identify the desired features, functionalities, and instructional content that WeCWI should incorporate to meet users' needs effectively.

  2. Design

    1. Instructional design

      1. Develop a detailed instructional design plan outlining the structure, sequence, and content of the WeCWI-enabled instructional tool, platform, or module.

      2. Determine how WeCWI will scaffold the reading, discussion, and writing processes toward language and cognitive development by providing feedback and supporting metacognitive strategies.

    2. Storyboarding

      1. Create storyboards or mock-ups of the WeCWI-enabled instructional interface, illustrating the platform's layout, navigation, and interactive elements.

      2. Design the user experience to be sensing, intuitive, engaging, and conducive to language instruction.

  3. Development

    1. Content creation

      1. Design the lesson plan based on the course's instructional objectives and learning outcomes.

      2. Develop the lesson plan and instructional materials, tasks, practices, and activities that will be integrated into the treatment.

      3. Ensure the content aligns with the instructional objectives, learning outcomes, and lesson plan established in the previous phases.

    2. Platform development

      1. Build the WeCWI-enabled platform, incorporating the designed interface, interactive features, and functionality based on the course instruction, feedback provision, and student engagement.

      2. Integrate with other related theories or technologies to implement the desired features effectively.

  4. Implementation:

    1. Pilot testing

      1. Conduct a pilot test of WeCWI-enabled treatment with a small group of learners and instructors to evaluate its usability, functionality, and instructional effectiveness.

      2. Gather user feedback to identify any issues or areas for improvement before full-scale implementation.

    2. Training and support

      1. Provide training and support to users on how to use WeCWI-enabled treatment effectively for the course instruction.

      2. Offer guidance on accessing the platform, navigating its features, and integrating it into classroom instruction.

  5. Evaluation:

    1. Formative evaluation

      1. Continuously monitor and assess the implementation of WeCWI throughout the instructional process.

      2. Collect user feedback, observe language or learning performance, and track progress towards learning objectives to inform iterative improvements.

    2. Summative evaluation

      1. Conduct a comprehensive evaluation of WeCWI's effectiveness in improving language skills or achieving learning outcomes.

      2. Administer pre-test and post-test assessments, analyse writing samples, and measure student satisfaction with the platform.

      3. Use evaluation data to make evidence-based decisions about the future use and refinement of WeCWI in course or classroom instruction.

By integrating WeCWI into the ADDIE model in e-learning research, researchers can systematically design, develop, implement, and evaluate web-based instruction (WBI) that is effective, engaging, and aligned with learning objectives. This structured approach ensures that WeCWI meets the needs of learners and stakeholders while contributing to the advancement of WBI in online education contexts.

How Is the WeCWI Integrated Formula Created?

WeCWI is created as a set of theoretical and pedagogical guidelines to design and develop a WBI as a form of instructional delivery or tool. The WeCWI-enabled instructional tool can enhance learners’ language and cognitive development by creating and integrating reading, discussion, and writing tasks as part of the pedagogical instructions within the e-learning environment. Theoretically, WeCWI synthesises the principles of language acquisition, cognitive theories, composition studies, and e-learning to construct an effective framework based on learners’ information processing preferences. These four main theoretical rationales are seamlessly integrated as the core of WeCWI summarised into an equation called WeCWI Integrated Formula:

(Language Acquisition + Composition Studies + Cognitive Theories) E-learning

= Language & Cognitive Developments

How Does WeCWI Transform Teaching? Solutions

To help students learn more effectively, educators worldwide are working to create rich learning environments by merging existing instructional tools with particular pedagogical applications in the lesson. WeCWI is developing an interactive online learning environment that will allow learners to connect dynamically, cooperate actively, and think critically with the support of the Internet, one of mankind's greatest accomplishments. WeCWI's research and innovation routes toward becoming an Education Innovator or EdNovator require transforming the roles of an educator.

Web-based Cognitive Instructor or WeLI refers to an educator who desires to produce students who are critical thinkers. WeCWI's instructional design can be addressed from macro and micro perspectives to improve the teaching and learning experience in enhancing 21st-century learning design (21CLD). WeCWI emphasises instructional and technological discoveries from a macro perspective, while pedagogical and theoretical discoveries are the focus from a micro perspective elaborated through four steps as follows:

  1. Be acquainted with the know-how and multiple educator roles by leveraging technology:

    1. Trends: Edu and Tech

    2. Delivery: Personalised, Flipped, Self-Access, and Self-Assessed

    3. E-portfolio

    4. Personalised Learning Profile

    5. Educator's Roles: Aggregator, Curator, Publisher, Social Networker, and Web-based Instructor

  2. Develop the skills using technology for creating a WeCWI-enabled instructional tool:

    1. Web Tools: Aggregation, Curation, Publishing, and Social Networking

    2. Blogger


    4. Microsoft Teams

    5. WeCWI-enabled Remote Classroom

  3. Integrate the pedagogical impact into teaching through reading, discussion, and writing tasks:

    1. Reading: Free and Enterprises

    2. Discussion

    3. Writing: Product, Process, Genre, and Process Genre

  4. Design learning using the theories and models to enhance teaching effectiveness:

    1. Learning Theories: Behaviourism, Cognitivism, Constructivism, and Connectivism

    2. Information Processing Theories: Inquiry Cycle and E-learning Interaction-based Model

    3. Bloom's Taxonomy: Cognitive, Affective, and Psychomotor

    4. Instructional Design Models: Gagne's Instructional Design, Dick and Carey's Model, ASSURE Model, ADDIE Model, Morrison, Ross, Kalman and Kemp's Model, and Hannafin and Peck's Model

If you are a language educator who intends to produce eloquent language users through four process discoveries, consider becoming a Web-based Cognitive Language Instructor or WeCLI. WeCWI supports language development in terms of linguistic perspective (literacy and language discoveries) and non-linguistic perspective (cognitive and psychological discoveries). Web-based Cognitive Instructor, or WeCLI, is a language educator who wishes to become a web-based instructor to develop eloquent language users through four distinct processes with associated findings.

  1. Read & Write:

    1. Focus on free reading and enterprises.

    2. Adopt ProGenre as a hybrid guided writing approach.

  2. Interact:

    1. Foster meaningful discussion involving input, negotiation, output and interactional feedback.

    2. Set up an online discussion via CMC for interactions among learners, instructor(s) and digital content.

  3. Think:

    1. Enhance learners’ critical thinking through reading, discussion, and writing.

  4. Perceive:

    1. Reduce writing anxiety by designing a WBI with facilitative features in the writing process.

1. Literacy Discovery

Krashen's acquisition-learning, input, and reading hypothesis are adopted to enhance literacy skills through free reading and enterprises (formal language instruction), the two different channels used to engage in reading. By selecting and making the reading materials more accessible online, language learners are encouraged to take part in free reading—read for pleasure voluntarily. More comprehensible input can be learned through enterprise—a formal English language instruction delivered via WBI assisted with web widgets or hypertext. Increased comprehensible inputs through free reading and enterprises support language acquisition, leading to literacy development.

The practice of a guided writing approach helps to create, elucidate, and expand abstract ideas, which supports literacy development. Writing is also engaged by enterprises guided by a combination of product, process, and genre approaches called the process genre approach. The process genre approach comes with six recursive writing stages, which focus on the relationship between the purpose and the form of its genre. The learners are guided to prepare, model and reinforce, plan, joint construct, independent construct, and revise their writing step-by-step. Employing specific web widgets or hypertext on the instructional tool for pedagogical purposes leads the learners towards better writing skills.

2. Language Discovery

Literacy and language developments are interconnected, particularly when it comes to communication. An online discussion application is set up via web widgets and hypertext on the instructional tool, which supports interactionism in second language acquisition (SLA). The conversational patterns, including input, output, and interactional feedback, emphasise the correctness of meaning, form, and function. Negotiation of meaning happens in the discussion, which involves clarification of ideas and correction of meaning within a meaningful conversation. Language outputs with higher spelling, vocabulary, and grammar accuracy are achieved.

Supported by the interaction-based model of e-learning. it supports language development during the interaction process among the instructor, learner, and content. A rich SLA environment allows learners to independently collaborate with their peers and interact with their instructor, peers, and digital content. Through online discussion via the instructional tool, inquiries and feedback are transmitted synchronously and asynchronously via CMC between the instructor and learners and among learners. Throughout the meaningful interactions involving different parties, English can be acquired during the subconscious process and learned in a conscious manner.

3. Cognitive Discovery

Reading, discussion, and writing contribute to cognitive development. Reading helps learners generate ideas, make inferences, draw conclusions, and solve problems. Writing also helps produce, consolidate, elucidate, and sharpen ideas, facilitating learners to become critical thinkers. Negotiation of meanings, interactional feedback, and clarification of thoughts occur during the discussion, stimulating learners to explore further. When the learners draw conclusions and finally resolve the problems, these processes would have led them to develop critical thinking.

Information exploration is emphasised through interaction and questioning based on inquiry models. The processes of searching, downloading, and streaming results will turn the information into a small pool of data. By interacting, analysing, and evaluating the digital contents, the questions posed in the instructional tasks engage learners to critically consume and analyse the information. The inquiries derived from their existing knowledge branch out through reading and writing. The relationships of the ideas can be visualised through reading when the answers are written, which will engage the learners to think critically in problem-solving.

4. Psychological Discovery

Online resources in web widgets and hypertext are embedded in the instructional tool to support the achievement of different writing stages based on the process genre approach. The web widgets and hypertext are also served as scaffolding purposes to facilitate the learners to accomplish the writing tasks from the preparation stage to the revision stage. This step-by-step guided approach achieves a more positive writing attitude and reduces their writing anxiety. For instance, an online dictionary, language translator and grammar checker are helpful for L2 learners who have low language proficiency.

The instructional tools with two different interface designs, widgetised and non-widgetised, are encouraged to bring a positive user experience for the learners. To ensure the L2 learners acquire and learn a language better based on their preferences and strengths, two different designs of the user interface (widgetised and non-widgetised) are designed based on the information the learners preferentially perceive through their senses or intuition that promotes psychological development. If there is an ideal match between the instructional user interface and their learning styles (sensing and intuitive), learners could be more engaged throughout the learning process to boost their writing performance and critical thinking.

How Effective is WeCWI to Improve Teaching and Learning?

  1. Based on past research related to WeCWI, WBI can be integrated into the content development of a report writing course after reviewing its course content and the existing English courses.

    1. This course focuses on developing the learners’ writing competency to produce a research report.

    2. The development of WBI via the WeCWI framework is supported by the needs of UiTM students and instructors. It is recommended that it be integrated with the BEL422 Report Writing course.

  2. Most Faculty of Civil Engineering students prefer to study the topic of Reinforced Concrete Steel Fibers (SFRC) through a website as an instructional tool developed based on the WeCWI framework.

    1. The instructional tasks and media available on the WeCWI-enabled instructional tool, which focuses on free reading, enterprises, and a guided writing approach, have enhanced learners' literacy development.

  3. Blogger is chosen as the platform for developing web-based instructional tools due to its suitability and flexibility in terms of interface design, which can be integrated with widgets and hypertext.

    1. Web-based instructional tools with two different interface designs (widgetised and non-widgetised) must be created to suit the two dichotomous learning styles (sensing and intuitive).

  4. An instructional tool with web widgets is significantly more helpful than hypertext in improving the learners' writing performance and critical thinking regardless of their learning styles.

    1. Sensing learners can write better and think more critically after using widgetised instructional tools.

    2. Intuitive learners perform better when non-widgetised tools are assigned to them.

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