1 Hoshi University (JAPAN)
2 Tokyo Institute of Technology (JAPAN)
3 The Japan Institute for Educational Measurement, Inc. (JAPAN)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2013 Proceedings
Publication year: 2013
Pages: 1707-1714
ISBN: 978-84-616-2661-8
ISSN: 2340-1079
Conference name: 7th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 4-5 March, 2013
Location: Valencia, Spain
We have been seeking effective approaches to educate students to enhance their composition skills. For any language teachers, rectifying students’ essays and assessing the degree of improvement in writing is a time-consuming task. We have used a collaborative approach called the peer review method in our composition classes and found that the method helps students to develop logical thinking as well as critical thinking skills. However, it is rather demanding for students to make comments on others’ writings, especially for those with inefficient comprehension level of the language. Therefore, we proposed a method for composition education, which we named it a pict-net abstraction, to present the idea of writing by the use of pictograms interconnected with arrows.

Pictograms are pictorial drawings or signs and instructions that represent words, objects, or concepts. These pictorial drawings transcend languages in that they can communicate to speakers of different native tongues and language families equally effectively. Since they can be used without regard to age, sex, and nationality, drawing a pictogram network can become a guide to the understanding of others’ intentions. Using a directed graph with a pictogram and peer review method, we verified whether or not what the writers wanted to tell was properly conveyed to the readers.

The experiment was conducted at a leading university in Japan. The essay participants were six Japanese students enrolled in a master’s course in engineering and two working adults. The essay theme was about the appropriateness of introducing female-only carriages into public trains. The experimental procedure was as follows:
1. An instructor determined an essay theme and prepared a list of pictograms.
2. The instructor distributed a material to show how to create pictogram networks.
3. Participants created a pictogram network on the theme and wrote an essay in accordance with the pictogram network.
4. Reviewers read one essay and created the pictogram network.
5. Essay writers compared their own pictogram networks with the reviewers’ pictogram network s and revised their essays.
6. Another reviewer read each revised essay and created a new pictogram network based on the essay.
7. Participants state their opinions on this experiment.
8. The instructor disclosed the purpose of the experiment.

We used a matrix representation to determine the distance between each pictogram network. The difference between each pictogram network was calculated by the square root of the sum of the squares of the differences between corresponding values divided by the weighted average. Although the reviewers’ pictogram networks after the essay revision did not get closer to the writers’ pictogram networks in the first experiment, the reviewers’ pictogram networks in seven out of eight cases got closer to the writers’ pictogram networks in the second experiment. The results indicate that this revised collaborative approach made the participants realize the discrepancies between the writer's intention and the readers' understanding by comparing their pictogram networks, helping to detect the ambiguity and polysemy of the argument. The revised procedure turned out more effective than the original one to better represent knowledge and concepts.
Pictogram, pictogram network, peer review method, composition education, pict-net abstraction.