The relationship between writing anxiety, writing selfefficacy, and Spanish EFL students’ use of metacognitive writing strategies: a case study

Javier Aula Blasco


The composing process of a written text is one of the most challenging tasks encountered by foreign language learners. Mastering writing depends on numerous aspects, being the use of metacognitive writing strategies a paramount factor in the process. However, writing metacognition is not isolated from other factors, and emotional constructs have a deep influence both on the use of strategies and on the final written outcome. In this article, a case study is undertaken among six upper-secondary-school Spanish EFL students in order to explore, identify, and analyze the unique relationships existing between the use of metacognitive writing strategies, writing anxiety and writing self-efficacy, observing also how these three factors influence students’ writing performance. To do so, participants were invited to take part in a think-aloud protocol while writing a text in English. Results were cross-validated with students’ completion of a questionnaire designed drawing on previous literature (O’Neil and Abedi 1996; Cheng 2004; Jones 2008; Stewart et al. 2015; Ho 2016) to measure the three factors. Participants’ responses to both research instruments showed a positive correlation between writing metacognition and writing self-efficacy. On the other hand, these two factors were reported to be negatively correlated with students’ level of writing anxiety. Findings also suggest that think-aloud protocols might have flaws when measuring emotional constructs. Thus, EFL instruction should aim at reducing both personal and environmental factors that may cause writing anxiety and decrease learners’ self-efficacy, ultimately enhancing students’ writing skills.


Writing; Secondary education; EFL students; Metacognition; Anxiety; Self-efficacy

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