How it all ends: A model for teaching paragraph ending sentences to L2 students


  • Anuja Thomas Arizona State University
  • Philip McCarthy American University of Sharjah
  • Khawlah Ahmed American University of Sharjah
  • Noor Kaddoura
  • Nicholas Duran Arizona State University



Paragraph ending sentences,, topic closers, paragraph structure, Auto-Peer, topic sentences


Although topic sentences have been widely researched, similar consideration for paragraph endings has been less forthcoming. This discrepancy may be problematic as research suggests that instruction on textual endings can positively impact student writing.  With this issue in mind, the current study establishes a model for paragraph endings and discusses pedagogical and computational implications. The model stems from the categorization of the varieties of paragraph endings observed in a corpus of papers written by advanced ESL college-students in the Arabian Peninsula. We identified the varieties of paragraph endings to form a multi-dimensional model featuring the categories of ‘goal,’ ‘type,’ and ‘cue.’ ‘Goal’ refers to the function of the sentence (e.g., summarizing). ‘Type’ refers to whether the sentence is a claim or a support statement. ‘Cue’ refers to explicit language indicating the goal. The model was assessed quantitatively through inter-rater-reliability of expert-judge evaluations. Qualitative analysis was also incorporated to assess possible subjective differences. Quantitative analysis provided validation of the model. Specifically, even with the most conservative analysis, the findings show that 67.5% of the total assessments were in agreement, with 75% agreement for goal and 70% agreement for type. The subsequent qualitative analysis also broadly supported the quantitative findings. We conclude that the validated model has viable implications for pedagogical practices and software development. Thus, the study provides a pathway that may benefit students in the writing of more effective paragraphs.  


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Author Biographies

Philip McCarthy, American University of Sharjah

McCarthy is an Assistant Professor and discourse scientist, specializing in software design and corpus analysis. His major interest is written text, especially the writing of students of English. McCarthy has been a teacher for 30 years, working in locations such as Turkey, Japan, Britain, the United States, and the United Arab Emirates.

Khawlah Ahmed, American University of Sharjah

Professor Ahmed has a multidisciplinary academic background in English Education, English Literature, Sociology, TESOL, Computer Management Instruction, and certifications including a NY State Teaching Certification. Her research focuses on theories of teaching, educational technology, curriculum development, and communication. Ahmed has worked for government and public institutions in the US and MENA.

Noor Kaddoura

Kaddoura is a graduate student and research assistant. She has a Bachelor’s degree in English language and literature from the American University of Sharjah. Her research interests include L2 writing issues, argumentation, and the use of marked language.

Nicholas Duran, Arizona State University

Dr. Duran's research is focused on the ways in which complex cognitive processes are revealed in the dynamics of movement and language, both within individuals and across dyads and groups. Major areas of study include deception, perspective-taking, and collaborative problem-solving, as well as the connection between language and action, cognitive dynamics, and natural language processing and corpus analytics.


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How to Cite

Thomas, A., McCarthy, P., Ahmed, K., Kaddoura, N., & Duran, N. (2022). How it all ends: A model for teaching paragraph ending sentences to L2 students. Pegem Journal of Education and Instruction, 12(3), 1–11.

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