EUROCALL 2014

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Wiki-based collaborative writing activities in EFL classroom: Exploring teachers’ intervention in the collaborative process

This small-scale pilot study is designed to explore EFL teachers’ and students’ interaction in wiki based collaborative writing activities. More specifically, it aims to explore how teachers intervene in students’ interaction while they are completing the activities. By employing a multiple case study design, two EFL teachers and their 18 secondary school students (17 -18 years old) from a summer camp in Kuwait participated in a 5 week study. The writing activity involved producing a poster about Kuwaiti culture. Data were collected from multiple sources. These included the discussion pages of the wiki, the wiki page itself and interviews conducted with both teachers and students.

Variations were observed between the teachers in terms of how they intervened in the students’ online collaboration at the organisational, socio-cognitive and socio-affective levels. One teacher appeared to be active and attempted to facilitate students’ collaborative behaviours at the organisational, socio-cognitive and socio-affective levels by encouraging them to plan together, asking open questions about their language use, modelling editing behaviours and delaying responses to stimulate students’ dialogic interaction. Furthermore, she encouraged students to work as a group rather than individually, which seemed to promote group cohesion. This active teachers’ intervention seemed to affect the way students collaborated together. That is, students exhibited various behaviours that could be classified as collaborative such as planning together, engaging in collaborative dialogues, mutually constructing linguistic knowledge and seeking/giving feedback. The other teacher, on the other hand, adopted a more dominant role, responding to the students’ questions when they posted them, using authoritative talk to issue instructions and editing students’ texts rather than promoting students-students collaboration. This appeared to increase the students-teacher dependency as they were relying on the teacher to find answers to their questions and obtain feedback for their written texts. When the teacher adopted a dominant role, the level of students’ collaboration seemed to be limited and they depended solely on the teacher rather than on each other.

At the broader level, it was observed, that both teachers’ and students’ online practices were very much influenced by the broader context of classroom practice. That is, on some occasions, they seemed to transfer some of their FTF collaborative writing practices into the wiki context, which limited the affordances of wiki technology.

The implications of this study confirm the key role that teachers play in regulating students’ online wiki collaboration. However, findings also highlight the fact that the teacher must not only be present in the wiki, but also actively encourage dialogic interaction between students themselves and try to align their practices when using web 2.0 tools (i.e. wiki). From a sociocultural perspective, teachers should be aware of the degree of assistance needed by learners and to use language in a way that will encourage learners to move towards assuming greater responsibility for their online wiki language learning.

Author(s):

Maha Alghasab    
Education
University of York
United Kingdom

A second year PhD student in the University of York
holds MSc in applied linguistic from Edinburgh university
and a BA in Teaching English language

 

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