Academic journal article International Education Studies

The Effect of Collaboration on Iranian EFL Learners' Writing Accuracy

Academic journal article International Education Studies

The Effect of Collaboration on Iranian EFL Learners' Writing Accuracy

Article excerpt


This study aims at finding the effect of group work on Iranian EFL learners' writing accuracy. Moreover, the effect of gender on text production has also been investigated. Over a month, sixty Iranian EFL learners were chosen as the participants of this study. They were divided into two groups. The experimental group wrote collaboratively while the control group underwent individual writing tasks. Both groups participated in four essay writing sessions. The participants wrote on the same topics and genre. The results revealed that the students in the collaborative writing group outperformed the students in the control group, hence emphasizing the significant role of collaboration in L2 writing. Regarding gender effect, the data analysis showed the females in the collaborative group outperformed males in the same group proving that gender plays a significant role in Iranian EFL collaborative writing setting. The results have some implications for English writing instructors and learners.

Keywords: Second language writing (L2), Argumentative text, Accuracy, T-unit, Collaborative writing, Gender

1. Introduction

The ability to write effectively is becoming more significant in today's communication and academic settings and improving the writing ability of the learners which is assuming an important part in L2 language education (Ghoorchaei, Tavakoli, & Nejad Ansari, 2010). One popular method of writing instructions is the use of group work in which students in groups of two or three write collaboratively in both first (L1) and second (L2) language learning (Adams & Hamm, 1996; Doughty & Pica, 1986). Studies in L1 instruction have shown that EFL learners working in pairs are exposed to a variety of different viewpoints which help them to develop critical thinking skill (Adams & Hamm, 1996; Barnes & Todd, 1977; Slavin, 1991). Moreover, group work in L2 educational environment has shown that L2 learners obtain many opportunities to use the target language for different functions (Storch, 1999).

The interest toward collaborative writing had begun in the early 70s' through the work of pioneer Kenneth Bruffee who argued that by making students write compositions and fictions in pairs, students produced better texts in comparison to the times they wrote alone (Bruffee, 1973a). The feedback that the learners receive from this new model of writing can be extremely positive since collaborative writing is reflective both of the business world and the academic field in which students study (Bruffee, 1984). Thus, collaborative writing in the learners' writing achievement in the classroom setting can positively improve in paired writing environment (Bruffee, 1981; Gebhardt, 1980, 1981).

There were also evidences of positive effects of interaction during writing task, especially at college level (O'Donnell, Dansereau, Rocklin, Lambiotte, Hythecker & Larson, 1985). For instance, Clifford (1981) studied college freshman performance in collaborative writing environment contended that students who wrote in groups learned more from each other than those students working individually. Daiute's research (1986, p. 389) confirmed earlier studies that "students who collaborated made significant improvement over students who wrote individually", and that the group work was better than the best work of any members of the group.

When two or more students write together as well as peer instruct each other, they not only decrease the amount of time to deal with various aspects of writing simultaneously but also gain the benefits in information processing terms. The help and the guidance that each member of a pair groups receives, give them many options to process information (Yarrow & Topping, 2001).

Regarding individual versus collaborative pair work, Shi (1998) was concerned with comparing a written text produced collaboratively with another text produced individually by ESL students from three different pre-university writing classes under different conditions including peer-talk previewing discussion, teacher-led previewing discussion, and no discussion. …

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