Academic journal article English Language Teaching

A Comparison of the Effects of Reflective Learning Portfolios and Dialogue Journal Writing on Iranian EFL Learners' Accuracy in Writing Performance

Academic journal article English Language Teaching

A Comparison of the Effects of Reflective Learning Portfolios and Dialogue Journal Writing on Iranian EFL Learners' Accuracy in Writing Performance

Article excerpt

Abstract

This study aimed at comparing the effects of reflective learning portfolio (RLP) and dialogue journal writing (DJW) on the Iranian EFL learners' grammatical accuracy in writing as well as their overall writing performance. 60 Iranian EFL learners between the ages of 17 to 30 who were studying at general English courses were selected based on their performance on the Nelson English Language Test. They were assigned randomly into two experimental groups: DJW and RLP. Each group received 14-sessions of treatment. Two samples of Task 2 of General Module of IELTS were used for the pretests and posttests. Each essay was scored independently by three raters. The final score consisted of the average score of the three raters.The findings revealed that the gains in the RLP group's grammatical accuracy and overall writing performance were significantly better than that of the DJW group. This could have been due to the influence of reflection with support of a mentor or collaborator as well as the efficacy of intentional learning over incidental one and explicit learning over implicit one. The results have some main implications for syllabus designers, material developers, and language teachers.

Keywords: grammatical accuracy, writing performance, dialogue journal, learning portfolio, reflection

1. Introduction

L2 writers usually encounter significant challenges in developing their writing skills (Evans, Hartshorn, McCollum, & Wolfersberger, 2010). As most writing instructors frequently observe and Leki, (1992, as cited in Howrey & Tanner, 2008) stated, the main challenge writing teachers encounter is to see that learners learn from their previous mistakes, and acquire writing fluency as well as accuracy. In spite of the given instructions, learners often show slight or no improvement in their writing. As Howrey & Tanner (2008) argued, learners often do not learn that they need to take serious responsibility for improving their own writing, and often neglect teacher feedback.

The accuracy of L2 writing, according to Evans et al. (2010) may be influenced by a number of variables such as the learning environment, learner differences, and instructional methodologies. Among all the mentioned variables, they pointed to the weaknesses in instructional methodologies which may play a significant role in preventing EFL/ESL learners from maximizing their ability to write accurately.

As Voit (2009) assured, the dialogue journal could provide a social opportunity for great linguistic achievements. On the other hand, according to Zubizarreta (2009), learning portfolio that requires reflection with support and under the guidance of a collaborator and mentor can be helpful for learner's acquisition of language.

1.1 The Significance of the Present Study

The majority of the Iranian EFL learners are unable to produce a piece of writing that is accurate. This is a challenge for not only the students enrolled in English programs, but for many university students as well. As it was argued by Evans et al. (2010), the weaknesses in instructional methodologies can be an important reason for this problem.

As it will be argued below, two techniques of keeping the learning portfolio and DJW are among the techniques that claim to be effective in helping the learners acquire the language skills, and among all the skills and components of the language, they have special focus on improving writing skills. Both techniques try to develop the reflective practice through social interactions. The primary concern for the researcher in this study was to see how such an opportunity to write reflectively via writing dialogue journals as well as the opportunity for critical reflection and self-assessment of learning under the guidance and with support of a collaborator and mentor via technique of using learning portfolio is effective in helping the learners improve their writing accuracy as well as their grammatical accuracy in writing. …

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