Academic journal article Journal of Emerging Trends in Educational Research and Policy Studies

Collaborative Writing and Peer-Editing in EFL Writing Classes

Academic journal article Journal of Emerging Trends in Educational Research and Policy Studies

Collaborative Writing and Peer-Editing in EFL Writing Classes

Article excerpt

Abstract

This paper reports a research carried out in two classrooms to investigate a) effect of collaborative writing and peer-editing on students' writings and b) changes to teacher's role in the classroom when peer-editing is involved, and c) students' opinions of this process. This research is an extension of Mangelsdorf's study where no collaborative writing was involved. It was carried out with Second-year English department students at the Teachers College, King Saud University in Saudi Arabia. Either after the treatment, they were asked to write either collaboratively or individually a well-organized paragraph on a given topic. Peer-editing was applied to students' writings, which was repeated several times. Questionnaires, samples of students' edited drafts and teachers' observations were used to collect data. The study found these techniques enhanced in-class interaction and improved students' writings by raising their awareness on a text writer's choices. On the part of the teachers, however, their role was only to give instructions and observe students, along with some other relevant steps. It spurs students to be cooperative rather than competitive, a way deemed instrumental to the success of peer- editing.

Keywords: collaborative writing, peer-editing, writing skill, EFL Learners, EFL Saudi university students.

INTRODUCTION

University students usually complain of their poor writing and allege constraints impede their unawareness whether a given written material sounds appropriate or not. The saga also covers their ignorance of relevant writing strategies, and the topic to write about as well.. However, writing, as broadly defined, is rewriting. It is a circular process in which both writer and text are involved. The process of editing bolsters the students' due interest in the mooted issues and provides a basis to exchange inter-student views and discuss alternatives.

"Readings help expand the world of the classroom by bringing subject matter into it. Students then have more to react to than the room, chalk, and homework. They can get interested in controversial issues... They can react to a reading assignment by discussing it, writing about it. We can use this power of readings to generate reactions in two ways in our writing lesson: we can provide readings that stimulate the need for written communication, or we can ask our students to write (opinions, instructions, and the like) so that other students in the class have subject matter to react to "(Raimes, 1983: 63-64).

So, in-class editing assignments help students interact more comfortably. However, putting aside the teacher as an editor of his students' writings, the audience and the instructor simultaneously, he/she can ask them to do the editing. In a study carried out by Mangelsdorf (1992), Peer Reviews in the ESL Composition Classroom: What Do the Students Think?, peer reviewing is introduced as a supporting component of writing classes. Mittan (1989), cited by Mangelsdorf (1992), states "peer reviews achieve the following: provide students with an authentic audience; increase students' motivation for writing; enable students to receive different views on their writing; help students learn to read critically their own writing; and assist students in gaining confidence in their writing" (Mangelsdorf, 1992: 275).

Editing, whether the teacher's or classmate's, relates re-reading to writing. Therefore, writing becomes subject to rereading the text and editing throughout rewriting. Editing here raises students' awareness of writing strategies and stages of the writing process. A student in Mangelsdorf's study states, "with enough practice [of peer reviews] we'll be able to be critics of our own papers" (1992: 279). The key notions emerge here as reading likely defined as a complicated process, which mainly requires contextualizing, organizing and grammaticalizing: contextualizing through learning new vocabulary and matching it with one's cultural knowledge to reach a better understanding of the word as a micro unit and the text as a macro unit; organizing through discovering the development of the target text; and grammaticalizing through breaking the text down into smaller structures and units grammatically linked to each other to convey the proposed meaning. …

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