Academic journal article Asian Social Science

Group Participation and Interaction in ESL Wiki Collaborative Writing among Malaysian Gifted Students

Academic journal article Asian Social Science

Group Participation and Interaction in ESL Wiki Collaborative Writing among Malaysian Gifted Students

Article excerpt

Abstract

In the Malaysian Education Ministry's Education Transformation 2013-2025, there is an emphasis on English language proficiency, collaborative practices and ICT, and concern for the educational needs of gifted students. The study aimed to align with the Ministry's initiatives by exploring the use of wikis in ESL collaborative writing among gifted students, particularly group participation and interaction. The mixed-method case study employed questionnaires, online interviews and observations to collect data from 74 Form 4 gifted students from PERMATApintar National Gifted Centre, UKM. The study found that group participation and collaboration was not ideal, but students gained from interactions with others on the wiki. These findings were discussed in detail with regards to the literature and arising issues. Hence, wikis proved to be an interesting alternative for ESL collaborative writing that is capable of motivating and fostering collaborative language learning efforts among gifted students.

Keywords: gifted students, wikis, English language learning, collaborative writing, ESL

1. Introduction

In the Malaysian context, English is a second language (ESL). However, despite English being a compulsory subject in all schools across the country, English language proficiency is markedly weak. Only 23% Bumiputera, 42% Chinese and 35% Indian students achieved at least a Credit benchmarked to Cambridge 1119 in 2010 (Ministry of Education, 2012). Thus, in line with the To Uphold Bahasa Malaysia and Strengthen the English Language (MBMMBI) policy, the Ministry is making efforts to strengthen the language by increasing English exposure, among others. Therefore, there is a strong emphasis on enhancing English language proficiency, which the researcher believes can be done through learning collaboratively.

Collaborative practices are increasingly encouraged with the advent of Web 2.0 technologies (Kessler, Bikowski, & Boggs, 2012). Godwin-Jones (2008) believed that Web 2.0 tools, like social networks, blogs and wikis, that enhance communication and human interaction have a great potential to be harnessed for language learning. This can be seen by the positive effects on students' language learning through the use of web tools such as Facebook and blogs (Omar, Embi, & Yunus, 2012; Said et al., 2013). Furthermore, these Web 2.0 tools also created a shift in the roles of students and instructors. Students are no longer passive recipients of information, but active participants in the learning process while constantly learning collaboratively with others (Anderson, 2010). This is supported by O'Sullivan and Samarawickrema who asserted that technology pushes the social aspect of learning to new levels by "unprecedented sharing and collaboration between users, (and) the formation of new learner identities or subjectivities and communities of learning" (2008, p. 713). Lowry, Curtis and Lowry (2004) stated that Internet tools provided unique affordances for collaboration that meets the demands of globalisation.

Gifted children, on the other hand, are a specific group of the country's school-going population that has special educational needs. They exhibit particular characteristics, learn in ways far different from their peers and possess potential to excel in certain domains, given the right tools and learning environment (Aliza & Hamidah, 2009; Davis & Rimm, 2005; Munro, 2005; Ruf, 2003). This is important, as gifted students were found to also experience language learning difficulties such as speaking in English, grammar and lack of vocabulary (Yunus, Sulaiman, Kamarulzaman, & Ishak, 2013). Incorporating technology for language learning with Malaysian gifted students holds much promise as they are exposed to and familiar with Web 2.0, and recognise its benefits for language learning purposes (Yunus & Kwan, 2013; Yunus, Kwan, & Noriah, 2012). Thus, this paper aims to explore the use of wikis in ESL collaborative writing among gifted students, particularly in terms of group participation and interaction. …

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