Graduation Year

2003

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Ph.D.

Degree Granting Department

Secondary Education

Major Professor

Feyten, Carine

Co-Major Professor

Zhu, Wei

Keywords

written feedback, spanish as a foreign language, l2 writing, asynchronous communication, process writing instruction

Abstract

Peer response in which students work together in dyads or small groups to critique and provide feedback on one another's writing is compatible with communicative approaches to foreign language teaching and process approaches to the teaching of writing. Computer-mediated communication has been considered a viable tool for both the teaching of languages and the teaching of writing. There is, however, scant information on how computer-mediated peer response functions in the foreign language classroom. This dissertation investigated how college Spanish learners provided feedback to their peers and the impact of feedback on revision. It also examined the factors that influenced how students wrote their comments, and how they perceived the use of computers for peer response. Case study methodology was used to collect and analyze data from two writing tasks performed as part of a semester-long course.

Data sources consisted of written feedback, first and second drafts, interview transcripts, learning journals from 12 participants and the teacher-researcher field notes. Analysis of data indicated that peer response is a complex event, influenced by a variety of contextual factors. Results also indicated that the participants used feedback depending on their needs. Students used reacting, advising and announcing language functions when providing feedback, and focused mostly on content. The revisions made by the participants contradicted the idea that peer feedback directly influences revision; more than half of the revisions made by the participants originated in the writers themselves and not in the suggestions given by their peers. Analysis of the revisions made, based on peers' suggestions indicated that the impact of peer response was strong on the length of the essays, limited on their language below the clause level, and weak on the essays' communicative purpose.

The participants' language proficiency and the characteristics of the writing task were perceived by the participants as factors that influenced how they wrote feedback for their peers. Finally, although the students considered that using the word processing language tools allowed them to learn about language and focus on content, the role of technology was perceived as supplementary to oral peer response

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