Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Ph.D.

Degree Granting Department

World Languages

Major Professor

Wei Zhu

Co-Major Professor

Deoksoon Kim

Keywords

collaboration, second language writing, small groups, sociocultural theory, wiki

Abstract

Due to recent developments in Web 2.0 technologies, computer-mediated collaborative writing has captured the growing attention of second language researchers and instructors. The affordance of wikis for collaborative writing has been hailed, but few studies have explored the nature of wiki collaboration and interaction during small group writing using wikis. This dissertation investigated dynamic group interactions in wiki-based collaborative writing tasks in an English for Academic Purposes (EAP) course at a southeastern public research university in the U.S. A total of twenty-nine English as a Second Language graduate students collaboratively worked on two writing tasks within small groups in Wikispaces sites. By adopting a multiple-case study approach, I closely examined four small groups that had diverse L1 background composites and presented a comprehensive picture of students' wiki-based collaborative writing.

Informed by sociocultural theory, particularly the notions of scaffolding and zone of proximal development, I explored small group interactions to derive how they negotiated writing tasks, co-constructed writing, and mutually scaffolded wiki writing processes. I also examined what factors mediated the dynamic interactions, and in what ways the interactions influenced wiki writing products and connected with students' reflections about wiki collaborative writing. The triangulated data sources included archived wiki "Discussion," "Comments," "History," and "Page" records, pre-task and post-task questionnaire surveys, post-task and follow-up interviews, students' reflection papers, instructors' assessment of students' wiki group writing, and my research logs. In terms of the data analysis, I mainly conducted qualitative procedures using constant comparative method and content analysis, supplemented with descriptive analysis.

The results revealed that the four small groups demonstrated four characteristic patterns of interaction. The patterns were not static across two wiki writing tasks. Mixed patterns were found in Group 1 (Collective-- Active/withdrawn) and Group 3 (Dominant/defensive-- Collaborative). Group dynamics were also evident in Group 2 (Expert/novice) and Group 4 (Cooperating in parallel). These patterns were featured with language functions that small groups performed while negotiating writing tasks, writing change functions that they performed while constructing joint texts, and scaffolding strategies that they applied throughout collaborative writing processes. In addition, multiple factors mediated small groups' wiki interactions: motives/goals, agency and emotion, and prior experiences in such aspects of cultural background, small group work, and technology use. Moreover, the group interactions had influences on joint wiki writing products and also connected with students' reflections about wiki affordances and their learning experiences. This study bridged the gap in computer-mediated collaborative writing research, and also shed new light on the networked writing pedagogy in the EAP context.

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