Logo Logo
Help
Contact
Switch language to German
Synchronous collaborative L2 writing with technology. interaction and learning
Synchronous collaborative L2 writing with technology. interaction and learning
This study explored the process of synchronous collaborative L2 writing using Google Docs in an English for medical purposes setting at university level. The research design is qualitative in nature as the collaborative practices of 24 German medical students in eight groups of three were investigated. The study focussed on the (approximately) 45-50 minutes long collaborative writing process of the eight groups with respect to their negotiation of the collaborative process. In other words, how did the students use Google Docs synchronously in terms of channel usage? What aspects of the collaborative task did those groups of L2 students decide to make a subject of discussion and what does that tell us about the nature of the process? Finally, how did students experience this synchronous collaborative writing process? The data collection relied primarily on the built-in recording features of Google Docs. The resulting data (chat logs, revision history of the co-authored texts, comments history) was compiled into a chronologically organised data set. In addition, participants took part in a post-activity survey. The participants’ collaborative practices and their answers in the survey were analysed utilising a qualitative content analysis approach. The results of the analysis revealed three major findings: First, students participated very actively in the activity, resulting in many opportunities for creating and negotiating language output – a necessary condition for second language development. Students focussed primarily on content- and workflow-related discussions, which is in line with findings from collaborative writing research. Students also engaged in ‘languaging’, i.e. language-related metatalk, which raises their language awareness – another facilitator of second language development. Due to the computer-mediated nature of the student discourse and the students’ high language level, surface-level matters like layout or spelling were not discussed by the students. Second, the analysis of discussion episodes revealed that the participants verbalised certain aspects of the writing process in their task-related meta discussions. An initial peak in workflow- and content-related discussions resembled a planning phase, the following rise in language- and structure-related discussions represented the translating phase. The final phase, which resembled a revision phase, saw a decrease of all discussions. Third, it had been hoped that two distinct patterns of solving a task together, namely collaboration and cooperation, could be identified by investigating instances of synchronous channel usage. However, synchronous activity in the text or overlap of activity in the chat and text did not prove to be a reliable indicator of either pattern. Due to the synchronous and all-written nature of the activity, it seemed plausible to classify synchronous collaborative writing as collaboration by default. The analysis also revealed a negative correlation between chat activity and performance in the final text. Groups who performed worst in the final texts dedicated substantially more time to chatting (about content- and workflow-related matters) than more successful groups. These groups seemed to struggle to establish a common content and workflow understanding, which is further supported by the post-activity survey. An all-written, multi-modal environment proved to be a challenge for some students, who could have benefitted from pedagogical guidance. The exploratory investigation of the synchronous collaborative L2 writing process with Google Docs led to several implications for foreign language teaching and research. First, the implementation of web-based technology can pose a serious legal and ethical challenge for educators and researchers in Germany, in particular, as user data is surrendered to global cloud-based systems – a problem which can only be solved by relying on locally installed, open source software. Second, shared documents can be a powerful tool to bridge the gap between classroom activities and the online component in blended learning settings. Third, shared documents make learning processes visible and, hence, assessable – albeit a shift from a product-oriented to a process-oriented assessment approach poses several pedagogical and pragmatic challenges. Fourth, shared documents is a feasible way for educators to collect user data for research but could benefit from the inclusion of more sophisticated means of data collection, such as eye-tracking or screen recording. Finally, the exploratory setup of this study revealed that a new way of working together requires guidelines on how to best exploit the possibilities of shared documents technology to work collaboratively on a joint project – a valuable avenue for future research.
Not available
Steinberger, Franz
2017
English
Universitätsbibliothek der Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München
Steinberger, Franz (2017): Synchronous collaborative L2 writing with technology: interaction and learning. Dissertation, LMU München: Faculty for Languages and Literatures
[img]
Preview
PDF
Steinberger_Franz.pdf

12MB
[img] ZIP
Steinberger_container.zip

18MB

Abstract

This study explored the process of synchronous collaborative L2 writing using Google Docs in an English for medical purposes setting at university level. The research design is qualitative in nature as the collaborative practices of 24 German medical students in eight groups of three were investigated. The study focussed on the (approximately) 45-50 minutes long collaborative writing process of the eight groups with respect to their negotiation of the collaborative process. In other words, how did the students use Google Docs synchronously in terms of channel usage? What aspects of the collaborative task did those groups of L2 students decide to make a subject of discussion and what does that tell us about the nature of the process? Finally, how did students experience this synchronous collaborative writing process? The data collection relied primarily on the built-in recording features of Google Docs. The resulting data (chat logs, revision history of the co-authored texts, comments history) was compiled into a chronologically organised data set. In addition, participants took part in a post-activity survey. The participants’ collaborative practices and their answers in the survey were analysed utilising a qualitative content analysis approach. The results of the analysis revealed three major findings: First, students participated very actively in the activity, resulting in many opportunities for creating and negotiating language output – a necessary condition for second language development. Students focussed primarily on content- and workflow-related discussions, which is in line with findings from collaborative writing research. Students also engaged in ‘languaging’, i.e. language-related metatalk, which raises their language awareness – another facilitator of second language development. Due to the computer-mediated nature of the student discourse and the students’ high language level, surface-level matters like layout or spelling were not discussed by the students. Second, the analysis of discussion episodes revealed that the participants verbalised certain aspects of the writing process in their task-related meta discussions. An initial peak in workflow- and content-related discussions resembled a planning phase, the following rise in language- and structure-related discussions represented the translating phase. The final phase, which resembled a revision phase, saw a decrease of all discussions. Third, it had been hoped that two distinct patterns of solving a task together, namely collaboration and cooperation, could be identified by investigating instances of synchronous channel usage. However, synchronous activity in the text or overlap of activity in the chat and text did not prove to be a reliable indicator of either pattern. Due to the synchronous and all-written nature of the activity, it seemed plausible to classify synchronous collaborative writing as collaboration by default. The analysis also revealed a negative correlation between chat activity and performance in the final text. Groups who performed worst in the final texts dedicated substantially more time to chatting (about content- and workflow-related matters) than more successful groups. These groups seemed to struggle to establish a common content and workflow understanding, which is further supported by the post-activity survey. An all-written, multi-modal environment proved to be a challenge for some students, who could have benefitted from pedagogical guidance. The exploratory investigation of the synchronous collaborative L2 writing process with Google Docs led to several implications for foreign language teaching and research. First, the implementation of web-based technology can pose a serious legal and ethical challenge for educators and researchers in Germany, in particular, as user data is surrendered to global cloud-based systems – a problem which can only be solved by relying on locally installed, open source software. Second, shared documents can be a powerful tool to bridge the gap between classroom activities and the online component in blended learning settings. Third, shared documents make learning processes visible and, hence, assessable – albeit a shift from a product-oriented to a process-oriented assessment approach poses several pedagogical and pragmatic challenges. Fourth, shared documents is a feasible way for educators to collect user data for research but could benefit from the inclusion of more sophisticated means of data collection, such as eye-tracking or screen recording. Finally, the exploratory setup of this study revealed that a new way of working together requires guidelines on how to best exploit the possibilities of shared documents technology to work collaboratively on a joint project – a valuable avenue for future research.