About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 8396-8404
Publication year: 2016
ISBN: 978-84-608-8860-4
ISSN: 2340-1117
doi: 10.21125/edulearn.2016.0834

Conference name: 8th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 4-6 July, 2016
Location: Barcelona, Spain

ACADEMIC SOCIALISATION THROUGH FACEBOOK: ORIENTING PEER COLLABORATION TOWARDS THE INTERPRETATION OF LEARNING

W. Peeters

University of Antwerp (BELGIUM)
This paper investigates how peer collaboration on the social network site (SNS) Facebook, integrated in an English as a Foreign Language (EFL) academic writing course, can support the process of academic socialisation. Academic socialisation involves transferring “previous knowledge of writing practices, academic and other, to varied university settings” (Lea & Street, 1998: 164), and is regarded as a prerequisite for interpreting learning tasks and making progress in one’s academic trajectory. The use of SNSs in higher education is on the rise (Trinder, 2015), and is believed to be suitable to make students engage with their fellow learners and discuss course content as well as course assignments (Peeters, 2016).

In becoming academic writers, the main issue identified most clearly by learners, is concerned with the importance of their own ‘identity’ as writers rather than simply the acquisition of skills (Lea & Street, 1998; Van de Poel & Gasiorek, 2012). Other issues concern student and tutor assumptions and understandings of assignment instructions, and tutor feedback on students’ written work (Van de Poel & Gasiorek, 2012). By integrating the SNS platform as a peer collaboration environment, students may take this opportunity to discuss these issues online and orient their collaboration towards learning and the interpretation of learning.

The present paper discusses a case study, conducted at the University of Antwerp (Belgium). In the two-year project, Facebook was integrated as a collaborative space in a four-month academic writing course for first-year majors studying English literature and linguistics (2013-2014, 2014-2015). The project aimed to introduce two groups of students (N = 119, N = 121) to peer collaboration and peer review, while giving them the opportunity to exchange ideas and reflect on the course content and their personal learning trajectory.

The students were given three monthly writing assignments − three 300-word essays − and were asked to discuss these with their peers on the closed Facebook group. The assignments revolved around sociological topics on which they had to take a stance, formulate argumentation and follow the academic conventions when writing down their ideas. The tutor was not present online. The students were instructed to report back to the tutor about the collaboration and include the most helpful feedback from their peers in their writing assignment.

Through topic and conversational discourse analysis (Fairclough, 2010) this paper demonstrates that the students tap into their personal experiences and knowledge to assist their peers and discuss various writing issues. They also share different types of resources which they consider relevant for the peer group. The results show that during the period in which they had to write their assignments, students primarily orient their collaboration towards learning itself, more so than to occupational socialisation. In this process, the instructions of the writing assignments and the in-class instruction are considered to be essential as a lack of focus on institutional practices may result in communication breakdown (Lea & Street, 1998). Through this approach, it is believed that collaboration on the Facebook platform, integrated in an EFL learning environment for academic writing, can support the process of academic socialisation by giving students the opportunity to share and discuss their ‘personal approaches’ to academic writing online.
@InProceedings{PEETERS2016ACA,
author = {Peeters, W.},
title = {ACADEMIC SOCIALISATION THROUGH FACEBOOK: ORIENTING PEER COLLABORATION TOWARDS THE INTERPRETATION OF LEARNING},
series = {8th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies},
booktitle = {EDULEARN16 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-608-8860-4},
issn = {2340-1117},
doi = {10.21125/edulearn.2016.0834},
url = {http://dx.doi.org/10.21125/edulearn.2016.0834},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Barcelona, Spain},
month = {4-6 July, 2016},
year = {2016},
pages = {8396-8404}}
TY - CONF
AU - W. Peeters
TI - ACADEMIC SOCIALISATION THROUGH FACEBOOK: ORIENTING PEER COLLABORATION TOWARDS THE INTERPRETATION OF LEARNING
SN - 978-84-608-8860-4/2340-1117
DO - 10.21125/edulearn.2016.0834
PY - 2016
Y1 - 4-6 July, 2016
CI - Barcelona, Spain
JO - 8th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
JA - EDULEARN16 Proceedings
SP - 8396
EP - 8404
ER -
W. Peeters (2016) ACADEMIC SOCIALISATION THROUGH FACEBOOK: ORIENTING PEER COLLABORATION TOWARDS THE INTERPRETATION OF LEARNING, EDULEARN16 Proceedings, pp. 8396-8404.
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