A BLENDED COLLABORATIVE APPROACH TO ACADEMIC WRITING

A. Pu

University of Waikato (NEW ZEALAND)
This presentation reports on findings of a two-cycle action research study that investigates English language learners’ perceptions and practices of a blended collaborative approach to academic writing integrating both face-to-face classroom activities and network-based tasks using Google Docs as well as the use of a free instant messaging application. In addition, the design and implementation of the blended collaborative approach will be described and discussed from a teacher’s perspective in term of its practicality, the positive sides of adopting this approach and some of the challenges faced during the study.

Collaborative writing has been investigated extensively in both first language education and second language learning and teaching. Research findings have shown that learning writing collaboratively can bring about numerous benefits to second language learners including improving awareness and understanding of audience expectations as well as better use of target language and increased learning motivation. The two main settings for collaborative writing research are a classroom-based face-to-face setting and a computer-mediated setting, in which each has its pros and cons.

Despite a considerable amount of collaborative writing literature, face-to-face and computer-mediated settings have almost always been examined as separate collaborative writing strategies or when the two were included in a research study, they were merely used for comparison. None has yet come to my knowledge that integrates the two into one single strategy for teaching academic writing. Therefore, one of the aims of the present study is to incorporate the two settings to explore the effects this blended approach has on English language learners’ perceptions of learning academic English writing. The present study is an interpretative, case study, action research study that uses narrative frames and focus groups as its primary data collection methods to gather learners’ perceptions; other sources such as audio recordings and students' written texts collected during the process are also used in the study. The findings of the study will be presented and the implications discussed with the conference attendees.