ERG SES F 03, Parallel Session F 03
- Aim of the study: To examine university students' reflections on group writing as a tool for learning
- Research questions:
1) What did students see as difficulties of group writing?
2) What did students see as dilemmas of group writing?
3) What did students see as outcomes of group writing?
- Theoretical framework:
The theories used were mainly drawn from the areas of cognitive and social constructivism, academic writing and group learning. To begin with, constructivism is a theory of learning that posits that learners actively construct their own knowledge and meaning from their experiences (Doolittle, 1999). It is closely associated with the theories of Vygotsky, Bruner, and Bandura. Both cognitive and social constructivism emphasize "the importance of culture and context in understanding what occurs in society and constructing knowledge based on this understanding” (see http://projects.coe.uga.edu). More specifically, social constructivism views knowledge as being socially constructed, resulting from social interaction and language usage and being negotiated or shared between individuals.
My research interests in group writing and learning stemmed from the fact that in the context of study like anywhere else in the world, there is a paradigm shift from the teacher-controlled to the learner-centred pedagogy. The reason for this paradigm shift is that teachers cannot simply transfer knowledge to students. Rather, students are requested to “build their own minds through a process of assimilating information into their own understandings” (Barkley, Cross, & Major, 2005, p. xi) since meaningful and lasting learning occurs through personal, active involvement.
To stimulate the learners’ active involvement it is advisable to prompt them to work in groups. In fact, it is often argued that group work offers students opportunities to learn valuable interpersonal and teamwork skills which are often required by employers. Besides, group work enables learners “to see individual learning as essentially related to the success of group learning” (see http://gsi.berkeley.edu).
My interest in academic writing originated from the fact that it is sometimes seen as a complex, challenging, daunting and demanding activity for students but which unfortunately “lies at the very centre of academic performance and success for both academic teachers and their students” (Murray & Moore, 2009, p. ix).
Lastly, my research dwells on group work because it appeals to the use of student discussion in the classroom as propounded by social constructivism theory.
Barkley, E. F., Cross, K. P., Major, C. H. (2005). Collaborative learning techniques: A handbook for college faculty. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Coffin, C., Curry, M.J., Goodman, S., Hewings, A., Lillis, T.M., Swann, J. (2003). Teaching academic writing: A toolkit for higher education. New York and London: Routledge. Creme, P., & Lea, M.R. (2008). Writing at university: A guide for students (3rd ed.). New York: Open University Press. Davies, W.M. (2009). Groupwork as a form of assessment: Common problems and recommended solutions. Higher Education, 58(4), 563-584. Retrieved September 17, 2010, from http://www.springerlink.com/content/m1l16382767q00v8/ Doolittle, P. E. (1999). Constructivism and online education. Retrieved November 1, 2009 from http://www.sdldesigners.com.tutcons.html Gillett, A., Hammond, A., & Martala, M. (2009). Successful academic writing. London: Pearson Longman. Kapp, E. (2009). Improving student teamwork in a collaborative project-based course. College Teaching, 57(3), 139-143. Kim, B. (2001). Social constructivism. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching and technology. Retrieved November 1, 2009 from http://projects.coe.uga.edu/epltt/index.php title=Social_Constructivism McNamara, D.S., Crossley, S.A., & McCarthy, P.M. (2010). Linguistic features of writing quality. Written Communication, 57(1), 57-86. Murray, R. & S. Moore (2009). The handbook of academic writing: A fresh approach. London: McGraw Hill and Open University Press. National Writing Project, & Nagin, C. (2006). Because writing matters: Improving student writing in our schools. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Nightingale, P. (2000). Improving student writing. In S. Makoni (Ed.), Improving teaching and learning in higher education: A handbook for Southern Africa (pp. 131-166). Johannesburg: Witwatersrand University Press. Starfield, S. (2007). New directions in student academic writing. In J. Cummins & C.Davison (Eds.), International handbook of English language teaching (pp.875-889). New York: Springer. Retrieved September 12, 2010, from http://www.springerlink.com/content/g845264174655j81/fulltext.pdf Theories of learning: Social constructivism. Retrieved November 1, 2009 from http://gsi.berkeley.edu/resources/learning/social.html
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