Probing into the Effect of Synchronous and Asynchronous Computer-mediated Peer Feedback Practices on IELTS Learners
(Effect of computer synchronization)
English is the lingua franca of the outset of the third millennium. This language is prevalently used by its native and nonnative speakers throughout the globe. Nowadays, nonnative speakers of English outnumber native speakers, who are just a fourth or a fifth of English language users (Stevens, 1992).
An increasing portion of human communication is conducted through the medium of English language.
The advent of the Internet and other communication advances have increased the English acceptability among native speakers of other languages.
With the increase in the popularity of process approach to writing, peer feedback found its place in different stages of writing (Hyland & Hyland, 2006), and more attention was paid to it at both theoretical and practical levels. This type of feedback can be used in both first and second language writing classes and helps students recognize their weaknesses and strengths of their writing (Ferris, 2003).
In addition, it can foster automation and invoke motivation to write more. It can provide opportunities to learn from each other (Liu & Hansen, 2002).
Peer feedback has found its place in second language writing classes as either an alternative or a complement to teacher feedback. Peer feedback enables students to have a more active role in writing classes. In classes where peer feedback is used, students are not merely passive participants who just receive teacher feedback; they assume, as Liu & Hansen (2002) put it, “roles and responsibilities normally taken on by a formally trained teacher, tutor, or editor in commenting on and critiquing each other’s drafts in both written and oral formats in the process of writing” (p. 1). (Effect of computer synchronization)
This innovation in writing classes was conjoined with the use of computers in writing programs.
In the 1980s, practitioners and researchers started to employ computers in L1 and L2 classes. However, instructors’ reactions to the use of computers in writing classes were not uniform.
Hyland (2003) states that “some teachers have welcomed these developments enthusiastically, seeing the integration of new technology-based pedagogies as a means of enlivening instruction, improving students’ writing skills, and facilitating collaboration and interaction both within and beyond the classroom” (p. 30).(Effect of computer synchronization)
Warschauer and Kern (2000) state that the use of computers in language teaching has led to different teaching orientations in the passage of time.
They indicate that a shift from structuralist view in the form of giving grammar and vocabulary drills to a cognitive view which encouraged the use of problem solving tasks and towards today’s orientation which is a sociocognitive approach is detectable in computer programs. In the sociocognitive view, the learners’ interaction with computers is replaced by the learners’ interaction with other learners via the computer. In writing classes, the sociocognitive approach is manifested in both teacher-student and student-student interactions. The provision of teacher feedback by the use of computers and peer feedback provided by students is an instance of the sociocognitive approach.
Although several studies have investigated the dynamics of peer feedback and computer-mediated peer feedback practices, there are issues that have remained unexplored or under-explored.
There are some niches in the literature that can be investigated to contribute to the body of second language acquisition.
One of these niches in the literature is the thorough investigation of the effect of synchronous and asynchronous computer-mediated feedback on provided comments and the way they are incorporated into the students’ revised versions. Although previous studies have touched upon the issue, no comprehensive study has investigated the way synchronous and asynchronous peers’ and learners’ feedback practices can improve the writing quality of IELTS learners. Another gap in the literature that this study attempts to fill deals with the investigation of the IELTS candidates’ perceptions and attitudes in terms of the synchronous and asynchronous peer feedback.(Effect of computer synchronization)
That is, the effect of two types of feedback, namely, provided comments and the pattern of incorporating these comments, were examined.
Unlike previous studies, the present study puts the comments in five different criteria proposed by Jacobs, Zinkgraf, Wormuth, Hartfiel, and Hughey (1981) including Grammar, language use, content, mechanics, and organization.
Furthermore, this study attempts to scrutinize the participants’ provided comments under different computer-mediated peer feedback conditions. Finally, this investigation attempts to uncover students’ perceptions and attitudes towards synchronous and asynchronous computer-mediated peer feedback.
Thus, the current study will answer the following questions:
RQ1: Is there any significant difference between the effects of synchronous and asynchronous computer-mediated peer feedback practices on IELTS learners’ provided comments?
RQ2: Is there any significant difference between the effects of synchronous and asynchronous computer-mediated peer feedback practices on IELTS learners’ incorporation patterns of provided peer comments?
It is hoped that the findings of this investigation can also give us a deep understanding of the way synchronous and asynchronous peer feedback can help second language learners scaffold each other’s writing ability.(Effect of computer synchronization)
While significance of students’ engagement with the provided comments is well-established in the
literature, to the best of the researcher’s knowledge, no systematic study has delved into this issue.
- Literature Review
The theoretical framework of this study is based on sociocultural theory and community of practice. Sociocultural theory is a social constructivist view of learning pioneered by Lev Vygotsky. This theory holds that learning is a social phenomenon that occurs through interaction between different participants in a society. Community of practice, an offspring of sociocultural theory, explains how a newcomer person to a community is socialized into the explicit and implicit rules, and moves from a legitimate peripheral participation to full participation.(Effect of computer synchronization)
Peer feedback is supported by a number of theoretical stances. As Liu and Hansen (2002) state, different linguistic and educational theories have supported the use of peer feedback in writing classes.
The researchers have outlined Zone of Proximal Development, cooperative learning, interactional hypothesis, input hypothesis and output hypothesis as the oft-cited bases of peer feedback.
Peer feedback is supported by Vygotsky’s (1978) notion of Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD).
Vygotsky (1978) argues that cognitive development is the result of social interaction in which more experienced individual guides the less experienced person to extend his competence. This expansion of competence happens with restriction which is called ZPD.(Effect of computer synchronization)
Vygotsky (1978) defines ZPD as “the distance between the actual developmental level as determined by independent problem solving and the level of potential development as determined through problem solving under adult guidance, or in collaboration with more capable peers” (p. 86).
Ho and Savignon (2007) compared the conventional and online peer feedback in terms of students’ attitudes and perceptions. The participants of their study were 37 English major students in a Taiwanese university.
Two intact classes (one junior and one senior) participated in this survey.
In order to glean the data, the researchers gave the students a questionnaire which included 30 closed-ended questions and 5 open-ended questions. The semester was divided into two halves; in the first half students gave each other face-to-face feedback, while in the second half students used annotation section of the word processor to give comments and then emailed them to their partners. The results of their study showed the favorable attitude of the students towards peer review.(Effect of computer synchronization)
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