Student perspectives on group work and use of L1: Academic writing in a university EFL course in Thailand

Kwon, Changho
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Learning a second language in a communicative environment involves a variety of pair or group work. Depending on the learning situation, group work could be useful or challenging for a teacher to implement (McDonough, 2004). To understand the students’ perspectives on collaborative writing and peer feedback, I conducted classroom action research in a Writing and Presentation Skills class at a mid-sized university in Thailand. The students completed one writing assignment and gave a related presentation for each project. To complete three projects in eight weeks, they worked on a variety of tasks in groups. I examined the students’ perspectives on the collaborative writing tasks they were engaged in, the (mis)match between their perception and written performance, and their use of L1 with the goal of completing the writing tasks. Multiple forms of qualitative and quantitative data were collected for this action research. Pre- and post-questionnaires, student reflective journal entries, and post interviews provided me with the insights into their perspectives on collaborative writing, peer response, and their use of L1. Using inductive coding following the nature of action research, I selected themes and focal students. Student interviews were also partially transcribed focusing on content. Finally, I analyzed focal students’ pre- and post-writing tests through complexity, accuracy, and fluency measures to observe how their perspectives and their actual learning coincide with each other. Findings show that although most students perceived group work positively, they faced some challenges, including differing proficiency levels within groups, difficulty in decision-making processes, and relationships with their peers. This study suggests that teachers need to listen to the student’s voice and address their concerns when implementing and adapting collaborative writing and peer response.
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