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Collaborative writing strategies of students using multi-media software Hart, Gjoa Lynne. 2000

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C O L L A B O R A T I V E WRITING STRATEGIES OF STUDENTS USING MULTI-MEDIA S O F T W A R E by GJOA L Y N N E H A R T B.A., The University of British Columbia, 1988  A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL F U L F I L L M E N T OF T H E REQUIREMENTS FOR T H E D E G R E E OF M A S T E R OF ARTS in T H E F A C U L T Y OF G R A D U A T E STUDIES D E P A R T M E N T OF L A N G U A G E AND L I T E R A C Y E D U C A T I O N  We accept this thesis as conforming to the required standard  T H E UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA April 2000 © Gjoa Lynne Hart, 2000  In  presenting  degree freely  at  this  the  thesis  in  partial  fulfilment  University  of  British  Columbia, I agree that the  available for  copying  of  department publication  this or of  reference and  thesis by  this  for  his thesis  study.  scholarly  or  her  for  of  I further  purposes  requirements  agree that  may  representatives.  financial  the  It  gain shall not  be is  permission  granted  U v ^  < j £ - ^ ^ ^ t y ,  The University of British C o l u m b i a Vancouver, Canada  Date  DE-6  (2/88)  by  an  ¥cbuuh'  advanced  shall make for  the that  allowed without  permission.  Department of  Library  understood be  for  it  extensive  head  of  my  copying  or  my  written  ABSTRACT  This study reports on the similar and different writing strategies four dyads of English as a Second Language students used during a five week case study at the English Language Institute of the University of British Columbia. These intermediate language learners used a multi-media software prototype called Edubba which was designed to teach the academic writing process. The aims of the study were to 1) describe the composing strategies of a small number of international students engaged in collaborative composition tasks using multi-media software; 2) establish how their processes and products varied from group to group and from week to week; and 3) to elicit information from the writers' point of view about their experiences with the writing tasks and their history of writing instruction, collaborative writing experience and computer skills. Case study data consisted of student profiles, assessments of weekly produced compositions, descriptions of they dyads' collaborative composing processes, transcripts of oral exchanges, and field notes. The learners' experience demonstrates that the benefit of using technology to provide students with an immersive setting can help students to approach the writing process from research to production. Results show that there were more differences than similarities in how dyads approached and completed their writing task. Obvious factors which seemed to play a part in the diversity of the writing teams were as follows: language level, attitude toward writing and/or their partner, background knowledge of the subject, gender and culture and personality. Areas for further research and development include creating a more open work space for collaborating writers which may or may not include more than one keyboard and mouse, providing a longer time frame for the actual drafting component of the writing  ii  process, providing students with collaborative expressions called gambits, and observing the implementation of more intelligent help directly in the multi-media software.  iii  T A B L E OF CONTENTS  ABSTRACT  ii  T A B L E OF CONTENTS  iv  LIST OF T A B L E S  vii  ACKNOWLEDGMENTS  viii  CHAPTER 1: SCOPE A N D PURPOSE OF T H E S T U D Y  1  1.1  Identification of the Problem  1  1.2 1.3 1.4  Purpose of The Present Study The Research Questions Significance of the Problem  2 3 3  C H A P T E R 2: REVIEW OF R E L E V A N T L I T E R A T U R E 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.4.1 2.5  Introduction Composing Processes of Second Language (L2) Writers Social Interaction and Composing Computer Mediated Composition Multi-Media Evaluation Critical Evaluation of Previous Research  8 9 10 14 18 24 27  CHAPTER 3: DESIGN OF T H E STUDY  34  3.1 3.1.1 3.2 3.3 3.3.1 3.3.2 3.3.3 3.3.4 3.4 3.5 3.5.1 3.5.2 3.5.3 3.5.4 3.5.5 3.5.6 3.6  36 37 39 40 40 41 42 42 44 46 46 47 48 49 50 51 52  Participants Recruitment Procedure Writing Profiles of Participants Data Collection The Case Study Procedure Construction of Dyads The Software Pilot Study Collaborative Tasks April 7, 1999 "Open House" April 16, 1999 Session 1 April 23, 1999 Session 2 April 30, 1999 Session 3 May 7, 1999 Session 4 May 14, 1999 Session 5 Exit Interviews and Data Analysis  iv  CHAPTER 4: FINDINGS A N D INTERPRETATION  54  4.1 4.2  54  Data Collection Sources What writing strategies do students use when presented with a problem? 4.3 How are dyads' writing strategies similar and different? 4.3.1 April 16,1999 Session 1 4.3.2 April 23, 1999 Session 2 Similarities Amongst Dyads Similarities within Cultural Subgroups Similarities in Teacher Help Differences Between Dyads Marina and Sakiko: "The Scales are Tipped" Pablo and Joe: The "Un"Partners Rodolpho and Etsuko: "The Boss and the Executive Assistant" Christoph and Lee: "Instant Collaborators" 4.3.3 April 30, 1999 Session 3 Similarities Amongst Dyads Differences Between Dyads Marina and Sakiko: "The Scales are Tipped" Pablo and Joe: The "Un'Tartners Rodolpho and Etsuko: "The Boss and the Executive Assistant" Christoph and Lee: "Instant Collaborators" 4.3.4 May 7, 1999 Session 4 Similarities Amongst Dyads Differences Between Dyads Marina and Sakiko: "Collaborators" Pablo and Joe: The "Un'Tartners Rodolpho and Etsuko: "Collaborators" Christoph and Lee: The "Un'Tartners 4.3.5 May 14, 1999 Session 5 Similarities Amongst Dyads Differences Between Dyads Marina and Sakiko: "A Singleton" Pablo and Joe: "Budding Collaborators" Rodolpho and Etsuko: "Goal Orientated Collaborators" Christoph and Lee: "The Scales are Tipped" 4.4 How do students collaborate as their own writing unfolds? 4.5 Exit Interviews 4.5.1 Writing with a Partner 4.5.2 Incorporating Another Point of View 4.5.3 Using Multi-media Software 4.5.4 Summary of Findings  v  56 60 60 61 61 62 65 68 68 70 70 71 72 72 74 74 74 75 76 78 78 80 80 81 82 83 84 84 85 85 85 88 89 91 96 97 98 98 99  CHAPTER 5: DISCUSSION OF T H E R E S E A R C H QUESTIONS  101  5.1 5.1.1  101  Discussion of the Research Questions What writing strategies do students use when presented with a problem? How are dyads' writing strategies similar and different Level Attitude Background Knowledge Gender Culture and Personality How do students collaborate as their own writing unfolds? Summary  101 103 104 105 106 107 107 109 110  CHAPTER 6: F U T U R E DIRECTIONS FOR R E S E A R C H AND D E V E L O P M E N T IN MULTI-MEDIA S O F T W A R E  112  6.1 6.2 6.2.1 6.2.2 6.2.3 6.2.4 6.3 6.4  112 117 117 118 121 123 127 130  5.1.2 5.1.2a 5.1.2b 5.1.2c 5.1.2d 5.1.2e 5.1.3 5.1.4  Limitations of the Study Implications Implications for Collaborative Writing and Computers Implications for Computer Laboratory Studies Implications for Online Research and/or Multi-media Software Implications for Instruction Summary and Conclusion Further Research and Development Needed  REFERENCES  137  APPENDIX A: Student Questionnaire  149  APPENDIX B: Writer Information Survey  150  APPENDIX C: Literacy Learning Experience Survey  151  APPENDIX D: Exit Interview  152  APPENDIX E: Gambits  155  APPENDIX F: Edubba Screen Shot  157  vi  LIST OF TABLES  Table 1: Profiles of the Participants  36  Table 2: Writer Information Survey Findings  55  Table 3: Literacy Learning Experience Survey Findings  56  Table 4: How Students Collaborated as their Writing Unfolded  92  Table 5: Group Changes  93  vn  ACKNOWLEDGMENTS While the road to this research report has not been that relatively long, the process itself at times has had a feeling of longevity. Many significant events have occurred during the writing of this thesis: marriage, pregnancy, childbirth and, and finally, completion. Even though this effort has been ultimately completed by me, I couldn't have achieved all of the other milestones without the support of the collective efforts of a few significant people. I would like to formally express my thanks to the people who helped make the finished product a reality and attempt to show my appreciation. First, to my graduate supervisor, Dr. Kenneth Reeder, who initially introduced me to the Edubba product in 1997. From here we watched the prototype grow and began formulating ideas which would result in the production of this research document. Thank you Dr. Reeder for your encouragement, direction and feedback. Second, to my mother, who always urged me to complete anything I set my mind to do and said "Go to school and get an education." As a result, not only could I attempt to undertake this project, but also find a place in the universe I never dreamed I could go and ultimately find unexpected pride and happiness. Furthermore, I have to thank her for helping take care of our beautiful sons and help keep their world secure, clean and routine. Third, to three special friends, Karen Otke, Jennifer Jantzen and Trish Kolber who helped keep my academic dream alive when it felt so insurmountable at times. Thank you for your insights, emotional support, laughter and reassurance when I felt like it would never come to be and was bigger than me. Last, but not at all least, to my new family, Vince, Julien, and Liam. You were all affected the most, missing out on family weekends so I could go in the "office" to study and do viii  my research. It has been a huge sacrifice from which I know we will all benefit in the future. Thank you Vince, my long time friend and husband, for being there during my huge learning curve in the writing and research process. You taught me many useful skills and were always, always, always, without complaint willing to proofread my work and coach me until I got it on my own. Thank you Julien and Liam for learning to "sleep through the night" so well so that I could be well rested for thinking about my work. And, yes, Julien you can now be the next one to do your "research", just like Mommy. If I'm to go in the office now it won't be for weekends at a time. I love you all.  ix  CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION  1.1  IDENTIFICATION OF T H E P R O B L E M Studies combining second language writing processes, social interaction and computer  mediated collaborations are few and far between. Individually, however, research has been conducted in some of the following ways. The composing processes of second language writers may or may not be influenced by their experiences in their first language. There is, nonetheless, a cognitive transfer of knowledge from the first language (Ll) to the second language (L2) resulting in improved skills back to the L l (Reeder et al. 1999). With the increase of the use of multi-media software programs and Internet in classes for English as a second language (ESL) learners, students are beginning to have more and more opportunities to take their writing skills (or lack thereof) and apply them in new ways. Often, because of limited resources, students can be found sitting together at one computer doing some of their composing and computer work together. Still, students come from backgrounds where they have had little or no experience writing collaboratively with others and, as a result, must learn how to interact with others of different genders, cultures and skill levels in order to produce written texts for academic or social purposes. In language labs, E S L students are provided with opportunities to be part of activities such as class e-mail exchanges (Kern, 1996) and using educational technology (Furstenberg, 1993). In these environments students write collaboratively and participate in peer revisions and editing in order to communicate in an interactional context with speakers of English throughout 1  the world (Kramsch et al. 1985). Current pedagogies are, and need to be, in the process of adapting to the changing needs of students collaborating in these new environments created by recent technological developments (Murray, 1999). Formerly, computers have been used as what is called an "agent" in the metaphor by Cole and Griffin (1987) where students simply practice language exercises in a one-on-one situation with the computer likened to the teacher-student system. Presently the computer is facilitating new learning activities. Cole and Griffin also use the metaphor "medium" to "emphasize the potential of computers for reorganizing instruction within the classroom and for making possible the extension of education beyond the classroom" (p. 45). One consequence of the current transition from a "computer as agent" metaphor to a "computer as medium" metaphor is a shift in the learner's stance from a primarily consultative mode (i.e., using a finite and authoritative informational base in order to carry out stipulated language-related tasks) to a communicative mode, in which learners interact, ask questions, provide explanations, compare interpretations, and work collaboratively with teachers, fellow students, and peers in other parts of the world toward mutual understanding (Warschauer 1999a).  Considering the needs of second language learners who are learning to write in an additional language we can try to help them develop their skills in contemporary ways. Students can move from solitary paper and pen exercises to augment their quality of work using partners and multimedia software.  1.2  PURPOSE OF T H E PRESENT S T U D Y The purposes of the present study are to (1) describe the composing strategies of a small  number of international students engaged in collaborative composition tasks using a multi-media 2  prototype software program called Edubba; (2) to establish how their products and processes vary from group to group and from week to week; and (3) to elicit information from the writers' point of view about their experiences with the writing tasks and their history of writing instruction, collaborative writing experience and computer skills. An exploratory case study design has been adopted to fulfill these purposes.  1.3  T H E R E S E A R C H QUESTIONS As is common with many case studies (Nunan, 1992) the research questions that frame  this study evolved as time progressed. My research questions are based on the expected and actual accounts of each dyads' daily work and their varied strategies between the groups. I shall consider: 1) 2) 3)  What writing strategies do students use when presented with a problem? How are dyads' writing strategies similar and different? How do students collaborate as their own writing unfolds?  Based on results of these questions I will be able to provide further insight into the field of collaborative writing and the use of multi-media software.  1.4  SIGNIFICANCE OF T H E P R O B L E M  I expect to relate these observations to the evolution of language, literacy education and multimedia as people are beginning to communicate, read, write, and learn in new and different ways. Furthermore, I would like this thesis to contribute to an understanding of the role of language teaching in the rapidly developing information technology society (Bossert, 1996) in which we  3  live. As we know, the Internet is one of the fastest growing communications media in world history. It has taken the World Wide Web, to cite one example, just 4 years to achieve an audience of 50 million users, compared to 38 years for radio, 16 years for personal computers, and 13 years for television (Economist, 1998). Since one of the challenging aspects of research in the field of computer technology is the rapid advancement of available technology, we need to move the past research of L l writing competence, linguistic proficiency and cultural and linguistic conventions toward understanding how technological innovations using multi-media software can advance the present day students' skills. According to Warschauer (1999a), language classrooms will be one important place where new educational opportunities are found, or missed. Castells (1996) describes these kinds of involvement. He classifies them as the "interacting" and "interacted". The "interacting" have the communication and technological multi literacies required to become active shapers of the multimedia future rather than the "interacted" who are mere recipients of prepackaged choices. In this thesis I shall report on the creation of a learner-centered collaborative project where students are working with other classmates (and eventually others around the world) using multi-media technology. Having students carry out complex project work—involving negotiation, collaboration, goal-setting, meaningful communication and the development of challenging products—would prepare them for the kinds of English language ability which would benefit their future lives as productive citizens. Cotton (1995) showed that 59% of foreign language programs and 65% of E S L programs used no form of computer technology in their courses, placing language teaching at the bottom of the list of academic areas surveyed. As a  4  result of changes in language and literacy due to the development of the Internet, Mark Warschauer (1998, personal electronic communication) and I would like to see the above statistics grow in order to help students succeed in their academic, professional, vocational and personal endeavours in the 21st century. The focus of this study is writing. In my teaching experience I have seen many students come from overseas or other continents to improve their oral competency. In their home countries they can study English as a Foreign Language (EFL) often having first language (Ll) teachers teaching them in non-immersion settings. When these students arrive they seek to acquire the skills they weren't able to be exposed to in their home countries. Many times students come with some sort of grammatical and written competency. Facilitating these skills and needs and finding a way for students to combine the necessary second language (L2) writing skills with the so often sought after native-like oral competency has been a personal goal of mine. I've wondered how collaborative techniques could be adapted for other courses such as writing for which there are fewer opportunities for oral interactions. While a trend may be moving away from communicative exchanges we, as educators, must foster a holistic curriculum and aid students in succeeding in their goals to be marketable for international positions. As the New London Group (1996) summarizes: [our] goals for literacy learning: creating access to the evolving language of work, power, and community, and fostering the critical engagement necessary for them to design their social features and achieve success through fulfilling employment. Students must be supported in their professional goals, but must first be trained in skills which will take them to new careers.  5  In guiding students in autonomous learning, and in helping them achieve their language and career goals, there is still a need for the teacher amongst all of these technological and pedagogical changes. N e i l Postman (1993) warns: In introducing the personal computer to the classroom, we shall be breaking a four-hundred year-old truce between the gregariousness and openness fostered by orality and the introspection and isolation fostered by the printed word. Orality stresses group learning, cooperation, and a sense of social responsibility.... Print stresses individualized learning, competition, and personal autonomy. We can still see the importance of orality within the curriculum. With such an argument I could understand the reticence of colleagues not to be incorporating multi-media in their classrooms. However, Tuman's (1992) contrastive ideas "employing networked computers in the classroom shifting] the primary focus of literacy away from the self-contained text and toward a new kind of interactive discourse akin to conversation" (p. 90) shows us that we can use multi-media software and the Internet to our advantage. Since the growth of the Internet, people are now using English as a second language rather than as a foreign one. The dynamics of the English language are changing authority and control of the language from first language speakers to second language speakers. For one of the first times in history there are more second language speakers of a language (English in particular) than first language speakers (Crystal, 1997). W h i l e this trend was already emerging, the development of the Internet has intensified it. G i v i n g today's students opportunities to communicate in relevant, varied modes w i l l give them advantages. N o longer w i l l native speakers of the language benefit by this growing trend in the use of English around the world. Instead, a bilingual person in Germany, M e x i c o , China or  6  elsewhere may be at more of an advantage compared to a monolingual businessperson or scholar in North America. Even in its case study format, I hope the research being reported in this thesis will begin to play a part in providing tools for students to be competitive players in the world market of jobs. Not all students will use collaborative writing skills to perform academic research but many will need to carry out some form of collaborative long-distance inquiry and problem solving as part of their jobs and community activities (Warschauer, 1999b). My research, I would hope, will provide sufficient data and have enough external validity to help the reader draw conclusions which will lead to more research and understanding of collaborative writing using multi-media technology. This, in turn, will help aid students develop appropriate collaborative skills necessary to become educated citizens in the 21st century. This thesis will be presented as follows: Chapter Two provides a review of the relevant theory and research literature for writing, collaboration and technology (evaluation). Chapter Three describes the methodology which has been adopted for the current study. Findings will be reported and interpreted in Chapter Four. In Chapter Five the research questions will be discussed. And finally, Chapter 6 discusses limitations, implications, conclusions, and needs for future research and language learning multi-media software development.  7  CHAPTER 2 REVIEW OF RELEVANT LITERATURE  "The machine cannot really accelerate or replace the human educational process. Learning must still occur within a human framework and at a human pace." (Walsh, Washington Post, 1999)  "What we need is project based learning, with students having the opportunity to engage in learner centered collaborative projects, working together with their classmates and with others around the world using a variety of technological means." (Warschauer, AELA Keynote address, 1999a) While we've seen changes in uses of technology in schools and the workplace we cannot replace the essential human element of the teacher to facilitate learning. However, in response to these changes, new pedagogical frameworks currently practiced or advocated must also follow the technological evolution. New types of writing/authoring skills are required for students to develop the advanced communication skills required in the 21st century. Students need to work in meaningful ways taking advantage of and using technology to its full potential. While this thesis has a focus on second language young adult learners, it has been difficult to find specific information for studies done on these second language learners in my field. As a result, some of the studies I refer to may be on other topics such as first language writing or children using multimedia. I hope that correlations can be drawn from other research and be applied in my own. In this chapter I will show how multi-media software can facilitate collaborative writing, research and communication skills for a variety of users.  8  2.1  INTRODUCTION Second language students come from diverse personal, cultural, political and educational  histories (Leki 1992). As they arrive at language classrooms around the world preparing ultimately for the workforce, they discover increasing uses of multi-media technology available to them. Although students are still taught traditional skills such as reading, writing, speaking, and listening, their holistic curriculum may be enriched with computer laboratory sessions which enable them to learn workplace skills within their language classes. Students and teachers are certainly able to take part in positive learning environments without multi-media support, but it is to their benefit to be exposed to educational technologies in the classroom. As we see the increasing use of the computer not only in businesses but in homes and even Internet cafes, more and more there are opportunities for students to capitalize upon and be a part of the rapidly changing technological world. Students will need to learn about evolving literacies generated by the use of computers and technology and teachers and researchers will need to facilitate these new changes. Students and teachers must begin to not only look at the computer as a machine but also as a tool and writing environment in their classroom (Pennington 1993). The technology, however, is only as good as the instruction and the environment; therefore, researchers must look at ways of addressing pedagogical problems in teaching and methodological defects in the research of multi-media technology use (Pennington 1996). While some teachers fear computers do not provide enough of a communicative environment for their students, especially in writing classrooms, it has been said that technology has no place at all in  9  the classroom (Postman, 1993). This does not have to be so. Even with only one computer teachers can create communicative environments for their students with activities such as writing (Butler and Cox, 1992). Once language educators begin using computers for purposes such as electronic discussion groups, concordance programs, the Internet, or accessing library catalogues from home for themselves, they will be more receptive to adopting more multi-media technology in their classroom for their students and eventually learn how to create collaborative environments for them using such technology (Mydlarski, 1998). In order to address these issues, this chapter discusses how to incorporate findings from studies relevant to (1) second language writing processes; (2) social interaction and composing; and (3) computer mediated compositions into the current pedagogies of E S L teachers of young adult learners. It will also discuss issues of evaluation of multi-media software which impacts upon a teacher's curriculum in choosing the right multi-media product for his/her students. Finally, I will conclude by showing the gaps in such research and suggesting ways of doing future research in these areas.  2.2  COMPOSING PROCESSES OF SECOND L A N G U A G E (L2) WRITERS In this section we will look at studies and articles regarding second language (L2) writing  experience, skilled and unskilled writers, what teachers do to facilitate the writing process and what students do when they write. First, we can look at the development of students from the early stages of writing to later stages as their writing improves and relate it to young adult learners.  10  In the early stages, students write to show the teacher what has been accomplished or learned. As they improve, their writing becomes a powerful internal resource for accomplishing their clear and specific purposes in communication (Pennington 1993b). The early stages take students from linear structures to creating texts using a process of looping back and forth to work their text, a process well known as recursive writing (Johns, 1991; Silva, 1991; Raimes, 1985). Another example of the evolution of writers involves the way they produce their writing. Pennington reports that in the early stages students reproduce language and ideas of others while a more experienced writer's goal is production, the creation of new language and ideas. What do more experienced writers do? Silva (1993) has found that L2 writing processes differ from their L l processes. Students may be experienced in writing in their first language while some may only begin to learn about academic writing in their L2 writing environments. Much research has been done on the processes students use to write in their L l from planning, drafting and peer editing, to teacher feedback (Pennington, 1996b). These writing processes are also followed by L2 users and similar techniques are taught to the L2 writer. At times, experienced L2 writers will rely on their L l to generate ideas and plan what they write in their L2 (Leki 1992). Some of these skills are transferable to writing in their L2 (Cumming, 1989; Leeds, 1998) but L l research results we use must be adapted for use with the L2 student (Johns 1991) because the environments are not the same (Zamel, 1984). This kind of "code switching" (Burnett, 1998) (the mixing of 2 languages without changing topic (Longman, 1992)) has both benefits and drawbacks for language acquisition.  11  Kroll (1991) reported that "the L l literacy skills may transfer to or detract from acquisition of second language skills". Students who access their L l experience (Leki, 1992) are relying on their background knowledge as an idea bank and lexicon which can only enrich their writing. Cummins' (1981) theory proposes that there are underlying competencies which can be transferred across languages (Hayward, 1994) and, as a result, bilinguals often do better academically and in their L l . If, however, a student continues to think in their L l then they may not use or improve the cognitive process in their L2. Language professionals who facilitate a student's evolution from the early stages to the late stages of writing can use such research results as they assess their students, plan their classroom activities and decide if code switching has a place in the writing environment. Besides a student's writing experience, teachers need to consider the diverse writing approaches students use when instructing their L2 students. From Krapels (1991) and Raimes (1985) we see that students writing in their L2 pay less attention to revising and editing: they just want to get their ideas out. It has been found that the students even do very little planning either before or during writing (Perl, 1978, Zamel, 1983). They may generate ideas but don't organize them in any way (Uzawa, 1996). Is this because they rely on the teacher to correct for surface errors? It seems that errors are not as stigmatizing for them as for L l writers (Leki 1992). Is meaning, therefore, the most important factor for L2 writers? Indeed, for some, this may be true. According to Pennington's (1993b) model of writing, in the advanced conception, form is relegated to meaning — i.e., form serves the interests of meaning (Taylor, 1981 as cited in Pennington 1993b). In helping students get to the meaning stage of their writing, teachers must  12  instruct them in the writing process which includes recursive writing, revising and editing, as well as considering their audience, content and genre of their work. The teaching of writing has experienced a paradigm shift from a product approach to a process approach (Silva, 1991). In the process approach the classroom tasks involve the use of journals, invention, peer collaboration, revision, and content before form (Raimes 1991). However, critics of the process approach question whether students are realistically prepared for academic work (Silva, 1991). According to Horowitz, (1986a, as cited in Silva, 1991 p. 16) "the approach creates a classroom situation that bears little resemblance to the situations in which [students' writing] will eventually be exercised". Raimes' (1991) solution and purpose for the process approach encourages teachers not to present instruction in the use of thesis sentences and outlines. She encourages having students first explore ideas, specifically ideas in content areas. This way students can first formulate their ideas and then think of who they would be writing to which would resemble real life writing tasks. With the above technique, Raimes (1991) emphasizes that we must still have students consider the discourse community when they write. Who are students in English for academic purposes (EAP) programs writing for? It will be important to learn to pay attention to audience, not as a specific individual, but as the representative of a specific discipline or academia in general. Students can be made aware of the reader dominated approach with regard to genres (Swales, 1990) and identifications of the basic skills of writing transferable across various disciplines. We should also be teaching students to be aware of the new "hypertext" genre (Warschauer 1999a) and the unknown audience in the World Wide Web. Regardless of language  13  proficiency, an inexperienced writer has a lot to learn before they will be able to accomplish all the skills necessary to reach the later stages of writing. After guiding students along issues such as considering audience and guiding students to produce drafts, a teacher may be ready and expected to respond to the writing (Raimes 1991, Hedgcock & Lefkowitz, 1996). They can correct errors and make generalized comments about content, make suggestions, encourage and praise (metaphorically likened to coaches and cheerleaders (Leki 1991). Teachers may feel that their responses to their students' writing is problematic; and indeed, much of their written response to their students' texts is inconsistent, arbitrary and often contradictory (Zamel, 1985 as cited in Raimes, 1991). What can be done about this? The answer may be in collaborative writing processes which involve more peer editing and revision in addition to the usual teacher intervention (Shi, 1998). With peer collaborative techniques, not only do students stay on task (Guerrero & Villamil, 1994) and are more involved in the evolution of their own written text, but they also take more responsibility for revision and development through the use of social interaction (Carson & Nelson, 1996; Aljaafreh & Lantolf, 1994).  2.3  SOCIAL INTERACTION A N D COMPOSING In social interaction or collaborative work there are certain linguistic, affective, and social  benefits for writers (Beauvois, 1998). Peer revision constitutes a unique opportunity for L2 students to discuss and formulate ideas about the content of their writing as well as to assist each other in the development of writing skills and discourse strategies (Villamil & Guerrero, 1996).  14  Thus, activating collaboration and interaction among classroom participants is an essential feature of balanced classroom practice. As van Lier (1996, as cited in Cole et al., 1998) states, "Neither intelligence, skill, knowledge nor understanding are locked inside individuals; rather, they are acquired in social interaction and spread around in our social and physical environment" (p.8). Storch (1999) has also shown how collaboration helps accuracy. Furthermore, there are positive and negative outcomes for collaborative writing with benefits outweighing the drawbacks. As for linguistic benefits, when students work at composing and editing together they are explaining, generating questions, suggesting and making grammar corrections (Villamil & Guerrero, 1996). This is what Long (1985, as cited in Chapelle, 1998) calls negotiation of meaning. Long reports that from interactionist research on task-based learning the features of interaction are expected to be positive for language development. When writing with a partner, students have opportunities to receive input as well as have more opportunities to produce output than with a teacher. While Krashen's theory (1988) might suggest that another student does not provide the comprehensible input we can wonder if Lightbrown (1992) would agree that it was "quality " input. I argue that researchers such as Vygotsky (1978) and Bakhtin (1986) do support the notion of collaboration to increase learning. Theory and research have suggested that the saliency of the target language input (Doughty, 1991; Sharwood Smith, 1991, as cited in Chapelle, 1998) and opportunities for production of comprehensible output are important for acquisition (Swain 1995). Students need to be challenged to a level slightly above their own if  15  they are to improve their language learning skills. It is important, therefore, to provide students with opportunities for interaction in classroom activities such as writing. Vygotsky's zone of proximal development (1978) shows evidence of benefits for students who can construct new knowledge and language skills with a partner beyond what they could do on their own. We must still, however, consider what the students' interests are in reaching them, helping them to learn through a variety of methodologies, selecting the one that best suits their learning style. What if a student doesn't want to work with a partner? Some students don't see the benefit of such techniques and resist profusely. With results of Shi's (1998) study, perhaps varying writing activities such as partner work can better meet students who prefer to work alone. Even though studies have been done in L l environments, other differences from gender (Inkpen, 1997) to intro/extroversion (McGrath, 1984) must also be considered. Some people may require more private writing opportunities before they feel comfortable about working closely with others on a piece of work reports Hyland (1993) who did work with participants in same language groups. While students may be able to write more details and quantity alone, with the right partner students may write less but generate more vocabulary. This, in turn, results in the production of different drafts (Shi, 1998) and an increase in their knowledge base (Greenia, 1992). In a pilot study I conducted in 1998 students reported that they "avoid a word [they] can't spell"when working alone. Storch's (1999) research results show that collaboration had a positive effect on overall grammatical accuracy. Working with a partner would help students to find the word they were searching for, perhaps by relying on their partner's lexicon or by not giving up and trying other methods such as by using the dictionary, thesaurus and the new  16  collaborative electronic tools such as Lotus Notes, "Track Changes", "Web Discussion", "Interchange" and "Messaging" (Microsoft Outlook 2000). Depending on a partner's ethnicity and specific language area in which they've been trained, the individuals in a dyad may have a different objective that they want their team to focus on. The teaching of collaborative writing is a challenge for teachers to set up based on the limitless possibilities for groupings. "The panels of variables are huge" states McGrath (1984). He tells us to consider the biographical and demographic characteristics of individuals within a group (for example, age, gender, personality, values, motives, and expectations), the environment (including noise, heat, and lighting) and the social environment (intergroup/culture conflict, loyalty and alienation). When people become interrelated in a group they develop patterned relationships among themselves and these have been known to change during the course of the interaction (McGrath 1984; Posner and Baecker, 1992). Further research exploring different combinations of these factors can help us to enhance the learning environment for writing students and their partners. In addition, we must also take into consideration cultural characteristics and intercultural mix (Kramsch, 1993). We have learnt from Cornu et al. (1998) that for optimal results learners working in pairs should have at least a similar linguistic level and learning style otherwise the anxiety of the accuracy-minded learner may increase. As teachers in the field will know, any kind of anxiety, especially writing anxiety, is common for students studying an additional language. As language professionals, then, we must find ways to provide secure environments for students to flourish in in order for them to reduce their anxiety so that they can focus their energy on the writing task  17  itself. In Krashen's Affective Filter Model (1985) we learn that negative attitudes can cause a lack of motivation, low self confidence and anxiety for students. Working with a partner can help reduce these kinds of attitudes. Sharing a work in progress is less isolating as conversations about writing can be limited. Bruffee, (1993, as cited in Mydlarski, 1998. p.130) says it's social if you talk about writing (group tasks, editing groups, reading aloud, peer review) for students given they are in effective teams. A challenge for collaborating writers is learning to cope with different people and points of view while regulating their own behavior (Villamil and Guerrero, 1996). This is a challenge for not only any person working with another, but also for teachers who can help create positive environments for students from different cultural backgrounds, genders or writing styles. Once a good relationship is established, however, students can draw on the strengths, experiences, and perspectives of one another to produce and edit their written texts (Cornu, et al., 1998). Even if students aren't using computers, and instead write with pen and paper, they can still see benefits, beginning to incorporate multi-media technology in their writing processes and make use of increasing opportunities of merging technology into their written work styles.  2.4  COMPUTER M E D I A T E D COMPOSITIONS In this section we look at the ways in which collaboration in writing can be supported by  multi-media technology and the benefits and drawbacks of incorporating such technology into the writing classroom. In support of computer mediated compositions and collaborative learning  18  it's been said that electronic collaboration encourages the discussion of ideas from different perspectives and builds teamwork (Chan 1997). Furthermore, research conducted in bilingual, literacy and foreign language classrooms, as well as with the deaf and with people with disabilities, suggests that the length and quality of writing improves in a computer-mediated environment (Kern, 1995; Mehan, Moll, and Riel, 1985; Sayers, 1989). However, we know that it is not the computer alone which helps students write more easily, write more and write differently and ultimately better (Pennington 1996b): it depends on the instruction (Hyland, 1993) and the environment. Composing with computers is a unique process. First, let's look at the advantages and then the disadvantages of computer assisted writing. There are a number of variables which act upon the effectiveness of computer supported writing. These include the characteristics of the learner, the characteristics of the teacher, the setting of computer use, the amount of time spent on the computer, the nature and quantity of instruction offered in computer use and in writing, and the types of hardware and software employed. Other factors include the experience and proficiency of students - as well as teachers- in the area of computers, writing and language (Pennington, 1993b, p. 60). As you can see, teachers must take great care in setting up computer mediated composition tasks. In support of writing with pen and paper, students don't need any additional skills in order to experience the writing process. Students using computers to write, however, require basic computer skills in order to focus their attention on the writing task and not on computer skills such as keyboarding and file saving. We've seen articles where teachers "code switch" into the students' L l in order to teach these skills (Greenia, 1992; Adendorff, 1996) but as research has proven, in terms of content, we know students can learn content in their additional 19  languages without the need for code switching into their L l by teachers. Students, Shi, (1998) has shown, will tend to share more than with a teacher if paired with a peer. Furthermore, code switching doesn't allow for L2 input and practice (Krashen, 1982; Ellis, 1984 as cited in Burnett, 1998), crucial for language acquisition. The final point is that writing with pen and paper is convenient and can be done "anywhere any time, under a tree, in a coffee shop" (Shetzer, 1999, personal electronic communication 20/03/99). On a technical note, with pen and paper, students can always have a copy of their current drafts whereas on-line copies can be lost, unrecovered or deleted. As many of us will know from personal experience, losing a day's work for a student can certainly be said to be extremely frustrating, not to mention stressful. Furthermore, with pen and paper there is no need to schedule computer lab times or have any specific technology to facilitate the process. This, in turn, provides freer scheduling options to an individual student's timetable and workload, not to mention having to plan their schedule around others, as well. Evidence against writing with pen and paper suggests that for students with poor handwriting, their writing is much easier to read on computer generated documents when edited by students or teachers. We must not be fooled, however, by the good looks of a laser printed document as a good quality final copy is not to be confused with quality writing. Additionally, when students re-write their drafts it is much more laborious to re-write by hand than it is to make changes like moving text blocks or to re-organize ideas on-line. In support of computer help for writers there are additional benefits to consider. Students who use a computer to compose and edit their work can find features which do a lot of functions for them. As reported by Hyland (1993), software such as "Automac IH" or Word 5, 6, and 7  20  contain on-screen annotation capabilities for students working together so that they can make comments right on the screen. Other help features exist in state-of-the-art programs such as Edubba (described in more detail in 3.3.4) which guides students through the five-paragraph writing process (a standard writing task incorporating an introductory paragraph, three paragraphs of details, and a conclusion paragraph). Because these computer features are not artificially intelligent (AI) they can only activate the learner's knowledge of language and cognitive abilities, providing a set of hints (Cornu, et al. 1998) for students to identify their errors with a partner. Having another person to share ideas and negotiate meaning with can help a writer compose a better written document. In the absence of AI for writing help, what better immediate source of intelligence than another learner and/or the teacher? Mohan (1992) concludes that interaction at the computer was significantly lower in quality and quantity than the conversational interaction. Although Mohan suggests that "it may be that the computer is more appropriate for the development of cognitive-academic language proficiency rather than conversational fluency" (1992:121), I would argue that the results of this study may not necessarily be attributed to the computer alone, but rather to the specific tasks that were chosen. Were students partaking in meaningful activities relevant to their lives? Were students experienced in using the program? These questions remain unanswered. As a result, it would be premature to discard the potential contributions that the computer can offer to conversational fluency (Fine, 1997) based on one study alone. Computers can otherwise be utilized in ways that actually provide help for students. For example, students who begin writing can make vocabulary lists out of their collaborative  21  brainstorming sessions that the computer can sort alphabetically. Next, students can have quick access to the list of words for drafting their written texts. A s their writing progresses, features such as the thesaurus and grammar and spell checks can aid students in creating their drafts and checking their work. One caveat for grammar checkers, however, is that they can be more beneficial for near native language competence due to their subtle and somewhat confusing help. Additionally, the formatting features can be used to create an attractive and organized finished product and "search" can help students look for their own specific types of errors. Since the classroom computer does not yet have A I capabilities, it w i l l not be able to help students whose recursive writing skills are not fully developed. These students seem to only correct surface errors or do revisions at the end after their ideas are out (Krapels, 1991). A s a result, for the time being the "intelligent" teacher is one of the most important components of computer assisted writing. If students are inexperienced they may not know to make use of the computer to brainstorm, draft and globally revise. Therefore, they w i l l need teacher support and direction. In addition to setting up collaborative peer editing activities, the teacher can develop a cycle of draft-feedback-re-draft-feedback and see revision as essential to the writing process and practice a variety of techniques (Hyland, 1993). Teachers can show students how to take responsibility for researching and writing parts of their essays and journals building texts through outlines online. Using a computer assists them in visualizing their evolving text structure (Hyland, 1993). Once a teacher assists his/her students, it is also important for students to begin developing their autonomy away from their teacher. In this world of self-access centres, on-line learning and  22  personal computers, students need to take greater control of their learning (Murray, 1999) when they are not in the classroom. Clearly, when students write on their own they are unlikely to be writing collaboratively. However, in the language learning environment of the writing classroom students are found to be writing with partners due to factors such as limited resources, cost reductions and equipment in need of repair. In the workforce, furthermore, according to Posner and Baecker's (1992) study they surveyed 700 professionals on the amount that they write cooperatively, 87% reported that a vast majority of their written work is performed jointly. Even for administrative assistants and managers there are situations where they will produce collaborative written work, benefitting from the skills and experience that each of them has to offer (Cornu et al, 1998). Back in the classroom, when students have access to the multi-media technology they are initially motivated due to what Zvacek (as cited in Pennington, 1996a) refers to as the novelty effect. International students may enjoy writing more simply because they are using educational software or word processing programs. Of course, the novelty soon wears off and it is up to the teacher to help facilitate the students' motivation for collaborative computer assisted writing. The careful selection of tools that teachers use - local area networks (LAN) linked to the Internet, and word processing to multi-media software programs - will be factors in such interest being maintained. A computer equipped environment offers an opportunity for real communication to take place (Burnett, 1998) for students composing and editing together. This may be with the use of LANs within their classroom being used synchronously or by reaching students globally  23  asynchronously. When it used to be the teacher who was the one to provide the comprehensible input (Krashen 1982, Polio & Duff, 1994 as cited in Burnett, 1998), this no longer has to be so. The above situations including increasing availability of software such as Edubba which provide exciting virtual environments for students to interact in and receive input especially if it becomes available to larger communities of writers on the Internet. Spack (1997), in her longitudinal study, showed the benefit of relating material to real life. Teachers and students, as well, will be able to react and interact in an environment outside of texts (Burnett, 1998) inside classrooms around the world. While writing with pen and paper is always available and can be done anywhere, teachers should begin to try to use technology as well to teach the writing process since there is an increasing accessibility of computers. As we've seen, teachers can promote productive ways of students working together (Mydlarski, 1998). Depending on a student's interest, motivation and achievement, writing quality can improve in a computer mediated environment (Johnson 1991 as cited in Mydlarski, 1998, pl31).  2.4.1  Multi -Media Evaluation While this is a developing field for specifics to multi-media software, we can take parts of  other evaluative theory and research methodologies and apply them to the changing technologies in order to consider how to make evaluations. First, we can look at what is known in the evaluation of curricula and then evaluation of design and interfaces. Specifically, in this study programs like Edubba are designed to be used in the classroom for academic purposes; as a  24  result, they must be based on and apply to general curricula. If a curriculum was consulted to create educational software then there are alternative evaluative approaches which can be considered for the assessment of the software. The first proponent, Tyler (1950), uses his "Objectives - Oriented" approach to gather data and look for discrepancies between objectives and performance (Worthen & Sanders (1987). If we consider that the software was designed for specific purposes, for example collaboration, then we'd expect to create objective measures of collaborative performances by the user. The objective tests would be able to aid us in evaluating the software to see if it is achieving its objectives. Another angle from which to consider evaluation is from the perspective called "Management Oriented" evaluation. We use this technique supported by Stufflebeam (1991) to assess and provide useful information to aid in making decisions regarding the software. Management oriented evaluations could be used to determine accountability of teachers, principals, designers etc. to see if they performed well or poorly in designing a curriculum for the software. While the evaluation is made at all stages of the program's development, in the case of Edubba the design team is currently evaluating its effectiveness to aid decisions about its merits in highschool and college curricula. While a "Consumer Oriented" Evaluation is one way to assess the usefulness of Edubba in order to make recommendations to school boards to buy it, I believe that the best way to evaluate it will involve using a "Participant" or naturalistic approach (Guba & Lincoln, 1994; Stake, 1995) for curriculum evaluation. In my study I reflect and record firsthand experience on  25  site of students involved in creating documents collaboratively with the multi-media software. In both my pilot study and my formal research I discovered "bugs" and problems in the interface as a result of participants use of the software. Because of these situations where students were unable to achieve their collaborative writing goals I could assess the software based on objectives made by the developers and management teams. Considering formal approaches for curricula evaluation, such as those used in the British Columbia Ministry of Education's Curriculum, it would be easy to create objectives for the evaluation of Edubba. We can also decide the rationale for doing an evaluation, asking: Why is the program to be evaluated? What is the evaluation intended to accomplish? What questions is it intended to answer? Why was the evaluation conducted the way it was. (Worthen, et al, 1987, p. 416) While we can contemplate how and why design decisions were made for this program, we must ultimately decide what is going to be evaluated and for what purpose. For the purposes of this study I want to look at the users and see how they interact with the multi-media. Because the version of Edubba I worked with was then a prototype, I was able to give assistance to students who discovered glitches and encouraged them even though the spell check didn't actually correct their spellings or their notes didn't save in the notes section. I could also continue to motivate students when their previous week's work wasn't available and either they or I retyped their text from saved hard copies. Software evaluation is a large area and I would prefer to not evaluate the software per se in my formal study even though that was one of my goals in the pilot study I conducted. Instead, I will focus on the strategies that the students used to research and produce their stories for the Edubba Sun newspaper. While this project was dependent upon the 26  prototype, it will not be specifically "evaluated" to see if it meets the objectives in the teacher's manual or should be bought by various school boards. Instead, I will use inductive reasoning, a wide variety of information, place an emphasis on understanding (Worthen, et al. 1987) to provide multiple realities in my case study approach to generate hypotheses which will aid others in supporting collaborative environments for students using multi-media software.  2.5  CRITICAL E V A L U A T I O N OF PREVIOUS R E S E A R C H Research relevant to (1) second language writing processes, (2) social interaction and  composing, and (3) computer mediated compositions has been going on for many years. Much discussion has evolved around each area with strengths and weaknesses of each study fostering further research based on future implications. Interestingly, research conducted in the 1920s and 1960s by people like Freinet and Vygotsky, respectively, still play important roles in applying concepts to today's research. Celestin Freinet's Modern School Movement (1924, as cited in Warschauer, forthcoming) foretold of efforts to develop collaborative exchanges using (a)synchronous computer mediated collaboration. Although the long-distance interscholastic exchanges were not on-line, instead they made use of pen pal letters, class newspapers, and cultural packages between sister classes, passing information along slower means. The results are still the same today but can now happen in split seconds. These collaborative exchanges of the past featured a creative, meaningful education based on critical inquiry and social interaction (Cummins & Sayers, 1995; Freinet, 1974, as cited in Warschauer forthcoming), exchanges that we can adapt to today's writing classrooms using technology.  27  Some forty years after Freinet, Vygotsky (1962) stressed that collaborative learning aids students in furthering what they can accomplish by themselves and what they can accomplish in cooperation with others. We can still also apply his research to today's writing classrooms integrating computers and collaborative compositions. While the medium has changed, the premise is still the same: get students accomplishing tasks together. Current researchers such as Shi (1998) shows us that by talking on a topic before writing, students can perform better drafts. Although the writing paradigm has shifted from product to process to genre and may likely be reincorporating the importance of the concept of product, we can gain insight from other researchers such as Silva (1991) who shows us that the historical evolution of the English as a second language (ESL) curriculum from the 1940s to the 1990s continues to apply to our research and evolving methodologies. While it's useful for us to look at historical research results, it is just as important to see how they've been applied to today's classes and incorporated into evolving literacies using multimedia technology. Pennington (1993a, 1993b, 1996a, 1996b) on her own historical scale has continued to evolve in her research with the changes that these new technologies bring. In her models she acknowledges the parts of the whole: learning a new medium, the computer model, the language model and the writing model (1993b). While these models show us individually how each part of the learning process progresses we need to see how they all link together and do research that bridges these areas. She admits, "research on computer-assisted writing with native and non-native students can begin to balance what has up to now been a primarily data-driven orientation with what can henceforth be developed as a more essentially theory-driven, or conceptual, approach. Future research on computer-assisted writing should 28  incorporate theories describing the interaction of writing and contextual variables; the connections between cognition, writing, and learning; and the interrelationships of users; concepts of writing, language, and computers" (p. 74) Warschauer (1998) and Murray (1999) would agree, adding that there is a need for qualitative research on technology-enhanced language learning and the institutional and social factors which influence the autonomous learner. While I agree with Pennington, Warschauer and Murray, I also think that specific research needs to be conducted on collaborative composing, not only the editing processes. While much of the current research occurs as case studies in naturalistic settings we may be limited by not being able to generalize about the wider population to which the unit belongs. We need to be able to conduct longer term studies with larger groups to see evidence of the effects. In an all too familiar refrain, administrators limited by school financial constraints want proof that computers work (Warschauer, 1998). How can we give them the evidence they seek with results that are difficult to generalize from, obtained by short term case studies? Over time these results will be available but the concept is a dichotomy. We can't give proof without running case studies and action research in the multi-media laboratories while schools can't justify the expense without having the data-driven research. This gives more support for the argument that computer assisted collaborative writing is not only valuable for the learning process but also meets financial business challenges. While it is good that schools provide language laboratories for students, often they are limited by the technology that is installed in such environments. When only basic features such as the Internet, word processing or inexpensive grammar drill software are in place, research that  29  is done in these classrooms is limited by those resources. Even thought the Internet can connect students with sister schools overseas in authentic environments, teachers are often not experienced in the skills required to create websites facilitating these exchanges. Some schools, however, have begun experimenting with LANs where students can collaborate in discussions synchronously (Chan, 1999) which slows down the communicative process and bridges the gap between oral and written communication allowing them to benefit from language learning process (Beauvois, 1998, p.213 ). While this is a benefit to students, many language labs do not have the required L A N software or teacher training to make effective use of it. Perhaps a future direction which doesn't cost the lab more than an Internet connection would be using chat groups or classroom e-mail exchanges (www.ieec.com/) (Kern, 1996). Language classrooms should, however, make use of LANs according to Sullivan and Pratt (1996) because in computer networked classrooms writing quality improved. As a result, the teacher's role was minimized and participation increased compared to oral classrooms where people are sometimes affected by face-to-face communication. Interestingly, they report 100% of the students participated in electronic discourse whereas only 50% of students participated in face-to-face discussions. Moreover, the percentage of face-to-face interactions improved if students had previously interacted in on-line discussions. How can we adapt these results to the writing process which will unlikely take place on-line? It is one of my goals for future studies to see collaborative exchanges done in person and not on-line even though students are less inhibited by the roles they believe exist: hierarchical or status, gender and personality when they are in face-to-face discussions. Recent research suggests that careful consideration of gender  30  differences is necessary when dealing with interactions accompanying cooperative uses of computers (Inkpen 1995) and, I would add, the specific task the partners are doing. Perhaps the answer lies in small, carefully selected pairs. Putting students in pairs to use computers will help them to develop their interlanguage skills orally and in written form, gain confidence and reduce anxiety. Students will have to learn to work together to communicate ideas and coordinate work because the reality that exists in the "real world" where they'll be after finishing their studies is that workers are producing a lot more co-authored work. McGrath (1984), however, warns us not to set up the roles of the pairs as patterned relationships will develop among themselves. These results are yet to be researched. These types of computer support for writing cannot compete with new technologies that are being developed. In the aforementioned software Edubba, as well as with other multi-media software, students can have a truly multi-media experience. We must be sure to remember, however, that on disc it is only a simulated environment and more research still needs to be done regarding the viability of learning in such environments (Murray, 1999). Students researching writing topics are presented with the material right at their keyboards and even more so when linked to the Internet. If they work together with a partner, oral exchanges support their written research and compositions that the program requires of them, again supporting Vygotsky's Zone of Proximal Development. The disadvantage of the above software is that they are still being developed and requires further research and teacher training, not to mention a financial investment by institutions once it's ready to market.  31  Until now, research in native and non-native composing (focusing on revision and editing) with computers only covers less expensive (and less advanced) computer technology and not state-of-the-art multi-media programs such as Edubba. Furthermore, there are few studies which have quantifiable results incorporating collaboration with such word processing or current technologies. While we can rely on the past in terms of research, it is time to adapt such studies to address the new state-of-the-art technologies and, at the same time, to move forward and suggest new research topics. New areas include the evolving literacies, and how students are motivated, learn and are affected in new ways by technology and how they actually compose with a partner. As the world gets smaller due to technology students will be interacting internationally with native speakers more and more. Research has shown that writing in another language takes more time. However, by making use of a team approach to research, plan, draft and revise with skills learned in language classes, students will be able to transfer this knowledge from the classroom to interactions with native speakers in work situations or distance education courses they enroll in. While we know that language learning takes time, the majority of students don't have the time to keep up with technology. By having skills to counteract challenges they may be faced with during their learning process and their careers, students will have more opportunities to compete in international job markets. With researchers from Vygotsky to Pennington who have shown us how to collaborate and use technology to improve writing from the past to the present, we can move forward combining what we know about working together and writing  32  using multi-media technology to pursue further research to help advance these fields and students evolution within them. If language professionals such as teachers and researchers can first learn about how to use and implement multimedia technology in the language classrooms there will be a place for research to transpire. The research, it follows, will help to develop theories and pedagogies for collaborative writing and new literacies. This, in turn, will involve learners resulting in improved language acquisition for students. This process is still part of a comparatively new field which is based on research from the past, a process that will continue to develop with the increasing use of and support for multi-media technology in the classroom. If research and pedagogies are to develop as time goes on, we must be able to evaluate multi-media technology in order to know if it's worthwhile to replace the current best practices with new ones.  33  CHAPTER 3 DESIGN OF T H E STUDY  In order to apply the relevant literature in the field, test it and help move research regarding collaborative writing using a multi-media software program forward, I have set up the following study. Below I will show how this study was organized. A descriptive case study design was adopted for the purpose of addressing the primary research questions set out in the introductory chapter. These were: 1)  What writing strategies do students use when presented with a problem?  2)  How are dyads' writing strategies similar and different?  3)  How do students collaborate as their own writing unfolds?  The writing processes of four dyads of international writers with varying competence in L l and L2 were observed during an academic writing task using Edubba, a multi-media software prototype designed to help intermediate E S L students learn how to research and write a five paragraph academic essay. The content was based on a water crisis in the city of Edubba. In addition to using Edubba for the background knowledge and lesson format, the case study data for my research consisted of: (a) profiles of L l and L2 writing information and literacy learning experience, (b) assessments of the weekly produced composition compared to collaborative transcribed exchanges of collaborative output, (c) descriptions of the dyads' collaborative composing processes in L2, and (d) self-report data concerning collaborators' reactions to task demands and their impressions of their own performance (exit interview) and (e) field notes.  34  Relationships among data from these sources were explored within each case study; patterns across cases were also examined. Students were screened based solely on their level of writing in their writing course and commitment to the study. Once they committed to attend five consecutive weeks during the study they were given two background information surveys to complete. The first, a "Writer Information Survey" (Hall & Jung, 1996, p. 10) [Appendix B ] , was used to obtain a record of how participants felt about writing in their native language. The survey asked questions regarding the types of writing experiences each of the participants had. The second, a "Literacy Learning Experience Survey" (Ibid. p. 14) [Appendix C ] , was used to discover the ways the students had learned to write in their native language. I was specifically interested in the answers to the statements "I corrected papers with other students" (Question 8), and "I talked with other students about my writing assignment" (Question 9). I was curious to note whether these kinds of collaborative activities had ever been done by the participants in their L l . Next, partners of differing language groups were paired randomly and worked together at the computers with Edubba during the five weeks. During each session round table discussions and goal setting occurred at the beginning followed by students working through the on-line tasks at the computer. Additionally, during the last session exit interviews were given in writing and orally (Fine, 1997, p. I l l ) to each participant in order to get more in-depth information about their impressions of their collaborative writing experience and to thank them for their commitment to the program.  35  The study was by nature of its design descriptive; therefore, no formal hypotheses or statistical analysis are included. As complex factors which made each case unique could not be easily extrapolated, caution will be exercised in drawing comparisons between these writers or generalizing from these findings to other learners. Details of the participants, setting, tasks, data collection techniques and data analysis follow.  3.1  PARTICIPANTS  Table 1: Profiles Of Participants Aliases Country Languages  Marina Columbia Spanish  Sakiko Japan Japanese  Joe Taiwan Chinese  Pablo Chile Spanish  Christoph Switzerland Spanish, French, Italian  Lee China Chinese French  Etsuko Japan Japanese  Rodolpho Columbia Spanish  Studied English  since highschool  10 years  7 years  since highschool  6 years  7 years  7 mo. at the ELI  Been in Vancouver  3 months  1 month  6 months  since 12 years old 10 days  2.5 months  2 days  1 month  7 months  Stay for X longer Computer experience Why English? ELI Writing course # Other Courses  3 months  6 months  2 yrs  3 mo. +  1 year  4 years  a lot  Internet e-mail Japanese teacher 500W  a lot  a lot  Internet  400W  400W  MBA Switzerland n/a  world language n/a  system engineer doctor assistant 420W  1 year 3 months a lot  important  3 months WPa little job  job/profession 520W  520 R 505SL 503SL -12  402SL 400SL  515E 40 ISL  300R 505SL  400SL 505SL 400SL  402SL 400R  600R 600S  +11  +14  +13  502SL 505SL 400R +23  + 14  +19  +19  n/a  n/a  n/a  n/a  n/a  n/a  n/a  n/a  Score on Writing Survey TOEFL  job 400 last term  36  The eight students who volunteered to partake in the study were accepted based on their interest and writing class level. In order to preserve the anonymity of the four male and four female participants I have substituted their names with pseudonyms which resemble both the origin and sounds of their actual names. Of the participants there were four students whose first language was Spanish and four who spoke other languages such as Chinese (Mandarin and Taiwanese) and Japanese. Each self-reported to have "a lot" of computer experience with one woman employed as a Systems Engineer using computers in her native country. All reported that their interest in improving their English competency was for increased employment opportunities. In order to pair students with some randomness and avoid inter-language and gender issues, the groupings were of one Spanish speaking student with one other language speaker. Fortunately, there were enough students to have one male-female, one female-female, and two male-male groups, each with different language backgrounds. The choice of groupings within these parameters were taken strictly from the attendance list in order of arrival and signing up for the workshop.  3.1.1  Recruitment Procedure The objective was to recruit intermediate international young adult students with L2  writing expertise that corresponded to at least the "400 Level" from within the English Language Institute (ELI) Immersion Program at the University of British Columbia (UBC). This program runs year-round with eight to twelve week semesters offering non-credit, content and skill-based E S L courses. Program participants had been in Canada for varying lengths of time, ranging from  37  two days to seven months and were just beginning the Spring Immersion Program in April 1999. Aside from the self reports, whether the students were strong or weak writers in their first language is unknown. In their first week of classes on April 8, 1999, students were given an "Open House" orientation to their upcoming "Directed Independent Study" Workshops to be held on Fridays. This study provided an opportunity for students to join in to see if they were interested in participating. Attendance was recorded as a component of the immersion program. At the multi-media lab I greeted students and explained the purpose of the "research" workshop: collaborative writing using multi-media software. I explained that they would need to have an ELI level of 400 or 500 Writing or above, some computer experience, commit to five consecutive sessions with the same partner and sign a consent form. At this Open House I had students begin to work with the software to get an idea of what it would be like. Students signed their names on an attendance sheet and some agreed to return the following Friday for the start of the study. Concerned that I didn't have confirmed commitments from those students who were "still deciding," I sent e-mails to all of the 400 and 500 Level writing teachers to announce the "academic writing opportunity" for their students. Furthermore, I canvassed the writing classes personally explaining the study and the opportunity for writing practice for the students. The next session of April 16th eight students of varying backgrounds came to the multimedia lab to partake in the study. Five of the students were enrolled in writing classes; the other three weren't currently taking writing classes that semester. The other courses they attended such as Reading and Speaking/Listening varied in ELI levels from 300 to 500. Their T O E F L (Test of English as a Foreign Language) scores were unavailable. The students who weren't currently  38  enrolled in writing courses indicated that this workshop would be a good way for them to balance their course load by adding writing to it. Because the Edubba software is designed for the "intermediate" young adult learner, I focused on an "intermediate" ELI writing level (400-500) student as suggested by programmers in the ELI's immersion program. In addition, in the pilot study conducted in November of 1998 focusing on Edubba's interface usability, we discovered that students at any lower level didn't have the language capabilities to be able to work with either the "bugs'Vsystem errors in the prototype or the language of the characters and graphics in the software. In students self reports, their writing experience and feelings are recorded as follows in 3.2.  3.2  WRITING PROFILES OF PARTICIPANTS The first survey, the Writer Information Survey (Hall & Jung, 1996, p. 10) [Appendix B],  explored how students felt about writing in the native language. They were to disagree and agree in a five point Likert scale to questions such as: "In my native language, I like to write" [many agreed], "I often write in my native language" [most agreed] and "I can't write well in my native language" [many disagreed]. The survey was designed to tabulate the positive and negative statements and have students compare their scores. When I looked at the scores, all students but one had a positive score. For example the scores were +11, +14, +13, +13, +14, +19, and +19. In contrast, one student's score was completely opposite. Her score was -12. When I approached her, I found out that she wasn't taking a writing course, didn't like to write, almost never writes, wouldn't like a job where she would have to write, doesn't consider herself to be a good writer  39  and wouldn't take courses in university where she would have to write a lot in her native language. Although she had a good attitude, I hoped that these scores wouldn't take away from the study on collaborative writing. The next survey, the Literacy Learning Experience Survey (Hall & Jung, 1996, p. 14) [Appendix C], was a multiple choice question and answer survey with three levels of agreement or disagreement with 23 points to answer. (Details can be found below in The levels were as follows: A lot, a Little, and Never. Some general findings were that many of the students indicated that they did "a lot" of grammar exercises and the reader for their papers was the teacher "a lot". Secondly, the students reported that they talked with other students, wrote their papers more than once and got help with ideas from the teacher "a little". In the final column many students indicated that the reader for their papers was "never" another student and they "never" corrected papers with other students.  3.3  D A T A COLLECTION  3.3.1  The Case Study This study provides a portrait of what is going on in the E S L writing environment of  students sharing a multi-media software program. This technique is commonly referred to as a case study approach. I will be describing themes, patterns and issues and attempting to explain them. Although I am cognizant of the values that I bring to my research, my goal is to carry out a "value-neutral study" as much as possible. I would like to provide some rich insights about the teaching and learning processes for my field despite the fact that case studies are criticized by  40  social science for not being rigorous enough (Johnson, 1992); I hope this case study will provide many rich insights about the teaching and learning processes. As Warschauer (in press) explains "the purpose of [this] case study...is not to provide a single definitive answer, but rather to open up new forms of conversation and to encourage the process of reflecting on them."  3.3.2  Procedure From April 16th, 1999 to May 14th, 1999,1 was the single researcher observing a group  of eight participants at the ELI's Multi-Media Lab "B" on the U B C campus. The software was installed on the IBM-compatible computers equipped with speakers, headsets and tape recording devices. During this study I was able to incorporate a range of methodologies including a variety of data collection techniques in a "naturalistic" environment, as naturalistic as possible since the students knew they were taking part in a research study. These data collection techniques (Johnson, 1992) varied from interviews and field notes to the collection and analysis of student text files, digital camera snapshots, video recordings and cassette recorded "think-aloud" procedures (Raimes, 1985). In the think-aloud technique, for instance, pairs of students were recorded completing tasks like writing collaboratively and interviewing on-screen characters. Due to both human and technical error, there was no sound for the video recordings and, as a result, there was no transcriptions made of the videotaped round table discussions. Unlike the video recordings, however, exchanges of the dyads' collaborations on cassettes were transcribed. By using a variety of sources from my observations during this study I hoped to address misinterpretation and the validity of the data collection process (Fine, 1997).  41  Each session the students began by listening to the day's agenda, discussing and sharing information they had gathered in a round table format and working in their dyads at their station. At the end of the session, the pairs made copies of their notes and/or parts of their stories before they left the computer lab each day. Finally, their work was saved not only on the hard drive, but also on floppy disc, as well.  3.3.3  Construction of Dyads The male and female students were grouped in pairs and attended a total of five, two hour  sessions. Even though it would be difficult to generalize findings from a single case study, I chose to diversify the pairs to see if gender could be a variable in my results. There were same gender and mixed gender pairs. I wanted to compare results of male-female, male-male and female-female groups to see if there were any radically different observations. If all results were similar, I would also be able to perhaps infer that gender did not play a role in the outcomes of the study.  3.3.4  The Software At their stations the paired students were involved directly in the writing process of their  own five paragraph newspaper story. As already discussed, the focus for the research and writing came from a prototype multi-media software program called Edubba designed to support academic writing: The name "Edubba" comes from the name of the clay tablets upon which ancient Sumerian writing were inscribed. Edubba is designed to be communicative, content-  42  based and genre focused and supports the writing process with several help tools. In Edubba, the name of the 3 D virtual city, students interact with on-line characters in communicative ways. Because of a natural language processor present in the program students can ask the citizens of Edubba their opinions of, and solutions for, a water crisis occurring in the city. The interactions were in written form with the students typing questions into the available text block and the characters answering orally supported with captions. The natural language processor in the program allows the students to make grammatical mistakes and still be able to access information regarding the water crisis in Edubba. For example, although the program was unable to parse student questions such as " H o w long time?" (Edubba character Ian Orr responds: " I ' m confused."), it could successfully answer questions wanting to know " H o w long time does your project need?" Furthermore, the help feature of the program provided leading questions to aid students in writing their five paragraph stories using topics such as "Introduction", "Causes", "Results", "Predictions" and "Conclusions" of the water crisis. One help question, for example, asked "What are the proposed solutions and who are the major supporters of the solution?" Students could use this help feature in designing questions they could use to research information the characters had to give them. In addition to question and answer features, the participants were able to gather information by reading clickable on-screen print and graphic documents. These documents contained details on the water crisis and water consumption, meeting the content-based goals of the program. A s for genre, students are led to writing tasks such as description, analysis, evaluation, persuasion and argument. The multi-media software's approach to academic writing  43  (with a teacher's help) is a collaborative process covering the traditional stages of brainstorming, prewriting, drafting, editing or revising, and publishing. Edubba also contains writing examples, editing checklists, a grammar reference with "twenty top trouble spots" E S L students make, a word processor which includes a spell check, and a glossary for students to access words they are unfamiliar with. Edubba is intended to provide a virtual environment for students to enter, talk to and relate to the characters situated there. Being led through the writing process while being connected to a real environment has benefits for students who become more engaged in their writing task. With this in mind, I was intrigued and decided to begin research to see how students would respond to the software and it's interface.  3.4  PILOT S T U D Y Before conducting research on the collaborative strategies students utilize working with  multi-media software I first conducted a pilot study. I was able to conduct this pilot study with E S L students at the ELI using the state-of-the-art multi-media lab. In this study I primarily looked at the interface of the software coupled with the dynamics of grouping students in functional groups. This study was also a course requirement in a Human Computer Interaction course offered jointly from the Computer Science departments of Simon Fraser University and U B C . I wanted to look at the differences between students when placed alone or in pairs and how easily it was for them to navigate through the software with no help, a little help and unlimited teacher's assistance.  44  The results of the study showed that there was much more verbal interaction, production and problem solving by pairs using the software compared to the singletons. I wanted to conduct further studies to determine how these dyads were collaborating. When we also found many "bugs" in the prototype we decided that a future study would have to have "some" help available to the students using the software. As it was not in a state to just be used independently by students, a teacher facilitator was necessary to help students achieve their academic writing goals. In this thesis, I decided to continue to look at pairs working together in a computer supported collaborative learning (CSCL) environment since interface design is not a useful area for me as an E S L teacher. In the pilot study I was also able to field test the Student Background Questionnaire and Exit Interview. As a result of field testing changes were made to the wording of certain questions in the Student Questionnaire so that they were more clear. Secondly, in the Exit Interview it was decided that two modes of data collection allowed for students to be more forthcoming in their comments. Being given an opportunity to express one's point of view by saving face was taken into consideration for students who may not be used to speaking frankly with a teacher/researcher that they've only known a short time. Furthermore, having an oral interview allowed for students to express themselves orally if they had any trouble with written expression and vice versa.  45  3.5  C O L L A B O R A T I V E TASKS  Each day of the study had a similar approach where students met in a round table format to receive instructions and share information they had learned from the software. The tasks for the students were as follows: 1) 2) 3)  4) 5)  6) 7) 8) 9)  3.5.1  Get a research assignment from "Eddie" the newspaper editor. Navigate around the city by clicking on destinations on the map or by taking the taxi. Meet the eight characters and interview them about their interests, opinions of and solutions for the water crisis in Edubba: Rhoda Finkelstein, Mayor; Eduardo Hernandez, Farmer; Reed Keanu, Businessperson; Sally Kobayashi, Hoverboard Courier; John Milton, Taxi Driver; Ian Orr, Student and Coffee Barista; Janet Singh, Dam Engineer Roland Stonehenge, Rock Musician. Take notes with pen and paper. Answer help questions by interviewing characters and reading graphics in five areas for "Story 1": Orientation: i.e. What is the crisis about? What are the proposed solutions? Who are the major supporters? Causes: i.e. What are the causes of the water crisis? Results: i.e. What are the effects of the water crisis in Edubba? Predictions i.e. What might happen if the crisis is not solved Conclusions: i.e. How bad is the water crisis? What are the proposed solutions? In paragraph form, write the answers to the leading questions. Spell check the document and print it out. Exchange with other groups for peer editing. More specifics and goal setting are explained below.  April 7, 1999 "Open House" Students participating in the immersion program had the opportunity to explore  workshops being given on Fridays at the ELI. This workshop entitled "Academic writing using  46  multi-media software" was available in an open forum context. Students would come and go during the 2 hour time slot to observe Edubba in use and be introduced to the study. Although the Friday workshops were organized so that students could change to other activities each week, I stressed that whoever was going to take this workshop had to commit to five consecutive weeks and have an ELI ranked writing skill level of 400 or 500 (an "intermediate" rating). Though some students showed interest, there was no firm commitment to the study the following week; as a result, I realized that I would have to do some on-line and in-class recruiting, as well.  3.5.2  April 16, 1999 Session 1 At approximately 10:00 am eight students of varying genders and cultures/language  backgrounds arrived. We met at the round table and the students filled out two surveys: the Writer Information Survey and the Literacy Learning Experiences Survey. This took one hour. In order to attempt to give a variety of groupings students were paired randomly following the sign-up sheet on which they wrote their names. One Spanish speaking student was paired with another of a separate language group. Once students had their assigned partner they moved to computer terminals to begin their research for the final hour of this session. Tasks for that day included exploring Edubba, meeting the characters in their designated locations and finding out a little bit about each character. Students were required to fill out "Report A" which recorded the previously mentioned information. Most students completed this form and printed it out by 12:00. Some still needed time the next session to finish. All students and I left with a hard copy of their project. Student text files were saved to floppy disc.  47  3.5.3  April 23, 1999 Session 2 The day began at 10:00 am with attendance. Two new students arrived but were turned  away because the five week study had already commenced. After they left one student announced she wouldn't be able to come on the last day. I thought of re-recruiting the volunteers I had turned away but when I asked them to come the following week they no longer were interested. I realized later that having a "back-up" dyad might have been a kind of "insurance" for people who dropped out of the study. The original eight students remained. We began at the round table where I elicited and presented the writing process from brainstorming and research to revising and editing. After having read their surveys I realized that the students hadn't had a lot of experience with peer editing and they verbally confirmed my suspicions. The session was videotaped with the intention of gaining additional material for evaluative purposes. However, the new lab technician was unable to activate the sound control and we ended up with a silent videotape. During the round table I had students share what they had remembered from the story and could add from their notes. I learned that the students had not discovered a lot of details and set the day's goals to learn more. Additionally, they were to begin writing their stories focusing on finishing the Orientation, then beginning the Introduction and Causes section of their Story 1 assignment. Paper was supplied to the students in order for them to take notes for their research and brainstorming part of the writing process. Each group handled the note taking part of the assignment differently. These differences and similarities will be discussed in Chapter 4. Students were also given cassette tapes so that they could record their exchanges with their partners and the data could be used for analysis purposes at a later date. At  48  their stations participants donned headsets so that they could not only hear the characters on the software, but also have their voices recorded onto their cassettes. After the first half hour for the round table, students struggled for another half hour getting refocused and trying to understand the concept of what Story 1 was asking. They were not sure if they were taking a single approach to the water crisis or just an overview of all proposals and asked for direction. The dyads needed individual prompting to use the Story 1 questions for the Introduction and learning how to get more detailed information from the characters in Edubba. By 12:00 the students had printed out the material they had produced in this session. All text files were saved to floppy disc. One student stayed later to continue to understand the water crisis better.  3.5.4  April 30, 1999 Session 3 We again started the day with attendance and round table sharing. From their comments  it was obvious that students were retaining more information and understanding more about the situation in Edubba. However, students were still not entirely sure of all of the solutions to the water crisis or the jobs of the characters although some were able to state the causes of the water crisis. What may have been unclear to one group was clarified by another in the round table. Each student had an opportunity to share points that s/he thought were important to the writing of the story, its relevance to their life in their home country, and their opinion of the software. Even though they were working in pairs the comprehension levels varied from partner to partner and group to group.  49  It was taking longer than expected for students to gather enough information to begin writing their stories. While one group had a chance to start writing last week, the other groups were beginning to gather enough details where they felt they had enough information to write their stories this week. The goal for the day was to continue brainstorming, researching and writing Story 1. If there was time, I wanted to have students begin editing. The session was both videotaped and audiotaped and the stories were saved to disc and printed out. The videotaping, again, however, was without sound. I decided to tape record the session the next week to circumvent the potential lack of sound from the video camera once again.  3.5.5  May 7, 1999 Session 4 After taking the attendance I learned one student would be an hour late. I asked his  partner to try to "think aloud" and use words to represent his thoughts on his tape as much as possible when he went to his station. When we assembled for the round table discussion format, students began to share obstacles they were encountering. This was recorded on cassette tape player as well as on video. Participants found that the characters didn't always answer the questions. This was either a design flaw or an intention for the character's personality. The mayor, Rhoda, for example, was disliked by Marina because Rhoda "didn't know anything." For political reasons the character was designed to avoid answering questions. While Marina felt this was frustrating, Rodolpho, meanwhile, liked the mayor for that very reason. He thought she was very "politically correct" and enjoyed her vague answers.  50  It was also time to see how each group was progressing. Most groups had been working on causes and effects but were having trouble finding answers to predictions. Students still weren't clear on how much they were expected to be writing. I encouraged them to answer the "help" questions and to speak generally about the water crisis, solutions and future in Edubba. The goal for the day was to finish the conclusions and do a spell check. As I realized that peer editing would not be a realistic goal for the day, I decided to table it for the following session. After half and hour the dyads returned to their consoles to learn that all of their work had been erased on the server. Furthermore, I was unable to reload the copies saved on disc. Before they arrived I had tried retyping some of their text but had only time to do one group's work. Other groups were left to reproduce their work from their saved hard copies. As editing goes, this turned out to be a benefit because in recreating their text the students were forced to re-read their work and editing was a natural by-product. In future it would be beneficial to add reviewing text as part of the daily goal of a writing class's work. Students worked until the end of the session, again saving their work and printing out hard copies. Because it was Sakiko's last day I conducted an exit interview with her both orally and in written form. The session ended at noon.  3.5.6  May 14, 1999 Session 5 On the final day we met for a short time to debrief the week and set the students back at  their computers to finish their Story 1 assignment. Initially, I had hoped for the students to have finished their conclusions but some students were working on that this day and other groups  51  didn't ever get to that part. During their exit interviews I met with each student for ten minutes and they were able to indicate how much more time they would have liked to have finished their writing; all indicated needing one to two more sessions. With seven students to interview this took most of the session. We had time to print out copies and continue to save to disc, as well. For the last ten minutes the students were given thank you cards and donated ELI golf shirts as a token of gratitude on behalf of myself and the ELI. Completing the tasks to complete Story 1 with its sections on Introduction, Causes, Results, Predictions and Conclusions took longer than the scheduled five weeks of the study. As a result of not getting to finish their conclusions not all of the groups got to a stage where they would were able to begin the self/peer editing of their documents. Some editing did occur the day they had to re-enter their text when they found their work had not been saved. In general, most groups did not edit recursively as they seemed to only be interested in "getting their ideas out" and retyping the text from their hard copies and inputting it back onto the story tabs for each section in the computer.  3.6  EXTT INTERVIEWS A N D D A T A ANALYSIS Participants met individually with me for an exit interview [see Appendix D]. One  purpose of this interview was to question individuals about their perspective on collaborative writing and the multi-media prototype with which they were using. By asking students about their partner dynamics, what they would continue to do if they had more time to complete the project and what could be done to improve the software, I could learn more about each person's  52  knowledge about groupings, further writing tasks and make recommendations to the software design team for future versions of Edubba. In the exit interview all of the students reported that they had never seen or used software such as Edubba in the past. Not only were the students experiencing a new medium for learning, but they were also being presented with a writing task in ways that they had hardly (or even never) before been exposed to before. In their exit interviews these students shared that they had never done collaborative writing using a multi-media software program. They were very enthusiastic using Edubba and found it very interesting and helpful. Finally, participants were asked about their own participation in the study and given an opportunity to make any relevant comments they needed to express. All students commented favourably regarding their experience. For each of the case studies it was my intention to provide a description of the dyads in terms of the types of writing processes in which they engaged in, how their strategies were similar and different each week, how they collaborated together, and how they changed. In the following chapter, I will show the participants in the light of their activities and the research questions.  53  CHAPTER 4 FINDINGS AND INTERPRETATION  This chapter sets out to describe the findings from the research study on collaborative writing using the multi-media prototype software Edubba. Organized by research question, I will show the results of the dyads' interactions from Session 1 to Session 5 of the study. The first section of this chapter will introduce some of the background to the students' writing experience focusing on survey and questionnaire findings. Following this, the findings of the study will be reported as they address the research questions posed in the first chapter in sequential order.  4.1  D A T A COLLECTION SOURCES In order to begin reporting on findings of the students writing strategies, I will show their  computer experience and writing backgrounds. Later, in Chapter 5,1 will also show how this plays a part in the collaborative writing process using multi-media software. In the Student Questionnaire [Appendix A], five out of eight students self-reported having "a lot" of computer experience. Two of the remaining three had experience using the Internet but the last only had "a little" experience. As shown in Table 2, below, the Writer Information Survey, seven of the eight students had and enjoyed the writing experience in their native language. In general, the students felt they could write fairly well in their native language. Most of the students used their native language for writing letters, seven out of eight students reported that they would "take courses  54  where they would have to write a lot in their native language". It seems only one student was less interested and had less experience in writing than the others. Table 2: Writing Information Survey* Agree  Disagree 1  2  3  4  5  1  In my native language, I like to write.  1  1  3  3  2  In my native language, I like writing essays.  1  2  3  2  3  I almost never write in my native language.  4  In my native language, I often write letters.  5  I don't like to write in my native language.  4  6  I would like to have a job where I would need to write a lot in my native language.  2  7  I often write in my native language.  8  I don't often write letters in my native language.  5  3  9  I am not a good writer in my native language.  3  2  10  I would not like to take college or university courses where I would need to write a lot in my native language, (one student didn't answer this question)  3  2  11  I am a fairly good writer in my native language.  6  1  1 3  2  1  12  In my native language, I write only when I must.  2  13  I would like to take courses in college or university where I would have to write a lot in my native language.  1  5  2 3  2  1  1  2  4  1  2 2  2  2  3  3  1  2  3  3  1 1  4 2 1 1 14 I can't write well in my native language. * Reprinted with permission from: Hall, E. & Jung, C. (1996). Reflecting on writing. Toronto: Harcourt Brace, p. 10.  The Literacy Learning Experience Survey Findings are shown in Table 3 below. In the findings five to eight students reported having "a little" experience in areas such as studying writing in school, writing on topics which the teacher assigned, writing on topics they chose, copying examples, talking about writing with others, writing papers more than once, and getting help for writing assignment topics from the teacher. In the study they would continue to focus "a 55  lot" on the following areas: writing on topics which the teacher assigned, copying examples, and talking with other students about their writing assignment. Table 3: Literacy Learning Experience Survey* A lot 3 2  A Little 5 1 I studied writing in school. 2 I wrote on topics which the teacher assigned. 6 I wrote on topics which I chose. 8 3 4 I imitated writing by famous writers. 3 I imitated writing by students. 4 5 6 I copied examples. 5 7 I wrote in class. 2 5 1 8 I corrected papers with other students. 3 I talked with other students about my writing assignment. 5 9 I wrote my papers more than once. 2 5 10 11 My classmates and I talked about writing. 1 6 We read a book about writing. 12 6 4 We practiced handwriting (making symbols). 1 13 4 14 We wrote letters in our writing class. 2 15 We read our papers out loud in class 3 We wrote journals. 1 6 16 We did grammar exercises. 3 5 17 2 4 18 We memorized writing by famous writers. 4 19 We gave speeches 3 My teacher helped me to get ideas for writing assignments. 7 20 21 The reader for my papers was my teacher. 4 3 22 I was the reader for my paper. 5 3 The reader for my paper was another student. 2 23. * Reprinted with permission from: Hall, E. & Jung, C. (1996). Reflecting on writing. Harcourt Brace.  4.2  Never  5 4 3 1 4 3 1 1 2 3 4 3 1 2 1 1 1 6 Toronto:  W H A T WRITING STRATEGIES D O STUDENTS U S E W H E N PRESENTED WITH A PROBLEM? To begin writing all of the students' strategies were to follow the guiding questions from  the software. Within these questions there were differences in the ways in which the groups  56  approached the writing process. Described below was a writing process taken from within the Edubba software itself and in the outline in Elements of writing (Messenger & Taylor, 1984): Prewriting and Research or Planning - audience and purpose, brainstorming, inventing, researching, organizing, Writing - including drafting, Revising - and editing, Proofreading or Publishing. Based on this outline we can analyze the students' writing and find evidence of how the writing process was approached in each dyad's work. While the Edubba software, in some ways, eliminates the need for a lot of organizing and planning because the students follow along the help questions, the students in this study still partook in these activities. In previewing the notes, tapes, transcriptions and hardcopies of the students' work, the most common procedures for writing using the Edubba software were as follows: 1)  No brainstorming of ideas.  2) 3) 4) 5) 6) 7) 8) 9)  (Researching) Interviewing each character with a specific question from each section: Introduction, Causes, Results, Predictions, Conclusions. (Writing)Taking notes in point form. (Organizing) At first, moving linearly through the sections. (Organizing) Finding locations for answers they weren't specifically looking for (Organizing) Placing answers in proper sections, linearly, then ad hoc. (Organizing) Circularly recording information as they learned it. (Writing) Rewriting in their own words and changing point forms into paragraphs. (Editing) Recursively editing while writing but no formal "plan to edit".  10)  (Publishing) The hardcopy printout of their daily finished work.  The following examples from the students' notes, conversations, and their hard copies support my findings. First, when students took notes they tended to organize their work either by location or by character. Often they would write exactly what the characters said and they would also record information from the on-screen graphics in point form (Number 3, above). For example, Sakiko recorded information on Janet Singh as follows:  57  Janet Budget synopsis: dam the Edubba river - major benefits of the dam - challenges - Requirements - about system to build - costs - $45,000,000 -job - 200 new jobs When Sakiko and her partner Marina were ready to record their information in paragraph form on the tape/transcripts the two partners could be heard collaborating, getting the information from their notes to put into their story. They wrote well together, finishing one another's sentences and making edits, although at the end they consulted with the teacher trying to decide where to put the information they'd written (Number 6, above). M: S: M: S: M: S: M: S: M: S: M: S: M: S: M: S: M: S: M: S: M: S:  Okay. Janet Singh is proposing to build a dam. She has the budget, benefits and requirements to fit. The cost is of building building a dam building a dam is is is about, is approximately, approximate - how do you write? T-E T? E. E? Yeah. How much? Forty five million. Millions. It's too expensive. Yeah. um. The the point no how do I say it? (paper turning) And about job. Yeah, but how do you say the objective do you know what it is? Objective. Yeah. The objective is to provide fifty million per year Ahh. How do you know that? We can put this. Yeah? Okay. 58  M: S: M: S: M: S: M:  The objective is to provide fifty Objective is the adjective, right? Object? Object no. Object Yeah. Objective with C. Uhum. The objective is to provide five mill - fifty millions we have to explain here for example the budget of the dam, the S: benefits. M: the benefits, no here in Tchr: Results? S: Introduction M: But that comes on Results Tchr: What's your question? In which section? S: We don't know where to put for example, for example that here Janet Singh is proposing to build a dam and she has the budget so in the budget she explains the costs, the benefits, we have to put all that here. Tchr: In the results? S: No here. Once they worked out their ideas, the students got help from the teacher to decide how to include the information they'd gathered and find the best place to place it in their story. The results of their conversation on May 7 (above) is recorded below (spelling mistakes copied exactly from the students' hard copies) and shows an example of the kind of work one dyad was able to produce (Item 8). "Janet Sign [sic] is proposing to build a dam. She has the budget, benefits and requierments of it. The cost of building the dam is aproximately $45 millions. The objective is to provide 50 millions m3 for water per year." I've also included an example of how their work evolved. On May 14, the major change that was made to this section of their work was to the last sentence as well as correcting two spelling mistakes.  59  "Janet Sign is proposing to build a dam. She has the budget, benefits and requirements of it. The cost of building the dam is approximately $45 millions. The objective is to provide 50 millions cubic meters for water per year." As I have shown above, students used all phases of the writing process in their work while answering the help questions on the Edubba software. Specifically how they adapted their task to the writing process depended on the dyad. Presented below are examples of their similarities and differences.  4.3  HOW A R E D Y A D S ' WRITING STRATEGIES SUVULAR A N D DIFFERENT? Since we have seen an analysis of the students' self reports from the questionnaire,  surveys and interviews, I shall now begin to explain the similar strategies students used and how their strategies differed from group to group and will include a summary of findings (in 4.5.4).  4.3.1  April 16, 1999 Session 1 Session 1 focused on orientation with students answering questionnaires, doing  preliminary software navigation and completing a character orientation sheet. The reportings of student collaboration will begin with the second day of the study. This data does not relate to my research questions regarding the writing process; as a result, no analysis of Day 1 will be included in this thesis.  60  4.3.2  April 23, 1999 Session 2 Similarities Amongst Dyads On the second day similarities were found in regard to the dyads' work, culture groups, and teacher help. The writing that each group of students was doing was a very strict kind of question - response kind of writing. As Pablo put it, it was "report writing not creative writing". On April 23rd there was a lot of silence on all tapes while students read, took notes and did research. The students were very focused on understanding what their task was and finding the answers to the questions under each help "tab" of the Story 1 framework: Introduction, Causes, Results, Predictions and Conclusions. An example of an Introduction help question was: What are the proposed solutions and who are the major supporters? The screen was set up like a file folder with each of the sections indicated on the tab of the file folder (see Appendix F). In addition, there was a section called "notes" where some of the students wrote down their ideas. All of the groups used some form of these questions in order to help them come up with posing questions to the characters in Edubba. The intention of the software design team was to encourage students to take notes as they gathered information about the water crisis and the solutions. A feature in the software prevented students from cutting and pasting the graphical information on the charts and the answers from the characters. As a result, all students had to have some form of hand written notes and the style of the notes varied per group. For example, one group made use of another computer to record the notes in a spreadsheet format. According to verbal comments on the tapes, students appeared to be frustrated not to be able to copy and paste notes into their notes  61  section. They expected to be able to make use of such commands to make their research by computer easier and more convenient. As the study progressed, students used less of the notes technique and wrote their new information directly into their written text.  Similarities within Cultural Subgroups  Another similarity seemed to occur in culture groups although I cannot generalize this study to a whole Spanish speaking or Asian culture group. With that in mind I will still try to categorize people into two cultural sub groups: Spanish speaking and Asian. When I grouped them together initially, however, there was no significant evidence that this would apply to the world groups in general. From this small study, I aim to simply explain trends that I saw occur in the laboratory during these five weeks and give insight and documentation for further research. In each of the dyads there was one Asian student and one Spanish speaking partner. During the first two sessions, all of the Spanish speakers seemed to "take the lead" while, at first, the Asian students seemed to look to their partner for guidance. To cite an example, Joe and Pablo initially had Joe type but when he made mistakes and had trouble, Pablo took over the typing. First Joe exited the program three times, then couldn't spell and Pablo said "give me, give me give me the computer". "Oh sorry, I'm too slow", said Joe. The Spanish speakers were also more quickly able to answer help questions, understand difficult vocabulary words and concepts and nuances that came out of their research. When Sakiko (a Japanese speaker) wanted to ask how long it takes to build a well field, Marina (a Spanish speaker) answered: "Reed said, "a month"". Sakiko replied: "He said that? Wow. I missed that." In terms of the writing itself,  62  it seemed that the Spanish speaking partners were better risk takers and, as Krapels (1991) has shown, weren't concerned with errors; they only wanted to get their ideas out, asking for support from their partner. On the first day following the orientation session everyone struggled with what to do and how to begin. When the writing did get started Christoph, for example, was good about including his partner, Lee. Together they produced the following text: "The purpose of the story than we'll go to write was to describe the problem about crisis water in Edubba and the differents [sic] solutions from the citizens of Edubba." As the following excerpt indicates, this text created an interesting assortment of input from Lee while Christoph requested suggestions for improving the content in their text: C:  [typing] The title of our Story 1 was Water Crisis in Edubba. First of all,  L: C: L: C: L: L: C: L: C: L: C: L: C: L: C:  Introduction. The purpose of the story we'll go to writing, [edits] we'll go to write... [asked Lee] "Was true?" [continues typing] ...was to describe [asked Lee again] "tell me what do you think" [continued typing] ...was to describe the problem about crisis water in [finally]: "Edubba". Edubba and the differents solutions we have. mm hmm [agreed] that we have [corrected] the citizens [he continues without correcting] we meet in Edubba [he added], "E" [corrected spelling seen on screen], T-E -N of Edubba mm hmm give? [asked for a verb] from the citizens? [asked if from was a better word than of] [checked he understood] "What was your proposition?" (What do you propose?) about? from? oh, from [made the change] the citizens of Edubba [typed] Edubba [said] period.  63  The second day only Lee and Christoph's group appeared to feel equal enough for Lee to correct Christoph's grammar and spelling as well as add his own ideas while Christoph typed and accepted Lee's suggestions. It was very common for the Asian students to correct the Spanish speaking students' grammar. As I show below, the non-Spanish speaking partner gained more courage and usually participated more equally. Not only did the Asian students make corrections and offer encouragement, but also more often added information from their notes. Another similarity within the cultural groups, unfortunately, was that some Spanish speaking partners did not treat their partner as equally as Christoph treated Lee this week. The partner who quickly understood the task and content did not always want to wait for their partner to catch up. At first, this partner was relied upon for a lot of information sharing. Without having a rapport or friendship, these students had no motivation to wait or be patient with their "slower-to-catch-on" partner. Yet another similarity was in who the typist tended to be in each group. Usually the student who had the most language and/or computer experience was the typist; typically this was the four Spanish speaking students. Generally, it seemed that these students would take over typing duties, self appointing themselves. There were very few announcements of the fact except it could be observed that the Spanish speaking student was usually at the keyboard. When the person typed, they usually created text directly from his/her head while typing. If the Spanish speaking student was not typing, s/he would give a kind of dictation to the typist, still maintaining control of the written text, this week.  64  Similarities in Teacher Help  The progress of the students' writing on April 23rd seemed to be stalled by the fact that they spent a lot of time getting to know the software and learning what was expected of them. All of the groups needed a lot of help from the teacher and would have gotten to the writing faster if they had a clearer view of what to do. Because of the pilot study where I studied the usability of the interface, initially I was interested in seeing students work with the software without any specific help in advance from the teacher. In the pilot study (see Section 3.4) we had the study set up so that no instructions were given to the students. As a result, they were required to find their way through the software without help or instructions. The pilot study showed the most success for students who had "unlimited verbal help" or help whenever they needed it when using the prototype software. In this study, too, I had the students work through the program without instruction but had planned to be available to give help when they requested it. In retrospect, however, as the weeks went on I, like the students, gradually became involved in the process of change. I realize that this study could have started out better by having the students more informed by knowing what was expected of them in terms of production, software skills, note taking and partner collaboration. While the students knew they were going to write about a water crisis, they didn't know that there were four solutions, and couldn't pronounce or didn't know the meaning of the principal words such as "well fields", "conservation", "desalination" and "referendum". Often the Spanish speaking students could guess the meaning of words such as "desalination" but some key words such as "thriving" and "fishing village" still perplexed them.  65  Rodolpho shared with Etsuko: "I don't know desalination" and she replied, "Me neither." They also had a lot of trouble pronouncing and spelling the characters' names. Fortunately, in this version of the software the students can hear the characters "talk" which is a benefit for auditory learners. With this reinforcement feature over time the students did learn to pronounce the characters names (i.e. Stonehenge), key vocabulary (well field) and word order (water crisis not crisis water). Another skill they had to learn in this program to get a sense of navigating with and using the software. In an excerpt between Lee and Christoph, Christoph asked: "We can print that?" Lee replied, "I don't know. Maybe we can make note?" then Christoph replied, "Yes! that's a good idea!" It seems that this group did the best at constructing ideas for how to use the software even though they, too, had problems. It would have been more time efficient if the groups had asked for more help earlier. Three groups didn't ask for much teacher help during the second class, although two did. Marina first asked Sakiko, "Do you know what is well field?" When Sakiko replied, "Well field for building dam", Marina then addressed me: "Gjoa, what was well field?" In another instance Christoph (and Lee) finally decided they needed help just as Lee was about to give up. He said "We can have a rest now." but then changed his mind, saying, "We can ask teacher." Christoph took his cue and shouted: "Teacher! What we can do now?" During this first class I had hoped there would be an opportunity to get to actual writing but students seemed to get stuck and needed assistance to help them move more quickly through the program.  66  On this day it was my goal to be what Ted Palys (1997 p. 201) calls participant-asobserver and observer-as-participant where I mixed my participational and observational roles. It wasn't my goal to conduct participant observation exclusively where I initiated what the students were to do. Instead, I had hoped to observe as much as possible so I wouldn't influence any evidence. As a result, I left a lot of the structure out of my lesson. In hindsight this was wrong from a teaching standpoint as I hadn't realized that the role of the facilitating teacher was still a integral part to this situation. Any experienced teacher knows the benefit of providing students with pre-reading/prewriting activities such as vocabulary lists/explanations, pronunciation drills, gambits for collaboration using a computer and clear explanations of student tasks. This also may have been a drawback to the design in the prototype software. If, for instance, students had been more prepared and supported with their background knowledge and knowledge of their task, I think they would have been able to write more and get to the details and intrigue of the characters and water crisis in Edubba sooner. If this had been so perhaps there would have been fewer recordings of the "sighs" of frustration from the students. Perhaps, also, the dyads would have had more opportunities to work with their text and have been able to finish their stories. As the five weeks progressed I realized the benefit of starting with the round table discussion each time. When I used it in sessions two and three, it was to try to get students sharing information they had learned from their previous session using Edubba. I only used the round table to set goals and facilitate the brainstorming element of process writing. In retrospect, I would have also used it to support more of the students general language learning needs, not  67  only their writing ones. These needs would fall under the headings of pronunciation (i.e. Roland Stonehenge not stonedagain, paste not passt, and mayor for major and vice versa), collaborative gambits (i.e. What do you think/suggest? not What was your proposition?) and meanings of relevant terms. I expected to have had to help with the software but, in future, I would use this multi-media software "tool" to facilitate the process and not expect it to replace the well needed explanations and guidance of a teacher.  Differences between Dyads The following section will focus on the differences between the dyads on the second day  of the study. In their dyads, while it was still early in the study, individual personality, culture group and experience seemed to play a major role in the dyads' composition. Later in this thesis, as the teams develop a rapport and working style, I will show how some dyads learned to work better together despite their differences.  Marina and Sakiko: "The Scales are Tipped"  This group had a lot of trouble finding their balance on this day. Marina almost ignored her partner on occasion when Sakiko didn't understand the meaning of words or character relationships. A few times, nonetheless, when Sakiko asked for definitions such as conservation and desalination, Marina pleasantly explained as best she could. On occasion when Marina didn't know the meaning, she referred to the teacher. Sometimes the pair disregard the misunderstood expressions altogether. For example, when Marina and Sakiko asked the  68  character Sally Kobayashi "What do you think about the water crisis?" Sally explained about there not even being enough water in the water fountain and used the expression "water was just dribbling out". Again, Sakiko asked Marina "is "just dribbling out" means it's no water?"" This time Marina said "I don't know" and they left it at that. In deciding which character to interview next Marina asked "What? Who else can we ask?" When Sachiko suggested "the farmer?" Marina decided "Let's ask Sally, the student." Later on, they went to visit Sally's boyfriend, Ian Orr, in the Talk Talk cafe. "Where?" Sakiko queried? "He is her girlfriend [self-corrected] boyfriend?" she added unknowingly. While Marina replied kindly at these times there was still a slight air of impatience on her part. In the exit interview Sakiko expressed regret because she didn't feel that she had been helpful to Marina. In looking at their English ability it may shed some light on Sakiko's feeling of inadequacy. While Sakiko's writing level was 500 (on the class number scale) her speaking and listening class number was 400 and 402 respectively. Marina, on the other hand, had a 520 Reading and 505 and 503 Speaking and Listening Level. Even though Marina's general level was higher, on the writer survey she indicated that didn't like writing and wasn't good at it. On the student information sheet, Sakiko's goal was to use English for teaching in Japan and she expected that she "had better be able to speak English for explaining grammar in Japan." Other dyads with English level differences adapted in other ways. By the end, Sakiko enjoyed her experience, despite this session indicating that she "had never worked like this (collaboratively) before and would like to have the opportunity to do more of it in the future". In later reports I provide evidence of changes in Marina's ability and attitude in the writing process.  69  Pablo and Joe: The "Un'Tartners  Unlike the above pair, these two didn't have trouble working together, they just had trouble. There was a lot of silence on the tape during this session while they tried to understand what was happening and what was expected of them. There was little collaboration and occasional frustrated sighs from the pair. It took about 40 minutes before Jo and Pablo felt that they had gathered enough information in order to start thinking together and putting something on paper. They seemed to have a friendly, polite rapport where when Joe offered: "you say it I type it." Pablo agreed, "You prefer?" Yet this was the only pair who produced a typed document and were able to print out their work. Another obstacle for this group was working with another's accent. Pablo had quite a strong Spanish accent that Joe obviously had trouble understanding. For example, when Pablo pronounced crisis and Joe didn't understand, Joe repeated, "crisis, how to spell?" Evidently, they found a strategy where they could use writing as a tool to spell out what wasn't understood during their collaboration.  Rodolpho and Etsuko: "The Boss and the Executive Assistant"  This group quickly found a strategy and system on April 23 that differed from the other dyads. Their strategy was to work specifically from the help questions supplied from the program. While I can call it "their" strategy, Rodolpho was definitely a leader in creating the answers to the questions. Rodolpho initiated conversation, provided ideas, deduced solutions, and read quotes aloud. Etsuko adapted to this strategy by paraphrasing Rodolpho's ideas. While she may not have contributed equally at this time, she did not sit beside him passively either.  70  Etsuko made corrections of R o d o l p h o ' s pronunciation. For example, she corrected his pronunciation of major (short a) to major (long a); he was receptive to her suggestions, encouraging her paraphrases and corrections with "exactly!" One specific area that Etsuko seemed to be more adept at was computer technology. She promptly could offer computer help suggesting: "maybe "back?"" when Rodolpho was unsure how to proceed. I assume this expertise was a result of her experience in Japan as a Systems Engineer of a software company. Coincidentally, while this group can be called "the Boss and the Executive Assistant", Etsuko's plan for the future was to become a doctor's assistant. O n the other hand, when asked in the exit interview about gender and cultural differences of collaborating with another, Etsuko indicated that i f she had been working with a Japanese student she would have taken over. This shows that in other situations she doesn't have trouble initiating tasks and taking the lead.  Christoph and Lee: "Instant Collaborators"  The place where Rodolpho and Etsuko and expected to go was the place where Christoph and Lee had already reached. They did many collaborative things, such as using each other to understand the software requirements and writing tasked. A t one point Christoph was so motivated in finding ways to explain something to Lee he tried to explain it in French! When he realized what he had done he said: " A h ! it's not good!" This dyad took turns using the keyboard: "It's your turn to write!" Christoph announced at one point. This team was not even daunted by their inability to get the answers they wanted  71  from the characters. When they asked three different questions and got the same response each time instead of frustrated sighs laughter ensued! When this team did their writing on April 23, many of their utterances joined and overlapped. When one typed, the other participated word by word. It will be interesting to see how this team's collaboration evolves and gets even stronger and what factors will contribute to their "instant" success.  4.3.3  April 30, 1999 Session 3 Similarities Amongst Dyads This day, similarities of the dyads working together both stayed the same and yet evolved. Each of the dyads were still a bit lost, not quite knowing how to progress. They seemed not to quite know how to start. For example, Pablo still didn't know what "we need to do together today" so he asked for direction from me and I advised to "start writing". After they'd asked the characters questions and heard the answers they were not sure with what to do at first. "And we write down," asked Lee? It may be interesting to reflect on the questions: Is the students' confusion a fault of the teacher, software or the typical writing process? Were the instructions unclear? Were there problems with getting used to and/or understanding how the software worked? Or was this just the beginning of the writing process where it takes time to collect data (research), formulate ideas (organize), and begin to write? Even experienced writers can take time to "get started writing". Many similarities also existed in the dyads in their approach to the research. The teams were still following the help questions for guidance in asking the characters questions. However,  72  a lot of the groundwork seemed to have been finished. When the students were focused on a section such as Causes, Results, or Predictions, they went back to the characters to reinforce their background knowledge to ask one specific question regarding the topic they were researching. For example, Christoph typed "What are for you the causes of the water crisis?" Similarly, Rodolpho asked: "What are the effects of the water crisis?" Another similarity was that all of the dyads were still trying to work together more but last week's inherent differences were still observable. No longer were the Asian students typically only providing pronunciation, grammar, and spelling contributions, more and more they attempted to be heard by their partner. Marina, however, gave the impression that she was still ignoring Sakiko at times. When Sakiko offered the word "worse" to be used, "worse" creates a very interesting negotiation from the participants. At first, when Sakiko offered "worse" Marina ignored her suggestion. Sakiko continued to push for her suggestion "how about worse?" When Marina finally admitted she didn't understand she reread what she had written and put Sakiko's word into the ending. Marina asked if that was what was meant and Sakiko replied "maybe" and they laughed. In the end, however, Marina ended up writing "the economy won't grow" (her original idea) and didn't use "worse". While Pablo tried to establish a better rapport, he seemed not to totally trust his partner's ability. When Pablo asked Joe "How are you?" Joe was a bit impatient answering "go, go" then later, "Let's go. Let's go". As for trust, Joe accused Pablo of not believing him. Joe retyped the same question. Pablo asked: "The same? Are you sure?" Joe answered, "Of course! Oh my God! You don't believe me?" Pablo thought that Joe mistyped the question: "yeah, was  73  possible" he told Joe. But when the character, Janet Singh, gave the same answer, Pablo laughed and admitted, "Okay". This week all of the dyads began to write with the Spanish speaking student still primarily doing the writing with the Asian student more often than not, looking on. As I will show, the different approaches the dyads use will still outweigh their similar strategies.  Differences B etween Dyads  Marina and Sakiko: "The Scales are Tipped"  This group's writing style differed from the others. When they learned a new fact as a result of an answer to a help question, Marina wrote down the new information in point form. Even though their writing was unconnected they seemed to produce the most of all of the dyads. This day this group was able to research and write something for three categories: Causes, Results, and Predictions.  Pablo and Joe: The "Un" Partners  Joe and Pablo were still struggling with their relationship, thereby interfering with their writing process. Pablo really wanted to communicate, pushing Joe to tell him his name and to learn his name as well. Joe responded, saying "Your name is too long, I can't remember whole." Another example of their relationship building and off-topic small talk came when Joe was watching Pablo silently type the last two paragraphs. Joe asked Pablo, "Do you have plans [this] afternoon? Do you go out?" However, Pablo kept typing and didn't give Joe a response. These  74  partners often had opposite goals. First, Pablo wanted to build rapport while Joe wanted to be more task oriented, then when Pablo started working, Joe, in turn, tried to build rapport.  Rodolpho and Etsuko: "The Boss and the Executive Assistant"  Today, this group addressed more of the components of the writing process than any of the other dyads. While the conversation was initiated by Rodolpho, together they set goals for the day and discussed how they would go about the writing process. Rodolpho seemed to be changing from a omnipotent boss to a caring mentor. This dyad started out discussing what (t)he(y)'d like to achieve. They discussed that they'd already researched enough information for the Introduction and most of the Causes. Etsuko prompted that they'd only met "five men" and seemed to act like a "administrative assistant" who reminded Rodolpho what he'd forgotten. "One, two, (counting) okay. How many people?" he asked. "Seven" she responded. Rodolpho proposed that they finish "Causes" and do "Results" before they start their writing. "Maybe we can draft," she suggested. This group showed that they'd been benefitting from the round table orientations making use of the process writing vocabulary such as brainstorm, research, and draft. While they were able to use these words, disappointingly, they still were not writing together. Etsuko seemed to be in "awe" of her partner and spent a lot of time watching him type. He may have been aware of this and tried to ask her how she was following the vocabulary and storyline. In one instance he checked her comprehension: "Do you know what is "well "?" Unlike other dyads, he didn't ignore her but tried to include her.  75  An interesting exception to the writing process was how this group discussed the water crisis and related it to real life. Rodolpho mentioned that it sounded like the "greenhouse effect", and "This is a world wide problem". Amusingly, Rodolpho even made a joke about the Barista character, Ian Orr. Ian Orr "knows a good points. Not only knows he knows about the coffee!" (laughter) "I think he has very well ideas." This group seemed to be comfortable with both the content and the writing process which gave them the flexibility and relaxed ambiance enough to joke and relate to the story. The final difference for this group was where they took their notes. Rodolpho and Etsuko wrote in the "Notes" section of the software not in the Causes, Results, and Prediction sections like the other dyads. While this didn't make any difference to their product, it was simply noteworthy.  Christoph and Lee: "Instant Collaborators"  Christoph and Lee continued to improve on their collaborative writing skills, both approaching the research differently from the other dyads and organizing their notes differently. Even though their language level was still improving, this pair managed to negotiate everything, even who was to do the writing: "you want I can wrote?" offered Christoph. While one wrote, the other followed along and added or made suggestions word .for word. They took turns giving ideas. They discussed everything and made sure the other was understanding everything and had enough time to read. Christoph checked his partner had finished reading. "Okay?" Even when one went to the washroom when the one who was left worked on his own was rejoined he shared what he'd learned and together they decided what kind of information they had just learned.  76  VOICE:  L: C: L: C: L:  Manufacturing and agriculture have had to cut their production levels and this is forcing some of the companies to leave Edubba. You have something? This is the results. Yes, exactly, (mutter read) Uh manufacturing...agriculture — have to have... production? mm hmm levels because they don't have what? some companies? ah, they need to leave Edubba Yeah.  C:  ah, that's bad.  C: L: C:  They even consulted each other to improve their speech. Despite it being the third day, Christoph was still not certain whether it was a "crisis water" or "water crisis". When he asked Lee at the beginning of the session, he was unable to tell him. By the end, however, Christoph had picked up the word order from working with the character responses and other on-line graphics. When they asked the characters questions, they did not just ask the same question of each character, rather they worked with the answer developing their background knowledge of that character following their intuition and knowledge, not only the "help" questions. They probed deeper, asking more relative questions like: "What are your predictions about the referendum? What do you want? What are your hopes? Do you have some results? What are your predictions?" When Sally repeated over and over: "I'm confused, I give up, I don't know," this pair didn't give up or get frustrated. Finally they tried: "What is your solution?" - and at last they got a response. Experiencing obstacles with a partner seemed to alleviate the stress that could fall upon a singleton working alone.  77  Once they got the answers they worked with them trying to figure out under which tab to place and organize the answers: "Ah - this is a solution!" When they felt they'd gotten enough information from the character they moved on. Enrique summarized: "We know for her conservation is important and she doesn't have any disadvantage so let's go to another". Working together and working alone, improving their collaboration did not help this team write very much this session. Furthermore, they only wrote one sentence in each of the Causes, Results and Predictions sections. Raimes (1991) and Shi (1998) have shown that it's natural to explore ideas before beginning the writing process. This will, in turn, affect the amount of written output produced by the dyad. Despite their amount of written output, the harmony of this group was certainly different from that of the other dyads.  4.3.4  May 7, 1999 Session 4 Similarities Amongst Dyads Interestingly, and in contrast to my expectations, this week the similarities were becoming fewer and fewer and the differences greater and greater. There were two collaborative areas: writing and speaking. Three of the dyads had enough information to seriously write this day and began to plan. For example, Lee and Christoph discussed: "We've finished Introduction so let's go to other folders: Causes, Results, Predictions." After they had a lot more background information the dyads all seemed to take a look at their notes and see in which section they could put the facts they'd gathered. When they got to actually input their text this week they found that their documents from previous weeks had not been saved. We could not exactly determine the  78  computer glitch that happened except that the result caused students to re-enter their work. In retrospect, this was a good way for students to address the revising and editing that was absent but necessary in their work. The two dyads that did retype their work were similar in that while they retyped the lost files they made small editing corrections. Etsuko, for example, dictated from their notes but together she and her partner worked on editing. Etsuko read: "the water we need" and Rodolpho corrected "that the city need" and Etsuko took it a step further: "Ah, maybe city needS" (emphasized the "s"). In each group the partner who was the fastest typist tended to retype their text. Sakiko thanked Marina: "Thanks, you typed so fast!" This week, the students were also aware that they weren't to plagiarize, commenting they were to change it into "our own words". When the students were discussing their plan and inputting text three of the dyads were beginning to work better collaboratively together. In addition, the students began making more equal contributions. However, there were still occasional pronunciation struggles; if the partner was not understood, s/he was sometimes ignored. Another similarity was that the students could be heard making "editorial" comments about that water crisis in Edubba. Sakiko indicated that she thought the dam was "too expensive". Joe, on the other hand, asked Pablo his opinion: "Which one [solution] do you prefer?" Pablo: "Probably Janet. Janet Singh. To put the dam." Joe agreed: "Yah, yah, me too. I want a dam. Dam is better". While the pairs were faced with similar problems in the writing process, this week the different strategies the dyads used became significantly greater than the similarities.  79  Differences Between Dyads  Marina and Sakiko: "Collaborators"  This week this pair made an immense difference in the quality of their collaborative writing. Together they discussed the organization of their text. They decided where to place their points, how to organize them and whether or not to retype their point-form notes into paragraph form. Marina suggested: "So here...but here we have the proposal...but why don't we put these like, one, two, three, four? W e can put this, like, as a paragraph, explain." Sakiko agreed and took the idea further suggesting that they explain in detail, listing the characters' names and discussing their solutions. The result was that together this dyad created a unique and interesting strategy to approach their writing task. Once they'd decided to write about each character, they agreed to complete a kind of "chart" on each character. In paragraph form they wrote similar points about each person's budget and solution for the water crisis in order to make an evaluation at the end. However, when Sakiko suggested also adding information about the job creation that the solution would make Marina vetoed saying that "I think with these two, is enough". When they found that they didn't have exactly the right information for each of these facts they easily slipped back into the map to read about the cost and plans. Using this multi-media software made research readily available at their fingertips. Although Marina still remained the primary group "leader", together they were becoming one writer with four hands and two heads. They shared ideas, researched together, offered words to complete one another's sentences and thoughts, completing the paragraphs without skipping a  80  beat. They even produced more than the other dyads this day. It was incredible to hear their collaboration. Marina even consulted Sakiko this week about the definition for "waves and tides". Did Sakiko go through a kind of silent period, gathering background information and confidence? Even with Marina initiating ideas a bit more, Sakiko took turns being not only the primary writer but also an active participant in idea creation, as well. Perhaps it took Sakiko longer to understand the material, but once she caught up I believe she may have even surpassed Marina's skill considering her past grammar and writing experience.  Pablo and Joe: The "Un'Tartners  This dyad began with one partner being absent for the first hour. Since I knew that this team was slow at typing I offered to re-enter their deleted text. Once I had typed in the text, Pablo was able to continue working with the story he and Joe had previously created. Since he was alone, I asked Pablo to use a "think aloud" technique for the tape, verbalizing his questions and text as he went through his writing process alone. His strategy was to continue asking each character two questions: "What are the effects of the water crisis" and "What are your predictions?" Pablo was definitely not getting the same enjoyment the other dyads experienced in pairs. No longer was he laughing, sharing ideas, nor joking as Beauvois (1998) has reported on group dynamics. The only contact he had was with me, the researcher, and, surprisingly, the characters in the program. "Where are you, Keanu (pronounced Canoe)?" he asked the computer. This must be a success for the software when a student can begin connecting with virtual characters. Pablo still worked on making notes in point form this week.  81  After one hour, Joe joined Pablo physically, but his contributions were disappointingly minimal. After one exchange where Pablo typed "someone had opinions", Joe added "Different opinions?" and Pablo agreed, "Different, yeah, okay" and Joe remained essentially silent for most of the tape. Pablo continued as if Joe wasn't even there. Once he directed Joe to remember a character's name, but Joe still hadn't retained it. Together they found how to spell Sally's name and Joe spelled it out for him. Once Pablo almost consulted with Joe suggesting that they "need to go to the next place" but when Joe answered, "Where?" Pablo answered, "Ah (as if on a new train of thought and completely ignoring Joe): "I have another prediction, Keanu, Reed Keanu". Pablo spent so much time working alone that if he hadn't had time practicing the "think aloud" technique the tape this day would have been primarily silent. At the end, the pair switched typists. Joe offered: "So, should I type?" "Yup", Pablo responded but kept typing. Later, however, they did switch. Previous to this you could hear Joe yawning. When they discovered Joe making mistakes, for example, exiting the program and not understanding Pablo's pronunciation, Pablo just grabbed control of the keyboard and spoke to the visiting photographer instead of his partner: "What's another big word for "measure?"" "Amount", we heard him reply. In summary, the collaborative work by this group this day was, needless to say, minimal.  Rodolpho and Etsuko: "Collaborators"  As with Marina and Sakiko's group, Rodolpho and Etsuko work better and better together collaborating as a team. Rodolpho encouraged Etsuko to be an equal partner and seemed to respect and trust her skills. Rodolpho and Etsuko continued planning as they did the previous  82  session. This group uniquely verbalized their strengths and weaknesses and planned how to work with what they had as shown in the following excerpt. R: E: R: E: R: E: R:  Do you want to write? Yes? (she laughs nervously) Why no? My writing is very terrible but you should help me in grammar ... exactly - Can I ask a question - so this should be passive? Yes. Exactly. This kind of problems I need [help with], you have. Next time you only you manage this because I have problems.  Etsuko and Rodolpho work out their system where he was the typist but welcomed her strengths in grammar which improved upon their grammatical accuracy (Storch, 1999). Again, as Krapels (1991) has shown, he didn't worry about the copy quality much at all. As he explained, "This one was brainstorming and at the end, the program will allow us to make change, copy, paste (edit)." Although he seemed to trust her because when she re-read the text they had to input he typed verbatim what she said. He was not bothered by mistakes: "I don't know we got probably the wrong word but we can...[change it later]." An interesting strategy they had was not to work in chronological order but to complete the Results section after the Predictions one. Other teams seemed to work in a linear order except when they found a point they wanted to focus on. It was not exactly clear why they'd done this.  Christoph and Lee: The "Un" Partners  This team's amazing results this week were not positive but surprisingly negative. In past weeks they'd been model collaborators. They had a system worked out where Christoph was the 83  leader with Lee making contributions. Somewhere along the way, Christoph had Lee take over and the team fell apart. Lee's voice was completely missing from the first half of the tape. It would appear that they had some technical difficulties because the whole second half was blank and we do not even hear Christoph's work. Again, they produced a minimal amount of work compared to the other teams, producing one paragraph containing six sentences. There was no indication that this team spent any time at all retyping their past work that was lost. They even seemed to spend more time interviewing characters re-gathering information that they should have had kept in their notes. They were able to find one solution for why there was to be a referendum in Edubba and they cooperatively typed out their sentences. They still shared a laugh or two. I'm not sure why they'd produced so little and were kind of in a "dead space" on their tape. Why had their collaboration become so minimal compared to their extensive collaboration in past weeks? Later on I will revisit this idea based on recent literature in Section  4.3.5  May 14, 1999 Session 5 Similarities Amongst Dyads This week each of the dyads began by re-reading their text and doing some revising and editing before they wrote their conclusions. At times the dyads became more equal relying on and trusting the strengths they had come to know about each other. When the student re-read their text they seemed to have instantly understood where they needed to make changes in terms of order, grammar, spelling and subject/verb agreement.  84  Even though there were times when the partner who wasn't typing added comments in regard to grammar, punctuation and pronunciation, there still appeared to be an overall struggle to "get the ideas out" together. During composing, my observation notes showed that one of the partners sat back and let the other express what he wanted. Even if they tried discussing the point it seemed easier for the partner to type out the angle he wanted to cover. In general, the partners could plan and edit together but needed a real special link/connection or a lot of the same background knowledge to type out the text together. As McGrath (1984) has warned, possibilities for groupings are huge. In Chapter 5,1 will show what I think a good grouping to be. While I showed these general similarities each group still approached the writing process differently.  Differences Between Dyads  Marina and Sakiko: "A Singleton"  Sakiko was absent today attending a convention in New York. As a result, I will not include the results of Marina working alone as it does not relate to the research questions.  Pablo and Joe: "Budding Collaborators"  Today Pablo and Joe began editing then continued answering the help questions in paragraph form. They edited for things like sentence length, subject/verb agreement and organization of ideas. Their strategy for editing was to make corrections to the text while reading it aloud. Pablo asked Joe to "read in aloud" in order to "fix the story". Joe compliantly read  85  aloud but was unsure of what they meant when they were writing their introduction. Joe continued reading until Pablo told him to "Go!" [I think move over]. Pablo wanted to take over the keyboard again. Joe suggested: "You read, I change?" Pablo agreed to read the text and informed him that "I stop in the change?" [stop reading when a change was necessary]. Joe, at the keyboard, began making changes and Pablo confronted him: "No, I think it's not necessary, whoa, whoa, whoa, one second. . ." Joe defended his correction saying "The sentence was too long, really. You have two "and"..and...and what was the opinion. Maybe was too long." Pablo also offered another editing suggestion: "I think it's not have a good order. We have to talk about: [consulted the help questions]: What is the crisis about? and What is the opinion of the people that [...] this problem?" He read what they had and then decided "We need to change this: first we talk about the solutions and after the opinions. It's not a good order." They decided to change it and embellish their original copy outlining the causes, results and predictions. Joe said that the last sentence was OK. Pablo agreed. After this, they moved onto the descriptions of the proponents' solutions. Joe shortened long sentences and Pablo corrected the grammar and spelling incorrectly. For example he changed "her project would need 50 million for invest" to "her project would need 50 million to investment". Pablo was often so sure of himself that even when he made corrections that were incorrect Joe didn't challenge him. As with the other dyads they decided to agree on a writing approach. Joe wanted to write about "the most basic things for people was the water and air." Pablo thought the most important thing to talk about right then was the "boss" and the "girl". Joe persevered and wanted to "tell  86  the people how is the water important... If no water I think that the farmer cannot irrigate". Pablo acceded and told Joe "Okay. I accept your opinion. Put. Put it there. Put. It's good." "Really?" Joe asked, "Thanks." Pablo continued: "You need to trust in yourself. Another strategy was to answer the help question in a linear way: "We need to answer third, fourth and fifth," said Pablo. Joe suggested they write a new paragraph for each question. "Let me try" he suggested and took over the keyboard. Joe had trouble getting his idea out so Pablo asked him: "Can you explain about your idea?" "No!" responded Joe! Together they tried to work out their idea which started this paragraph. Pablo wanted to make sure they were keeping to the question: "How bad is the water crisis?" Joe defended his point of view: "Yes, so how bad is the (he didn't finish his sentence)? People will die. (laughs). You don't agree?" Joe had trouble expressing his ideas for what he wanted to write in a whole paragraph. As a result, he just ended up typing what he wanted on the keyboard while Pablo waited. There was a lot of silence at that point, the sound of typing was heard. Then Pablo took over and wrote his paragraph alone. Joe reverted to watching again. After this they went back to writing the last paragraph together led by Pablo. In general, this group made great strides at being equal partners, beginning to rely on and trusting each other's strengths and ideas. But, at the same time, each still needed some time alone at the keyboard. Consequently, there were suggestions for approaching the writing task for these kinds of partners that will be discussed in the next chapter.  87  Rodolpho and Etsuko: "Goal Oriented Collaborators"  This group had a very clear set of goals again today and, because of this, they knew when they'd achieved them and were quite satisfied with their results. Their satisfaction seemed obvious from the way they'd developed a positive working environment complimenting each other, still appreciating and benefitting from one another's strengths. Rodolpho's knowledge of writing really helped the team get started. "Today we have to work hard and finish our essay about water crisis in Edubba" declared Rodolpho at the outset. They began by using the program's limited spell check and then Rodolpho announced: "We are going to make our thesis statement." While these two never quite seemed to write together as smoothly Joe and Pablo did this week or Sakiko and Marina last week they had their own functional style.  Unlike the others,  however, this group discussed how to write, how to make changes, what the changes meant and how much of one kind of linking words to use - they had a lot of "writing talk" in their dialogue. This group, like Joe and Pablo, were aware that they had to have variety in their writing: Etsuko reminded Rodolpho: "I have to say, we've used two, "for examples"." Undaunted by her addition he easily offered, "So how about: "to illustrate?"" They completed their paragraphs with Rodolpho having consulted his list of transitions from his Academic 500 writing class such as: frequently, similarly, in general, in order to, for instance. "For instance! ah!" he decided upon that one. Etsuko watched in admiration of Rodolpho's writing skills. He, too, complimented her many times with comments such as "Great! You have a very good knowledge about grammar." and "Your eyes [sic] like a eagle!" and "You have a good memory." Together they seemed to have quite a harmonious relationship  88  with Rodolpho still being considerate in including Etsuko in their story: "What other thing can we add at this point?" he asked Etsuko. She responded reading quotes from their notes and waiting while he typed facts into their story. This week they decided to supplement parts of their story introducing each paragraph with the proponent who proposed the solution and his/her title. When they finished writing they seemed very satisfied: "Ah! much better." Having a goal oriented approach seemed to really satisfy the participants and they expressed their contentment with each other in the form of compliments.  Christoph and Lee: "The Scales are Tipped"  Unlike the other dyads, this team still spent this class doing interviews of the characters in Edubba. It may have had something to do with the fact that Christoph admitted he didn't have any notes with him that day. Christoph proposed a plan for the day but there was very little collaboration within this plan. There was more of a "tipped scale" in terms of ability this day with Christoph spending some of his time "instructing" his partner. They were not working "equally". While this group made an effort to work together, when given the chance each of them seemed to work independently and not collaboratively. They began by asking each character the same question: What is the cause of the water crisis? There was no discussion as they moved from character to character. Then Christoph told Lee it was his turn to write but went on to suggest his global plan for the paragraph. He wanted to introduce a small fishing village and explain how the water crisis occurred due to the increase in population. In order to get some conversation going, while Lee was taking a turn at the  89  keyboard, Christoph suggested to Lee that he "talk his ideas so that [he (Christoph)] can also give an idea". At this point the teamwork and joint work regressed. Lee struggled to get a sentence out, not indicating he heard or agreed with Christoph's suggestion but, instead, focusing on "Edubba being a leader in the world with its technology." While Christoph watched, he offered "tutoring" help to Lee explaining how to use conjunctions, what a clause was, and pointing out Lee's sentence fragment. Lee hadn't understood Christoph's idea about the introduction to the causes of the water crisis. They were no longer writing together as Lee received English tutoring from Christoph. Finally, just when Christoph delicately made a suggestion to use Lee's idea at a later point in their writing, Christoph was called to do his exit interview. Unfortunately, after Christoph put down his headset the tape went blank. According to Pennington (1996), early writers reproduce language and ideas whereas experienced writers create new language and ideas. Perhaps this group's earlier successful collaboration was based on the fact that they were "early" writers working with reproduced texts (note taking). As the sessions went on and they needed to produce original ideas (drafting) between the two of them, what Leki (1992) described as "diverse backgrounds" created insurmountable obstacles for them to continue collaborating effectively. What we can see from their hard copy, however, was that while Christoph was in his interview, Lee continued with his version of their story completing the day's assignment. The final document showed that Christoph also wrote his proposed outline about the growth of the small fishing village and mentioned a few causes, the very story that he had tried to get Lee to write initially.  90  What happened to the instant collaborators today? Why had they both typed their own sections? When they changed writers at the keyboard did it affect their functional collaborative exchanges? Was it because one partner "gave up?" Was Christoph feeling at an advantage compared to his partner when he had to explain basic sentence structure composition to his partner? Did he feel they were at such different levels that they couldn't write together? What happened this day to make it so different from the other days and the other dyads? Why did their ability regress? We may never know the answer to these questions. But perhaps we can speculate based on results from current research. Different linguistic learning strategies reported by Cornu et al. (1998) and Krashen's (1985) Affective filter Model show negative attitudes can affect motivation, self confidence and anxiety. Perhaps the student felt negative toward his experience. Even though it's a social experience to work with a partner (Bruffee, 1993, as cited in Mydlarsky, 1998), maybe Lee just didn't want to work with a partner and would have preferred to work alone. It's possible that he made an effort to work collaboratively but found he didn't like it or felt too different from his partner. Another possibility may be implied from research done by Pennington (1996) regarding Zvacek's novelty effect where some tasks are fun at first, and then lose their appeal.  4.4  H O W DO STUDENTS C O L L A B O R A T E AS THEIR O W N WRITING UNFOLDS? Instead of looking at how the dyads evolve week to week, I would like to present the  weekly collaborations from a group to group perspective as each group evolved. The titles I have  91  picked reflect the kind of exchange writing the partners did together as reported in 4.3. An outline view of the titles is presented below. Table 4: How Students Collaborated as their Writing Unfolded WEEK  Marina and Sakiko  Pablo and Joe  Rodolpho and Etsuko  Christoph and Lee  2  The scales are tipped  "Un" Partners  Boss and Executive Assistant  Instant Collaborators  3  The scales are tipped  "Un" Partners  Boss and Executive Assistant  Instant Collaborators  4  Collaborators  "Un" Partners (Pablo worked alone)  Collaborators  "Un'Tartners  5  A Singleton  Budding collaborators  Goal Oriented Collaborators  The scales are tipped  As indicated in Table 4, above, Marina and Sakiko progressed from an uneven relationship to very effective collaborators. Unfortunately, they weren't able to work together on the last day for us to continue to see if they were going to proceed with their progress. Pablo and Joe, too, moved from unequal partnerships to a beginning where they were more comfortable working together. It would have been more interesting seeing them work together over a longer period of time. Would they have ever worked well together or would this team always have been too different to successfully collaborate jointly? Rodolpho and Etsuko, meanwhile, were the most different from all of the dyads. At first they started somewhat unequal with Rodolpho being the leader and Etsuko contributing in many ways. Nonetheless, in time, they were finally able to collaborate more equally, but in different ways. Their approach seemed the most academic. Rodolpho and Etsuko took both their background knowledge of the writing process and the class round table discussions and "lectures" to create goal setting within their writing process. When this team worked together, 92  each person knew the expected outcome. As a result, their writing was of the best quality if it were to be formally "marked" by an evaluator. This team made use of writing process vocabulary such as brainstorm, conjunctions, draft, and edit. This team was able to make use of each person's strengths that she/he brought to their collaboration. Interestingly, Christoph and Lee worked in the opposite direction from that of the other teams. While they started out working collaboratively together, after a few weeks they reverted to working side by side and even not at all. At the end, Christoph was instructing Lee on how to write and how to construct ideas. Even though they worked together the whole time, each partner developed a different point of view that he felt compelled to express in his conclusion section of his writing; as a result, each person wrote his own concluding paragraph. Even though similarities can be generalized, each group was fundamentally different. Table 5, below, indicates how each group wrote and worked together. (Note: Results from April 16, 1999 were not included as students primarily spent their time answering surveys and filling in an Orientation document in the software. None of the collaborative writing process occurred at that time.)  T A B L E 5: Group Changes  Marina and  April 23  April 30  Mav 7 .  Mav 14  - Research by all, linear with note taking  - writing more notes - not much collaboration - "S" often "ignored" by "M"  - reworking notes into paragraphs - extremely "in sync" collaboration - wrote more text  Sakiko absent  Sakiko  93  Pablo and  Arjril 23  April 30  May 7  Mav 14  - Research by all, linear with note taking  - writing more notes - * not much collaboration - "J" often "ignored" by "P"  - Joe 1 hour late - Pablo working alone, even with Joe later in attendance  - Research by all, linear with note taking  - "Boss and Executive Assistant" - "R" dictating ideas and words, "E" contributing only in response to his requests  - Research by all, linear with note taking - best production day  - compile a list of causes of the water crises, wrote one sentence for results and predictions section - extensive collaboration  - more working together with each contributing from their strengths - "R" encourages "E" - * wrote long paragraphs * more shared background of topic - wrote one short paragraph - Lee mostly silent  - not in paragraph form but advanced point form - very good collaboration * indicative of writing level - well structured paragraphs with topic sentences. - good collaboration - talked about the writing process - set goals * best product  Joe  Rodolpho and Etsuko  Christoph and Lee  - wrote separate paragraphs - discussion but no collaboration  The first three dyads worked together at moving from point form and verbatim note taking with the amount of research decreasing as the weeks progressed. While there were some setbacks in terms of the amount and quality of collaboration, each group generally increased their ability to work together and create their written products effectively. At first, all dyads began being guided by the software. The software's design where each paragraph was divided into sections such as: Introduction, Causes, Results, Predictions and Conclusions aided students in their organization. Students also used the help questions within these sections to guide them in asking not only the characters questions but also in searching the graphics in the virtual city. Once students developed a fundamental base of background content knowledge and notes the dyads began to vary in their approaches. Even though many of the dyads began by making  94  point form notes how they developed their writing to paragraph form varied. In Marina and Sakiko's case, where the amount of collaboration increased the most, it was unfortunate that we were not able to witness them working together one more week. By the last session, Marina was able to edit her point form notes into paragraph form although she did this on her own. For Pablo and Joe, their greatest theme of change was how they learned to work together. Once they began to understand the task, each other and the content, they were better able to complete their point form notes. Pablo and Joe, comparatively speaking, may have been at a lower level than the other teams; this may have affected their product. This team needed more time to complete their paragraph form writing task. Rodolpho and Etsuko's level of writing and English seemed to be higher than that of the others. Rodolpho's writing class level at the ELI was indeed the highest of the other participants in the study. Rodolpho was always very polite to Etsuko and seemed to respect the skills that she had which complemented his. Rodolpho was the most senior in the class. Could this group have been influenced by gender in their ability to collaborate cooperatively? Rodolpho and Etsuko were able to produce a very high quality of written product. They were able to move from their draft form, do some editing and end up with a good final draft. While the last group, Christoph and Lee, began their writing process by researching, they continued interviewing the characters up to and including the last day. They spent a lot of time in the planning part of the writing process, little time in the writing aspect of writing process and no time in the revising area of the writing process. As for collaborating together, they began  95  working very well together but ended up taking turns writing out their ideas for their story separately. In summary, the theme of change would be that it is varied. Not all groups changed the same; even though change occurred, it happened at each dyad's pace and at different rates. The teams who took good notes and brought them each week, spent time planning and writing drafts and had a level of English which allowed them to move quickly through the material, were able to complete most of the intended task set out by the software for Story 1. Furthermore, the dyads who were able to develop their team building/relationship had the most success in terms of the written product.  4.5  EXIT INTERVIEWS At the end of the five sessions, the students were interviewed to find out their impressions  and experiences of these "new" writing skills. I wanted to hear how they developed writing strategies to cope with writing with a partner using a guided software program. While the students all reported that they enjoyed working with a partner, they mentioned that having a partner at a similar level was important. As Joe explained, the "English level must be more similar" as it's "difficult to help [each other] if [you're working at] "different levels. Marina said she enjoyed "learning other opinions". Sakiko, too, enjoyed consulting and sharing with her partner. Etsuko said, "I had fun to do something with a partner." Both Sakiko and Lee said they had never tried writing on a computer with a partner. As a result, the participants had to learn new strategies for a) how to write with another, b) how to adapt to incorporating another's point  96  of view, and c) how to use a multi-media software prototype for getting information to develop their essay. I will show their comments regarding these three areas below.  4.5.1  Writing with a Partner Many of the students were concerned about being in the same "level" as another student.  Some felt as if they burdened another. Sakiko said: "Marina was helpful for me but I not for her." Lee shared that having the "same skills will help you to finish in a short time. It goes slow if you're different". And Christoph put it frankly "you need the same writing level." Etsuko felt having Rodolpho as a partner showed her new ways of writing, commenting "He did the writing, he wrote variety." Even though they would have liked to have been at the same level the students eagerly worked through the help questions to complete their writing tasks. Despite their differences there were also strengths each of them added to the team to come up with a finished product. Christoph mentioned "Lee had better computer skills." Joe commented that they were able to help each other with their writing since "Pablo had a better vocabulary but I was able to show him how to break up his long sentences." Etsuko felt her grammatical strengths aided her and her partner's writing. Sakiko admitted that since she was nearsighted she had trouble reading the graphics as quickly as Marina. "Marina was so fast at reading and writing." As a result, Sakiko confessed "she worked harder than me." However, learning to work with another's strengths was an advantage Rodolpho mentioned because it "builds vocabulary, writing and speaking skills."  97  4.5.2  Incorporating Another Point of View The participants indicated that prior to the study the only experience they had with any  kind of collaboration was limited to their own cultural group. During the exit interview they commented on what is like working with another culture. Pablo said working with another culture was ". . .good. You need to be open minded and appreciate how they think different from you." Marina echoed this thought, indicating that the "opinion of other" was important. Etsuko said that if she had been working with another ". . . Japanese she would have been the one to do more work." She felt that "Japanese was not active." She really enjoyed working with Rodolpho saying that "I had fun to do something with a partner especially not Japanese . . . not Asian." Lee, however, occasionally struggled, reporting that he liked "working with a partner. . . just sometime we can not understand [each other] exactly. In general, by working together to overcome these differences, while learning how to incorporate the other's strengths in one's own writing, aided the students, allowing them to learn to work together to approach their writing tasks.  4.5.3  Using Multi-media Software With their partner's help the participants were able to work through the prototype's help  system to support their writing process. Even though some students weren't able to follow the assignments given by "Eddie the editor", with their partner's help they navigated through the maps by clicking and through the guided tour by taxi. By exploring Edubba in this way they were able to research information necessary to answer the questions in each of the sections of the  98  essay. Pablo felt that the software helped "order your mind". Joe found it "interesting" to interview characters in the program in order to gather information. Even though the students in this study may not have had a lot of experience consulting with their teacher for writing, it didn't seem to bother them to ask for help along the way to make their experience using the prototype software more successful. In the exit interview Marina commented on occasionally having difficulty with the software but not being troubled because "the teacher was available to help with the software". Christoph felt that the questions weren't helpful in making the story because we "learned the structure in class from the teacher." While Sakiko felt that the software "wasn't designed for two people at different levels", she "liked working with a partner very much" commenting she had "never worked on computer with two people before."  4.5.4  Summary of Findings Before students write collaboratively there are preconditions which must exist: students  must have a sense of rapport with his/her partner and s/he must be comfortable with both the interface and the content. In this study, students who either were or felt unequal to their partner's skills took up to three weeks to feel safe enough to offer suggestions to the partner. Unless the "weaker" partner was "ready" they didn't make equal contributions or even initiate a plan for their writing process. As their rapport developed, the dyads were able to collaborate together better unless they were poorly suited for each other from the start. Some pairs even if paired together for any length of time appeared to never be suited for each other.  99  When students began the writing process using multi-media software they were influenced by the organization of the software's requirements, help system and interface. In Edubba the writing tasks for the students were specific. Students were focused on five areas: Introduction, Causes, Results, Predictions, Conclusions. Within each of these sections there were guiding help questions. Although the software's prototype interface was, at times, confusing, with a teacher's help and some discovery, the pairs were able to use these questions as a guide to begin writing their five paragraph newspaper story. All of the dyads navigated around the software for at least two sessions discovering what they needed to do to get started. Once they found their help questions they were able to gather information, take notes in point form, and then reconstruct their text into paragraph form.  100  CHAPTER 5 DISCUSSION OF T H E FINDINGS IN LIGHT OF T H E RESEARCH QUESTIONS  This exploratory study has described the writing strategies students use when presented with a problem. It showed how strategies changed from group to group and week to week. It was the intention of the researcher to examine writing done with a partner while using a multi-media software program. Eight E S L students with unique writing and cultural backgrounds were chosen for this case study. This chapter sets out to discuss results based on the findings from the five weeks of data collection at the multimedia lab at the English Language Institute on the U B C campus.  5.1  DISCUSSION OF T H E R E S E A R C H QUESTIONS  5.1.1  What writing strategies do students use when presented with a problem? The problems the students were faced with was twofold: a) how to use a multi-media  software program with the focus being writing and b) how to learn to write collaboratively with another. Students using the Edubba software had three help systems available to them. First, they had access to the computer generated help system which aided them in the planning of their writing. Second, they had their partner with whom they could confer. Third, they had the teacher and classmates in a round table discussion and instructional format for them to help process ideas. In order to consider the elements of the writing process let us again refer to a combination of the writing process outline from the Edubba software itself and Messenger &  101  Taylor (1984): Prewriting and Research or Planning - audience and purpose, brainstorming, inventing, researching, organizing, Writing - including drafting, Revising - and editing, Proofreading or Publishing. In this particular multi-media software program, much of the planning and organizing is already done, with Edubba telling the users who their audience is and what they are to achieve. Students learn that they are journalists writing a newspaper article on the city's water crisis and its proposed solutions in Edubba. From here the software shows the students the sections they will be working on: Introduction, Causes, Results, Predictions, and Conclusions. Furthermore, Edubba also provides guiding questions in each section for the students to answer. As a result of the above, participants in this study did not need to spend time focusing on the traditional brainstorming and organizing activities that would occur while writing a traditional "five paragraph essay" (introduction, three supporting paragraphs and conclusion). Instead, participants were able to focus on researching information and negotiating with their partner in order to be able to enter information into the sections the software program indicated. For each of the dyads working with a partner and gathering information in order to write collaboratively was a new experience. It took up to three weeks for some dyads to reach the drafting and editing stages of the writing process. After the first week, when I saw students struggling to navigate through the prototype to gather enough background knowledge to be able to begin drafting, I set up a round table discussion with the group of eight. In these sessions students were able to share information and vocabulary they had  102  learned with the others in the study. This traditional method was a very successful and necessary component to the writing outlined by the software. For students who had difficulties with the very technical and specific vocabulary for solving a water crisis, discussing the story line and concepts as a group was helpful in equalizing the background knowledge of each student. Back in their dyads, in addition to learning the interface and story, they had to learn each other's strengths and begin to trust their partner before they could actually begin writing. At first each pair began as two individual units taking their own notes. They had to learn how to negotiate their point of view and to use their writing skills to create the notes they recorded on the screen. How they achieved this is recorded below.  5.1.2  How are dyads' writing strategies similar and different? Since this is a case study focusing on four dyads over five weeks more time could  have been given to the collection of data. In a longer study it may have been easier to have shown more partner development for the completion of the writing process. Secondly, we may have been able to rule out other influences if we'd observed the dyads longer. The different and similar writing strategies used by the students, as seen in their hard copies, seem to be primarily influenced by the composition of the pairs. This composition can be considered in five areas: (1) language and writing level/ability, (2) attitude, (3) background knowledge of the topic, (4) gender, and (5) culture and  103  personality. Further, over time, the dyads collaborated in various ways from becoming more effective collaborators as their rapport built, to taking turns and working separately. All of the groups began approaching the problem in the same way. First, they all needed to learn how to use the interface in order to navigate around Edubba. Next, they all used the help questions to guide them in interviewing the characters and collecting notes from the on-line graphics in the program. Aside from the round table discussion times, no significant conversations were held regarding any topic other than the assigned task. For all dyads the focus was completing the writing task. In the task itself, the Spanish speaking student tended to take the lead in terms of initiating conversation, research, note taking and drafting. At first, the Asian students all focused on technical details such as grammar and punctuation. After that, the relationship and roles of the pairs evolved. When they began recording their information, how they did so depended upon their rapport with their partner. The rapport was influenced by a variety of factors.  5.1.2a Level What happens when one partner's language and writing level is higher than the other partner's? According to his report in the background survey, Rodolpho indicated that he had a lot of previous writing experience in both his L l and L2. Consequently, his partner Etsuko seemed in awe of his ability, making it difficult for them to ever achieve "equal" collaboration. This raises questions concerning their partnership. For instance, is it wise to pair students that you know from the outset are mismatched in terms of  104  language and/or writing ability? Somehow, though, other factors played a role in their being able to work collaboratively and effectively. Rodolpho, for instance, was kind and patient with Etsuko allowing her time to catch up with her knowledge of the content. Furthermore, he respected the strengths she brought to the team in terms of grammar knowledge. What happens when both partners language and writing levels are too low for the software? Both Joe and Pablo were lower in language proficiency than the other groups, struggling just to understand the text, characters and, more importantly, each other. When they did their writing they struggled with the collaborative process because individually they were having difficulties. Additionally, each partner had trouble understanding the other's English accent. These factors affected their ability to develop their rapport as a team because of the issue of level for them. This is a major concern for successful collaboration. If students are not yet at a level where they cannot be understood by other E S L students then it will be problematic to put them together and use language as their medium of communication. Furthermore, if they are struggling to understand the task required of them, communication can be secondary to their concerns.  5.1.2b Attitude Marina began the sessions feeling unsure and inexperienced to the point where she actually expressed the fact that she disliked writing. Her attitude could be seen as a factor which would affect this dyad's interactions. From Krashen's Affective Filter  105  Model (1985) in Chapter 2 we learned that negative attitudes can cause a lack of motivation, low self confidence and anxiety for students. Originally, I had hoped with a partner these attitudes could be minimized yet I see now that the process is a little more complex. Still, it can be noted that the fact that she volunteered to participate in the study showed motivation and willingness to move beyond her hesitation in an attempt to enjoy and experience the writing process. At the end, Marina's partner, Sakiko, indicated that writing together was "fun" and their team grew closer together over the sessions. Unfortunately during session five Marina worked alone. I would have liked to have seen them progress from the difficult beginning to extensive collaboration and assess whether they would progress to another level of collaboration.  5.1.2c B ackground Knowledge The issue of background knowledge seemed to play a large part in the ability of the pairs to collaborate equally. The Spanish speaking partners caught onto the problem and solutions of the water crisis much more quickly than their partners. While it took longer for the Asian students to understand some of the challenges the software characters faced, once they did, they became more willing to make contributions or even take the lead in the collaborative writing process. Once the students had a base of background knowledge of the problem, they seemed more able to get to the drafting stage of their writing and experienced more functional collaboration with their partner.  106  5.1.2d Gender Was gender a factor in how the teams collaborated? In terms of quality and quantity, the pairs which did not have a woman in them produced less text and had fewer oral exchanges (See Table 4: Pablo and Joe; Christoph and Lee). This raises a series of questions. Is it wise to always try to have one woman in each pair combination? Is the rapport affected by how the man treats a woman? Will some males treat females differently than they would another male? In the exit interviews all participants reported that their experience wouldn't have been different if they partner was a different sex. Why, then, did the groups with women produce more text and talk more? For Rodolpho and Etsuko, Rodolpho always tried to include Etsuko and be considerate of her. Even though the other group with a woman may have produced more, Marina was not as gentle with her partner as Rodolpho was. In the male/male groups, as shown in the results, I didn't see the same chivalry ( nor extensive written material as in the female/female ( or male/female groups.  5.1.2e Culture and Personality What happens when one partner takes control of the tasks and keyboard more than another? Is it culture based or is it personality? Moreover, why would Spanish speaking students more often tend to take the lead when compared to their Asian partners? Was it effective to separate cultures in this study? Or is it a better intercultural language learning experience where students can learn about working with others? From a teaching  107  perspective, when students who speak the same language are paired together it is inevitable that some L l will be spoken. When I created the dyads I wanted to minimize the L l while facilitating oral interchanges in English. It seemed, culturally speaking, that the groups had different personalities. But was it a cultural influence which made the Spanish speakers initiate more activities and write more quickly than the Asian students? Or was it coincidental? Did the Asian students initially focus on grammar because of the way they are typically taught English (Grammar translation method). Could personality have been a contributing factor, as well? In retrospect, I would still have paired students of unlike language background in order to increase the likelihood of English being spoken during the tasks (Adendorff, 1996). Interestingly, even though the goal was for the students to speak English, one student, Christoph, "code-switched" or spoke French, one of his native languages, when he was challenged to be better understood and make things clearer. Furthermore, as I have argued in Chapter 2, by using network based computers for synchronous communication (LANs), issues of more equal participation are maximized (Sullivan & Pratt, 1996). In this way, students are collaborating at their own work stations while working on-line with others. Unfortunately, placing students separately at their computers may have the effect of eliminating working with cultural and/or personality differences. However, students who never work one on one with another may be avoiding important lessons, not learning to work with another personality, a skill which is encountered in daily life. While we cannot hide our students from real life experiences,  108  we can address these issues in order to have them learn how to act in safe, monitored environments. As a result, I would still place my students in different cultural groups despite potential differences which may arise (but has not been proven) regarding culture and/or personality.  5.1.3  How do students collaborate as their own writing unfolds? Marina and Sakiko used Marina primarily as the self appointed typist recording  notes from her own notes at first. In the third week the two seemed to have become more equal, both contributing from their notes and drafting their paragraphs. Pablo and Joe, meanwhile, spent the first four weeks on different tracks: one researching, the other taking notes. When the level of the software became difficult for them, one or the other would try to break their monotony by making small talk about, say, lunch and their opinion of the water crisis. Finally, in the last session, this pair was able to make equal contributions to their story. While Rodolpho and Etsuko initially worked with Rodolpho initiating their activities, over time Etsuko made contributions which complemented Rodolpho's skills as he encouraged her to supplement and augment his ideas. Additionally, this pair actually discussed the writing process whereas none of the others did. Each day they set goals as to what part of the writing process they expected to accomplish. Furthermore, they were able to use appropriate vocabulary for the kinds of words they were looking for, i.e. transitions, linkages and Rodolpho brought a list of transition words to their group for  109  the two of them to have a selection of appropriate words to choose from. They were able to write their story using both people's strengths at opportune moments. Christoph and Lee began by using the research questions as guides, taking notes and writing response sentences collaboratively with each partner taking turns at the keyboard and making additive comments. While their output was minimal, they worked well together the first two weeks. After this time it seemed by the last week they hadn't kept any notes and no longer were interested in writing together. During the fourth session there was a lot of silence on the tape recording of their interaction, suggesting that they had given up working collaboratively at all. While Christoph tried making suggestions as to his idea of a conclusion, Lee, who began as the typist on this day, wasn't able to use his partner's suggestions. Instead, both ended up writing their own conclusion to their briefly written story in separate paragraphs. There was no collaboration on the last day. There seems to be no indication as to why this group began working very well together and then, in the end, not working at all together.  5.1.4  Summary Strategies used by the dyads over the five week period changed according to the  development of their comfort with the software, their learning of the material, and team building. Once students felt confident with what to do and how to use the software, they could move easily through the program searching for pertinent information. At first, there was a lot of silence as the dyads sat thinking about what to do. They even emitted  110  frustrated sighs. Over time, however, as they got to know the story as a result of simply spending time in Edubba and listening to and participating in round table discussions, they had enough background knowledge to prepare them to write. Learning to work with a randomly pre-selected partner with a different writing and cultural background was also a factor in the dyads' change. Giving students enough time to get to know a) the software and its interface, b) the content and task, and c) their partner are recommendations which comes out of this case study.  Ill  CHAPTER 6 FUTURE DIRECTIONS FOR RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT IN MULTI-MEDIA SOFTWARE  This chapter sets out to 1) identify limitations of this case study, 2) discuss some implications the results will have on instruction, 3) provide a summary and conclusion and 4) suggest what further research for this project is needed for those involved in the assessment, research and instruction with ESL writers collaboratively using developmental multi-media software.  6.1  Limitations of the Study The results of this study may be affected by or limited to some of the situational  aspects which occurred during the five week data collection. Issues/Limitations which arise surround the eight following topics: case study designs, researcher bias, motivation and interests of the students, timing of the observations, the laboratory setting, rapport between students, students' actual writing background, and the prototype software. As indicated in Chapter 3, it is difficult to generalize the findings of one case study to another. Yet, as Yin (1994) suggests, case studies rely on analytical generalizations so that we can generalize the findings to a broader theory. This theory can be confirmed or refuted through the results of other case studies (Fine, 1997). Researcher bias may also pose additional limitations to this study. Researchers bring prior experience, preconceptions and perhaps even hold a specific direction or set of  112  expectations in mind when conducting the research of a study. To address this, I clearly stated my assumptions and theoretical orientations at the outset of the study (Chapter 1, page 3). Furthermore, by employing multiple sources of data and methods, I hoped to minimize the effect of researcher bias. The participants offered valuable insights, ideas, and conclusions which helped to create a fuller picture of what was happening when I wasn't able to be present with them during their collaboration. Even though the students self reported on their progress, their work with one another and their impressions of the software, I questioned whether their reports provided enough insight as to what exactly transpired within their groups. I wished, after only five weeks, that I could have developed a better rapport with the students for them to feel comfortable expressing any serious concerns they might have had. How did they really feel about their partner? Were their reports polite or were they speaking frankly? Despite these issues, using aspects of triangulation where I used information from the students, my field notes and the written output from the students themselves, I intended to reduce researcher bias and decrease the probability of misinterpretation. While the students offered valuable insights, there are inherent limitations within the study which other researchers should keep in mind. First of all, there is the issue of motivation: although the students were volunteers, they may have actually wanted to gain experience from participating or producing good work as many of them indicated. Secondly, we do not know about their interest in the water crisis topic, even though some  113  students like Pablo and Joe could relate to the topic because it is a contemporary issue in their respective countries. Research has shown greater rewards for students who are involved in the selection of their own topic. Similarly, should the software have been online, students could have had some external input and involvement, adding information outside of the multi-media program to their writing from actual sources on the Internet. Thirdly, when they did work, the students worked in a potentially stressful situation. On the one hand, they knew they were part of a study and that they were being audio/videotaped, an unusual situation for students working in a regular computer laboratory. Were the students working hard and "on topic" just because they were part of a research study? Or, alternately, were they actually motivated to improve notwithstanding the research project? On the other hand, they were placed with a partner not of their gender, cultural background or even necessarily similar language level (even though I tried to recruit volunteer participants at the "intermediate" level). How did this effect their feeling of freedom to write? Aside from the individual students' feelings, we must be aware of the situation of the students working together with another assigned partner. When the collection of data began, the term at the English Language Institute had just begun. As a result, the students did not have any preconceived notions about working with one other student in this study because they had not had any opportunities to get to know the students outside of the study. Perhaps if this study had taken place later in the term, the students may have had situations where they had gotten to know their partner or the others in the study and have  114  formed an opinion of them. This could have resulted in an entirely different starting place for the designated dyads. I expect that working with a partner with whom one has a pre-existing relationship, either positive or negative, could aid or hinder students on collaborative writing tasks. Based on my teaching experience, I have found that if a student knows their partner and can work with them based on similar language level or purely social reasons the dyad will begin collaborating effectively. In contrast, however, if the students perceive that they cannot work with the partner to whom they've been assigned the dyad has already begun with a "collaborative challenge". This latter dyad will predictably have difficulties moving along their writing process compared to the aforementioned dyad who already has developed a rapport. Another limitation to the study is the students' actual writing experience. Even though the students made self assessments of their writing and learning experience, we don't actually have samples of their writing before the study began. Furthermore, there isn't any research comparing how these participants (or others) complete the writing process collaboratively with or without multi-media software (i.e., using pen and paper). Moreover, when the students participated in this study they were limited by the fact that the multi-media software was only a prototype still under development that contained bugs and, furthermore, wasn't yet designed to be used fully by two people. Participants, as well, were not clear in their purpose or how to get started. Students worked diligently despite the fact that sometimes the multi-media characters had  115  no "stocked" responses to their questions in their databases. Sometimes a line of questioning went dead because the characters in the prototype hadn't been fully developed. For example, when asked what she like to do in her spare time Sally responded, "Gee, I don't know the answer to that." Her inability to answer appropriately may have been due to the parser being unable to process the students' written input language (they often made mistakes writing complete questions). An example of one of Pablo and Joe's questions was "What is the cause?" Sally was unable to put this question into a context and answer with an significant information. Alternately, the characters may have also been limited by the fact that technology has not developed far enough for a fully functional artificially intelligent cast of characters. Perhaps the software needed to be more fully completed before using it to conduct a research study in a teaching setting. Despite the technological limitation, the dyads were able to make some form of hand written and computer entered notes. However, the prototype did not always allow for a smooth experience in this regard. Occasionally, the software would sometimes not save their work or suddenly "freeze" or go back to the beginning. It seemed that some partners actually blamed one another when that happened. Frustrated sighs were heard and dyads such as Pablo and Joe would switch positions at the mouse and keyboard when Joe would accidentally exit the program. In addition, when some groups began revising their draft they found the spell check didn't work well. One needs to consider how the above mentioned factors influenced the collaborating writing process undertaken by the eight E S L students at the ELI.  116  6.2  Implications  6.2.1  Implications for Facilitating Collaborative Writing and Computers If teachers are going to use the results of this study and apply them to their  writing/computer classes they may want to consider how they lead the students in terms of role assignments and pre- and post- activities. In the teacher's guide for Edubba, a teacher is seen as not only a mentor, but also a coach and a guide. An instructor using this software in a computer class to complete writing assignments, therefore, has the option of guiding his/her students to effectively make use of the environment in which they will be collaborating. In this study, it seemed that the student who had control of the keyboard also tended to take control of the writing process. As a result, I would encourage teachers to coach their students to switch typists during the writing or collaborative process or even set up the workstation so that the keyboard can easily be slid back and forth for both partner to share, as necessary. Secondly, if there is no brainstorming component set up in the multi-media software, as is the case in the Edubba prototype, the teacher would need to compensate for this by providing opportunities for round table discussion formats or other techniques such as using Inspiration graphics software as an adjunct (www.graphic.org/home.html). Inspiration, a visual thinking and learning software program, provides opportunities for students to use a graphic organizer for creating ideas in a visual picture of information. Helping students to "see" undiscovered patterns and relationships by using cluster diagrams, webs and other visual tools may support the brainstorming aspect of the writing process. Additionally, students  117  who may be at levels lower than recommended for the software may struggle with the concepts of the story. By using round table brainstorming sessions or idea mapping on a computer, the class can draw on the collective background knowledge that has been developing for each person and apply it to their essays. At the end or even recursively, students can be encouraged to make on-line changes to printed output with greater ease than if they used pen and paper to make additions, corrections, deletions or changes. Students can also be led to begin each session reviewing, editing and creating new text. Unless specifically instructed, students tend to avoid reviewing past work and editing while they write. The final and perhaps obvious point is for teachers to ensure students keep hard copies to circumvent the real possibility of losing text in their documents that are incorrectly saved or succumb to "technical errors". Shi (1998b) has shown that since more negotiation occurs under a teacher led discussion there is benefit in providing situations where students work not only with their partner to proceed through the writing process but also in the round table format mentioned above. If there is a combination of peer and teacher-talk (as a mentor) in the language learning experience, various needs of writers can be better addressed through these combinations of activities.  6.2.2  Implications for Computer Laboratory Studies In order for students to successfully use a multi-media software program an  instructor must carefully consider the skill level of the students. If the program is  118  designed for an "intermediate" student, students must be skilled at keyboarding and have previous computer skills in order to complete tasks required of them by the software. Furthermore, if two people are to work collaboratively, thereby increasing the opportunity for talk, the teacher must anticipate the focus on communication (verbal and non verbal) specifically related to the computer. This can be achieved by providing gambits (see Appendix E) to facilitate more complete exchanges within the dyad using a computer. Students in this study could have benefitted by knowing how to correctly offer to take the lead with a question such as "How about if I type now?" or to give up control of the keyboard or mouse by suggesting "Why don't you use the mouse, now?" Furthermore, even simple computer-use gambits such as "Why don't we go . . ." or "Click on "back"." are two helpful navigational gambits for students working with multi-media software who want to increase the opportunity for conversational interaction. Meskill (1993) supports software which is more open ended so that more rich communication will be more likely to be exchanged. Students are used to dialoguing alone with the computer as a tutor or tool and, as I have shown, become excited to be interacting with another while using the computer to research and do their on-line writing. In studying native and non-native speakers' conversational interactions, native speakers maintained involvement with a conversation partner using strategies which were less frequently employed by non-native speakers. As a result, I recommend supplying nonnative speaking students with some of the sample gambits mentioned above where they will have expressions for accomplishing tasks available to them. Legenhausen and Wolff  119  (1990: p. 11) in their study , for example, determined from extensive analysis of language learner discourse with C A L L that "...interactional moves such as PRE- and POSTE X C H A N G E S , SUPPORTING M O V E S or GAMBITS are completely missing" from non-native speaker utterances.  Teachers must facilitate such exchanges to increase  students' use of such involvement markers. (Meskill, 1993). In this study the computer tasks led to many oral corrections of grammar, vocabulary, spelling and punctuation. If students had access to not only computer related gambits but also corrective ones such as "Why don't you. . . " or "Don't you think we should change. . . " they may have been more successful at making more grammatically correct utterances while making their revisions and edits. A final note is that it seems these types of collaborative writing projects are infrequently undertaken in language classes and computer labs. As a teacher I have seen students working silently and alone at their computers, not benefitting from the shared experience and language development which can occur when two people work together (Beauvois, 1998). It is hoped that results from this study will encourage other teachers to consider pairing students at computers to complete writing tasks. Supported with topically organized gambit sheets, students can be talking about language through language giving them more opportunities for whole language learning while using multi-media writing software.  120  6.2.3  Implications for On-line Research and/or Multi-media software Before students can write they must have background knowledge with which to do  their writing. Both partners, if working collaboratively, must be able to have the same content base so that they are approaching their writing from a similar perspective. Based on current research and theories of reading comprehension, in order for understanding and learning to take place a reader must first activate prior knowledge, reorganize these existing knowledge structures or schemata and then link them to the new material to be learned (Carlson, 1990; Bernhardt, 1991). If multi-media programs such as Edubba can aid in this process by providing a contextualized environment for research (Murray, 1999), the learner is then encouraged to infer the meaning of the vocabulary and can see it in context (Chun & Plass, 1994). Then, when it is time to actually write, after having built their knowledge base from reading and discussing, students can use a multi-media program where the background information for writing is at the students' fingertips. In contrast, it would seem that sending students to a library to do research would serve a different purpose than having access to on-line information. In a library, when students learn to gather information from a variety of sources they are often preparing for personal research. On-line, nevertheless, doing research while sitting together with a partner at a computer is more beneficial because it can include both oral and physical communication tasks, and speeds up the language learning process. Here, the focus is not only research, but also negotiations between the learners in a concentrated environment. I have shown that giving students equal opportunities to develop background knowledge  121  on a subject at the same learning station brought background knowledge to a similar rate, faster. While working together, dyads such as Marina and Sakiko had to wait for and work with each other to gather enough information before they could write. If they had been working alone, the participants wouldn't have had the other to rely on for clarifying information such as "Ian was her boyfriend? Oh, I missed that," confessed Sakiko. Once students had developed their background knowledge sufficiently, they were able to then move onto the writing process producing text that they could recursively edit. In addition to providing static research material in a software program it would also be beneficial if the software's multi-media component connected it to more current and/or relevant sources found on the Internet. The previously saved sites or actual bookmarked up-to-date URLs where people are actually experiencing situations like Edubba's water crises could be connected to the software program. When students know that what they are studying has real-life implications, the topic becomes more interesting and motivating. Kramsch, a proponent of authentic materials in a "Direct" culture (1989), has shown the value of exposing students to authentic texts and experiential learning. Should Edubba's final version have Internet access integrated into its multimedia capacity, on-line research would augment the virtual reality component in the program. Teachers as coaches, mentors, or even guides, consequently, could assist students in accessing such relevant sites.  122  6.2.4  Implications for Instruction Teachers are faced with adapting existing classroom techniques to new  technologies. Even though multi-media software programs on computers may simulate and replace real world events, students still need to interact with real humans (Kramsch, 1989). If students, and even teachers, are used to computers being a tool (Meskill, 1993; Pennington, 1996) where the focus has been placed on the transmission or one way direction of information acquisition, it is time to introduce them to the computer as a "medium" (Warschauer 1999a) which will lead to mutual understanding. As their mentors, teachers must be able to provide evidence for students to approach the learning process in non-linear and multi-dimensional contexts. With the increase of carefully selected partners using multi-media technology students today can benefit from a variety of approaches initiated by their teachers. First, a teacher in the role of "guide" needs to consider how to pair students. Will the teacher remember to take into consideration factors such as motivation, holistic language ability, gender, culture and personality? Will the teacher observe if students are enjoying their learning experience and, at the same time, being productive with whom they are paired with? Next, will the teacher meet with students to monitor how the partnerships are evolving? Then, if the teacher is satisfied with the dyads' interaction, s/he can coach them to support their writing, negotiation and computer navigation skill development. Perhaps the most difficult part of writing collaboratively is in the pairing of students. A teacher, acting as a guide, is challenged to find the best combinations of  123  students. Even though this study doesn't have any concrete results for the "perfect pair", every teacher knows that there will always be successes and failures in pairing students. As I have shown, while we had four very different and potentially "perfect pairs" in terms of strong collaboration, each dyad had their own strategies to solve their problems that were less than perfect. One result that did come from my research, interestingly, related to the need to assess the level of each student within the pair in order to strive for "best matches". While students in this study were labeled as "400 writing" or "500 writing" level students at the ELI, there were other extenuating factors which affected their level. Some examples include: attitude toward their partner and the writing process, motivation, reading level and verbal skills, knowledge of topic, computer experience and cultural background. If a teacher has a lot of discrepancy in these levels partner strengths can be used to his/her advantage. One suggestion would be to pair "grammar experts" with less experienced students. In research done by Villamil and Guerrero (1996) and Cornu et al. (1998) we have seen evidence of partnerships such as bosses and administrative executives (coincidentally) collaborating and benefitting from the skills and experience that each of them has. However, from my experience, students don't always want to be paired with a student whom they may perceive to be at a lower level than themselves. Multi-level pairing may create difficulties in creating harmony within the dyad. When a teacher doesn't have much choice in "perfect pairing" s/he must resort to other methods and coach the students into making their dyads' relationship successful.  124  In the beginning of the term a teacher can perhaps conduct team building exercises, even ones which use technology. I have shown the success of using round table discussion sessions and suggested network based synchronous sessions using LANs (Sullivan and Pratt, 1996) to give students opportunities to develop their rapport. Perhaps it would be wise to have the teacher monitor the team building in order to make changes for people who are struggling to work effectively with their partner. In retrospect, in this study I would have like to have interviewed the students more often than just at the end of a five week work session. If I had, I would have had a better idea that dyads like Marina and Sakiko and Pablo and Joe were having difficulties working together. It would seem to me to be useful for teachers to establish a regular meeting time to check students perspectives on how effective they think their partnership is. However, this kind of meeting does not have to be in person. As Warschauer (in Press) has shown, successful, regular e-mail exchanges can be set up between teachers and those who prefer anonymous discussions or the traditional interview/face-to-face meeting style approach. In retrospect, had I known Christoph and Lee were collaborating less and less effectively as the study progressed, as a teacher I may have been able to make alternate arrangements for them or worked on team building. For teachers, therefore, the groups do not have to be fixed for long periods of time, but reworked and redistributed. As teaching involvement is recommended to be minimized (Krashen, 1982; and Polio & Duff, 1994), providing devices such as gambits for students to work with their  125  partner increases the amount of learner centered activity. While the teacher can be available for what we can call "intelligent help" or in this case, as a mentor the teacher can also be available to meet with students on a regular basis. Using multi-media software provides a rich environment for students to work on their own. Sullivan and Pratt (1996) have proven that with having a minimized teacher activity increased students' participation in their on-line activities. Even though Shi (1998) shows the benefit of a teacher led discussion incorporated into the course, there are places where the function of the teacher can be minimized or maximized. In order to maximize their role, tasks they choose must also reflect a need to converse — can we expect them to debate what when they are negotiating howl  Complex interaction is a result of planning and  negotiating at a computer by the pairs selected by the teacher or the task (or software) a teacher chooses. If multi-media software provides students with a multi-dimensional context, a teacher can have students apply their writing skills in a variety of other tasks such as process activities (Raimes, 1991; Silva, 1991) based on the content learned on-line. In addition, Emig (1971) recommends aiding students in developing both reflexive and extensive writing modes with extensive being defined as "the mode that focuses upon the writer's conveying a message or a communication to another; the domain explored is usually the cognitive; the style is assured, impersonal and often reportorial" (Ibid. p. 4). This writing mode will supply students with a "wider range of writing invitations" (Ibid, p. 4). Moreover, I recommend pairing students at the keyboard more often, giving them  126  practice writing with another person to build their skills and using a variety of writing genres including the hypertext genre where the audience is unknown (Warschauer 1999a). I continue to view computers as tools that can promote language learning in a group. With the development of technologies there will be alternate genres of communication and students will benefit from having developed skills using these multi-media technologies. A teacher's job using multi-media technology is certainly complex and undergoing a process of evolution. In order to learn the best places to apply skills such as being a mentor, guide, or coach can depend on what kind of multi-media materials are available for a teacher to augment his/her curriculum.  6.3  Summary and Conclusion Even with trends in education leading toward an increase in the creation of multi-media  language learning software programs, there is still limited research in this field. This study has been conducted in order to observe the collaborative writing processes of second language writers using such multi-media software. This exploratory study has described the different and similar writing strategies student dyads utilize when using the multi-media software prototype program called Edubba. For this case study, eight intermediate leveled English as a Second Language students with unique writing and cultural backgrounds were chosen. These students were beginning a semester at the English Language Institute (ELI) on the U B C campus. Their ELI writing classes leveled from 400 to 520. In terms of skills level, the students were paired; within each dyad the partners had different first language groups. In the interest of gender  127  diversity, the pairs consisted of two male-male groups, one male/female group and one female/female group. In regards to their writing tasks, I have shown how strategies changed from group to group and from week to week. The most significant conclusion was that for each dyad even though there were similarities in their collaborative writing styles, the differences in order and approach outweighed the similarities. At times, each group approached their writing task similarly in that they received instructions from the software and the teacher for their assignments. The teacher led round table brainstorming sessions to help students develop their background knowledge. After that, the way in which students collaborated to complete the writing process differed. Over the five weeks data was collected by means of surveys, observations, field notes and tape recorded exchanges. In their strategies, the writing process did not necessarily progress in the direction of greater collaboration; breakdowns occurred. Obvious factors which seemed to play a part in the division of the writing teams included level, attitude, background knowledge, gender, culture, and personality. Students who were at different levels took a few weeks to develop a rapport which would help them overcome differences and learn to work together leaning on each partner's strengths. Had the students had more time to finish their essays it would have been interesting to see if they could have ended up working more effectively together. The attitude of one of the partner seemed to play a role in the speed at which the dyads' became an productive team. Only when students knew enough about the water crisis in Edubba were they willing to begin writing. For some partners it took longer than the other to develop their background knowledge and the one  128  who understood concepts more quickly was forced to wait for the partner who took more time to understand the concepts in the program. In the teams which had females in them there was more text and more dialogue produced. Interviewed students, however, stated that they felt having a partner of a different gender made no difference to their writing process or their written product. The Spanish speakers seemed to initiate actions with the software and in the writing process earlier than their Asian counterparts. The students of Asian descent in this study at first tended to make more structural changes to the dyads' written text. As the study progressed, however, they also focused more on the content of the program. Whether this last point is a result of culture or personality, under the auspices of this study we were unable to draw any further conclusions. Moreover, being a case study, its results are not generalizeable to the general population of E S L writers, but the results are available to be used to provide insights and observations for future research. In summary, recommendations for further research for this study include lengthening the time period of the study to see if students can develop a better rapport, providing more physical work space to promote sharing, and incorporating intelligent help into the multi-media software program. If students had had more time to develop their working relationship with their assigned partner and/or had more time to get to know the software and its content and had time to do editing, we might have been able to have made more observations about the collaborative writing process incorporated with multi-media software. Perhaps if there had been more physical space and an opportunity for students to share the keyboard we could have viewed how freedom to take over would have affected their collaboration, as well. Finally, with more intelligent help given  129  directly from the multi-media software program we can ask i f students would have been guided more quickly along the writing process. Areas for further research and development would involve modifying the Edubba software so that it might be studied in other ways.  6.4  Further Research and Development Needed Using a multi-media software program can overcome obstacles that occur when  students attempt to progress through the writing process with another. However, it may be important to use a finished product and not a prototype for conducting further research which includes the research component of the writing process. If the final product is tested for the elimination of "bugs" research can more accurately study the results of students work together through all parts of the writing process without the above listed limitations on the software. Depending on how it is developed, students can be supported through varying degrees of brainstorming, researching, drafting, revising, and editing through one single medium. F r o m my research, I have shown that students need support not only from the software's help features, but also from their teacher acting as a coach, mentor or guide. For example, having teacher-led round table brainstorming sessions (or in the future adding technology which can be used to create "Inspiration" graphics to enhance discussions) help students arrive at an equal playing field more quickly than left alone within their dyad. This, in turn, helps them to get ready to write sooner than i f they worked alone. A t this point, a researcher can begin to observe the collaborative writing process of the dyads based on their more richly developed background information.  130  However, there must be adequate space for students to have the freedom to contribute to the writing process and a researcher can also observe any changes which come as a result of more equalized opportunities at taking the lead.. In this study I have shown that the planning and editing stages of the writing process are very easy for students to collaborate in. There was a lot of negotiation of where to place ideas and what kind of grammatical changes were necessary. The only inhibitor in this situation was when one person was using the keyboard and the other was less involved physically in the process. When one student was writing, they tended to also initiate ideas for their writing; the other partner had to wait until they physically changed positions and agreed to "switch" typists. Further research in this area could observe students who had a larger work station where the keyboard could be shared more equally without the students having to get up and move from where they were sitting. Furthermore, with the addition of a second mouse perhaps both students could have access to the "control" in the research and writing process. Even with the opportunity to cooperate, some dyads may never reach the point where they will be able to share the keyboard and mouse and the writing process with a partner. Unfortunately, because of only being observed for five weeks, we were unable to see the dyads' development past the unit of time we used. Once the students had established enough background knowledge to write and actually began writing we might also ask in another study, would they be able to make more equal contributions and complete a written product with their partner if given enough time? Alternately, would  131  students in another study with results similar to Pablo and Joe's continue to develop their rapport? Would partners who were effective collaborators like Marina and Sakiko continue to work well together or regress like Christoph and Lee? And, finally, would partners who began collaborating and suddenly stopped ever get back their ability to cooperate? Only in a longer study would we be able to provide insights into some of these questions. In reality, we may have to accept the fact that unless students have a special bond in working together they may not be able to write their drafts at the same time. As is commonly seen in the workforce in asynchronous collaborative environments, the skill of writing together may realistically have to occur with co-authors taking turns at drafting and editing their product. And perhaps this is not bad. If the goal is to have students gain useable, marketable skills for the workforce, perhaps training them to use the same keyboard as another will not be as useful for them. As previously cited in Chapter Two, more and more people are writing together in the workforce; thus, we can train students for the reality of having to work with others. The only difference is how they are trained. Will further research in these areas shed light on the direction we, as teachers, can guide our students? When students complete their education and begin using e-mail in asynchronous environments unless they are on the telephone or teleconference they will not have the opportunities or time schedules to converse with their co-author. When they are writing collaboratively for their jobs it will be likely that they will be mailing documents back  132  and forth asynchronously, still making changes and suggestions on-line. If their job involves research, using one computer with a partner is a very effective way to brainstorm and share ideas and work out technical editing details. However, they are more likely to be sharing work asynchronously. Thus, having a multi-media software program to train students in these skills becomes very valuable. The Internet could expand the capabilities of the single-source workstation. The creators of Edubba plan to have links to the Internet; I believe this will greatly benefit students using the program. They will not be limited by the information contained on the disc, but can be connected with classes of real people on sites such as International E-Mail Classroom Connections (www.iecc.com/) where they can discuss issues on-line with timely information from actual organizations and countries experiencing crises like the one Edubba portrays. Moreover, teachers can help build confidence in students on a smaller scale where discussions.of the topics they are to write about are contained synchronously in network based on-line classroom discussions. Not only will students gain confidence to "chat" with strangers in other locations, but by using network based programs it will create more "equal" playing fields within a safe classroom environment. Since people who work write asynchronously with others on-line and many computer labs in schools and universities have networked capacity for students to learn such skills I still believe in the research of students who work physically together, or at least synchronously. In my review of relevant literature I have shown that for certain parts of the writing activity, sitting together with a partner gives more opportunities for  133  oral exchanges, negotiation of meaning (Long, 1985) and the development of one's zone of proximal development (Vygotsky, 1978). While some studies have indicated that the "talk that surrounded the computer tend[ed] to be less fluid and less complex than that of conversational interaction" (Mohan, 1992; Fine, 1997), I would like to argue in support of encouraging students to continue working together with multi-media software. What do we expect of students completing a writing task? Of course, two people writing on a computer are not in an ideal "conversational interaction". But what task-based activity is? Is this a realistic comparison? As long as the writing task is surrounded by talk we can achieve a goal. Perhaps if we assess the whole writing process from the round table discussions, where conversational interaction is at a premium to on-line writing where partners sit together to write but not converse per se, we can see that the latter process will not require students to speak fluently but will provide other benefits. In this study students may not have been speaking fluently when they were writing their paragraphs, however they were able to coordinate background and recently acquired knowledge with their partner in order to write coherent and cohesive essays. Depending on the genre of essay, such as the development of an argument, then more conversation can be expected. However, if it is a factual or report style writing, we cannot anticipate that students will be having a complex conversational interaction. I propose that by using an effective multi-media language learning software program which provides students with a variety of contexts for language learning, one part of using a "computer" alone can certainly be enriched by the incorporation of an "all-skills" environment provided by such software.  134  In such programs students can be also be linked with other people whose lives are affected by the topics being researched by the student i f they are developed to include Internet access. Using the Internet to provide students with real contexts in which they can talk to those with first hand information about a problem can help student to become more involved in the topic and be able to discuss the issue. This, then, is how we can provide conversational interaction between the dyads and the other students with whom they are connected on-line. Creating project based learning environments w i l l give students the opportunity to engage in learner centered collaborative projects together with their classmates and with others around the world using a variety of technological means, projects that nurture the kind of autonomous learning required for 21st century success. Further research is needed to record the process from student based research on-line with others, and with static information available in the software to the writing process which w i l l undoubtably be full of meaning for the student. A s any experienced writing teacher can attest, students who write passionately and knowledgeably about a subject write better. Perhaps we can also leave this to future researchers to discover. Development can continue to be done on the Edubba software to include some of the above ideas. Moreover, exploratory studies which involve how students apply what they've learned from the software can also be conducted to observe how students apply these skills outside of the classroom: D o they discuss topics they are researching to get their brainstorming ideas out? D o they keep in touch with their e-pals? A r e they doing collaborative writing assignments in their workplaces? D o these experiences using  135  collaboration and technology give them greater media choices for autonomous education? Obviously, as technology continues to develop there will be increasing opportunities for developing research projects of one or a few individuals over a longer term and across a broader set of circumstances. If more research is done on students involved in using the Internet as a tool added to a closed-ended software program the need for a longer term study will be crucial in order to give them a chance to begin drafting, revising, and editing. Watching students write for a longer period of time together under slightly different conditions, including a more open space or with a multi-media software program that addresses more learner styles, strategies and needs or has artificially intelligent devices to guide and monitor students' progress, might be a step toward deepening our understanding of how dyads collaborate using language learning multi-media software. With this we will be able to make further recommendations for educational research and development in this field. Clearly, students of all ages can benefit from applications of multi-media technology in their writing classroom. When technology is connected to real life and real people, learners can experience even more advantages to a curriculum enriched with others giving meaning to their work. 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What country are you from?  3.  Which languages can you speak fluently?  4.  Which languages can you speak a little?  5.  How long have you studied English?  6.  How long have you been in Vancouver?  7.  How much longer are you planning on staying in Canada?  8.  What kind of experience do you have with computers? (non, a little, some, a lot)  9.  Why are you studying English?  10.  Are you taking a writing course at the English Language Institute? If so, which one  149  APPENDIX B Writer Information Survey Disagree 1 1  In my native language, I like to write.  2  In my native language, I like writing essays.  3  I almost never write in my native language.  4  In my native language, I often write letters.  5  I don't like to write in my native language.  6  I would like to have a job where I would need to write a lot in my native language.  7  I often write in my native language.  8  I don't often write letters in my native language.  9  I am not a good writer in my native language  10  I would not like to take college or university courses where I would need to write a lot in my native language. (one student didn't answer this question)  11  I am a fairly good writer in my native language  12  In my native language, I write only when I must.  13  I would like to take courses in college or university where I would have to write a lot in my native language.  14  I can't write well in my native language.  Agree 2  3  4  5  * Reprinted with permission from: Hall, E . & Jung, C. (1996). Reflecting on writing. Composing in English for E S L students in Canada, (p. 10). Canada: Harcourt Brace & Company Canada, Ltd.  150  APPENDIX C Literacy Learning Experience Survey A lot 1  I studied writing in school.  2  I wrote on topics which the teacher assigned.  3  I wrote on topics which I chose.  4  I imitated writing by famous writers.  5  I imitated writing by students.  6  I copied examples.  7  I wrote in class.  8  I corrected papers with other students.  9  I talked with other students about my writing assignment.  10  I wrote my papers more than once.  11  My classmates and I talked about writing.  12  We read a book about writing.  13  We practiced handwriting (making symbols).  14  We wrote letters in our writing class.  15  We read our papers out loud in class  16  We wrote journals.  17  We did grammar exercises.  18  We memorized writing by famous writers.  19  We gave speeches  20  My teacher helped me to get ideas for writing assignments.  21  The reader for my papers was my teacher.  22  I was the reader for my paper.  23.  The reader for my paper was another student.  A Little  Never  * Reprinted with permission from: Hall, E . & Jung, C. (1996). Reflecting on writing. Composing in English for E S L students in Canada, (p. 10). Canada: Harcourt Brace & Company Canada, Ltd.  151  APPENDIX D EXIT INTERVIEW Multi-Media Software and Collaborative Writing Name Partner Date Do you know what "collaboration is? Collaboration is working together with a person. That was the whole purpose of you coming here to work with your partner.  What kind of collaborative experience do you have? (Have you worked with a partner much before, especially in writing on computer?)  How was that for you? Did you like or dislike working with a partner on the computer?  Is it because you read at a different speed than your partner?  How about the writing part, when you got to actually work together to write something? How did you work together? Did you change? Did you write sometimes and did your partner write sometimes?  Did you feel it was equal if one person did the writing only?  If your partner was doing the typing, did s/he think and type as well? Or was two of you writing?  152  9.  Was your partner faster than you? Do you think that could be good if your partner is more experienced in computers and you have other skills. Do you think together you can make one good thing because the two of you are different?  10.  Or do you think you should be more similar to your partner. You should be quite the same person? A better match?  11.  Do you think your partner thinks your skills help him/her?  12.  If I ask him/her, s/he might think differently from you?  13.  Do you think it would have been different if you had been working with a wo/man?  14.  Is it about the skills or what?  15.  When you read your story, what did you think about your writing?  16.  Could you answer the questions on the program?  17.  Did you get your conclusion?  18.  Do you have any other impression or something you'd like to say about working here for five weeks? About your writing, or coming to work together or...?  19.  What did you think of the software?  20.  Were the questions helpful for you to make your story? Did they guide you in making your five paragraphs?  21.  Do you think it could help you with your writing in the future? 153  22.  How did you find asking questions to the characters.  23.  If you were continuing to work on this assignment, how much more time would you want? And what would you do?  154  APPENDIX E GAMBITS  Topic  Expression(s)  A s k i n g what partner wants  What would you like me to type?  A s k i n g for advice  What do you want me to type? What should I type  Negotiating the software (emphasis on prepositions)  to the map Let's go to the museum W h y don't we go H o w about trying Ian at the cafe C l i c k on "back" G o "forward" C l i c k "here" C l i c k "once/twice" W o u l d you please click on.../click here. W e ' v e already seen that screen. W e ' v e been here before W e ' v e seen this before.  A s k i n g to take a turn  H o w about i f I type now? W o u l d you mind i f I had a turn? W o u l d you like me to type? D o you mind i f I take a turn? D o you mind i f I type? Let's switch W h y don't you use the mouse now.  Y o u ' v e typed which is a farmer, maybe who is a farmer is better, (teach stress/pitch rise/holding vowels for indicating one word change) Erase "this". I think we should change... I think it would be better i f we changed... W e need to indent this paragraph.  Editing  155  Agree with partner  I agree with you. I think so too. Do you agree with me?  Disagree with partner  Do you know what I'm saying? Do you know what I mean?  Vocabulary:  Do you know what "rising" is? What does "rising" mean?  Print  I'll go and get a copy from the printer I'll wait here in case it doesn't work.  Spelling  How do you spell...  156  APPENDIX F Tabs in Edubba  157  


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