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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Peer response and second language writers Tithecott, Eileen Joan


This study explored the value of peer response groups with second language students learning writing. It was conducted in a small university college with 12 international students from Asia, most of whom were in Canada to improve their English in order to enroll in university and college programs. The study specifically investigated a) the perceptions of students with regard to peer response b) whether those perceptions changed over the length of the study c) what students actually did during the response sessions and finally d) how they changed their essays as a result of participating in the sessions. Students were asked to submit three journal entries during the course of the semester describing their views of the peer response sessions. During one peer response session the groups were audiotaped and those tapes were transcribed. Draft essays and final copies were also collected. Throughout the course of the semester I kept a journal of my observations and thoughts. Journal entries, and transcripts were analyzed and discussed. Drafts of essays and final copies were compared to ascertain what changes had been made by the writers. Finally, the changes were analyzed to determine if they were the result of comments made by peers during the sessions. An analysis of the data revealed that the students, although Asian and from cultures where classes are traditionally teacher-centered tended to be positive about peer response and became somewhat more positive as the semester progressed. They appreciated the benefits of peer response but did have some concerns, mainly centered around peer feedback. During the sessions students engaged in a variety of social, cognitive and linguistic activities as they worked to accomplish the assigned task. Students did revise their essays using peer comments although not as much as I had hoped. Comments by some of the students indicated they reserved the right to decide whether to follow the advice given by their classmates or not. Results suggest that it is important for teachers to continue to use peer response sessions even with students from cultures where teacher-centered classes are the norm since benefits seem to outweigh disadvantages.

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