Inquiry into Student Strategies for Giving Feedback in an Online Collaborative Writing Classroom

Mr Leo Kam-Hung Yu
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The practice of collaborative learning in the writing classroom has been promoted for many years. However, most research has focused on its advantages and disadvantages and some possible pedagogical implications. Little research can be found on the strategies students employ in the collaborative learning process. The purpose of this paper is to examine student feedback found in an online collaborative writing classroom with the support of the discussion board function of WebCT. As revealed from the author's corpus of 240 messages, which were further divided into a total of 319 units of meaning, there were four main types of feedback, namely positive, negative, suggestions and writer's response, with each category consisting of two or more sub-categories. Apart from identifying feedback categories, the author found that there were patterns in the combinations of feedback, which carried some hidden communicative purposes both pragmatically and culturally. For example, the use of positive feedback was not only to praise a classmate's good work with examples as justifications; sometimes it was mixed with negative feedback and/or suggestions, as a buffer when conveying critical comments. Amongst other interesting findings, it was discovered that almost all of what the author terms "explicit negative feedback" was associated with suggestions. There could be two purposes: to give help to the student being criticized to improve his or her writing; and to eliminate or minimize the unwanted impact of the negative feedback. In the Chinese culture, explicitly giving negative feedback causes the student being criticized to lose face. Therefore, the criticism might be interpreted as an unfriendly personal attack. In this way, the students demonstrated cultural awareness to some extent when giving feedback.

Keywords: Student strategies, Feedback, Online Collaborative Writing Classroom
Stream: Technology in Education
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: Inquiry into Student Strategies for giving Feedback in an Online Collaborative Writing Classroom

Mr Leo Kam-Hung Yu

English Tutor, Language Centre, Hong Kong Baptist University
Hong Kong

Leo Yu obtained an MA in Applied Linguistics from The University of Birmingham and an MSc in IT in Education from The University of Hong Kong. He is an English tutor and the IT Co-ordinator of the Language Centre of Hong Kong Baptist University. He has been teaching EAP courses for the undergraduates in Arts, Social Science and Science, and courses in Business English and the Workplace English in Hong Kong Baptist University since 1999.

Ref: T05P0045