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The Effects of Carrying out Collaborative Writing on the Individual Writing Proficiency of English Second Language Learners in an English for Academic Purposes Program

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

  • Ian Davison
Publication date2021
Number of pages267
Awarding Institution
Award date8/07/2021
  • Lancaster University
<mark>Original language</mark>English


This quasi-experimental classroom-based study (n=128) looks at what students in an English for Academic Purposes Program (EAP) learn from the process of writing collaboratively and how this affects the individual writing that they subsequently produce. This is compared to how individual writing is affected by carrying out independent writing. Previous research carried out by Storch (2005), Storch and Wigglesworth (2007), Wigglesworth and Storch (2009), Dobao (2012), McDonough, De Vleeschauwer and Crawford (2018) and Villarreal and Gil-Sarratea (2019) found that writing produced collaboratively (by pairs or groups of writers) was more accurate than writing produced independently. This thesis suggests that individual students can learn from the process of writing collaboratively and that their own subsequent individual writing could become more accurate or improve as a result.

Analysis of individual pre and post-test writing completed before and after two groups of students had carried out a series of writing tasks either collaboratively (collaborative writing group, n=64) or independently (independent writing group, n=64) over a period of 8 weeks revealed that accuracy increased to a significantly greater degree in the post-test writing of students from the collaborative group than in the same writing of students from the independent writing group. On the other hand, there were similar statistically significant increases in fluency and lexical complexity in the post-test writing of both groups and in the coherence and cohesion of post-test writing although syntactic complexity did not increase significantly in either group. In this study, it seems that carrying out collaborative writing has had a notable impact on the accuracy of the individual writing that learners who engaged in this writing process subsequently produced. Other facets of individual writing developed in a similar way after completing collaborative writing and the independent writing that is commonly carried out in English for Academic Purposes programs.

Analysis of collaborative dialogue also revealed that students engaged in language related episodes concerning the use of language in the coauthored text that they produced. This involved peer discussion about how language was used, peer-to-peer corrective feedback and sharing knowledge about language use. The results also indicated that other interactive processes besides language related episodes, such as noticing, could also facilitate possible learning

This study contributes to the field of Second Language Writing and English for Academic Purposes (EAP) because it highlights the learning potential of this interactive writing process and suggests that collaborative writing is a viable learning to write activity for the field of EAP.