Motivating students to learn efl writing by using peer response

I certify that this minor thesis entitled “Using peer response to motivate students’ learning EFL writing” is submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts is the results of my own work, except where otherwise acknowledge and that this minor thesis or any part of the same has not been submitted for a higher degree to any other university or institution. To complete my thesis, I have received generous advice and assistance from many lecturers in the Post Graduate Department of College of Foreign Languages, Hanoi National University whose lectures are very practical and useful. First and foremost, my deepest gratefulness is due to Dr. Tran Xuan Diep, my supervisor, for his valuable advice, close guidance, constructive criticism and continual encouragement from the preparation to completion of this M.A. thesis. Without his help, this study could not have possibly been accomplished. My earnest appreciation goes to teachers and second-year English major students at HUE for their enthusiastic cooperation during my experimental research. Last but not least, I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to my dear family and friends who have constantly supported and inspired me during the time I carried out this study.

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VIETNAM NATIONAL UNIVERSITY, HANOI COLLEGE OF FOREIGN LANGUAGES POST-GRADUATE DEPARTMENT TRầN KIM NGÂN AN EXPERIMENTAL STUDY: MotivatING students to learn EFL writing BY using peer response. (TạO HứNG THú HọC VIếT CHO SINH VIÊN THÔNG QUA NHậN XéT CủA BạN HọC) Code: 601410 M.A. MINOR THESIS HANOI 2007 VIETNAM NATIONAL UNIVERSITY, HANOI COLLEGE OF FOREIGN LANGUAGES POST-GRADUATE DEPARTMENT TRầN KIM NGÂN AN EXPERIMENTAL STUDY: Motivating students to learn EFL writing BY using peer response (TạO HứNG THú CHO SINH VIÊN HọC VIếT THÔNG QUA NHậN XéT CủA BạN HọC) Field: English Methodology Code: 601410 Course: K13 M.A. MINOR THESIS Supervisor: Dr. Trần Xuân Điệp HANOI 2007 ABSTRACT Looking at the teaching and learning English at the present it is found that there is a necessity to vary the methods of teaching as well as improve the teaching and learning condition so that the standard in studying foreign languages in general and English in particular can be higher and higher. Further more, due to the application of communicative language teaching method (CLT), it is clear that students should be well-motivated and activated in learning a foreign language. Therefore, in learning writing, it is suggested that activities which have been neglected now should be taken into consideration since it is believed to make the lesson more motivating. There is no doubt that writing provides students chances to express themselves correctly and communicatively. But the standard of writing of Vietnamese students is of low qualification due to the fact that both teachers and students are not very keen on writing practice since almost English tests focus on grammar and reading comprehension in stead of writing skill. In order to motivate learners to write as well as improve their writing skill, this study aims to investigate peer response method in teaching students’ EFL writing. Subjects for the study are 56 second-year students from English department of Hanoi University of Education divided into two groups, control and experiment groups. An experiment on the use of peer response approach to writing is designed and conducted for 16 weeks of the second semester of 2006-2007 school year. The outcomes show that (1) the new method improves students’ writing skill; (2) it has positive effects on students’ attitude and motivation. Other results from data collected will provide teachers information on the technique for implementing peer response approach in teaching writing. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS I certify that this minor thesis entitled “Using peer response to motivate students’ learning EFL writing” is submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts is the results of my own work, except where otherwise acknowledge and that this minor thesis or any part of the same has not been submitted for a higher degree to any other university or institution. To complete my thesis, I have received generous advice and assistance from many lecturers in the Post Graduate Department of College of Foreign Languages, Hanoi National University whose lectures are very practical and useful. First and foremost, my deepest gratefulness is due to Dr. Tran Xuan Diep, my supervisor, for his valuable advice, close guidance, constructive criticism and continual encouragement from the preparation to completion of this M.A. thesis. Without his help, this study could not have possibly been accomplished. My earnest appreciation goes to teachers and second-year English major students at HUE for their enthusiastic cooperation during my experimental research. Last but not least, I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to my dear family and friends who have constantly supported and inspired me during the time I carried out this study. TABLE OF CONTENTS Abstract Acknowledgements Definition of terms List of abbreviation List of tables, figures and appendices CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION I. II. III. IV. V. VI. Identification of the problem Purpose of the research Significance of the research Scope of the research Research methods Content of the Study 1 2 2 3 3 3 Chapter TWO: THEORETICAL BACKGROUND 5 I. II. III. Overview of writing General concept Teaching English writing 2.1. Written versus spoken language 2.2. Approaches in teaching English writing 2.3. Microskills of writing 2.4. Writing activities Overview of peer response 1. Definition 2. Advantages of peer response 3. Guiding principles for effective peer response Overview of motivation Definition and types of motivation Characteristics of motivated learners Strategies to boost students’ motivation Roles of motivation in foreign language learning 5 5 5 5 6 9 10 11 11 11 12 13 13 15 15 16 Chapter THREE: method and procedureS 17 I. II. III. IV. Determining on the research hypothesis Determining on the study design Participants The Subjects The Researcher Data collection procedures 1. Data collection instruments 1.1. Questionnaires 1.2. Pre- and post-experimental test 2. Data collection procedures 2.1. Before experiment period 2.2. During experiment period 2.3. After experiment period 17 18 19 19 20 20 20 20 21 22 22 23 25 CHAPTER FOUR: PRESENTATION AND ANALYSIS OF DATA 26 I. II. Analysis of questionnaires Students’ general information Students’ attitudes towards peer response method Comparison of students’ attitudes before and after the experiment Students’ opinions after peer response treatment Analysis of tests 1. Analysis of pre-test 1.1. Frequency distribution 1.2. Measures of central tendency 1.3. Measures of dispersion 2. Analysis of post-test 2.1. Frequency distribution 2.2. Measures of central tendency 2.3. Measures of dispersion 2.4. T-test for independent means 26 26 29 30 33 34 34 34 35 36 37 37 37 38 39 CHAPTER FIVE: CONCLUSION 42 Summary and discussion Recommendations Limitations Suggestions for further studies 42 43 45 45 References Appendices Definition of terms - Central tendency: The tendency of a set of scores to cluster around a particular value. The usual measures of central tendency are the mean, median, and the mode. - Control group: The group under normal situation (with traditional teaching/learning approach). - Dispersion: The tendency for a set of scores to spread out or depart from the average or ‘typical’ values in the set of scores. Dispersion is usually measured through the range, the mean deviation, the variance, and the standard deviation of the scores. - Experiment group: The group under experimental conditions (with innovative teaching/learning approach). - Experiment: A procedure for testing a hypothesis by setting up a situation in which the strength of the relationship between variables can be tested. In an experiment, the researcher’s goal is to establish a cause-and-effect relationship between two phenomena. The researcher aims to establish that one variable, the independent variable, causes changes in another variable, the dependent variable. - A true experiment consists of control and experiment groups to which subjects have been randomly assigned and tested before and after the intervention administered to the experiment group. - A quasi-experiment has both pre- and posttest, and experiment and control groups, gut no random assignment of subjects. - Hypothesis: A formal statement about an expected relationship between two or more variables which can be tested through an experiment. - Interview: The elicitation of data by one person from another through person-to-person encounters. - Mean (Symbolized by X): - The average of a set of scores, obtained by adding the scores together and dividing by the total number of scores. - The central tendency of the scores. - Mode: The value which occurs most frequently in a set of scores. - Median: The middle point in a distribution. - Population: All cases, situations, or individuals who share one or more characteristics. - Qualitative data: Data which are recorded in non-numerical form, such as transcripts of classroom interactions. - Quantitative data: Data which are recorded in numerical form. - Questionnaire: An instrument for the collection of data, usually in written form, consisting of open and/or closed questions and other probes requesting a response from subjects. - Range: Difference between the highest and lowest values in a set of scores. - Raw score: The actual scores obtained on tests. - Sample: A subset of individuals or cases from within a population. - Standard deviation (SD): is the degree to which the group of the scores deviates from the mean. The standard deviation is a very powerful measure of ‘dispersion’. Large SD shows: (a) the score distribution is wide; (b) the test has spread the students out; (c) there is a wide range of ability. - T-test: A statistic procedure for testing the difference between two or more means. The t test for independent means is used for differences between means of two groups. The paired t test or the t test for correlated data is used for differences between means of the same group (that is, the experimental group) at two different points in time. - Variable: A property or characteristic which may differ from individual to individual or from group to group (anything which does not remain constant). A great deal of research is carried out in order to identify or test the strength of relationships between variables. When one variable influences or affects a second variable, the first variable is called an independent variable, and the second is called a dependent variable. - Variance: The variance is a direct measure of the dispersion , calculated for a set of scores by subtracting each score from the mean, squaring the resulting values, adding these together, and dividing by the remainder of the number of the scores minus 1. List of Abbreviation C D E EFL f H H0 H1 HUE N p SD tobs tcrit X X XE XC Σ control deviation experiment English as a foreign language frequency with which a score occurs hypothesis null hypothesis = XE - XC = 0 positive hypothesis = XE - XC > 0 Hanoi University of Education number of scores probability standard deviation observed statistic critical statistic raw score the mean the mean of experiment group the mean of control group the total amount (the sum) List of tables Table 1: Comparing spoken language & written language Table 2: Approaches to teaching writing skill Table 3: Criteria for testing writing Table 4: The number of students in the two groups Table 5: Procedures of data collection Table 6: Scoring scale for writing test Table 7: Results of questionnaire A Table 8: Results of questionnaire B, part I Table 9: Results of questionnaire B, part II Table 10: Comparison of pre-test performances of the two groups Table 11: Comparison of post-test performances of the two groups Page 6 7 10 19 22 23 29 30 33 35 38 List of figures Figure 1: Gender of the control and experimental groups Figure 2: Students’ experiences of studying English Figure 3: Students’ attitudes to the English language learning Figure 4: The necessity of studying writing Figure 5: Students’ expectation on the usefulness of the writing course Figure 6: “Peer response stimulates students’ creativeness and activeness” Figure 7: “It’s interesting and useful to read and give comment on others’ writings.” Figure 8: “Giving peer response helps to develop critical reading skill” Figure 9: “Peer response activities help learners to enhance communicative competence, promotes second language development” Figure 10: “Peer response increases negotiation of meaning so as to generate more information for content and rhetorical issues” Figure 11: “Peer response provides chances to build strong classmate relationship and gives students a sense of group cohesion” Figure 12: Pre-test score distribution Figure 13: Post-test score distribution 19 27 27 28 28 30 31 31 32 32 33 34 37 List of appendices Appendix 1: Questionnaire A Appendix 2: Questionnaire B Appendix 3: Criteria for effective questioning Appendix 4: Common topics for students to practice writing Appendix 5: Grading rubric for writing test CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION Identification of the problem English has experienced its popularity in teaching and learning in Vietnam over the last decades. It is taught in almost all educational institutions: universities, colleges, training centers, etc. The demand for learning English even gets stronger when Vietnam fosters its international relations. English, in parallel with the knowledge of some other fields, turns out to be a key to open the door into the bustling world. As a result, learning English now is not only an interest but also a practical need for many people. This demand in language learning has brought about a great amount of positive changes in language teaching in Vietnam. Language teachers have looked for and tried different methods and techniques in teaching and learning in order to find the effective ones. The effectiveness of a teaching method or technique is reflected in the learners’ language competence that is their abilities to perform the four language skills: listening, speaking, reading, writing, among which, writing seems to be the most difficult one. It is the fact that the question of teaching writing well and effectively has been the concern of many people. Being a teacher of English at HUE, I realize that most of the students face many problems in learning writing. This is due to the fact that writing lessons are so boring that students often feel tired and stressed. Therefore, it is essential for the teacher to find out effective teaching approaches to make the lessons more interesting so that s/he can attract students’ attention and help improve their writing proficiency as well. Traditionally, students are the passive knowledge receivers who have to do what their teachers ask them to do. There is a fact that in most language classes, especially large classes, most learners only passively sit and take notes , rarely contribute in the lesson and even do not ask the teacher questions when they have problems. But we all know that students’ interaction and their autonomy in learning foreign languages play an important part in the success of teaching and learning process. That means teachers cannot teach effectively without students’ participation. In light of communication approach in language teaching which emerges as the latest development, we are now paying more attention to the role of students in classes. Student are considered the centre of the learning process and teachers serve as facilitators allowing students to be in charge of their own learning. With active, independent participation from one another, peer response is considered as learner-center approach with which students can assess one another’s task to help correct and improve language skills under the supervision from teachers. This is especially helpful if we have mixed ability group where weaker students can learn a lot from stronger ones. Peer work is a valuable addition to a variety of learning activities which encourages and promotes foreign language skill development. Although peer response is important in effective language teaching, there is inadequate research on this issue. As far as this matter is concerned, there has been almost no research work touching upon the issue of motivating students’ writing skill through peer activities. For this reasons, I decided on choosing “Using peer response to motivate students’ writing skill” as topic of my M.A. research. II. Purpose of the research The major purposes of the research are: 1. This research, based on an experiment, tries to explore the effect of peer response method on students’ writing motivation and proficiency. 2. To find students’ attitudes towards peer response 3. To suggest implications for teachers in order to raise their awareness of students’ active role in writing lessons. In order to implement the research, a research question is raised: “To what extent does the method of peer response help to motivate students’ writing?” Significance of the research The results of the study will bring in practical benefits to teaching English, especially teaching writing. If peer response method helps motivate students’ writing skills, it will be applied at different scales. At small scales, the study provides practical lessons and principles of peer response as one of the innovative methods available for the choices of language teachers at HUE. At larger scales, the writing materials might be revised to incorporate the peer response method into the present writing program. IV. Scope of the research The study is concerned with finding the effects of using peer response approach in motivating students to learn EFL writing for the students at HUE in comparison with the traditional one (teachers’ response only). Other approaches to teaching writing intended for students would be beyond the scope. V. Research methods In order to achieve the above mentioned aims to make the study more practical, data were collected by means of tests and questionnaires and analysis is also used to process the materials. The primary data analysis is of quantitative method with close questions and scale questions in the questionnaire designed for the needs analysis, and students’ attitude analysis. A need analysis was conducted among the existing students of English major in order to find out whether the students at HUE consider learning writing useful and find out their attitudes to peer response approach. Lastly, statistic analysis of students’ test scores is used to identify any improvement made by the students in writing after the experiment. The analysis also helps find out the strengths and drawbacks of peer response, which may result in appropriate adjustments in the teaching method of the instructor. The books, articles and internet sources on peer response method for teaching writing are collected to examine the history of the fields and available suggestions in the practice of teaching writing. VI. Contents of the study The study comprises four chapters: Chapter one is the introduction stating the problem identification, objectives, significance and research method. It also narrows the scope of the study and briefly presents an overall out-line of the research study. Chapter two reviews the theoretical background of the study. It presents overview of teaching writing, peer response and motivation in foreign language teaching. Chapter three describes in details the research methodology which comprises the information of the research subjects, instruments for data collection and procedure for data collection. Chapter four presents statistical results and the analysis of the collected data. The statistical results are the basement to determine the effects of peer response method on teaching writing. Chapter five is the conclusion which closes the study by summarizing the main contents and providing suggestions for further study. CHAPTER TWO THEORETICAL BACKGROUND This chapter consists of three sections. Section one deals with general ideas about writing. Section two mentions some concepts related to the activity of peer response in writing and guiding principles for effective peer response. The last section deals with motivation in language learning. Overview of writing General concept In language teaching, writing is defined as a productive and taught language skill. According to Ur (1996) “most people acquire the spoken language (at least their own mother tongue) intuitively, whereas the written form is in most cases deliberately taught and learned” (p.161). He added that “writing norm
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