Fostering learning through computer-mediated collaborative writing : A case study of upper secondary school students’ meaning making when engaging in computermediated collaborative writing
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This thesis investigates three groups of first-year upper secondary school students’ computermediated collaborative writing (CMCW) activities in the subject of English. Prior research has shown that collaborative writing can enhance students’ writing skills (Bikowski & Vithanage, 2016) and be a dialogical tool for meaning making (Thompson & Wittek, 2016). As the use of CMCW in educational contexts increases (Storch, 2018), it becomes important to better understand those practices in order to implement them to their full potential. The theoretical framework guiding the present study is a sociocultural perspective, where participants’ construction of meaning is regarded an interactional, tool-mediated achievement (Vygotsky, 1986; Säljö, 2001). This study employs a dialogic approach to investigate computersupported collaborative learning (CSCL) settings (Arnseth & Ludvigsen, 2006), seeking to understand the process of the students’ meaning making (Furberg, 2009). Analytical attention is concentrated on the enacted CMCW educational design and the sequential unfolding of group activities; the students’ co-construction of meaning, materialising in the intersection between social interactions and co-construction of text. The analysis is guided by the following research questions: - What characterises the enacted collaborative writing educational design in English, and how does it foster student collaboration? - How are upper secondary school students engaging in meaning making during the computer-mediated collaborative writing of podcast scripts? The findings in this thesis suggest that the CMCW educational design fostered student collaboration, as students created patterns of interaction while engaging in informal use of English in authentic and practical situations, supported by the teacher’s instructional and conceptual support. Findings indicate that the open and exploratory CMCW task initiated meaning-making activities; whereas students relieved control of the text making room for co-construction, combined knowledge, discussed grammar in use and provided support for and co-regulated peers, challenges were linked to establishing joint attention and technological restrictions. The prominent role of language use interplayed within student collaboration, impacted by the teacher’s design choices and the rhythm and patterns of interaction.