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Article

The Collaborative Discussion Model: Developing Writing Skills through Prewriting Discussion

Journal of Language and Education. 2021. Vol. 7. No. 1. P. 158-172.
Tatiana Pospelova.

This study aims to investigate the effect of peer-assisted prewriting discussion on second language (L2) academic writing and its benefits for students with different proficiency levels. While there is a significant body of research exploring the positive impact of collaboration on L2 writers' written performance and the ways it could be organised, there is little practical consideration on how to formulate explicit instruction. The rationale for this research lies in designing and arranging such explicit instruction which could lead to L2 learners producing a higher quality writing output. Based on the qualitative and quantitative methods and drawn on the students’ written texts and data analysis, the current study was conducted to devise and to test a proposed model, which the author will term the ‘collaborative discussion model’ (the CDM).  The control and experimental groups of Russian EFL students (n = 48), organised in a specific way, were engaged in written assignments after naturally occurring discussion and then the latter was involved in the instruction-led discussion. The practice writing tasks were rated with the analytic rubric used in IELTS, assessing task response, coherence and cohesion, lexical resource, and grammatical range. The findings suggest that collaborative prewriting tasks, accomplished in the experimental group of students with different levels of L2 proficiency, may encourage students to engage more in reflection about the content and language of the text. As the texts produced after introducing the CDM were scored higher, especially on the criteria of task response and lexical resource, it is suggested that scaffolding prewriting discussion can potentially augment the writing skills of learners and the CDM can be used as a complementary activity to address challenges associated with academic writing. The results of the questionnaire can imply that there are benefits of explicit instruction for students with different levels of L2 proficiency, although in nuanced ways and different degrees.