ERIC Number: ED415718
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1997-Nov
When They Don't All Speak English: Addressing Writing Problems in Multilingual Peer Response Groups.
Wachholz, Patricia B.
This study investigated how writing groups function in a multilingual university classroom, the kinds of responses students in such groups give one another, and how students respond to peers' suggestions about writing. Subjects were 11 students of varied linguistic background in a freshman composition class. Data were gathered over 10 weeks through observation, analysis of student writing samples, student interviews, and field notes of casual conversations and ancillary reactions. Results suggest both positive and negative aspects of peer response techniques. The groups helped students respond to their own writing as they sensed audience needs, and students talked to explore and enlarge understanding of their own writing. Limitations included students' reluctance to offer negative criticism, tendency to drift away from appropriate tasks, potential for falling prey to inaccurate or bad advice, exaggerated emphasis on mechanics over content, and overlooking problems in the papers. Students inexperienced in peer response groups were uncertain of their role. In some cases, native-speakers were condescending or dismissive of limited-English-proficient students' needs. It is concluded that the data raise concerns about authority, rules, roles, and relationships that must be addressed if response groups are to function effectively in a linguistically diverse classroom. Contains 31 references. (MSE)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Mid-South Educational Research Association (Memphis, TN, November 12, 1997).