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Asia tefl 2013 full text article

  1. 1. Peer Edition In EFL Writing Class Of Indonesian Context: An Ethnographic Snapshot 1 PEER EDITION IN EFL WRITING CLASS OF INDONESIAN CONTEXT: AN ETHNOGRAPHIC SNAPSHOT Susilo, Mulawarman University, Samarinda, Indonesia Email: Abstract Almost all EFL writing teachers believed that evaluating EFL writing competence needs not only to see the final drafts which the students write but also the process when the students are interacting to write in the classroom. However, in seeing the process, not all teachers are interested in investigating all cultural aspects in the classroom. The fact that what would happen in the class’ interaction might culturally influence the students’ mindset which, in turn, gives impact on the progress of the students’ draft qualities need to be studied ethnographically. The mini study explores peer edition occurred in the process of teaching EFL writing in Indonesian context. This ethnographic snapshot which was conducted in Mulawarman University, Samarinda, Indonesia, specifically explores and analyzes EFL class interaction of Writing Course taken by freshmen of the English Department. The results indicated that negotiation and coalition are sorts of class discourses which play an important role in the interaction in addition to the presence of three response patterns as the reflection of the nature of responses. Furthermore, positive feedback is gained gradually from the peer correction interaction, influencing the progress of the qualities of students’ finals drafts. This ethnographic result raised a pedagogical issue, i.e. that an egalitarian social relationship should be strongly constructed in EFL writing class. Though putting apart inequalities from this ‘micro society’ seems impossible, treating all members of class as equal and having the same right and opportunities to play roles in the class is important in EFL writing. Keywords: Class Interaction, EFL Writing, Selfhood, Peer Response, and Peer Edition INTRODUCTION Though learning writing needs more individual efforts, seemingly it cannot be free from involving the learner in interacting with other learners. The interaction enables the learners to have more opportunities to brainstorm ideas, correct mistakes, or give feedback during the learning process. Vygotsky (2000) argued that interaction is an important mode of learning since internalization of social communication can help learners progress from complex to conceptual thinking. In the interaction resides class members’ interdependency which might energize multiple perspectives, abilities, talents, and experiences. Obviously, more dynamic atmosphere would be established from the class interaction. The growing concern of researchers over the role of peer interaction and feedback in EFL class led many writing course lecturers to examine their students’ behaviours and peer responses. This can be done by the lecturers through peer edition of the EFL writing class. In 1
  2. 2. Peer Edition In EFL Writing Class Of Indonesian Context: An Ethnographic Snapshot 2 many cases, the peer edition can reveal positive results in terms of enhancing quality of both learning process and students’ final writing drafts. Pritchard & Honeycutt (2006) presented a review essay drawing upon numerous studies that examined the process movement. They found that “writing and writing process are best understood as complex phenomena” and that “multiple factors influence the writing process.” In the writing process, some studies address the results that both peer responses and feedback can be engineered in such away that makes them fitted for the expected circumstances. Thus they affected quality of the students’ final texts (Berg, 1999; Min, 2006; Gielen,, 2010; Roberts & Ferris, 2001). Meanwhile, other research findings argued the importance of the way interaction proceeds in EFL writing classroom. For instance, the interaction occured in the peer edition gives more rooms for students to collaborate with fellow students and this can increase their motivation and inspiration (Lin and Chien, 2009). As a matter of fact, interaction, which belongs to the domain of speaking class, can also play a significant role in writing class since oral discussion can be one of the important forms of the feedback and responses in peer activity (Zhu, 2001; Perpignan, 2003; Bitchener (2008). Moreover, techniques to address feedback is so vital that standardized feedback can solve problems with regard to teacher focus, learner attitude and learner focus. Therefore a caring relationship between teacher and student in managing feedback and revision circles, which was strongly influenced by students’ level of trust in teacher’s English ability, teaching practices, and written feedback, as much as the teacher’s trust in particular students based on how they revised their drafts. (Louw, 2008; Lee and Schallert, 2008). By observing the class interaction and making in-depth interviews with some students in peer edition of freshmen in EFL writing course in an Indonesian context, this ethnographic snapshot aims at exploring and analyzing: 1) how students make responses to their peers’ drafts; 2) how the peer responses serve as positive feedback for the students; 3)how students interact each other to share error corrections; and 4) how students use their local cultural perspectives to construct class discourse during their interaction in peer edition? CONTEXT OF THE STUDY The study began as an ethnographic study conducted in EFL classroom of Indonesian learners of English in the English Department, Teachers College, Mulawarman University, Samarinda, Indonesia. The 1st year students who were taking the writing 1 and writing 2 courses were the subjects. These students come from different local cultural backgrounds - to 2
  3. 3. Peer Edition In EFL Writing Class Of Indonesian Context: An Ethnographic Snapshot 3 mention some: Kutainese, Makassarese, Buginese, Javanese, Dayaknese, Torajanese and Banjarese (i.e. those are some names of the local ethnics living in Kalimantan Timur, one of the Indonesian provinces, where this study was conducted). The data for this study were gathered through participant observation, interview, introspective method (i.e., think-aloud protocols). The class was running in a natural situation as usual when the study was conducted. For the ethical reason, before beginning the semester, formal information was given to the students and then is followed by an ethnographic mini research. Telling them the design and procedures of the study was the way to negotiate with the participants in order that they join the class conveniently. The procedure of peer edition involves the following steps: 1) individually the students design their own outlines for the first drafts; 2) then they began to write the first drafts in the classroom; 3) they brought the drafts they just wrote to a class forum for peer correction. In the class forum they made a discussion on peer corrections; they made negotiation on every single correction and finally lecturer gave final feedback for each student’s work; and 4) on the basis of the feedback gained from both teachers and peers, they revise the drafts, and submitted the final drafts to the lecturer. The data were analyzed by using discourse-based construct which involved explicit interpretation of the meaning and function of human action and behavior occurring within the context and group setting. RESULTS The Nature of Students’ Responses to Their Peers’ Drafts It is useful to begin the analysis with the ethnographic information which tells us the nature of the students’ responses. There are three different response patterns that the students tend to follow in the study, i.e, 1) response with no comment, 2) response with correction, and 4) response with correction and reminder. Firstly, responses with no comment pattern were generated by the students who tend not to give any correction at all. This unwillingness to give proper corrections to peers’ works is due to two factors, i.e. their social inferiority in the class and their own incompetence. For the former factor, students tend to be hesitant in making corrections to certain peers because they exactly know the peers’ competence. Such student correctors strongly assumed that writers from the upper-competent students would make no errors when they are writing the drafts. Consequently, it is very hard for the correctors to identify errors and correct them. While for the latter factor, student correctors did not give comments in their peers’ works 3
  4. 4. Peer Edition In EFL Writing Class Of Indonesian Context: An Ethnographic Snapshot 4 because they do not have adequate competence to identify errors. In this case, they didn’t know exactly where the errors are. As a result, no comment is put in the revision sheet. Confessions admitted by the students suggest the existence of these phenomena. The following instances of data tell us how the confession goes various when the students were peer-correcting their friends’ drafts. Evidence 1: Saya tidak berani menyalahkan kalimat-kalimatnya sih, habis saya tahu yang nulis ini si AT (AT is a name of a student-pseudonym). Jangan-jangan saya koreksi jadi salah lagi. The translation: I am not courageous enough to correct these sentences because I know well who wrote this draft, i.e. AT. I am not sure that my responses would be proper corrections. [TOL_Pro_001]. Evidence 2: Saya bingung apa yang saya koreksi. Saya kayaknya sih bener-bener aja semua. The translation: I am confused what to write for the correction. It seems to me that all sentences are right. [TOL_Pro_008] These two evidence are taken from think-out protocols where students are supposed to articulte their thought after they are engaged in the peer edition. As shown in Evidence 1, a student was confessing that she is not unable to give proper comments but she only does not have courage to give comments. This suggests how this student correctors serve herself as a member of the class who has social inferiority. Evidence 2, furthermore tells us how a student is reluctant to give comments because of his incompetence. In this example, it is clear that that student can not decide where the errors are after he read the peers’ works. Secondly, responses with correction were produced by the upper competent students who have capacity to correct the drafts. In this pattern of response, the students attempt to identify errors from the drafts they proofread and at the same time they revised the errors by giving the correct ones. However, in this pattern of response, the students did not give any notes for clarification of the changes they made. Data Citation 1: In the first draft Suggestion from the corrector : …to till in the market… : …to arrive in the market…[draft 012] Data Citation2: In the first draft Suggestion from the corrector : …she is go to the restaurant… :…she goes to the restaurant…[draft 009] 4
  5. 5. 5 Peer Edition In EFL Writing Class Of Indonesian Context: An Ethnographic Snapshot Data Citation 3: In the first draft : Grandmother not forget to buy some medicine to her husband Suggestion from the corrector : Grandmother doesn`t forget to buy some medicine for her Husband [draft 035] Data Citation 4: In the first draft : She wolk to market for buy somethink Suggestion from the corrector : She walks to the market to buy something [draft 038] The above data examplify students’ critical evaluation. In data citation 1, for instance, the corrector changes the word ‘till’ into ‘arrive’ which she believes correct. Data citation 2, 3 and 4 exemplify the same pattern of corrections. These data citations reflect how student correctors critically evaluate the drafts they were correcting. Thirdly, it was found that there were responses with correction and reminder. It is a response pattern where in addition to giving the correct sentences student correctors put notes explaining the reasons whay they revised certain words in the corrected drafts. Very often did they write the reason in their mother tongue. For instance, for the sentence correction as is shown in data citation 2, at the end of the draft the students put a note explaining why the sentence is incorrect and what the correct one should be. The note says: “kata ‘go’ seharusnya di tambah akhiran es/s karena dalam kalimat simple present tense khusus untuk subyek orang ketiga tunggal verb yang mengikutinya harus di tambah akhiran es/s”- the translation: we should add es/s after the word ‘go’ because the subject is the third person singular in which we have to add es/s after the verb [cited from draft 009]. Obviously, the note functioned as reminder for the writer whose draft is being corrected. The three response patterns as previously described emerged in line with the social discourse which has been generated overtime by the class in EFL writing course and in other courses as well. Since the class members meet each other in a regular basis, they gradually generate the so called selfhood in the class. Subjectivity, identity and role are encapsulated into the concept called selfhood by Canagarajah (2002). The in-class dichotomy, like upper students, medium students, lower students, inevitably occured due to the fact that class members are heterogeneous in terms of their competence. This condition certainly influences teachers’ treatment toward everybody in the class during regular teaching process. Thus this in-class dichotomy leads to the situation where lower students tend to construct responses 5
  6. 6. Peer Edition In EFL Writing Class Of Indonesian Context: An Ethnographic Snapshot 6 with no comment pattern; medium students are triggered to follow responses with correction; and upper students like to use responses with correction and reminder. In addition, students’ cultural background seems also influencial in terms of what response patterns the students chose. The students with certain ethnic backgrounds, like Javanese, Kutainese or Banjarese, have to think thousand times to directly give corrections when they found errors in their peers’ drafts, thus they tend to take response with no comment. Ethnographically, this happened because of the unique characteristics of those ethnics. Those ethnic tradition teach them not to directly say other people’s mistakes. This teaching underly their behavior even in class interaction. Meanwhile, some other ethnics, such as Buginese (or Makassarese) and Bataknese, have much caurage to give straightforward correction to their peers’ drafts. This leads them to take response with correction, or correction and reminder. Data Citation 5: ‘kami orang makasar mengikuti tradisi kebiasaan kami, pak, bahwa segala sesuai harus dikatakan secara langsung. Jangan ada yang disimpan yang tidak dikatakan tetapi akan membuat kita panasaran dibelakang hari’ The translation: our tradition teaches us that we have to be straightforward in every single thing. Do no ever hedge the things that we feel regret later. (Intw_003). Data Citation 6: ‘kalau orang jawa lain pak, enggan rasanya saya memberikan saran langsung jika ada teman yang salah. Saya kawatir tersinggung’ The translation: we are Javanese, we have tradition that it would not be good to give direct correction when our friends made mistakes. We worried we hurt him/her (Intw_007) These two data citations examplify how students from different cultural background have their own ways in interacting their correction among peers. Some ethnics in Indonesia teach tradition where making direct correction is good, while others say that it is not good. This presumably influences the way the students give responses to peers’ drafts in EFL class of Indonesian learners. Coalition, Negotiation and Positive Feedback in the Atmosphere of Indonesian EFL Writing Obviously, interaction in EFL writing class is, among other things, influenced by selfhood, which was gradually formed through the students’ subjectivity, identity and role in class. The selfhood gives relatively strong impact on how members of the class behave in 6
  7. 7. Peer Edition In EFL Writing Class Of Indonesian Context: An Ethnographic Snapshot 7 relation to error corrections. Negotiation and coalition are two different discourses which occured in the EFL writing class under study. These two discourses generate better atmosphere in the class. The better atmosphere can be indicated by the students’ tendency to defend their arguments when they were discussing the errors in front of the whole class members. Misunderstanding and misconception firstly often appeared in the discussion before they finally concluded the right concepts and understood them well. In this phenomenon, more importantly to negotiate as well as to make a coalition means everything to the students in the process of peer edition. First of all, it was found that negotiation tends to happen in the discussion of their errors with their peers. This tendency illustrates how the students are interacting in the classroom when they get involved in the discussion of errors they identified from their friends’ raw drafts. In the negotiation, students are exchanging ideas of certain grammatical points which according to them might be contextually debatable. In this case, they usually focus more on the function of the grammatical styles. Let’s have a look at this illustration: Student writer Hp (pseudonym) found such a sentence ‘she buying potatoes, bananas, toothpaste, and medician, because she think about she husband’ [draft 023], when she was correcting her friend’s draft. Believing that this sentence is incorrect, she tried to revise this sentence, resulting in the following: ‘She is buying potatoes, bananas, toothpaste, and medicine, because she thinks about her husband’. ‘In the process of a class discussion, a friend of her (Mu – pseudonym) raised an idea of changing the word ‘think about’ with ‘think of’. Mu in fact did not know exactly the difference between ‘think about’ and ‘think of’, therefore it triggered some other friends to make a debate on this slight difference. The debate was running for approximately 5 minutes before the teacher finally asked them to look at the dictionary. After consulting it with the dictionary, they knew the difference. However, this brought them into another debate, i.e. what appropriate context do these two words have to be placed? At the end, the teacher explained it to them the right context, and it was student writer Hp who knew completely the context since she was the writer’ [field notes 002]. Obviously, the above citation reflects the class members’ horizon of their knowledge on the function of using ‘think of’ and ‘think about’. Different members would differently say about the use of this phrasal words depending to a great extent on how far they get more readings on the uses of those words. This negotiation gives positive benefits to all members of the class since they can get lessons learned from the debate when finally the teacher gives feedback to the whole class members. The class atmosphere where negotiation occurs implies more feedback. On the contrary, there is a time when discussion cannot continue to go. This happens when there are 7
  8. 8. Peer Edition In EFL Writing Class Of Indonesian Context: An Ethnographic Snapshot 8 some students accept all their weaknesses before showing their attempts in sharing corrections in the peer editing process. In this case, it is a little bit hard to seek feedback for the better atmosphere. Let us have a look at the following citation: Saya bingung apa yang saya koreksi. Saya kayaknya sih bener-bener aja semua. ‘I am confused what to write for the correction. It seems to me that all sentences are right’ [TOL_Pro_008] This datum is taken from the atmosphere where the students are hopeless. They would not get more feedback because it would be hard for them to continue the discussion in this condition. In such condition, if the teacher gives the ideal correction soon, then happiness would emerge from the students’ faces leading the situation where the class discussion would soon stop running. As a consequence they get no positive feedback. It is useful to admit that whatever the condition is, the students need to continue discussion since in the discussion resides positive lessons they can obtain as feedback. The following confession suggests feedback gains significance. Minggu kemarin ketika saya mengerjakan tugas ini, saya merasa belum siap karena saya tidak pernah menulis dalam bentuk bahasa Inggris, sehingga saya melakukan banyak kesalahan diantaranya: she buying, she think about. Untuk kesalahan di atas saya mengaku belum terlalu mengerti penggunaannya. Setelah pertemuan koreksi bersama saya jadi mengerti banyak hal. ‘Last week when I did this assignment I was not ready. This is my first time writing in English, that is why I made many errors, i.e. she buying, she think about. I now confess that in fact I did not know the concept. But after following peer response meeting, I understood them all’ [TOL_Pro_010]. The above datum shows that student (Hp) was experiencing grammar negotiation, especially on the diction of ‘think of’ and ‘think about’. All class members were found to have advantages from this negotiation since they got feedback from both their peers and the teacher. This positive feedback can trigger the class to do better writing drafts for the next revision sessions. During the next several meetings, the class should submit the after-editingrevised drafts. Overall, it was found that qualitatively the results of the discussion served as positive feedback for the progress of the students’ development in finalizing the quality of the drafts. It is shown from the following data that better progress emerges. Let us see the following interview results. Interviewer : kalau saya akan memberi tugas menulis lagi, gimana menurut kamu? (what if I give you more writing assignment?) 8
  9. 9. Peer Edition In EFL Writing Class Of Indonesian Context: An Ethnographic Snapshot Interviewee Interviewer Interviewee 9 : saya siap kerjakan, saya tidak takut pak karena saya sudah tahu banyak tentang grammar karena belajar di pertemuan koreksi bersama di kelas ini. ‘well, it is no problem, I will be ready to do that. I am telling you that I have learned many things from the peer editing class’ : memang apa saja yang sudah kamu ketahui kok optimis betul kamu? ‘You look really optimistic, what do you get from last peer discussion?’ : iya pak, kemarin saya coba nulis-nulis bahasa Inggris, trus saya coba lihatkan ke dosen lain, eh ternyata gak banyak kesalahan kok, pak. ‘yeah, I would like to tell you that I have tried to write a short draft, then I met the other teacher to do his favor for correction. I found no more errors I made in my work’ [Interview_AB_02] Secondly, in addition to negotiation it was also found another phenomenon in the process of peer editing, i.e. the students’ coalition with other friends to be confident for sharing their critical evaluation. In this situation, students were seeking some friends who have shared critical evaluation during the peer correction. These unconfident students do not dare to bring their critical evaluation to the class peer edition forum. Therefore, they initiated coalition to construct their confidence. By having more friends who have shared critical evaluation, they believe it would be more comfortable to say their critical correction in the forum. This is very important for them since before the discussion is running, they have to convince the other class members that the errors they judged were really convincing errors. By so doing, they were assumed to be successful correctors. The following illustration suggests this phenomenon. During the discussion, some students were whispering ‘secret’ messages to their neighboring friends. They did it many times to many different friends. In fact, these students wondered whether their correction was right or wrong so that they need more friends to agree on the judged errors [field notes 008]. Similarly, the confession admitted below strengthens the existence of coalition. Kan saya belum yakin, apa yang saya koreksi itu benar-benar kesalahan. Janganjangan itu sudah benar malah saya yang salah. Karena itu saya perlu konfirmasi teman pak. I am not sure whether what I thought errors was really errors. I wonder I am not a good corrector. That is why I need other friends to confirm. [TOL_Pro_011]. Apparently, the students’ purpose to make coalition is just to strengthen their position in the discussion. They need strong support from their peers. From the angle of social interaction process, negotiation and coalition are two possible discourses which can color the 9
  10. 10. Peer Edition In EFL Writing Class Of Indonesian Context: An Ethnographic Snapshot 10 atmosphere constructed by the students and the teacher as well, giving effects on the betterment of their final writing drafts. CONCLUSION The three patterns of responses emerged from this ethnographic information described the nature of how students make their responses to the peers’ drafts. To know the nature of responses means we attempt to trace the students’ writing process, which leads us to significant gained feedback that all members of the class might be aware of. From the angle of process-oriented method, this trace is extremely important since the development of students’ writing proficiency to a great extent is dependent on how the students keep doing peer-editing practices in the classroom. Creative atmosphere therefore is needed to support it. Negotiation and coalition are sorts of discourses which operate in the peer-editing interaction. The two discourses are essential in constructing the students’ selfhood in EFL creative writing processes of Indonesian context, which finally plays an important role in establishing the ethnographic class context, suggesting the gradually significant gain of feedback. Therefore, in peer edition process embraces all sorts of class discourses generated by the class members, selfhood, and creative atmosphere. It is obvious that different ethnics, institutional positions, and class discourses are things that, if we can totally accept them as a good fusion, would present a unique pedagogical context in EFL creative writing. Such kind of context is fashioned to prepare the class (i.e. all members of the class) for egalitarian social relation. This ethnographic conclusion seems to raise certain pedagogical issue. From the angle of the peer edition perspective, it is most likely that egalitarian social relationship should be strongly constructed. Class discourse operated when the peer edition is underway should be less threatening and less authoritarian, leading the students to work with one another in a friendlier and more supportive situation. Though completely putting apart inequalities from this ‘micro society’ is impossible, then treating all members of class as equal and having the same right and opportunities to play roles should be present in everyone’s mind. Here, the role of lecturer should be a facilitator instead of the source person. 10
  11. 11. Peer Edition In EFL Writing Class Of Indonesian Context: An Ethnographic Snapshot 11 REFERENCES Berg, E. Cathrine. (1999). The Effects of Trained Peer Response on ESL Students’ Revision Types and Writing Quality. Journal of Second Language Writing, 8 (3), 215-241. Bitchener, John. (2008). Evidence in Support of Written Corrective Feedback. Journal of Second Language Writing (17), 102–118. Canagarajah. A. S. (2002). Critical Academic Writing and Multilingual Students. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. Johnson, Walter. (2011). Social Interactionist Theory. Retrieved from html#ixzz1Ghc2ED6C. Gielen, Sarah, Ellen Peeters, Filip Dochy, Patrick Onghena, & Karen Struyven. (2010). Improving the Effectiveness of Peer Feedback for Learning. Learning & Instruction, 20(4), 304–315. Lantoolf, James P. (Ed.). (2009). Sociocultural Theory and Second Language Learning. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Lee, Given, & Schallert, Diane L. (2008). Constructing Trust between Teacher and Students through Feedback and Revision Cycles in an EFL Classroom. Written Communication (25): 506. Retrieved from Lin, G. H., & Chien, P. C. (2009). An Investigation into the Effectiveness of Peer Feedback. Journal of Applied Foreign Languages Fortune Institute of Technology , 3, 79-87. Louw, Henk. (2008). The effectiveness of Standardized Feedback When L2 Students Revise Writing. Language Matter. Retrieved from Min, H.-T. (2006). The effectiveness of trained peer review on EFL students’ revision types and writing quality. Journal of Second Language Writing (15), 118-141. Peregoy, S. F., & Boyle, O. F. (2001). Reading, writing, and learning in ESL: A resource book for K-12 teachers. New York: Longman. Pritchard, Ruie J. & Honeycutt, Ronald L. (2006). The process approach to writing instruction: Examining its effectiveness. In Charles A. MacArthur, Steve Graham, and Jill Fitzgerald. (Eds.). Handbook on the Teaching of Writing. (pp. 275-290). New York: Guilford Press Roberts, Barrie & Ferris, Dana. (2001). Error Feedback in L2 Writing Classes: How Explicit does it need to be? Journal of Second Language Writing (10), 161 – 184 Scarcella, R. (2003). Balancing approaches to English language instruction. In Accelerating academic English: A focus on the English learner (pp. 159-173). Oakland: University of California. Vygotsky, L. S. (2000). Thought and language. (A. Kozulin, Rev. Trans., Ed.) Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Zhu, Wei. (2001). Interaction and Feedback in Mixed Peer Response Groups. Journal of Second Language Writing (10), 251 – 276 11