The Impact of Collaborative Writing on L2 Writing Development and L2 Learning In the EFL College Context

Yen-Ching Chuang, Fordham University


This classroom-based study explored the processes of how EFL college students constructed meaning and ultimately composed their writing in small groups, and investigated how students’ engagement in collaborative writing activities influenced the quality of their individually and jointly written texts. This study used Flower and Hayes’ cognitive theory of writing, Swain’s output hypothesis, and Vygotsky’s sociocultural theory of learning. Six English-major freshmen at a Taiwanese university and whose English proficiency level was high-intermediate, participated in the study. Multiple sources of data were collected, including audio- and video-recorded students’ discussion during collaborative writing activities, group stimulated recall interview, observation notes, pre- and post-task individual writing, collaboratively written texts, pre- and post-task questionnaire, and others. The findings were (a) writing was a recursive and flexible process, with students using different strategies including planning, exercising different roles, focusing on language, using L1, back-translation, audience awareness, and revising; (b) collaborative writing showed a positive impact on the overall performance in both groups; (c) all six participants achieved higher scores on the individual Post-task Writing than on the individual Pre-task Writing; and (d) the collaborative process showed a positive impact on fluency and complexity, although a negligible impact on accuracy. This research study finds support for the sociocultural theory, helps expand the construct of group zone of proximal development, confirms the significant role of languaging, and encourages EFL writing teachers and students to approach the writing process as recursive. This study supports that collaboration with peers promotes planning. In order to optimize learning and to create a positive classroom environment, teachers are encouraged to set clear expectations about when and how L1 may be used to advance L2 collaborative writing activities.

Subject Area

English as a Second Language|Foreign language education

Recommended Citation

Chuang, Yen-Ching, "The Impact of Collaborative Writing on L2 Writing Development and L2 Learning In the EFL College Context" (2018). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI10812895.