ESL Students in the College Writing Conferences: Perception and Participation
ethnography of communication
Committee ChairLiu, Jun
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractTeacher-student writing conferences are an important component in college writing courses. Coming from different cultural and educational backgrounds, many ESL students are not familiar with this practice and tend to listen to the instructor passively. Their perception of the conference may affect their interaction with the instructor. This study investigates how ESL students' perception affects the teacher-student interaction in the writing conferences. The multiple-case study explores: (1) ESL students' expectations of the writing conference and factors contributing to the expectations, (2) participation patterns of ESL students in the conferences, and (3) ESL students' perception of the effectiveness of teacher-student conferencesA questionnaire, distributed to 110 (65 NS and 45ESL) students enrolled in the first-year composition classes, examines students' previous writing experience and expectations of the writing conferences. Pre-conference interviews with 19 focus students (8 NS and 11 ESL) were conducted to verify the survey results. Students' participation patterns were investigated via the video-recorded writing conferences of the 19 focus students. Students' perceptions of the conference were investigated through the post-conference interviews with the 19 focus students and follow-up interviews with six Chinese students.The questionnaire results showed that ESL students and NS students expect to receive feedback on their drafts at the writing conference. ESL students, not familiar with the dynamic feature of the conference, expected the instructor to directly tell them what to do without planning to explain their own thoughts. These student expectations were shaped by factors beyond individual preferences. ESL students' expectations were reflected in the way they participate in the writing conferences. Compared with NS students, who knew better how to "buy" the teacher feedback by asking for opinions or suggestions and announcing plans of revision, ESL students tended to be good listeners at the conference by answering questions. They seldom initiated comments and questions in the conferences. Post-conference interviews revealed that ESL students perceived the conference as effective as they received directive feedback from the teacher. It was noted that their participation was constrained by their preconceived assumption of the teacher-student relationship. The findings offer implications on how to conduct conferences to maximize students' benefits.
Degree ProgramSecond Language Acquisition & Teaching