Vous êtes sur la page 1sur 16

Running head: PEER EDITING TO IMPROVE THE WRITING OF AN ELL

Using Peer Editing to Improve the Writing of an English Language Learner


Laura Wendel-Dumas
Loyola Marymount University
December 6, 2014

PEER EDITING TO IMPROVE THE WRITING OF AN ELL

Using Peer Editing to Improve the Writing of an English Language Learner


Introduction

Writing is foundational to success in academics, in the work place and in the


global economy. In an increasingly demanding world of literacy, the importance of
ensuring students proficiency in writing can never be overemphasized.
Thus, many teachers are constantly searching for ways to improve their students

essay writing skills. To complicate matters, students in advanced placement courses

not only have to display a high level of proficiency in writing, but also be able to

express the specific writing skills associated with the particular content area. This

is no easy task for native English speakers and an even greater task for English

Language Learners.. In advanced placement U.S. History, I require students to construct

essays not only displaying content knowledge but also demonstrating historical thinking

skills. Improving their writing skills has been an on-going challenge for all my students but

for my ELL, Christina in particular.

My focus ELL student in this research is a junior at a small all girls Catholic school in

the San Gabriel Valley. For the past few years, the ELL population at my school has gone

from zero to about 25 students. All students are international from China and vary in

proficiency levels of the English language. At the same time, a number of these students

have pushed to enroll in advance placement classes that require a high level of proficiency

in reading and writing. Although my student Christina is very intelligent and a diligent

worker, her writing skills are still not at the level of proficiency of many of her classmates.

Christina has struggled with perfecting her grammar, spelling and budgeting her time when

PEER EDITING TO IMROVE THE WRITING OF AN ELL 3



doing a timed writing. She often runs out of time and ends the essay without a strong

conclusion. She is aware of this problem and has expressed a desire to receive assistance

and improve her writing skills. In order to improve Christinas writing and likewise the

class as a whole, I will employ the strategy of Read Around groups and peer editing of

students writing. It is my hope that with this strategy, the students will provide each

other with additional feedback and constructive criticism. In addition, having the

opportunity to read other students writing will provide Christina with exemplars of

superior writing. In order to show change or progress, I will collect baseline data and

compare it to similar data taken after the implementation of the new strategy. Thus, this

action research seeks to answer the following question: What is the effect of peer editing

on improving an ELLs writing in an advanced placement U.S. history course.
Literature Review
Peer editing, which is referred to under different names such as peer review, peer feedback, and peer
evaluation can be defined as use of learners as sources of information and interactants for each other in such a
way that learners assume roles and responsibilities normally taken on by a formally trained teacher, tutor, or
editor in commenting on and critiquing each others drafts in both written and oral formats in the process of
writing (Bijami, Kashef & Nejad, 2013, p.92). This process can be a learning tool for the teacher as well as the
students. In the past two decades, feedback has been increasingly used in English as an ELL writing instruction
(Bijami, Kashef &Nejas, 2013). Some researchers profess that peer feedback has a pivotal role in improving
student writing skills and learning achievement. According to Bijami, et. al, (2013) studies found that peer
editing helped students become proficient writers. More importantly, most students view peer feedback as
effective as the instructors. Peer review with English Language Learners allows teachers to help their students

PEER EDITING TO IMROVE THE WRITING OF AN ELL 4


receive more feedback on their papers as well as give students practice with a range of skills important in the
development of language and writing ability such as meaningful interaction with their peers, a greater exposure
to ideas, and new perspectives on the writing process (Lundstrom & Baker, 2009). Hafernik (1983) found that
peer editing is very effective for ELL students for a number of reasons. Often ELL students believe they are the
only persons experiencing writing difficulties. After peer editing is implemented, they begin to see that other
students have similar problems as well. They begin to see writing is a learning process. When students are
trained on how to use and give feedback, teachers can incorporate this as a way to present writing skills to
students, ideally creating a student-centered classroom in a meaningful way(Lundstrom & Baker, 2009, p.
31). Through peer editing, students will not only be able to improve their own writing but it will also allow
them to practice their listening and speaking abilities (Bijami, Kashef, & Nejad, 2013). Peer editing also
teaches ELLs how to work in groups with their peers which is necessary for success in American universities
and workplaces (Lundstrom & Baker, 2009). Thus, peer editing can help students take writing more seriously,
since they are expected to assist fellow students improve his/her work. In addition, the class atmosphere may
also improve because students are depending on each other for support. Sometimes the "student-editor" may
become more self-confident as a result of this prestige and support.
Another benefit of peer review is to the giver, or person reviewing the essay and offering feedback. The skill
of being able to critically evaluate writing, defined as the ability to look at a classmates writing and then
provide effective feedback, is a very necessary skill for quality writing and academic success in general
(Lundstrom & Baker, 2009). Thus, developing critical evaluation skills may also help students effectively
review texts and see logical gaps, problems with organization, and other defects that weaken the argument of a
paper (Galvis, 2009).

PEER EDITING TO IMROVE THE WRITING OF AN ELL 5


Peer editing can also be employed as a teaching tool because the teacher begins to see the strengths and
weaknesses of the editors, as well as the writers. In addition, it is important to present peer editing in a positive
way and make sure the students understand the purpose of peer editing. For example, a teacher might explain
that professional writers use editors all the time. Another important element to successful peer editing is to
designate class time on a regular basis so students will see it as an essential part of the on-going writing process.
Unfortunately, many ELL students are still taught to be more product oriented and do not see writing as a
process; the emphasis is still on the finished product (Deni & Zainal, 2011).
Peer editing can help students become better writers in a process oriented writing class, because as Hughes
(1991) states "to teach is to learn" (p. 42). As students help others they are indeed helping themselves to become
more accomplished writers. Another key aspect of peer editing according to Hughes (1991) is it provides an
"audience" for the writer which helps create a meaningful purpose for writing. This often results in improved
performance by the writer. An unexpected benefit of peer editing is that it gives students the opportunity to
work with different kinds of people and see the writing from different points of view and perspective. Both of
these types of training can be valuable in the future when students are involved in other types of collaboration
(Villamil and De Guerrero, 1996).
Although there are many benefits to peer editing, there are also drawbacks. One drawback to peer editing is
that it is very time consuming. For peer editing to be successful, a teacher must invest a great deal of time
coaching students on this technique. In addition, some students may be more concerned about social harmony
and will be afraid to criticize other students' work (Bijami, Kashef & Nejad, 2013). Thus, it is important for the
teacher to emphasize that constructive criticism can help classmates improve their papers. Taking this into
consideration, the possible negative factors involving peer editing are often outweighed by the positive

PEER EDITING TO IMPROVE THE WRITING OF AN ELL

Influence peer editing has on improving students writing. Overall, students who become good editors usually
become good writers (Hafernik,1983).
Numerous studies have shown that peer editing is beneficial to students as it increase their awareness of the
complex process of writing, it improves their knowledge of and skills in writing, and helps them become more
autonomous in learning. Moreover, peer editing helps clarify what good performance is, facilitates the
development of self-assessment in learning, delivers high quality information to students about their learning
and encourages teachers and peer dialogue around learning ( Deni & Zainal, 2011).
Taking into account the information gathered in the literature reviewing regarding peer editing and its
positive effects on student writing, particularly the writing of English Language Learners, I will be able to
create a change in my classroom. Shifting the focus from teacher only evaluation to include peer evaluation
(student-centered learning), I will provide my students with the opportunity to improve their writing skills,
collaborate with their peers, and ensure the success of all my students.
Cycle 1-Baseline Data
The student chosen for this action research is a 16 year old female attending a Catholic allgirls high school in Alhambra, California. The student is in the eleventh grade and is currently
taking a year-long Advanced Placement U.S. History course. The student has consistently has a
B in this course. Christina is an international student from China. She has lived in the
United States for three years. Before attending our school she went to school in Florida for two
years. Christina lives with a host family. Her parents and older sister live in China. Christina
uses a translator in class at times but is not allowed to use one to complete tests, or in-class
writing assignments. The College Board does not allow translators for the AP exam in May.

PEER EDITING TO IMPROVE THE WRITING OF AN ELL

Christina is determined to improve her grade in the class to an A and get a five on the
Advanced Placement exam.
Since the school is a private Catholic school, it does not administer or require testing to
determine levels of English Language Development. However, the student has provided and the
teacher has observed the following information. Christina is fluent and proficient in Mandarin.
She attended school in China until the eighth grade and was taught some English. Christina
came
to the United States to begin her ninth grade year and attended school in Florida for two years.
In English, Christina has well developed BICS (Basic Interpersonal Communication Skills) and
is continuing to develop her CALP (Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency). Based on the
criterion chart in Classroom Instruction That Works, she is at the Intermediate Fluency Stage
(Marzano, et al, 2001). This is consistent with the fact that she has been developing English
language skills for about three to five years. At the Intermediate level, the student displays
comprehension and makes few grammatical errors. She will benefit most from teacher prompts
such as What if? and Why do you think?. These types of questions will help the student
with the content of the History course and develop the respective historical thinking skills needed
for the exam. In terms of Christinas writing, although she is improving and continues to make
fewer grammatical errors, it is not up to par with the many of her classmates and she is not
proficient enough to pass the writing portion of the U.S. History exam with ease.
For a baseline, I created a chart to record the students score on two types of inclass essays over a three-week period. The school follows a modified block schedule where the
class meets four times a week. During this time, the students completed two Long Answer

PEER EDITING TO IMPROVE THE WRITING OF AN ELL

Essays (LAQ) and one Document Based Question Essay (DBQ). I then documented three scores
before the peer editing strategy was implemented. The student needs the greatest improvement
in the areas of grammatical errors and introductory paragraph with a strong thesis statement. The
data I collected is displayed in Figure I.
As a result of this data collection, I observed that Christina may benefit by
viewing exemplars in the form of peer work and will in turn be able to improve her own writing
by this strategy of peer editing. I will begin by putting students in small groups of four students.
I will give each group an example of a high scoring essay. The students will read the essay and
rate it based on a scoring rubric. The students will discuss what makes this a good essay. After
the students have accomplished this task, I will give each student a current peer essay to edit.
Once the students have corrected an essay and receive their own essay back, I will meet with
Christina to discuss her progress and address any questions she may have. I will continue to
meet with just Christina after each peer editing intervention in order to monitor her progress and
help her improve her writing skills. I will conclude with examining Christinas essays both
before and after each intervention by comparing her scores based on the essay rubric. My
hypothesis is that after Christina uses the peer editing intervention and after I meet with her to
discuss her progress, she will improve her essay writing.

PEER EDITING TO IMPROVE THE WRITING OF AN ELL

Figure 1-Baseline Data Collected by the Teacher


DATE

TYPE OF
ESSAY
LAQ

RUBRIC
CATEGORIES
October 6, 2014
Thesis
Historical Content
Analysis
Mechanics
October 16, 2014
DBQ
Thesis
Historical Content
Analysis
Mechanics
October 20, 2014
LAQ
Thesis
Historical Content
Analysis
Mechanics
* Each category ranked 1-5 with 5 being the highest

POINTS
2
4
4
2
2
5
4
3
2
5
4
3

TOTAL POINTS
(OUT OF 20)
12 POINTS

14 POINTS

14 POINTS

Cycle 2- Intervention and New Benchmark


For this action research project, I chose the intervention of peer editing. In my AP U.S.
History class, students are responsible for a number of written assignments that I give in
preparation for the exam in May. The written portion of the exam accounts for sixty percent of
the total score. Many of my students, not just my ELL, have been struggling with their writing
skills and they are below the level that they will be required to demonstrate for the national
exam. However, I believe that students writing will improve when they have the opportunity to
critically evaluate their peers writing and in turn receive feedback from their peers on their own
writing. I first began this process by providing the students with an exemplar and a nonexemplar. I gave all the students the same two papers and a rubric scoring guide. As a class, we
read the papers and the students provided oral feedback as to what made the paper a strong paper

PEER EDITING TO IMPROVE THE WRITING OF AN ELL

10

or what was missing from the papers. We scored the essays as a class with the rubric I provided.
I then informed the class that they would be completing this task on their own the next day with
one of their peers papers.
The next day in class I gave each student another students essay and a rubric form. I
asked the students to follow the same procedure we had done the day before but on their own.
During this part of the class period, the students read the paper they were given, made
corrections, scored it on an essay rubric, and returned the paper to the owner. The students
scored each paper using a rubric with four categories worth five points each for a total of twenty
points. The categories are thesis, historical content, analysis, and mechanics. After the students
completed the scoring, I gave the them time to read their own paper and the corrections that were
made. The students were then able to ask questions to the student who corrected their paper.
At the end of the week, I assigned an in-class essay to my students. This essay had the
same structure as the essays the students had previously written. I made a copy of each essay so
I could correct them and I could also use them for the next round of peer editing. I first corrected
Christinas to see if there had been an improvement in her score. Compared to her last essay,
Christina improved by one point in the category of thesis and one point in the category of
mechanics on the rubric bringing her total score to sixteen points out of twenty points possible.
I repeated the intervention the second time by having each student read and peer edit another
students paper followed by the students returning the papers and asking questions of their
editors. After the students papers were returned, I asked the students to write down the
area they believed needed the most improvement. Although I believe Christina needs the most

PEER EDITING TO IMPROVE THE WRITING OF AN ELL

11

improvement in her introduction and thesis, she wrote that she needed the most improvement in
grammar (mechanics).
The following Friday, I assigned the second essay for a new benchmark. Although this
topic dealt with analyzing documents as opposed to strictly answering an essay question, the
scoring rubric followed the same guide. I, again, made copies of all the students papers and
began by correcting Christinas essay. This time Christinas score stayed consistent with the
previous score in the thesis area but went up another point in the mechanics area. Her new total
score was now 17 out of 20.
I implemented the intervention a third and final time following all of the previous steps.
The following Friday I assigned a final in-class essay. The structure of this essay was similar to
the first but asked the students to address specific questions of a topic. There was no document
analysis component. The rubric contained the same categories, thesis, historical content,
analysis, and mechanics. I likewise followed the same procedure of making copies of the essays
before giving it to the students to edit. I corrected Christinas essay for the third time. She
scored the same points in each category as the previous essay. As a supplement to the peer
editing intervention, I employed another intervention just directed at Christina. After each peer
editing session I met privately with Christina during my office hours to discuss with her the peer
editing process. I went over the students paper she corrected as well as her paper another
student corrected. I gave her the opportunity to ask questions and I clarified anything she didnt
understand. I believe these meetings helped Christina understand the peer editing process better
and learn from her mistakes using her papers and the papers she corrected. For a new
benchmark, I will collect data a fourth time and analyze the results. In addition, I will continue

PEER EDITING TO IMPROVE THE WRITING OF AN ELL

12

the peer editing intervention during the second semester and see if this intervention continues to
improve Christinas writing as well as my other students writing.
Figure 2- Cycle 2 Data Collection
DATE
TYPE OF
RUBRIC CATEGORIES
ESSAY
Oct. 31, 2014
LAQ
Thesis
Historical Content
Analysis
Mechanics
Nov. 07, 2014
DBQ
Thesis
Historical Content
Analysis
Mechanics
Nov. 14, 2014
LAQ
Thesis
Historical Content
Analysis
Mechanics
*Each category ranked 1-5 with 5 being the highest

Figure 3-Mean score of class


DATE
TYPE OF
RUBRIC CATEGORIES
ESSAY
Oct. 31, 2014
LAQ
Thesis
Historical Content
Analysis
Mechanics
Nov. 07, 2014
DBQ
Thesis
Historical Content
Analysis
Mechanics
Nov. 14, 2014
LAQ
Thesis
Historical Content
Analysis
Mechanics

POINTS

TOTAL POINTS
(OUT OF 20)

3
5
4
4
3
5
4
5
3
5
4
5

16 POINTS

POINTS

TOTAL POINTS
(OUT OF 20)

4
4
4
5
4
4
5
5
4
5
4
4

18 POINTS

17 POINTS

17 POINTS

18 POINTS

17 POINTS

PEER EDITING TO IMPROVE THE WRITING OF AN ELL

13

Discussion and Conclusion


Peer editing can be defined as use of learners as sources of information and interactants
for each other is such a way that learners assume roles and responsibilities normally taken on by
a formally trained teacher, tutor, or editor in commenting on and critiquing each others drafts in
both written and oral formats in the process of writing (Bijami, Kashef & Nejad, 2013, p.92).
Peer review with English Language Learners allows teachers to help their students receive more
feedback on their papers as well as give students practice with a range of skills important in the
development of language and writing ability such as meaningful interaction with their peers, a
greater exposure to ideas, and new perspectives on the writing process (Lundstrom & Baker,
2009). I implemented the intervention of peer editing with my Advanced Placement United
States History class with the target goal of improving the writing of my English Language
Learner in particular. In addition to implementing the peer editing strategy, I also used the
accommodation of meeting with my English Language Learner after each peer editing cycle had
been completed. Quantitative data revealed that Christina did improve her scores on her in-class
writing assignments when I compared the Baseline Cycle 1 data to the Cycle 2 data after each
peer editing intervention. Christinas writing specifically improved in the areas of thesis
construction and mechanics and grammar. I also received oral feedback from Christina
regarding our one on- one meetings. These meetings gave Christina the opportunity to ask
questions, analyze her scores and assess her progress compared to that of her classmates.
Preliminary findings to appear to agree with the research which states that peer editing is
beneficial to students as it increases their awareness of the complex writing process, improves
their knowledge of and skills in writing, and helps them become more autonomous learners

PEER EDITING TO IMPROVE THE WRITING OF AN ELL

14

(Deni & Zainal, 2011). I believe that the peer editing process in an invaluable tool not only for
my ELL student but for all my students. I will continue to incorporate this intervention in my
Advanced Placement U.S. History class and will also begin peer editing in my Advanced
Placement Psychology class. As I continue this process, my next goal or intervention for my
students would be to for them to self-assess their own writing. My possible research questions
would include Does self-assessment have a positive impact on students writing ability? and
Does self-assessment improve a students meta-cognitive and critical thinking skills? Using
the current intervention and employing future interventions, I will continue to strive to improve
my students writing ability and ensure the success of all my students.

Figure 4-PRE & POST INTERVENTION SCORES


18
16
14
12
10

Pre-Intervention

Post-Intervention

6
4
2
0
LAQ

DBQ

LAQ

PEER EDITING TO IMPROVE THE WRITING OF AN ELL

15

References
Adams, D., Power, B., Reed, M., Reiss, P., & Romaniak, J. (1996, May). Improving writing
skills and attitudes through a writers workshop approach. (ERIC Document Reproduction
Service No. ED 398 595)
Bijami, M,. Kashef, S., & Nejad, M. (2013). Peer feedback in learning English writing:
advantages and disadvantages. Journal of Studies in Education, 3(4), 91-97.
Cummins, M. (1995). Looking for commonalities in culturally and linguistically mixed basic
writing classes. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Conference on College
Composition and communication, Washington, D.C. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No.
ED 384 888)
Deni, A. & Zainal, Z. (2011). Peer-editing practice in the writing classroom: benefits and
drawbacks. Advances in Language and Literacy Studies, 2 (1), 92-107.
Galvis, N. (2009). Peer editing: A strategic source in EFL students writing process.
Colombian Applied Linguistics Journal, 12 (2), 85-98.
Hafernik, J. (1983, April). The how and why of peer editing in the ESLwriting class. Paper
presented at the State Meeting of the California Association of Teachers of English to Speakers
of Other Languages, Los Angeles, CA. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 253 064)
Hill, C. (2011). Peer editing: A comprehensive pedagogical approach to maximize assessment
opportunities. Nevada Law Journal, 11(4), 1-22.
Hughes, M (1991). It really works: encouraging revision using peer writing tutors. English
Journal, 80(3), 41-42.
Lundstrom, K. & Baker, W. (2009). To give is better to receive: The benefits of peer review to
the reviewers own writing. Journal of Second Language Writing, 18(1), 30-43.
Nafiseh, K. (2013). Collaborative writing and peer editing in EFL writing classes. Journal of
Emerging Trends in Educational Research and Policy, 4(2), 236-245.
Sperling, M. (1992). In-class writing conferences: fine tuned duets in the classroom ensemble.
English Journal, 81(1), 65-71.
Villamil, 0. & De Guerrero, M. (1996). Peer revision in the L2 classroom: social-cognitive
activities, mediating strategies, and aspects of social behavior. Journal of Second Language
Writing, 5(1), 51-76.