Event: Undergraduate Research Symposium
Date: May 18, 2019
Location: UCI Student Center
Presenter: Stephany Echavarria
Mentor: Jenell Krishnan, Mark Warschauer
Title: Understanding Group Dynamics during Online Synchronous Collaborative Writing in Middle School
Although writing with others is an increasingly valuable skill in today’s digital world, online synchronous collaborative writing (OSCW) is understudied in secondary educational contexts. Understanding the complexities of student group dynamics may help secondary English Language Arts teachers make informed instructional choices and maximize effective collaboration, a skill that students need for success in their futures. This investigation sheds light on how same-gender and mixed-gender groups engage in OSCW, paying particular attention to how their planning and drafting behaviors relate to their writing effectiveness. Thus, we explored collaboration patterns in groups’ written planning documents, collaboration patterns in groups’ essay drafts, and group composition relative to writing outcomes. The data was comprised of the planning and drafting documents of ten randomly assigned middle school groups. The qualitative analyses suggest that: (1) mixed-gender groups attend to the group nature of the task more often than same-gender groups, (2) the mixed-gender and all-female groups are more likely to edit the text written by their peers and engage in cooperative revision, and (3) groups whose composition includes at least one female writer scored higher in every category on the writing rubric when compared to the all-male groups. These findings suggest that there are important patterns between student group composition, written planning behaviors, editing behaviors, collaboration style, and writing outcomes. To improve writing instruction in the technology-enhanced classroom, future research is needed on how teachers may better support students’ development of important social skills needed when collaborating online with peers.