As an assistant director of Student Success at the University of Arizona, Tuscson, U.S.A, Dr. Robert A. Coté , particularly, is interested in peer feedback in term of various cultures during the time of teaching in different cities in the world ( Madrid, Dubai and Guangzhou, etc. ). He conducted this research at a private school in Madrid, Spain in 2014 and was published in GIST Education and Learning Research Journal.
Briefly recount what this article is about. What did the author/s do, where did they do it, how did they do it and why did they do it.
In the beginning, the author stated the context of research was in a private university where he taught an Intensive English Program (IEP) in Madrid, Spain with twenty-five participants, aged from 18 to 25 with different language and culture background; they would go through total twenty-five hours of studying writing English, from his expository writing class. From the facts mentioned above, it would not work effectively if the teacher wants the students to support each other in in-class peer editing. Consequently, the author would like to change a little in the process of his teaching writing: inserting anonymous peer feedback as a part of that writing process.
In order to support for his innovation of peer review in writing, Coté demonstrated how effective peer feedback in teaching writing has been treated in the previous researches (Berg, 1999; Brammer & Rees, 2007; Storch, 2005). However, he pointed out that although some studies mentioned about the social issues which can affect the peer feedback’s results: various culture and linguistic-related difficulties (Foster, 1998; Nelson & Carson, 1998; Zhu, 2001), without mentioning age, race, gender background or religions, even the governmental bodies, there are no real solutions for them. Therefore, in this research, the author employed anonymous peer feedback (with hope of having students concentrate only on correcting their peers’ text) to examine whether it brings effectiveness or not, because of his students or participants from seven nations all around the world with different mother-tongued languages and religions.
Describe the methodology. Was it a qualitative study and what type? Was it teacher-led research, action research, a case study or something else? What ‘instruments’ (methods) did the authors use to collect data? Was the methodology appropriate? Why/ why not?
As stated, his conducted research went through a mixture of research approaches.
In the context of his class (different first languages, races and religion) which is mentioned above, there is no wonder that he employed ethnographic approach with supporting instruments such as interviews, observation, and documents. Besides, serving both as an academic advisor and instructor for all participants in his expository writing class, as well as living near the school like other students, the author can interact directly with participants in various situations from in-class hours to outside-class conversations. Therefore, choosing participant observant was quite understandable as in this case. Lastly, he also used action research in order to positively change the state of his writing classroom and to decide whether peer feedback is rational in the writing class because of unconstructive manner from some participants. Therefore, it is appropriate when this research used a mixed approach which employs ethnographic and action.
Coté also had other employed instruments: questionnaire (biographically based on Levine et al., 2002), open-ended question surveys as pre- and post-activity of the research, and documents (he collected the final drafts for analysis). Moreover, proper peer feedback training carried out by the author so that the participants would practice it correctly and benefit the most from it as well as an e-peer feedback sheet with detailed sections to make it more user-friendly to students would be a plus point for Coté.
What are the main findings of the study? Critically evaluate whether you can transfer the findings to the Vietnamese context
In the final part, with the acceptable result of 70% participants agreeing with most of the changes suggested by anonymous peer review process, the author concluded that anonymous peer review should be applied more often to keep students from the negative aspects. However, he also suggested that language competence, individual personalities, and proper training in giving feedback could affect the expected outcome.
The article strengthens the effects of anonymous peer review in term of suitable context for those who do not gain any benefit from the face-to-face interaction. Besides, although the study demonstrated an extensive data of the percentage of accepted anonymous peer feedback, it failed to show the relationship between students’ willingness and a peer review’s quality.
In comparison with Vietnamese context, even there are differences in language learning background in Vietnam, insufficient technology and interaction can affect the process of doing peer review anonymously. Moreover, Vietnamese students might not be familiar with doing anonymous peer review, so it is time-consuming to train these students before carrying out the research in order to get a positive outcome. Besides, it is still useful for teaching writing in Vietnam somehow, especially with the fact that most of the classes in Vietnam are large size.
Conclude your review by stating what you gained from reading the study and how can you use it for your own innovation research project.
In conclusion, burdening with the same problems of writing skill that Vietnamese students have to face, the author presents an incredible research on increasing the effectiveness of peer review by doing it anonymously. In this way, he can limit other factors which can affect the results such as: various cultures, or linguistic backgrounds. Moreover, this research also shed a light on my own research of applying peer review in teaching writing skill for first-year students; it encourages me to take into consideration of social issues which can affect the outcome. My research context might be slightly different to Coté’s study in term of languages (most of my students speak Vietnamese as first language), but they do have an in-between gap of religions, gender (female students outnumber male), even education background (in some regions in Vietnam, they only have 3 years of studying English at school despite the fact that seven-year English study course is more popular around the country). Therefore, doing blind peer review would be a considerable option for me to apply in my writing class context.