Wiki-Mediated Peer Review Process: Participation and Interaction

Wiki-Mediated Peer Review Process: Participation and Interaction

Long V. Nguyen
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-3649-1.ch009
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The focus of this chapter is to explore if the collaborative potential offered by wikis translates into actual practice. The study examines the peer review process of 20 groups of English as a foreign language (EFL) students from two classes, i.e. a paper-based class and a wiki class, of a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in a Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) programme in a large university in Central Vietnam. Data analysis shows that the user-friendly wikis afford learning opportunities in two levels of analysis, namely participation and interaction, which lead to a high degree of information synthesis in the collaborative learning process. In terms of quantity, the multi-way nature of wiki-based exchanges confirms its characteristic of an architecture of participation. Likewise, the quality of the online peer review process is confidently affirmed in all three themes of collaborative interaction, i.e., socioaffective, organizational, and sociocognitive. It is concluded that the online platform of wikis turns the peer review process into a networking of both the academic and the social, and that wikis support a non-linear nature of collaborative learning.
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Theoretically, collaborative learning and peer review originate from sociocultural theory (SCT) which has become the focus of much research interest in recent years. While the psycholinguistic view of cognition construes the language learning process within the individual mind and emphases the significance of final products as a single measure to evaluate a learner’s language proficiency (Ortega, 2009), SCT views language cognition as occurring first between individual minds and then within the individual mind during the internalization process. The learning process is therefore best understood in the social, cultural, historical, and institutional context where a learner is embedded. As a result, both product- and process-oriented learning styles are equally important and should be treated in an equal manner.

SCT highlights the significance of collaboration in language development through the zone of proximal development (ZPD), one of the most important constructs of the theory (Vygotsky, 1981). In the field of language education, ZPD is defined as the distance between the actual developmental level and the level of potential development through language, produced collaboratively with a teacher or peer (Ohta, 2001). Another outstanding construct of SCT is the concept of mediation. SCT stresses the central role of social interaction for learning as: all human learning is mediated through, or shaped by, interaction with others; and this shaping does not take place in a vacuum but through mediational tools. These tools include: language; cultural assumptions; social institutions; software or hardware; and time structure (Lamy & Hampel, 2007). Lantolf and Thorne (2007) even argue mediation is the principle construct that unites all varieties of SCT and is rooted in the observation that humans do not act directly on the world; rather their cognitive and material activities are mediated by symbolic (language, numeracy, concepts, etc.) and material (technology) artifacts. This concept paves the road for technology to enter into pedagogical approaches of collaborative learning and peer review.

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