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• Collaborative prewriting tasks as an alternative to collaborative writing.
• Comparison of collaborative and individual prewriting tasks.
• Examination of impact of students' preference on group interaction and text quality.
• Group interaction of collaboratively-oriented versus individually-oriented student.
• Texts after collaborative tasks rated higher than texts after individual tasks.
Despite their prevalence in second language (L2) writing classrooms, prewriting discussions have not been widely investigated in terms of their relationship to students' written texts. Furthermore, students' preferences for individual or collaborative work have not been considered in terms of their potential impact on the quality of either prewriting tasks or written texts. The current study investigates the relationships among students' preferences for collaboration, the format of prewriting tasks (collaborative or individual) and student text quality in an English for Academic Purposes (EAP) course (N = 21). The students carried out three collaborative and three individual prewriting tasks, submitted six written texts, and completed a questionnaire about their learning preferences. Analysis of two focal participants with divergent preferences for collaboration revealed that the collaboratively-oriented student reflected more on content during the collaborative discussions than the individually-oriented student. However, the individually-oriented students did not engage in more reflection during individual prewriting tasks. In addition, the texts both students produced after collaborative prewriting discussions received higher ratings than the texts they wrote after individual prewriting tasks. The findings suggest that collaborative prewriting may be beneficial for text quality, even for students who prefer to work individually.
Journal: Journal of English for Academic Purposes - Volume 15, September 2014, Pages 14–26