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Action Research Project about peer response groups designed for Action Research class at UNE.

Transcript of Action Research Paper J.

Peer Response Groups: Does focusing on a targeted task improve student writing

PAGE 4Peer Response Groups: Does focusing on a targeted task improve student writing?

Peer Response Groups: Does focusing on a targeted task improve student writing?

Jennifer B. DanilowiczSixth Grade English Language ArtsChapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools, Chapel Hill, NCEDU 690 Action Research

University of New England

April 12th, 2013Statement of Academic Honesty: I have read and understand the plagiarism policy as outlined in the Student Plagiarism and Academic Misconduct document relating to the Honesty/Cheating Policy. By attaching this statement to the title page of my paper, I certify that the work submitted is my original work developed specifically for this course and to the MSED program. If it is found that cheating and/or plagiarism did take place in the writing of this paper, I acknowledge the possible consequences of the act/s, which could include expulsion from the University of New England.Abstract

Successful implementation of peer editing is a challenge for many educators. This action research project investigated the impact peer response groups had on student writing when the groups focused on a targeted task in a 6th grade classroom. The study examined the effect peer response groups had on all subgroups of students in regard to motivation and revision. A collaborative class, consisting of 22 students was selected to participate in this study as well as the teacher researcher and co-teacher. This class represented a diverse group, including exceptional, gifted and average students. The study took place over the span of a two week intervention period in which students engaged in peer response groups. Data was collected via two graded essays, surveys, and teacher observation. Results indicated that students from all subgroups benefited from participating in peer response groups in regard to improvement in their essays as well as their motivation to write. The research findings supported that peer response groups are beneficial for improving writing. Key words: middle school, peer response groups, revision, motivation to writeTable of ContentsAbstract........2

Table of Contents.3


Statement of Problem...7

Rationale of Study7

A Need for Intervention...8


School Location.10

Research Questions10


Ethical Considerations...11Review of Literature..12


Peer Response Groups Impact on Student Writing12


Benefits of Peer Response Groups13

Peer Response Groups...14

Peer Response Groups in Action...15

Diverse Students in Peer Response Groups...16

Drawbacks to Peer Response Groups16

Educational Drawbacks.17

Social Drawbacks..17


Research Design19

Research Questions19



Data Collection Plan..20


Essay 1...22

Essay 2...22

Survey 1.23

Survey 2.23

Teacher Observation..23

Analyzing Results..24

Possible Issues...25


Data Validity..26

Validity of Quantitative Research..26

Validity of Qualitative Research27





Peer Feedback28





Student opinion of peer editing.29

Student opinion of effectiveness of peer editing31

Teacher Observation..33

Student Essays...34


Discussion of Findings..37

Improvement in Writing37

On task behavior and improvement in writing..38

Benefits of subgroups38

Student motivation.39

Student view..39

Teacher view..40

Limitations of Study..41

Action Plan.42

Summary of Findings.42

Continued Implementation.42



Current Year...44

Future Years...45Conclusion.48References..49Appendices.51Introduction

Statement of Problem

Students participate in the writing process in regard to brainstorming, producing a rough draft, peer editing, revising with teacher support and producing a final draft. Although students had been asked routinely throughout the year to peer edit with a partner the process had not improved revision for the majority of students. Sixth grade students often made superficial comments that did not aid in the revision process. These comments included items such as good job, great work, I liked your topic as well as various other comments. Therefore, students still needed a great deal of assistance from their English Language Arts (ELA) teacher to revise their writing pieces. In addition to this, time was a factor for peer editing. Many students did not finish their rough drafts in time to participate in the peer editing process. When they finished their piece, they moved directly to teacher editing. The peer editing was not well guided. Students were told to use their rubrics to peer edit, but they often did not do this well. They often attempted to look for grammatical errors, but did not focus on the content of the writing piece. Students enjoyed peer editing, but it did not improve their writing.

Rationale of Study

The writing process is multi-step and includes brainstorming, producing a rough draft, peer editing, teacher editing and revision to produce final drafts. As a result, teaching writing is quite time consuming and teachers are sometimes tempted to skip steps in the writing process, such as peer editing. Hermann (1989) indicated that when students do not participate in peer editing it causes them to not anticipate an audience. In order to make writing meaningful to students it is essential that students write for a larger audience than their teacher. In addition to this, Christianakis (2010) suggested that students participate in reciprocal learning when they participate in peer response groups to edit their writing pieces. Peer response groups not only aid with student revision, but they also give students a chance to work together in collaborative groups and learn from each other. When peer editing is not used as part of the writing process, students miss out on an authentic audience as well as an opportunity to effectively collaborate with one another.

A need for intervention. Peer editing is an essential part of the writing process. Research discussed above hypothesizes a need for peer editing to be a substantial part of the writing process. Although teachers play a vital role in the writing process, their role often comes at the end of the process, when students believe they are finished writing. As a result, teachers are seen as the experts and students do not seek to improve their writing, but instead are only concerned about their grade (Gonca, 2012). Studies have shown peer response groups have positive effects on student revision as well as motivation to write. Dix and Cawkwell (2011) found that having students participate in peer response groups fostered a sense of community, encouraged students to use more detail in their writing and created better listeners. Participating in peer response groups had positive impact on student writing.


Jennifer Danilowicz was the teacher researcher. She had been teaching for 12 years, with 11 years spent teaching ELA at the middle school level and one year teaching 9th grade English. The teacher researcher held a Bachelors of Human Science and Services with a concentration in English as well as an endorsement to teach middle school. Additionally, the teacher researcher was a Nationally Board Certified Teacher in English Language Arts/ Early Adolescence. Jennifer Danilowicz was working towards her Masters of Science Education, specializing in Curriculum and Instructional Strategies.

The teacher researcher chose a collaborative class for this research study. A collaborative class is defined as a class taught by one regular education and one special education teacher. Collaborative classes contain a cluster of Exceptional Children (EC) who have collaborative class listed on their Individual Education Plan (IEP) as an accommodation. The collaborative class for this action research project consisted of 22 students who were in the 6th grade. Seven of the students in this classroom were identified as gifted learners in both math and Language Arts, 11 students had IEPs and four students were regular education students. In addition to the teacher researcher, this class was co-taught by a special education teacher who had been working with the teacher researcher for 3 years. This was their first year co-teaching. The students with IEPs had a variety of goals. Three of the students had behavior goals as well as learning goals and the other eight students had learning goals. Four of the students with IEPs were at or above grade level in regard to proficiency in reading, while eight were below grade level. The class met during the morning. Implementing peer response groups in this classroom setting offered the opportunity for the teacher researcher to see how this method affected students of all levels. This classroom was the most diverse that the teacher researcher taught.

School Location

This study included participants who attended and worked for Chapel Hill -Carrboro City Schools, in Chapel Hill, NC. The study took place at Phillips Middle School in Chapel Hill, NC. Phillips Middle School had 641 enrolled students and h