Blogging and ESL writing: a case study of how students responded to the use of weblogs as a pedagogical tool for the writing process approach in a community college ESL writing class
Weblogs (blogs) have become a potential tool to assist in the delivery of instruction for writing. The purpose of this study was to introduce blogging into a community college ESL writing class (2005 spring semester) and to examine the significance of its use for the process writing approach. The study also sought to examine ESL students’ perceptions as well as those of the teacher regarding the implementation of blogs in the ESL writing class. Students in the class used blogs for four specific aspects of the writing process approach, peer responding (feedback), editing, revising, and publishing their writing assignments. Action research was used to collect data from five participants selected for in-depth study. Data analysis was performed using qualitative research and case study methods to provide thick descriptions and to identify emerging themes. Credibility of the findings was established by using triangulation of data, member checks, a debriefing group, and cross checking for confirmation or repudiation of conclusions. Results seemed congruent with previous research on technology and second language writing. Blogging proved to be an effective tool for the writing process approach as evidenced by the numerous benefits for its use that outweighed the drawbacks. Prior knowledge of technology was found to help the students adapt to blogging. Blogging facilitated the students’ critical thinking skills; affected the quality of students’ writing; provided examples of feedback and entries for the students to read, model, and from which to learn; facilitated meaningful learning for students; gave students a purpose for writing; and motivated students’ writing and interaction by publishing for an authentic audience. The most significant finding was that blogging seemed to solve some critical issues related to the students’ trust and confidence in peer editing and revising. At the same time, data also showed that the quantity and multiplevoiced feedback caused some confusion for students in deciding what and how to edit and revise their writing. Overall, the majority of the students had positive reactions and experiences throughout the semester.