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Understanding Group-based Learning in an Academic Context: Rwandan Students’ Reflections on Collaborative Writing and Peer Assessment
Linköping University, Department of Behavioural Sciences and Learning, Education and Adult Learning. Linköping University, Faculty of Educational Sciences.
2013 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)Alternative title
Att förstå gruppbaserat lärande i en akademisk kontext : Universitetsstudenter i Rwanda reflekterar över kollaborativt skrivande och inbördes bedömning (Swedish)
Abstract [en]

The overarching aim of the present thesis is to gain knowledge about how Rwandan university students understand and practice group-based learning. Specifically, this research takes a social constructivist perspective when examining how second year students within the area of Modern Languages reflect on collaborative writing and peer assessment as means to promote academic writing and active learning. Four studies make up this research. Thus, Study I examines how students carry out self-directed group work in writing. Study II investigates how instructor-guided writing groups can help promote students’ collaborative learning. Study III explores in what ways process writing as instruction method can help develop students’ academic writing abilities and Study IV focuses on how students experience peer assessment and peer feedback on group writing. The data, which are qualitative, were collected by means of interviews carried out with groups of students. The findings show that students perceive and conduct group-based learning in different ways, which can impact the quality of their learning. Also, based on initial support and guidance from the course instructor, most students acknowledged having been able to take stock of their common writing abilities and understand in what ways peer assessment and peer feedback can help them improve, and thus enrich their learning. A few students considered the common writing process time consuming though. In conclusion, some strategies are suggested to further improve group-based learning.

Abstract [sv]

Det övergripande syftet med denna avhandling är att söka kunskap om hur universitetsstudenter i Rwanda förstår och praktiserar gruppbaserat lärande. Teoretiskt utgår den från ett socialkonstruktivistiskt perspektiv med särskilt fokus riktat mot hur studenter inom ämnesområdet moderna språk reflekterar över kollaborativt skrivande och inbördes bedömning som ett sätt att främja akademiskt skrivande och aktivt lärande. Avhandlingen består av fyra studier. I studie I undersöks studenters reflektioner över hur deras självstyrda skrivande i grupp genomförs. Studie II belyser lärarens roll i lärarlett skrivande i grupp och hur det kan påverka studenters kollaborativa lärande. I studie III studeras på vilket sätt metoder som synliggör skrivprocessen kan stödja studenters utveckling inom akademiskt skrivande. Studie IV fokuserar hur studenter erfar inbördes bedömning av skrivande i grupp. Data består av kvalitativa intervjuer genomförda med grupper av studenter under deras andra högskoleår Resultaten visar att studenterna uppfattar och genomför gruppbaserat lärande på olika sätt vilket kan påverka kvaliteten på deras lärande. Givet ett initialt stöd och vägledning från läraren som grund, bekräftade de flesta studenterna att de i grupparbetet kunde utnyttja sin gemensamma skrivförmåga och förstå på vilket sätt inbördes utvärdering kan hjälpa dem att förbättra sitt skrivande och därmed berika deras lärande. Vissa ansåg dock att den gemensamma skrivprocessen var tidsödande. Avslutningsvis föreslås strategier som kan användas för att ytterligare förbättra ett gruppbaserat lärande.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 2013. , 67 p.
Series
Linköping Studies in Behavioural Science, ISSN 1654-2029 ; 174
Keyword [en]
Group-based learning, higher education, student-initiated groups, instructor-guided group work, collaborative writing, peer assessment, Rwanda
Keyword [sv]
Gruppbaserat lärande, högre utbildning, studentstyrda grupper, lärarlett grupparbete, kollaborativt skrivande, inbördes bedömning, Rwanda
National Category
Educational Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-91282ISBN: 978-91-7519-633-6 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-91282DiVA: diva2:616793
Public defence
2013-05-14, I:101, Hus I, Campus Valla, Linköpings universitet, Linköping, 13:00 (English)
Supervisors
Available from: 2013-04-19 Created: 2013-04-18 Last updated: 2013-05-06Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. University Students’ Conceptions and Practice of Collaborative Work on Writing
Open this publication in new window or tab >>University Students’ Conceptions and Practice of Collaborative Work on Writing
2013 (English)In: International Journal of Higher Education, ISSN 1927-6044, Vol. 2, no 2Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

A number of studies attest to the relevance and benefits of group work and collaboration in various learning processes. However, in terms of higher education teaching and learning, the question often remains of what kind of group work or what type of collaboration is amenable to student learning. Building on three research-based conceptualizations of collaboration in student writing, the present study aims to explore how students in a Rwandan university context plan, organize and carry out group work while writing. The study involved 16 second year undergraduate students divided in four writing groups. The data were collected by means of open-ended interviews conducted with the four groups of students after they had handed in their written essays and obtained the feedback and the marks. The findings show that students mostly relied on the co-publishing form of collaboration in their groups, which was probably dictated by their lack of sufficient information on the meaning and relevance of collaboration. Some suggestions are made on what can be done so that university students benefit fully from group-based learning and collaboration.

Keyword
Academic writing, higher education, process writing, Rwanda, writing discourses, writing activity
National Category
Educational Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-91278 (URN)10.5430/ijhe.v2n2p13 (DOI)
Available from: 2013-04-18 Created: 2013-04-18 Last updated: 2014-11-12
2. Promoting University Students’ Collaborative Learning through Instructor-guided Writing Groups
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Promoting University Students’ Collaborative Learning through Instructor-guided Writing Groups
2013 (English)In: International Journal of Higher Education, ISSN 1927-6044, E-ISSN 1927-6052, Vol. 2, no 3Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This paper aims to examine how to promote collaborative learning among university students via instructor-guided writing groups. The research took place in Rwanda and was undertaken as a case study involving 34 second year undergraduate students, divided into 12 small working groups and one instructor. The data were collected by means of open-ended group interviews carried out after each of the 12 groups had finished writing an essay in English. In their responses, students acknowledged having improved their interpersonal and collaborative skills through writing groups. Students also indicated that, while discussing and interacting with their group members and with the support from their instructor, they improved their English, gained new ideas and perspectives, and learned better about text coherence. However, a small section of students did not appreciate working in groups while writing due to occasional internal disagreements and incompatibility between group members. Some strategies are proposed on how an instructor can help make group work a relevant and effective learning tool.

Keyword
Collaborative learning, Group work, Group writing, Higher education, Instructor-guided writing groups, Rwanda
National Category
Educational Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-91279 (URN)10.5430/ijhe.v2n3p1 (DOI)
Available from: 2013-04-18 Created: 2013-04-18 Last updated: 2017-12-06
3. Supporting the development of students’ academic writing through collaborative process writing
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Supporting the development of students’ academic writing through collaborative process writing
2013 (English)In: Journal of Instructional Pedagogies, ISSN 1941-3394, Vol. 11, 1-13 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The study examines how undergraduate university students in Rwanda experience collaborative process writing as an instruction method capable of helping them improve their academic writing abilities in English. It involved 34 second-year students, divided into 12 small working groups. The data were collected by means of group interviews carried out in English after all groups finished writing an argumentative essay using the collaborative process writing method. In their responses, students maintained that they still experienced some writing difficulties in English in connection with planning, organization, cohesion and coherence and grammar. However, by combining collaborative process writing with the reflective exercises and classroom reporting strategies introduced by their instructor, students were enabled to spot persistent writing difficulties and plan a course of action to tackle them. Given the tangible learner-focused benefits that are likely to accrue from the implementation of the method, the study suggests that more practice be initiated by the instructors so that students become aware of those benefits

Keyword
Academic writing, higher education, process writing, Rwanda, writing discourses, writing activity
National Category
Educational Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-91280 (URN)
Available from: 2013-04-18 Created: 2013-04-18 Last updated: 2017-12-06Bibliographically approved
4. University students’ attitudes towards peer assessment and reactions to peer feedback on group writing
Open this publication in new window or tab >>University students’ attitudes towards peer assessment and reactions to peer feedback on group writing
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

In educational contexts, students’ perceptions about assessment influence the approach they adopt towards learning and studying. Based on this statement, this study aims to examine how university students in the Rwandan context experienced peer assessment of group writing as one way to improve the quality of their learning. The study involved 34 secondyear undergraduate students, divided into 12 writing groups. The data which are largely based on open ended interviews, were collected after the 12 groups had completed peer assessing their fellows’ essay and then provided and commented on peer feedback. On the whole, the findings show that students were happy to peer assess but not so much to be peer assessed. Also, the half of the participants estimated that their assessments did not match those to be expected by their course instructor even if the same assessment criteria were to be used. Some recommendations are formulated in light of the skills that students might have gained from reciprocal peer assessment and what still needs to be done to fully develop studentfocused learning through peer assessment.

Keyword
Group writing, reciprocal peer assessment, student-centred learning, Rwanda
National Category
Educational Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-91281 (URN)
Available from: 2013-04-18 Created: 2013-04-18 Last updated: 2013-04-19Bibliographically approved

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