Peer interactions in mixed-age EFL secondary school classrooms

Kos, Tomas and Philp, Jenefer (2017) Peer interactions in mixed-age EFL secondary school classrooms. PhD thesis, Linguistics and English Language.

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Drawing from a sociocultural framework, this study investigated peer interactions in mixed-age (M-A) English as a foreign language (EFL) secondary school classrooms in Germany which are simultaneously mixed-ability classrooms. M-A is increasingly used (Thurn, 2011), but is under-researched in language classrooms. Research in mainstream M-A classrooms suggests benefits for both younger and elder learners (Kuhl et al. 2013; Little, 2001; Thurn, 2011; Veenman, 1995). Although some research has been conducted in L2 mixed-proficiency settings, there has been no study conducted on peer-interactions within M-A groups/pairs in L2 contexts. Twelve mixed-age pairs of young adolescent learners were audio-recorded when interacting on regular classroom tasks, which were a part of one unit of work, lasting a period of two and half months. After the unit of work, individual interviews were conducted in order to elicit learners’ perceptions of their interactions. Results show that M-A pairs formed predominantly patterns of interaction, which are conducive to learning, namely expert/novice and collaborative pattern (Storch, 2001a). One pair was identified as dominant/dominant and one pair could not be identified according to Storch’s framework and was identified as expert/passive (Watanabe & Swain, 2007). With regards to the extent and ways of assistance provided, some pairs assisted one oanother in ways similar to teacher scaffolding, while some in ways which resemble to what Donato (1988, 1994) called collective scaffolding. Results also show eight out of ten younger learners, which were the focus of the analysis, showed some level of increased independence of target-like use. However, the extent of target-like use use varied greatly across learners. In relation to perceptions of their interactions, the majority of peers expressed a positive attitude towards their interactions, and perceived an equal contribution of both partners to their joint work. However, while younger peers perceived learning outcomes, some of their elder partners did not.

Item Type:
Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords:
?? learning and pedagogical ??
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Deposited On:
03 Feb 2017 14:44
Last Modified:
18 Dec 2023 00:53