Connecting Arabs and Americans online to promote peace and to increase cultural awareness: A descriptive study about Arab EFL learners' perceptions, practices, behaviors and attitudes towards computer-supported collaborative writing strategies and technologies
Meteab M. Al-Jamhoor, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, United States
Indiana University of Pennsylvania . Awarded
This study provides insight into the perspectives of the Online Collaborative Writing (OCW): theories, pedagogies, strategies and technologies. It describes the Arab EFL Learners' (AEFLs) attitudes towards OCW with American peers and tutors. It presents detailed descriptions about the AEFLs' beliefs, perceptions and reactions towards online intercultural interaction with Americans. It illustrates how the OCW technologies are utilized to facilitate collaboration and to engage Arabs and Americans in positive and peaceful dialogues particularly after the September 11th events. It explores the AEFLs' benefits, difficulties and the contextual factors that impacted their online collaboration.
The participants were male and female senior undergraduates from four universities in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the United States. AEFLs were taking advanced English writing courses to exchange feedback and cultural themes with American peers. This study applies the mixed method research where: surveys, interviews, artifacts, observations and weblogs are used to collect the data. Constant comparative analysis and triangulation methods were applied to analyze the data, using three research software to manage and present the data.
The findings revealed that AEFLs had a strong positive attitude towards the OCW activities. They valued the opportunity to engage in intercultural communication with American students. They agreed that the OCW tasks motivated them to write and read more habitually than in the traditional setting because they write to a live audience, write for a purpose and receive various forms of feedback from multiple perspectives. They became autonomous learners, constructing knowledge through sharing. OCW increased AEFLs' self-confidence, lowered their writing anxiety and empowered students' voices.
AEFLs and Americans online intercultural dialogues increased their cultural awareness. It lessened tension, corrected negative stereotypes and built bridges of communication. However, it is found that communication gaps, unsuccessful negotiation, cultural sensitivity, personal agendas limited the level of cross cultural communication and reduced the level of collaboration. Moreover, culture shock, the abuse of the OCW technologies, conflicts, and misinterpretations of the text were factors that contributed to the formation of the negative attitude towards OCW. OCW difficulties included the lack of language proficiency, access, technical and social problems and plagiarism.
Al-Jamhoor, M.M. Connecting Arabs and Americans online to promote peace and to increase cultural awareness: A descriptive study about Arab EFL learners' perceptions, practices, behaviors and attitudes towards computer-supported collaborative writing strategies and technologies. Ph.D. thesis, Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
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