Date of Award

5-1-2014

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Department

Applied Linguistics

First Advisor

Charkova, Krassimira

Abstract

Technology is advancing in continuous and swift steps, producing many tools that can be utilized in language teaching and learning practice.This study aims to examine the perceptions of 16 male English writing students in a Saudi university towards the utility of using blogging in their writing classes. The instrument of this study includes a survey of 19 Likert-scale questions, three open-ended questions, and five demographic questions. Six major areas of interest are explored in view of participants' perceptions of blog-based writing classes, including usefulness, benefits, advantages and disadvantages and whether or not they would choose a blog-based writing class in the future. The results reveal that the utility of blogging is perceived positively by the majority of participants in this study and is associated with an increased motivation and involvement in the learning process. Blog-based English writing classes are found useful for improving learners' critical thinking skills, vocabulary knowledge, writing style, sentence structure, grammatical competence, audience awareness, punctuation, organizational structure, and creativity of ideas. Among all these benefits, the highest mean is observed in relation to the benefits of blogging for participants' growth as critical readers of other students' writings. Overall, the results of the present study add further support to the postulations of Collaborative Learning Theory (Dillenbourg,1999) and the Expectancy Theory (Groom, 1964), according to which collaboration in learning facilitates the process of reaching the expected learning outcomes. Based on the results of the present study, the use of blogging as a teaching tool seems to facilitate both the collaborative nature of learning and the level of learner expectancy.This observation is supported by the high percentage (56%) of participants who agreed that by writing blogs they have learned to write for different audiences. The findings of this study also draw attention to the fact that some negative observations were made about the quality and effectiveness of peer work and peer feedback.This is one area that needs to be considered in future research in order to find effective ways of incorporating peer collaboration in the development and assessment of students' writing skills in English blog-based classes.

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