Arab World English Journal (AWEJ) Volume 12. Number3   September 2021                               Pp. 174 -185

Full Paper PDF 

            The Impact of Collaborative Writing on EFL Learners’ Writing Development: A
Longitudinal Classroom-Based Study in Saudi Arabia

Khaled Salem Aldossary
Department of English Language and Translation
College of Languages and Translation
King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia


Received: 4/23/2021               Accepted:  8/26/2021             Published:

No previous studies have employed sociocultural theory and the notion of collaborative dialogue to examine collaborative writing in Saudi Arabia, where students favor writing individually. Exploring this topic is significant because of the importance the Saudi education system places on learning English, especially at the university level. Therefore, this longitudinal classroom-based study tested how collaborative writing affected the development of university students learning English as a foreign language in Saudi Arabia. The 46 participants were evenly divided into a control group, who wrote essays individually, and an experimental group, who worked on essays in small groups. Both groups took a pre-test before the eight-week intervention and a post-test at the end. The experimental group also took an end-of-study questionnaire. Although both groups showed improvement, the experimental group improved significantly more on the post-test than the control group and expressed positive attitudes toward collaborative writing on the questionnaire. The study concludes with theoretical and pedagogical implications and recommendations for future research.
Keywords: Collaborative writing, group work, individual writing, learner perceptions, sociocultural

Cite as: Aldossary, K. S. (2021). The Impact of Collaborative Writing on EFL Learners’ Writing Development: A Longitudinal
Classroom-Based Study in Saudi Arabia.  Arab World English Journal, 12 (3) 174 -185.


Al Tai, Y. (2015). The effect of collaboration on Omani students’ writing: A comparison between individual, pair and group work. European Scientific Journal.‌esj/article/download/5554/5349/0

Alammar, M. (2019). A case study to compare collaborative vs. individual essay writing in Saudi male EFL learners [Doctoral dissertation, University of Limerick].‌handle/10344/8138/Alamar_2019_Case.pdf?sequence=4

Aldossary, K. (2017). Peer feedback and the L2 writing of givers and receivers: A quantitative and qualitative longitudinal study involving Saudi students [Doctoral dissertation, University of Melbourne].

Alkhalaf, N. A. (2020). Saudi female EFL learners and collaborative writing: Attitudes and challenges. Theory and Practice in Language Studies, 10(9), 1118–1127.

Aminloo, M. S. (2013). The effect of collaborative writing on EFL learners writing ability at elementary level. Journal of Language Teaching & Research, 4(4).

Chen, W., & Hapgood, S. (2019). Understanding knowledge, participation and learning in L2 collaborative writing: A metacognitive theory perspective. Language Teaching Research, 25(2), 256–281.

Dobao, A. F. (2012). Collaborative writing tasks in the L2 classroom: Comparing group, pair, and individual work. Journal of Second Language Writing, 21(1), 40–58.

Dobao, A. F. (2014). Attention to form in collaborative writing tasks: Comparing pair and small group interaction. Canadian Modern Language Review, 70(2), 158–187.

Dobao, A. F. (2020). Exploring interaction between heritage and second language learners in the Spanish language classroom. In W. Suzuki & N. Storch (Eds.), Languaging in language learning and teaching: A collection of empirical studies (pp. 55–91). John Benjamins.

Dobao, A. F., & Blum, A. (2013). Collaborative writing in pairs and small groups: Learners’ attitudes and perceptions. System, 41(2), 365–378.

Donato, R. (1994). Collective scaffolding in second language learning. In J. P. Lantolf & G. Appel (Eds.), Vygotskian approaches to second language research (pp. 33–56). Ablex.

Gass, S., Mackey, A., & Ross‐Feldman, L. (2011). Task‐based interactions in classroom and laboratory settings. Language Learning, 61, 189–220.

Jacobs, H. L., Zinkgraf, S. A., Wormuth, D. R., Hartfiel, V. F., & Hughey, J. B. (1981). Testing ESL composition: A practical approach. Newbury House.

Johnson, D. W., & Johnson, R. T. (1979). Conflict in the classroom: Controversy and learning. Review of Educational Research, 49(1), 51–69.

Judd, T., Kennedy, G., & Cropper, S. (2010). Using wikis for collaborative learning: Assessing collaboration through contribution. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 26(3), 341–354.

Khatib, M., & Meihami, H. (2015). Languaging and writing skill: The effect of collaborative writing on EFL students’ writing performance. Advances in Language and Literary Studies, 6(1), 203–211.

Long, M. H. (1996). The role of the linguistic environment in second language acquisition. In W. C. Ritchie & T. K. Bhatia (Eds.), Handbook of second language acquisition (pp. 413–468). Academic Press.

McDonough, K., & Sato, M. (2019). Promoting EFL students’ accuracy and fluency through interactive practice activities. Studies in Second Language Learning and Teaching9(2), 379–395.

McDonough, K., Crawford, W. J., & De Vleeschauwer, J. (2016). Thai EFL learners’ interaction during collaborative writing tasks and its relationship to text quality. In M. Sato & S. Ballinger (Eds.), Peer interaction and second language learning: Pedagogical potential and research agenda (pp. 185–208). John Benjamins.

McDonough, K., De Vleeschauwer, J., & Crawford, W. (2019). Comparing the quality of collaborative writing, collaborative prewriting, and individual texts in a Thai EFL context. System, 74, 109–120.

Namaziandost, E., & Nasri, M. (2019). A meticulous look at Long’s (1981) interaction hypothesis: Does it have any effect on speaking skill? Journal of Applied Linguistics and Language Research, 6(2), 218–230.

Sato, M., & Ballinger, S. (2016). Peer interaction and second language learning: Pedagogical potential and research agenda. John Benjamins.

Shehadeh, A. (2011). Effects and student perceptions of collaborative writing in L2. Journal of Second Language Writing, 20(4), 286–305.

Storch, N. (2013). Collaborative writing in L2 classrooms. Multilingual Matters.

Storch, N. (2018b). Collaborative writing. In R. Manchón & P. Matsuda (Eds.), Handbook of second and foreign language writing (pp. 387–406). De Gruyter Mouton.

Storch, N., & Aldosari, A. (2010). Learners’ use of first language (Arabic) in pair work in an EFL class. Language Teaching Research, 14(4), 355–375.

Swain, M. (2006). Languaging, agency and collaboration in advanced second language learning. In H. Byrnes (Ed.), Advanced language learning: The contributions of Halliday and Vygotsky (pp. 95–108). Continuum.

Swain, M. (2010). Talking-it-through: Languaging as a source of learning. In R. Batestone (Ed.), Sociocognitive perspectives on language use and language learning (pp. 112–130). Oxford University Press.

Swain, M., & Lapkin, S. (2002). Talking it through: Two French immersion students’ response to reformulation. International Journal of Educational Research, 37(3/4), 285–304.

Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes. Harvard University Press.

Wigglesworth, G., & Storch, N. (2012). What role for collaboration in writing and writing feedback. Journal of Second Language Writing, 21(4), 364–374.

Wood, D., Bruner, J. S., & Ross, G. (1976). The role of tutoring in problem-solving. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 17(2), 89–100.

Zenouzagh, Z. M. (2020). Syntactic complexity in individual, collaborative and e-collaborative EFL writing: Mediating role of writing modality, L1 and sustained development in focus. Educational Technology Research and Development, 68(6), 2939–2970.

Zhang, M. (2018). Collaborative writing in the EFL classroom: The effects of L1 and L2 use. System, 76, 1–12.

Zhang, M., & Plonsky, L. (2020). Collaborative writing in face-to-face settings: A substantive and methodological review. Journal of Second Language Writing, 49.

Received: 4/23/2021 
Accepted: 8/26/2021 
Published: 9/24/2021 

Dr. Khaled ALDOSSARY is an Assistant Professor of Applied Linguistics in the Department of English Language and Translation, King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. He gained his Ph.D. in Applied Linguistics and Educational Linguistics from the University of Melbourne. His academic interest areas are ESL/EFL academic writing, feedback on writing, collaborative learning, and computer-mediated language learning.