A Constructivist Perspective on Web-Based Writing Instruction
|English Language and Literature
|constructivist learning perspective writing instruction collaborative writing and web publishing project
The fast development of economy and technology in recent years presents new opportunities as well as challenges for English teaching in China. On one hand, there are higher demands on college English learners’ mastery of English. After years of being passive learners and fed with chunks of bite-sized knowledge, they are now challenged to become active learners, critical thinkers and communicative writers of English. On the other hand, computer technology is more closely integrated into the language classroom and offers new opportunities for computer-assisted language learning (CALL) activities. In particular, computer-assisted online learning projects prove extremely helpful in the teaching of English writing. Along with these changes, the constructivist learning perspective is highly evaluated currently, which emphasizes learners’ active learning and construction of meaning. In the perspective of constructivist learning, teachers should assume more of a facilitators’ role and learners take more control over their learning. Hence, it seems that constructivist learning theories will throw hints on the current reform in English teaching. Therefore, the current thesis attempts to explore a new approach to English writing instruction assisted by computer technology and backed up with constructivist learning theories.The present thesis starts with a review of constructivist learning theories and that of writing instruction. Then it is followed by a brief review of computer-assisted writing practices at home and abroad. After that, six elements are abstracted from the reviewed literature as the basis for the study and the survey. They are, participation, interaction, critical thinking, output, authentic audience and tool. Both quantitative method and qualitative method are used in analyzing the data. The latter part of the thesis reports on the collaborative writing and web publishing project composed of a series of activities threaded with constructivist learning theories. The results of the study show that the activities are effective in improving students’ English writing and students generally hold positive attitudes towards this kind of project, and there is a gradual awareness of the changing nature of writing in the online environment. The thesis concludes with some implications for future studies in this field.