|dc.description.abstract||This qualitative study explored ESL learners’ emergent beliefs about academic group work and peer review at a New Zealand university. The thesis focuses on learners’ beliefs about the factors that are necessary for successful group work, the benefits and drawbacks of group work and peer review, and the role of the student and teacher during group work and peer review. The research contributes to original knowledge by filling a gap in the research on ESL learners’ beliefs about cooperative group work and peer review at the university level in New Zealand. The study took place within an Action Research framework (look, think, act, plan, implement, evaluate) and employed learner diaries as the primary data collection instrument. A contextual approach was used which regards beliefs as socially constructed, dynamic, and emerging.
The study was conducted in two cycles with two groups of participants who were enrolled, in two different semesters, in the same first-year English for Academic Purposes course at the University of Otago. Cycle I explored the beliefs of learners about group work and peer review when they had not received any targeted training. In addition to the learner diary entries of participants enrolled in the course, Cycle I also included a case study of four students who had volunteered to be interviewed. A period of reflection followed this first cycle during which time the course was revised and training guidelines were formulated. Using a grounded approach to the analysis of the data, the results of the first cycle’s diary entries and case studies were taken into consideration when making improvements to the course and, based on the analysis of these findings, students in Cycle II received some training in group work and peer review. Cycle II focused on the beliefs of learners in the researcher’s tutorial group. In addition to the learner diary entries, a group evaluation exercise was completed by this smaller group of participants, which added further insights into the beliefs of these learners.
The findings appear to indicate that training students to participate in group work and peer review could lead to a richer learning experience for students and, possibly, more positive beliefs. The findings also show the value of using learner diaries to explore learners’ beliefs and how these beliefs influence their behaviour in group work and peer review. They show the importance of exploring the beliefs of language learners which, following data analysis and identifying themes, could then be taken into consideration by the teacher when implementing future group work or peer review. The thesis concludes with pedagogical implications and recommendations for training EAP students in effective academic group work and peer review.||