English Australia Journal : English Australia Journal 27.2
English Australia Journal Volume 27 No 2 7 may also experience strong emotional involvement in peer feedback interaction (Amores, 1997). The social dynamics of a peer feedback group can sometimes be really problematic when reviewers become over-critical (Nelson & Murphy, 1992) or disrespectful (Villamil & de Guerrero, 1996), and writers over-defensive (Amores, 1997) or intimidated (Nelson & Carson 1998; Villamil & de Guerrero, 1996). Certain interactional strategies that students use to achieve better social dynamics may also inhibit productive collaboration. For example, the Chinese students in Carson and Nelson’s (1996) study tried to be indirect and soften their criticism, only to cause confusion on the part of the writer. All these problematic behaviors and attitudes, which work against productive collaboration, can hinder the effectiveness of peer review as a pedagogical practice and even generate ‘a sense of discomfort and uneasiness among the participants’ (Liu & Sadler, 2003, p. 194) to negatively affect students’ attitudes toward peer feedback. Cultural influences Cultural influences on the effectiveness of peer review as a pedagogical activity and peer feedback as a source of information for writing improvement have attracted much attention from researchers (Carson & Nelson, 1994; Hu & Lam, 2010). Some suggest that students who hold certain cultural beliefs and values antithetical to the pedagogical principles underlying peer review might find it difficult to participate in and benefit from this pedagogical activity (Carson & Nelson, 1994; Hu, 2002; Hyland, 2000). For example, Nelson and Carson (1998) contend that a collectivist belief in group cohesion and harmony in China explains Chinese students’ reluctance to criticise peers’ drafts or explicitly disagree with others in their interaction. Such culturally embedded reluctance to act as critics works against the primary purpose of peer review (i.e., to help students improve their writing) by depriving students of critical but constructive feedback from peers. Another cultural factor contributing to EFL/ESL students’ preference for teacher feedback over peer feedback is the prevalent perception of the teacher as the knower and authority in ‘teacher-centered’ cultures like the Chinese culture (Hu, 2005; Mangelsdorf, 1992; Nelson & Murphy, 1992; Sengupta, 1998). Although the aforementioned cultural influences seem to be especially relevant to Chinese EFL/ESL learners, Hu and Lam (2010) found little cultural impact on most of the Chinese students in their study, a result consistent with the findings of Yang et al (2006). As pointed out by the authors of both studies, the lack of a negative cultural impact might have been a function of the appropriate pedagogical implementation of peer review. This is good news for writing instructors who are interested in using peer review with their Chinese EFL/ESL learners.
English Australia Journal 28.1
English Australia Journal 27.1