Date of Award

2012

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts

School

College of Arts and Sciences

Program

English, MA

First Advisor

Julia Kim

Abstract

Problem. Studies on group work in the field of second language learning have pointed out positive outcomes of this classroom instruction for providing output and input opportunities for language production, for negotiations of meaning, and for academic language. Furthermore, social-psychological factors that hinder language development are asserted to be prevented by the use of group work. Even though group work may create an excellent environment for second language acquisition, research has indicated that few opportunities seem to be conceded for second language speakers to take active participation in discussions. In short, it seems that nonnatives’ interactions are hindered due to distinct cultural values, perceptions, interactional style, and the lack of language proficiency to discuss vigorously. Natives also might not assist and interact with nonnatives. Thus, the present study attempts to elucidate the social dynamic of nonnative students’ attitudes and experiences in group work. -- Method. This study gathered a sample of 100 participants to explore nonnative students’ attitudes and experiences. A closed-ended questionnaire with 39 questions was applied, and a Likert scale was used to measure participants’ statements. Using SPSS 19, responses were entered into a spreadsheet. All positively worded items were reverse-scored to be consistent with all negatively worded statements. To answer research question 1 (What is the attitude toward and experience in group work of international students at Andrews University?), descriptive statistics (mean, standard deviation, percentages) were used. For research question 2 (Are attitude and experience related to gender, age, year of study, years of studying English, and scores on English Proficiency test?), t-tests, analysis of variance, and Spearman rho correlation were used. Statistical significance was tested at the 0.05 level. -- Results. Findings indicate that L2 speakers do not perceive themselves as receiving a peripheral role in the group, in terms of passive participation and opportunities to interact. Nonnative speakers do not go through a process of apprenticeship of social practices with the assistance of native speakers. Rather, they manage interactions and participation satisfactorily. Results suggest that their perceptions of group work participation are mainly attached to difficulties related to language barriers, less so in acquiring the ability on the social practices of the group or psychological factors. Although nonnatives believe native speakers incorporate their ideas, they feel undermined as considerably less attention is conferred on what they actually propose. Therefore, nonnatives’ group work perception has a twofold aspect: While they can participate and interact peacefully with the members of the group, they still feel devalued in their contributions, tending to like to work in groups but preferring working individually. -- Conclusions. According to nonnative students, the dynamic of interactions in group work tends to be more positive than negative, which means that though nonnatives feel undermined by native speakers, thus preferring to work individually rather than in groups, their social exchange among peers can function productively.

Subject Area

Small groups., Team learning approach in education., Second language acquisition., Students, Foreign--Attitudes.

Share

COinS