Attacking the Problem Together: Leveraging Peer Linguistic Support to Improve Adult ELL Writing Performance

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Johns Hopkins University
Academic writing is a fundamental skill for success in U.S. higher education settings, yet many adult English language learners (ELLs) struggle with this important skill. Prior studies have shown that peer review is an effective intervention for improving adult ELLs’ writing performance while also increasing their self-efficacy for writing and lowering their writing anxiety. However, most of these studies have been conducted with lower proficiency students in English as a Foreign language (EFL) settings, and few studies have included qualitative data to provide insights into the mechanism of change. To fill this gap in the literature, the study found in this dissertation used a mixed methods methodology to examine the effects of a peer review intervention on the writing self-efficacy, writing anxiety, and writing performance of advanced-level adult ELLs (n=8). The study used a convergent parallel design that included pre-posttests of writing anxiety, self-efficacy for writing, and writing performance. The quantitative results indicated that following the intervention participants experienced increased self-efficacy for writing, decreased writing anxiety, and improved writing performance. The qualitative results showed that participants perceived the peer review intervention to be useful for improving their writing performance and feelings about writing. The study data supported the conclusion that peer review can be an effective and efficient pedagogical intervention for improving adult ELLs’ academic writing by helping them become more autonomous academic writers. One key implication of the study is that peer review is a flexible intervention that can be integrated with existing program curricula. However, students need additional support limiting the focus and quantity of the feedback that they provide their peers.
ESL, ELL, Academic writing, writing anxiety, writing self-efficacy