A Sociocultural Perspective on Second Language Writing: The Effect of Symmetrical versus Asymmetrical Scaffolding on Intermediate EFL Learners’ Writing Accuracy, Fluency, and Complexity and Their Attitudes
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AbstractThis study investigated the effect of different patterns of scaffolding (symmetrical and asymmetrical) on Iranian English as a Foreign Language (EFL) students’ writing accuracy, fluency, and complexity. For this purpose, 90 intermediate female EFL learners took a Preliminary English Test (PET), based on which those whose scores fell one standard deviation below the mean were considered as low intermediate and those whose score was one standard deviation above the mean were considered as high intermediate learners. So, the participants were grouped into three symmetrical and asymmetrical patterns in terms of their language proficiency level: one asymmetrical group with High Intermediate-Low Intermediate learners (H-L), two symmetrical groups with High Intermediate learners (H-H), and another with Low Intermediate learners (L-L). There were 30 students in each group who were, then, divided into smaller groups to interact with each other to develop their essays during a treatment. To evaluate participants’ writing skill, they were made to take a pretest and a post-test. The results of one-way ANOVA and Kruskal–Wallis H tests showed that there were significant differences between the three scaffolding patterns in the writing accuracy and complexity of the EFL students, but not their writing fluency. The findings of the content analysis for the interview further showed that the students had positive attitudes towards the use of the collaborative writing method as they found it enjoyable and beneficial. The results have implications for teachers and learners.