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Observation of peers in learning to write: Practice and research

Author(s): Rijlaarsdam, Gert | Braaksma, Martine | Couzijn, Michel | Janssen, Tanja | Raedts, Mariet | Van Steendam, Elke | Toorenaar, Anne | Van den Bergh, Huub

Journal: Journal of Writing Research
ISSN 2030-1006

Volume: 1;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 53;
Date: 2008;
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Keywords: writing | observational learning | strategy learning | inquiry | communities of learners

Elke Van Steendam, Anne Toorenaar,Journal of Writing Research 1(1), 53-83In this paper we discuss the role of observation in learning to write. We argue that the acquisition of skill in such a complex domain as writing relies on observation, the classical imitatio. An important phase in learning to write, at all ages, is learning to write by observing and evaluating relevant processes: writing processes, reading processes or communication processes between writers and readers.First, we present two practical cases: writing lessons in which observation and inquiry are amongst other key elements and where students participate in a community of learners. Then, we review research that may inspire and substantiate proposals for implementing observation as a learning activity in writing education. Two types of studies are discussed: studies in which learners acquire strategies by observing and evaluating writing and reading processes of peers, as a prewriting instructional activity, and studies in which learners are stimulated to 'pre-test' and then revise their first draft, as a post writing instructional activity. The paper closes with some recommendations for further research.
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