Social Dimensions of Second-Language Writing Instruction: Peer Response Groups as Cultural Context
Writing is a socially constmcted act as well as a cognitive one, and the social dimension of writing is often reflected in pedagogical practices designed to develop writing skills. Furthermore, these pedagogical practices are likely to reflect the values of the culture in which the writing instmction is being done. For example, in the United States, a highly individualistic culture, pedagogical practices are geared to developing and maintaining individualism and individuated skills. Chinese culture, on the other hand, is highly collectivist and pedagogical practices tend to reflect the importance of the group (Carson, 1992). What happens, then, when Chinese students accustomed to being socialized to value the group find themselves in classrooms where activities highlight the importance of the individual? This dissonance between the group and the individual is one that seems to present itself to Chinese students when peer response groups are used in writing instruction in U.S. classrooms.