also allows for the assignments to be broken into smaller tasks and the workload to be distributed evenly. By working together, students are able to bounce ideas off each other and learn from each other as well. Members can contribute different skills and thus the group can achieve more than individual members could on their own. As a result, this study will endeavor to explore some strategies of pair work and their effects on the writing skills of the learners.
1.3. Purpose of the Study
Students usually want more correction and less pair work while teachers want the opposite. There are arguments on both sides, but most teaching experts agree that pair work is a good thing if used at the right time in the right way. While the use of pair or small group work in the second language classroom in relation to oral work has been extensively studied, and its benefits are well documented, there are only few studies which have documented the advantages of collaboration in written work and in dealing with written feedback, specifically in Iran. Regarding the mentioned points about the advantages of pair work and scarcity of literature in this field in Iranian context especially in the writing field, this study will aim to investigate the effects of pair work on the writing skills of Iranian EFL learners.
1.4Research Question
RQ. Does instructing pair work strategies affect writing performance of Iranian EFL learners?
Null hypothesis: Instructing pair work strategies does not affect writing performance of Iranian EFL learners.
Alternative hypothesis: Instructing pair work strategies affects writing performance of Iranian EFL learners.
1.5 Significance of the Study
The two biggest disagreements between teachers and students on how it is best to study English in class are about the amount of error correction and the amount of pair work in writing. Some of the good reasons for using pair work in class are given below. Not all teachers use pair work in the right way all the time, though, and it might be that your doubts about pair work were prompted by a teacher who was not using pair work in the right way and for the right reasons. Pair work has some considerable advantages some of which are as follows:
1. More acting time-If students work in pairs for the whole class, they can theoretically act more and certainly no one could remain passive or negligent.
2. Cutting down on embarrassment-In a whole class activity, not only you have the stress of everyone listening to you but there is also usually silence while you are thinking of what you are going to say. In pair work, the background noise of other pairs speaking to each other can make you much less embarrassed about speaking out.
3. Fun-Working in pairs allows the teacher to use more games, and therefore increases the students’ motivation and concentration.
4. Individual attention-Although some students think that being asked to work in pairs is a sign of the teacher being lazy or of avoiding talking to the students, in fact the teacher can sometimes ask the whole class to work in pairs so he or she can work on one student at a time without everyone else noticing.
5. Error correction-If one person is doing a task in front of the whole class and the teacher writes something in a notebook, everyone will know that the person speaking has made a mistake and will know whose mistake it is in the following error correction stage. People working in pairs means that the teacher can more easily find people’s mistakes and correct them later without embarrassing anyone.
6. Exam practice–One student can ask the other side to obey the rules and put them into practice while the other can take the orders and do what the instructor member asks. This is usually done with one student pretending to be the examiner.
7. Classroom dynamics-Speaking to your classmates individually will help you to get to know them better-and so make the atmosphere in class nicer and the communication between you in all classroom activities more natural.
Finally, pair work gives students a degree of privacy and allows them to try things out that they might not attempt in the more public forum of a class discussion or a teacher-fronted activity. Regarding numerous benefits of pair work, there are only few studies on pair work and its numerous benefits in Iran (Jafari et al., 2012; Meihami et al., 2013; Keshavarz et al., 2014). They mostly have used vague and unclear strategies of pair work. To fill these gaps, this study examines the effect of practicing pair work on writing performance of EFL learners to see if the teachers can utilize them in a useful manner to improve their own teachings. It also offers a unique technique for pair work that has not been practiced before not in Iran and not in other countries’ researches which is easy to complement in English classes.
1.6Organization of the Study
In addition to this chapter, the one which is the whole study in miniature and covers the background of the study, the significance of the study, research questions & hypotheses, and definition of key terms, this study has been organized into four other chapters:
Chapter Two, review of the related literature, presents a thorough review of the related literature inside Iran and overseas; it begins with a review of theoretical approaches and major developments which led to the emergence of sociocultural perspective, writing in Vygotsky’s school of thought, MKO, ZPD, scaffolding in classroom situations, peer interaction, its advantages and disadvantages.
Chapter Three, Methodology, which begins with the research design that elaborates on the detailed technique and steps of pair work, explains about the site of the study; then, elaborates on the participants of the study, research instruments, data collection, data analysis, and finally offers a summary of the study.
Chapter Four, findings, which presents the students and teachers’ background information and restates and tests research questions by making use of descriptive statistics.
Chapter Five, Discussion and Conclusion, discusses the main findings and compares and contrasts them with the findings of other related studies. In addition, in this chapter suggestions, the pedagogical implications, some recommendations for the future researches, and limitations of the study, are presented. At the end, the results are concluded.
1.7 Definition of Key Terms
Pair/Peer Work
Two students work together to complete writing steps and tasks required in the study.
Accuracy concerns the extent to which the language produced conforms to target language norms.
The T-unit is defined as consisting of a main clause plus all subordinate clauses and non-clausal structures that are attached to or embedded in it. It is a measure for grammatical accuracy.
1.6. Summary
In this chapter, in order to present a general view of the study, a brief background concerning the importance of planned focus on form and corrective feedback was presented. Then, the importance of conducting this study and the gap in the literature that it attempted to fill is mentioned. After that, the four research questions, null and alternative hypotheses which are the bases of every study were presented in separate sections. In addition, the key words which are used very frequently in this study were very briefly described and at the end of this chapter the overall organization of different parts and sections of the study were pointed out.
2.1. Introduction
The purpose of this chapter is to provide theoretical background and rationale for the present study. It begins with a review of the philosophy behind this study; then, theoretical approaches, writing in Vygotsky’s school of thought, and the concepts of MKO, ZPD, scaffolding, its challenges and benefits, peer interaction, mediation and writing, accuracy definition, and pair work ’s advantages and disadvantages are examined in detail.
2.2. The philosophy behind this study: Sociocultural perspective
The use of small group and pair work is supported by two major theories of language learning: The psycholinguistic theory of interaction, based largely on the work introduced by Long (1996), and the sociocultural theory of mind suggested by Vygotsky (1978). Both theories emphasize the importance of interaction for learning. However, whereas the psycholinguistic theory focuses on interaction, the sociocultural theory emphasizes the importance of a particular kind of interaction, that of “collaboration” (Donato, 2004).
From a theoretical perspective, the use of pair and group work in the L2 classroom is supported by the social constructivist perspective of learning. Converging research from anthropology, applied linguistics, psychology, and education has taken up the term sociocultural, often using it with slightly different meanings and