Comparing Web 2.0 applications for peer feedback in language teaching

Google Docs, the Sakai VLE, and the Sakai Wiki


  • Niki Canham Lancaster University



peer feedback, Computer Mediated Communication, Second Language (L2) Writing


The use of technology for collaborative writing and the delivery of electronic corrective feedback is becoming widespread in educational settings. However, to date, little research has focused on comparing the suitability of different Web 2.0 applications for technology-enhanced peer feedback. This study explores three free-to-use applications: Google Docs, the Sakai Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), and the Sakai Wiki. The study reports on the practicalities and peer reviewers’ experiences of these applications and, most importantly, compares the electronic feedback comments across applications. Seventy-eight English as a Foreign Language (EFL) students at an Austrian university participated in this counterbalanced, repeated-measures study. Over a ten-week period, participants wrote three draft essays, reviewed a peer’s unique draft using each application, and received peer feedback on their own drafts using each application. Comments were coded for the quantity, area, nature, location, and type of feedback. An entrance questionnaire elicited background information, and an exit questionnaire elicited quantitative and qualitative insights into the participants’ comparative experiences. The findings show that each application supports the exchange of peer feedback and that the applications’ feedback modes influence the reviewers’ comment foci. This study should help teachers make more informed decisions about which application is most appropriate for their desired peer feedback learning objectives.

Author Biography

Niki Canham, Lancaster University

Niki Canham is an EFL/EAP Lecturer at the Management Center Innsbruck and at the Department of English Studies, Innsbruck University, Austria. He is also a PhD student at Lancaster University, UK. Niki holds a Master’s degree in TESOL from Lancaster University, and his MA dissertation won a commendation award at the British Council ELT Awards 2015. Niki’s research interests include language and content pedagogy and the integration of Web 2.0 technologies for writing pedagogy.


Berg, E. C. (1999) Preparing ESL students for peer response. TESOL Journal 8 (2): 20--25.

Bradley, L. (2014) Peer-reviewing in an intercultural wiki environment - student interaction and reflections. Computers and Composition 34: 80--95.

Braine, G. (2001) A study of English as a foreign language (EFL) writers on a local-area network (LAN) and in traditional classes. Computers and Composition 18 (3): 275--292.

Braun, V. and Clarke, V. (2006) Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology 3 (2): 77--101.

Bruffee, K. A. (1984) Collaborative Learning and the “Conversation of Mankind”. College English 46 (7): 635--652.

Chang, C.-F. (2012) Peer review via three modes in an EFL writing course. Computers and Composition 29 (1): 63--78.

DiGiovanni, E. and Nagaswami, G. (2001) Online peer review: An alternative to face-to-face? ELT Journal 55 (3): 263--272.

Dippold, D. (2009) Peer feedback through blogs: Student and teacher perceptions in an advanced German class. ReCALL 21 (1): 18--36.

Dörnyei, Z. (2007) Research Methods in Applied Linguistics: Quantitative, Qualitative, and Mixed Methodologies. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Falchikov, N. and Goldfinch, J. (2000) Student peer assessment in higher education: A meta-analysis comparing peer and teacher marks. Review of Educational Research 70 (3): 287--322.

Ferris, D. (2003) Response to Student Writing: Implications for Second Language Students. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Ferris, D. R., Hedgcock, J. and Hedgcock, J. S. (2004) Teaching ESL Composition: Purpose, Process, and Practice. New York: Taylor & Francis.

Field, A. P. (2013) Discovering Statistics using IBM SPSS Statistics: And Sex and Drugs and Rock ‘n’ Roll. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Fitze, M. (2006) Discourse and participation in ESL face-to-face and written electronic conferences. Language Learning & Technology 10 (1): 67--86.

Gass, S. M. (2003) Input and interaction. In C. J. Doughty and M. H. Long (eds). The Handbook of Second Language Acquisition, 224--255. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

Gielen, S., Peeters, E., Dochy, F., Onghena, P. and Struyven, K. (2010) Improving the effectiveness of peer feedback for learning. Learning and Instruction 20 (4): 304--315.

Guardado, M. and Shi, L. (2007) ESL students’ experiences of online peer feedback. Computers and Composition 24 (4): 443--461.

Harmer, J. (2004) How to Teach Writing. Harlow, UK: Longman.

Ho, M.-c. and Savignon, S. J. (2007) Face-to-face and computer-mediated peer review in EFL writing. CALICO Journal 24 (2): 269--290.

King, N. and Horrocks, C. (2010) Interviews in Qualitative Research. London: Sage Publications.

Krashen, S. (1985) The Input Hypothesis. London: Longman.

Lam, R. (2010) A peer review training workshop: Coaching students to give and evaluate peer feedback. TESL Canada Journal 27 (2): 114--127.

Leki, I. (1990) Coaching from the margins: Issues in written response. In B. Kroll (ed). Second Language Writing: Research Insights for the Classroom, 57--68. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Li, L., Liu, X. and Steckelberg, A. L. (2010) Assessor or assessee: How student learning improves by giving and receiving peer feedback. British Journal of Educational Technology 41 (3): 525--536.

Lin, S., Liu, E. and Yuan, S. M. (2001) Web-based peer assessment: Feedback for students with various thinking-styles. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning 17 (4): 420--432.

Liou, H.-C. and Peng, Z.-Y. (2009) Training effects on computer-mediated peer review. System 37 (3): 514--525.

Liu, J. and Hansen, J. G. (2002) Peer Response in Second Language Writing Classrooms. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press.

Liu, J. and Sadler, R. W. (2003) The effect and affect of peer review in electronic versus traditional modes on L2 writing. Journal of English for Academic Purposes 2 (3): 193--227.

Lundstrom, K. and Baker, W. (2009) To give is better than to receive: The benefits of peer review to the reviewer’s own writing. Journal of Second Language Writing 18 (1): 30--43.

Mackey, A. (2007) Interaction as practice. In R. DeKeyser (ed). Practice in a Second Language: Perspectives from Applied Linguistics and Cognitive Psychology, 85--110. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

McGroarty, M. E. and Zhu, W. (1997) Triangulation in classroom research: A study of peer revision. Language Learning 47 (1): 1--43.

Mendonça, C. O. and Johnson, K. E. (1994) Peer review negotiations: Revision activities in ESL writing instruction. TESOL Quarterly 28 (4): 745--769.

Min, H.-T. (2005) Training students to become successful peer reviewers. System 33 (2): 293--308.

Paré, D. E. and Joordens, S. (2008) Peering into large lectures: Examining peer and expert mark agreement using peerScholar, an online peer assessment tool. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning 24 (6): 526--540.

Philp, J., Adams, R. J. and Iwashita, N. (2014) Peer Interaction and Second Language Learning. Abingdon, UK: Routledge.

Rahimi, M. (2013) Is training student reviewers worth its while? A study of how training influences the quality of students’ feedback and writing. Language Teaching Research 17 (1): 67--89.

Reynolds, M. and Trehan, K. (2000) Assessment: A critical perspective. Studies in Higher Education 25 (3): 267--278.

Rollinson, P. (2005) Using peer feedback in the ESL writing class. ELT Journal 59 (1): 23--30.

Sommers, N. (1982) Responding to student writing. College Composition and Communication 33 (2): 148--156.

Swain, M. (1985) Communicative competence: Some roles of comprehensible input and comprehensible output in its development. In S. M. Gass and C. Madden (eds). Input in Second Language Acquisition, 235--253. Rowley, MA: Newbury House.

Swain, M. (2000) The ouput hypothesis and beyond: Mediating acquisition through collaborative dialogue. In J. P. Lantolf (ed). Sociocultural Theory and Second Language Learning, 97--114. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Topping, K. (1998) Peer assessment between students in colleges and universities. Review of Educational Research 68 (3): 249--276.

Tsui, Amy B. M and Ng, M. (2000) Do secondary L2 writers benefit from peer comments? Journal of Second Language Writing 9 (2): 147--170.

Villamil, O. S. and Guerrero, M. C. de (1996) Peer revision in the L2 classroom: Social-cognitive activities, mediating strategies, and aspects of social behavior. Journal of Second Language Writing 5 (1): 51--75.

Vygotsky, L. S. (1978) Mind in Society: The Development of Higher Psychological Processes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Wang, J.-H., Hsu, S.-H., Chen, S. Y., Ko, H.-W., Ku, Y.-M. and Chan, T.-W. (2014) Effects of a mixed-mode peer response on student response behavior and writing performance. Journal of Educational Computing Research 51 (2): 233--256.

Wood, D., Bruner, J. S. and Ross, G. (1976) The role of tutoring in problem solving. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 17 (2): 89--100.

Yang, M., Badger, R. and Yu, Z. (2006) A comparative study of peer and teacher feedback in a Chinese EFL writing class. Journal of Second Language Writing 15 (3): 179--200.



How to Cite

Canham, N. (2018). Comparing Web 2.0 applications for peer feedback in language teaching: Google Docs, the Sakai VLE, and the Sakai Wiki. Writing and Pedagogy, 9(3), 429–456.



Research Matters