Feedback and revision in cloud-based writing

Variations across feedback source and task type


  • Soobin Yim University of California, Irvine
  • Binbin Zheng Michigan State University
  • Mark Warschauer University of California



Collaborative writing, Google docs, Technology, Feedback


Collaborative writing is one of the twenty-first century writing competencies critical for college and career success. Technology-enhanced writing platforms, such as Google Docs, can serve as effective media for written collaboration. Although cloudbased tools such as Google Docs are increasingly used in secondary schools, little is known about how students collaboratively write in these environments, including how feedback sources and types of tasks affect collaborative writing patterns. This study examined the content of feedback and revision in 424 Google Docs written by 145 sixth grade students to understand the variations in feedback and revision patterns across key contextual factors: the source of feedback (i.e., teacher vs. peer) and assigned task type (i.e., argumentative, narrative, report). We conducted a qualitative content analysis of feedback and revision, followed by Chi-square and ANCOVA analyses. With regards to variations across feedback sources, we found that teacher feedback addressed more macro-level features (e.g., content, organization) whereas student feedback focused more on micro-level features (e.g., mechanics, conventions), and neither teacher nor peer feedback led to subsequent revisions. With regards to variations across task types, we found that among the three writing genres, the narrative genre had the greatest number of coauthors and feedback activities, and most of these activities consisted of affective feedback or direct edits. In contrast, in the report genre, the feedback activities tended to focus on content and organization, and the language functions of both feedback (e.g., advice, explanation) and revision (e.g., acknowledging, clarifying) were most evident in the report genre. We discuss the implications of these findings for the design and implementation of technology-based collaborative writing tasks in academic settings, as well as the limitations and directions for future studies.

Author Biographies

Soobin Yim, University of California, Irvine

Soobin Yim is a doctoral student in the School of Education at University of California, Irvine, specializing in Language, Literacy, and Technology.

Binbin Zheng, Michigan State University

Binbin Zheng is an assistant professor of Teaching and Learning in the College of Human Medicine at Michigan State University. Her research focuses on using emerging technologies to enhance literacy education and medical education.

Mark Warschauer, University of California

Mark Warschauer is a Professor of Education at the University of California, Irvine. His research interests include digital media and literacy. He is the founding editor of Language Learning & Technology journal and inaugural editor of AERA Open.


AbuSeileek, A. and Abuslsha’r, A. (2014). Using peer computer-mediated corrective feedback to support EFL learners’ writing. Language Learning and Technology 18 (1), 76–95.

Alshalan, A. (2016). The Effects of Wiki-based Collaborative Writing on ESL Students’ Individual Writing Performance. Detroit, MI: Wayne State University.

Aydin, Z., and Yildiz, S. (2014). Using wikis to promote collaborative EFL writing. Language Learning and Technology Detroit, Michigan 18 (1), 160–180.

Beers, S. F., and Nagy, W. E. (2009). Syntactic complexity as a predictor of adoles¬cent writing quality: Which measures? Which genre? Reading and Writing, 22, 185–200.

Berman, R. A., and Nir-Sagiv, B. (2007). Comparing narrative and expository text construction across adolescence: A developmental paradox. Discourse Processes 43 (2), 79–120.

Bikowski, D., and Vithanage, R. (2016). Effects of web-based collaborative writing on individual L2 writing development. Language Learning and Technology 20 (1), 79–99.

Bloch, J. (2009). The design of an online concordancing program for teaching about reporting verbs. Language Learning & Technology 13 (1), 59–78.

Braine, G. (2002). Academic literacy and the nonnative speaker graduate student. Journal of English for Academic Purposes 1 (1), 59–68.

Bonk, C., and Cunningham, D. (1998). Searching for learner-centered, construc¬tivist, and sociocultural components of collaborative educational learning tools. In C. Bonk and K. King (Eds), Electronic Collaborators, 25–50. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Calkins, L. (1994). The Art of Teaching Writing (new ed.). Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Calkins, L. (2006). A Guide to the Writing Workshop, Grades 3–5. Portsmouth, NH: First Hand.

Carmichael, S. and Alden, P. (2006). The advantages of using electronic processes for commenting on and exchanging the written work of students with learning disabilities and/or AD/HD. Composition Studies 34 (2), 43–57.

Chapelle, C. A. (2009). The relationship between second language acquisition theory and Computer-Assisted language learning. The Modern Language Journal 93 (s1), 741–753.

Cho, K., Schunn, C. D., and Charney, D. (2006). Commenting on writing typol¬ogy and perceived helpfulness of comments from novice peer reviewers and subject matter experts. Written Communication 23 (3), 260–294. https://doi. org/10.1177/0741088306289261

Cho, K., and MacArthur, C. (2010). Student revision with peer and expert reviewing. Learning and Instruction 20, 328–338. j.learninstruc.2009.08.006

Clark, W., Logan, K., Luckin, R., Mee, A., and Oliver, M. (2009). Beyond Web 2.0: Mapping the technology landscapes of young learners. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning 25 (1), 56–69.

Cohen, M., and Riel, M. (1989). The effect of distant audiences on students’ writ¬ing. American Educational Research Journal 26 (2), 143–159. 10.3102/00028312026002143

Crank, V. (2002). Asynchronous electronic peer response in a hybrid basic writ¬ing classroom. Teaching English in the Two Year College 30 (2), 145–155.

Demirbilek, M. (2015). Social media and peer feedback: What do students really think about using Wiki and Facebook as platforms for peer feedback? Active Learning in Higher Education 16 (3), 211–224. 1469787415589530

Ede, L. S., and Lunsford, A. A. (1990). Singular Texts/plural Authors: Perspectives on Collaborative Writing. Carbondale, IL: SIU Press.

Ellis, R. (2009). A typology of written corrective feedback types. ELT journal 63 (2), 97–107.

Ertmer, P. A., Richardson, J. C., Belland, B., Camin, D., Connolly, P., Coulthard, G., … Mong, C. (2007). Using peer feedback to enhance the quality of student online postings: An exploratory study. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication 12 (2), 412–433.

Fernández Dobao, A. (2012). Collaborative writing tasks in the L2 classroom: Comparing group, pair, and individual work. Journal of Second Language Writing 21 (1), 40–58.

Fu, H., Chu, S., and Kang, W. (2013). Affordances and constraints of a Wiki for primary-school students? Group projects. Educational Technology and Society 16 (4), 85–96.

Ge, Z. G. (2011). Exploring e-learners’ perceptions of net-based peer-reviewed English writing. International Journal of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning 6 (1), 75–91.

Gee, J. P. (2004). Situated Language and Learning: A Critique of Traditional Schooling New York: Routledge.

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

Godwin-Jones, R. (2003). Blogs and Wikis: Environments for on-line collabora¬tion. Language Learning and Technology 7 (2), 12–16.

Grabe, W. (2002). Narrative and expository macro-genres. In Johns, A. M. (Ed.) Genre in the Classroom: Multiple Perspectives, 249–267. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Grant, L. (2009). ‘I don’t care do ur own page’: A case study of using wikis for col¬laborative work in a UK secondary school. Learning, Media and Technology 34, 105–117.

Guardado, M., and Shi, L. (2007). ESL students’ experiences of online peer feed¬back. Computers and Composition 24 (4), 443–461. j.compcom.2007.03.002

Guilford, W. H. (2001). Teaching peer review and the process of scientific writing. Advances in Physiology Education 25 (3), 167–175.

Hayes, J. (1996). A new framework for understanding cognition and affect in writing. In C. Levy and S. Ransdell (Eds), The Science of Writing: Theories, Methods, Individual Differences and Applications, 1–27. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Hayes, J. R., and Flower, L. S. (1986). Writing research and the writer. American Psychologist 41 (10), 1106–1113.

Honeycutt, L. (2001). Comparing e-mail and synchronous conferencing in online peer response. Written Communication 18 (1), 26–60.

Hsieh, H. F., and Shannon, S. E. (2005). Three approaches to qualitative content analysis. Qualitative Health research 15 (9), 1277–1288. 10.1177/1049732305276687

Hyland, K. (2009). Teaching and Researching Writing. New York: Routledge.

Jacobs, H. L., Zinkgraf, S. A., Wormuth, D. R., Hearfiel, V. F., and Hughey, J. B. (1981). Testing ESL Composition: A Practical Approach. English Composition Program. Rowley, MA: Newbury House Publishers, Inc.

Jimoyiannis, A., Tsiotakis, P., Roussinos, D., and Siorenta, A. (2013). Preparing teachers to integrate Web 2.0 in school practice: Toward a framework for Pedagogy 2.0. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology 29 (2), 248–267.

Jones, J. (2008). Patterns of revision in online writing. Written Communication, 25 (2), 262–289.

Kamberelis, G. (1999). Genre development and learning: ‘Children writing stories, science reports, and poems’. Research in the Teaching of English 33 (4), 403–460.

Kessler, G. (2009). Student-initiated attention to form in wiki-based collaborative writing. Language Learning and Technology 13 (1), 79–95.

Kern, R., Ware, P., and Warschauer, M. (2004). 11. Crossing frontiers: New direc¬tions in online pedagogy and research. Annual review of Applied Linguistics, 24, 243–260.

Kern, R., Ware, P., and Warschauer, M. (2008). Network-based language teaching. In Hornberger, N. (Ed.) Encyclopedia of Language and Education, 1374–1385. New York: Springer US.

Lee, I. (2008). Student reactions to teacher feedback in two Hong Kong secondary classrooms. Journal of Second Language Writing 17 (3), 144–164. https://doi. org/10.1016/j.jslw.2007.12.001

Lee, L. (2010). Exploring wiki-mediated collaborative writing: A case study in an elementary Spanish course. Calico Journal 27 (2), 260–276. 10.11139/cj.27.2.260-276

Leu, D. J., Kinzer, C. K., Coiro, J., and Cammack, D. W. (2004). Toward a theory of new literacies emerging from the Internet and other information and communication technologies. In R. B. Ruddell and N. J. Unrau (Eds), Theoretical Models and Processes of Reading. Newark, DE: International Reading Association.

Lin, Y.-C. A. (2009). An examination of teacher feedback, face-to-face peer feed¬back, and Google Documents peer feedback in Taiwanese EFL college students’ writing (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from ProQuest. (3360682).

Lin, H. (2014). Establishing an empirical link between computer-mediated communication (CMC) and SLA: A meta-analysis of the research. Language Learning and Technology 18 (3), 120–147.

Lu, R., and Bol, L. (2007). A comparison of anonymous versus identifiable e-peer review on college student writing performance and the extent of critical feed¬back. Journal of Interactive Online Learning 6 (2), 100–115.

Lund, A., and Smørdal, O. (2006). Is There a Space for the Teacher in a Wiki?. In Proceedings of the 2006 international symposium on Wikis, 37–46). August. ACM.

Lund, A., and Rasmussen, I. (2008). The right tool for the wrong task? Match and mismatch between first and second stimulus in double stimulation. International Journal of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning 3 (4), 387–412.

Mangelsdorf, K. (1992). Peer reviews in the ESL composition classroom: What do the students think? ELT Journal 46, 274–284. elt/46.3.274

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

Miao, Y., Badger, R., and Zhenc, Y. (2006). A comparative study of peer and teacher feedback in a Chinese EFL writing class. Journal of Second Language Writing, 15, 179–200.

Nassaji, H., and Tian, J. (2010). Collaborative and individual output tasks and their effects on learning English phrasal verbs. Language Teaching Research, 14 (4), 397–419.

Nelson, G. L. and Carson, J. G. (1998). ESL students’ perceptions of effective¬ness in peer response groups. Journal of Second Language Writing 7, 113–131.

Noël, S. and Robert, J. M. (2004). Empirical study on collaborative writing: What do co-authors do, use, and like?. Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW) 13 (1), 63–89.

Olinghouse, N. G. and Wilson, J. (2013). The relationship between vocabulary and writing quality in three genres. Reading and Writing 26 (1), 45–65.

Paulus, T. M. (1999). The effect of peer and teacher feedback on student writing. Journal of Second Language Writing 8 (3), 265–289. S1060-3743(99)80117-9

Pellettieri, J. (2000). Negotiation in cyberspace: The role of chatting in the development of grammatical competence. In M. Warschauer and R. Kern (Eds) Network-based Language Teaching: Concepts and Practice, 59–86. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. CBO9781139524735.006

Peterson, S. S., and Kennedy, K. (2006). Sixth-grade teachers’ written comments on student writing genre and gender influences. Written Communication 23 (1), 36–62.

Qin, W., and Uccelli, P. (2016). Same language, different functions: A cross-genre analysis of Chinese EFL learners’ writing performance. Journal of Second Language Writing 33, 3–17.

Richardson, W. (2010). Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Robb, T., Ross, S., and Shortreed, I. (1986). Salience of feedback on error and its effect on EFL writing quality. TESOL Quarterly, 20 (1), 83–96. 10.2307/3586390

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

Schleppegrell, M. J. (2002). Linguistic features of the language of school¬ing. Linguistics and Education, 12, 431–459. S0898-5898(01)00073-0

Schultz, J. (2000). Computers and collaborative writing in the foreign language curriculum. In M. Warschauer and R. Kern (Eds), Network-Based Language Teaching: Concepts and Practice, 121–150. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Sotillo, S. M. (2000). Discourse functions and syntactic complexity in synchro¬nous and asyncronous communication. Language Learning and Technology 4 (1), 77–110.

Stanley, J. (1992). Coaching student writers to be effective peer evaluators. Journal of Second Language Writing 1 (3), 217–233. 1060-3743(92)90004-9

Storch, N. (2005). Collaborative writing: Product, process, and students’ reflec¬tions. Journal of Second Language Writing 14 (3), 153–173. 10.1016/j.jslw.2005.05.002

Storch, N. E. O. M. Y., and Wigglesworth, G. I. L. L. I. A. N. (2007). Writing tasks: The effects of collaboration. In M. del Pilar Garcia Mayo (Ed.) Investigating Tasks in Formal Language Learning, 157–177. Bristol: Multilingual Matters.

Storch, N. (2013). Collaborative Writing in L2 Classrooms. Bristol: Multilingual Matters.

Strobl, C. (2014). Affordances of Web 2.0 Technologies for Collaborative Advanced Writing in a Foreign Language. CALICO Journal 31 (1), 1–18.

Sun, Y. C. and Chang, Y. J. (2012). Blogging to learn – Becoming EFL academic writers through collaborative dialogues. Language Learning & Technology 16 (1), 43–61.

Suwantarathip, O., and Wichadee, S. (2014). The effects of collaborative writing activity using Google Docs on students’ writing abilities. The Turkish Online Journal of Educational Technology 13 (2), 148–156.

Trentin, G. (2009). Using a wiki to evaluate individual contribution to a collab¬orative learning project. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 25, 43–55.

Tsui, A. B. M., and Ng, M. (2000). Do secondary L2 writers benefit from peer comments? Journal of Second Language Writing 9 (2), 147–170. https://doi. org/10.1016/S1060-3743(00)00022-9

Tuzi, F. (2004). The impact of e-feedback on the revisions of L2 writers in an aca¬demic writing course. Computers and Composition 21 (2), 217–235. https://

Valacich, J. S., Dennis, A. R., and Nunamaker, J. F. (1992). Group size and anonymity effects on computer-mediated idea generation. Small Group Research 23 (1), 49–73.

Warschauer, M. (1997). Computer-mediated collaborative learning: Theory and practice. Modern Language Journal, 470–481. j.1540-4781.1997.tb05514.x

Warschauer, M. (2011). Learning in the Cloud. New York: Teachers College Press.

Wigglesworth, G. and Storch, N. (2009). Pair versus individual writing: Effects on fluency, complexity and accuracy. Language Testing 26 (3), 445–466. https://

Woo, M., Chu, S. K. W., Ho, A., and Li, X. (2011). Using a Wiki to scaffold primary-school students’ collaborative writing. Educational Technology and Society 14 (1), 43–54.

Yang, C. (2010). Using Google Docs to facilitate collaborative writing in an English language classroom practice. The Electronic Journal for English as a Second Language 14 (3).

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.

Yang, Y.-F., and Meng, W.-T. (2013). The effects of online feedback training on students’ text revision. Language Learning and Technology 17 (2), 220–238.

Yim, S., Wang, D., Olson, J., Vu, V., and Warschauer, M. (2017). Synchronous Collaborative Writing in the Classroom: Undergraduates’ Collaboration Practices and their Impact on Writing Style, Quality, and Quantity. Proceedings of the 20th ACM Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing. 2998181.2998356

Zhang, S. (1995). Reexamining the affective advantage of peer feedback in the ESL writing class. Journal of Second Language Writing 4 (3), 209–222. https://

Zhang, S. (2008). Assessing the impact of peer revision on English writing of tertiary EFL learners. Teaching English in China 31 (2), 47–54.

Zheng, B., Lawrence, J., Warschauer, M., and Lin, C.-H. (2015). Middle school students’ writing and feedback in a cloud-based classroom environment. Technology, Knowledge and Learning, 20(2), 201–229.

Zhou, W., Simpson, E., and Domizi, D. P. (2012). Google Docs in an out-of-class collaborative writing activity. International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education 24 (3), 359–375.

Zhu, W. (2001). Interaction and feedback in mixed peer response groups. Journal of Second Language Writing 10 (4), 251–276. S1060-3743(01)00043-1



How to Cite

Yim, S., Zheng, B., & Warschauer, M. (2018). Feedback and revision in cloud-based writing: Variations across feedback source and task type. Writing and Pedagogy, 9(3), 517–553.



Research Matters

Most read articles by the same author(s)