Edited by Naoko Taguchi and YouJin Kim
[Task-Based Language Teaching 10] 2018
► pp. 84–109
Chapter 4. Task complexity effects on interaction during a collaborative persuasive writing task
A conversation analytic perspective
This study examined whether task complexity (Robinson, 2011a, b), induced through reasoning demands, affects L2 learners’ interaction patterns during a collaborative writing task that involved the pragmatic act of persuasion. We analyzed interaction of two pairs of students when they co-constructed a persuasive essay in English based on a prompt. One pair completed a ‘simple’ task, which provided explicit information about the arguments, macro-structure of the essay, and linguistic devices to use in a persuasive essay, while the other pair completed a ‘complex’ task in which such information was withheld, and thus they needed to use reasoning skills to figure out the structure of the persuasive essay. Using a conversation analysis-inspired approach, we examined how students co-constructed an essay. Results revealed differences between pairs completing a complex and simple task in terms of (1) pre-writing negotiation over the essay’s structure and (2) during-writing negotiation over sources of trouble. The complex task condition prompted participants to use more reasoning processes to accomplish the task goal, as shown in more extended negotiation sequences and turn taking, frequent pauses, and hesitant ways of speaking (e.g., use of rising intonation and epistemic markers).
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