The aim of the study was to investigate the potential of using network-based
communication (NBC) in an English as a Foreign Language (EFL) writing
classroom. It has been hypothesised that EFL writers benefit from the interactions
through NBC with two peer groups (readers and students) in two aspects: 1) NBC
permits explicit feedback that influences revisions, and 2) exposure to the target
language in NBC leads to incorporation of language.
The study integrated an online course (BlackBoard Courselnfo) into a writing
classroom of thirty-two EFL students at Walailak University (WU), Thailand. The
students wrote and submitted their drafts electronically to the asynchronous
discussion forum where peers read the drafts, interacted with the writers and
provided feedback. Taxonomies as defined by Faigley and Witte and Bridwell were
used to identify revisions made in the sequential drafts. The feedback was analysed
based on fifteen moves and two characteristics: text-specific (TS) and request for
revision (RQ). The drafts and the feedback were cross-checked to determine the
feedback effects as evidenced in revisions.
The results show that students benefited from interaction with the audience when
they made use of the provided feedback. The students made many changes mainly at
the format and sentence levels. However, only a minority of revisions came from the
online peer response while the majority originated from other sources such as selfinitiation. Feedback by the two peer groups differed in content, length and quantity.
Students incorporated comments into all linguistic levels of their writing, and these
were mainly surface corrections, TS and RQ feedback. Evidence from the online
course indicated scarce and inconsistent participation implying low motivation
These findings have led to the conclusion that NBC has the potential to support EFL
writing, but the students in this particular study were not highly motivated to become
involved in the activities. The study also revealed that exposure to the target
language for a short time (one academic term) did not result in language
incorporation apart from the incorporation of the explicit feedback. Despite its
limitations, this study provides some insights into further development in the field of
EFL writing and NBC.