Background of the students
The target students for this study are grade 11 students in a model school who are most likely to join higher education either here in the UAE or abroad as many of them are expected to be nominated for scholarship from the government to study in the USA, Canada, UK and Australia similar to many of our previous student.
The two classes include diverse students. Some of them enjoy a considerable competency in English. They have good command of the language but with some difficulties with speaking and communicating skills. Some other students are low achievers who suffer certain difficulties in the language skills. No special needs students are there in any of the two classes. The class population never exceeds 25 students.
Students in model schools have conditions which are different from other governmental schools. The nature of this type of schooling is indicated in the description of the (ADEC) Abu Dhabi Education Council as a distinguished type. The program in this type of schooling focuses on increased expenditures per student, implementation of curriculum standards, Maths and Science being taught in English and upgraded IT infrastructure. The program is structured around a student centered model of delivery and focuses on a holistic approach to education and student learning.
Students do not have home classes. Teachers have the classrooms and students join their classes. Classes are equipped with modern technological learning and teaching aids. There are a computer and a data show projector in every classroom. Listening and hearing equipment is available in all classes.
10 periods of 45 minutes each, are allocated for teaching English as a foreign language for each class a week. An English native speaking advisor is available in the school with full time job (5 days a week).
The school follows the ADEC curriculum. The syllabus of English includes no text book. Teachers are to select, refine, adapt and modify the required materials individually or in group. Teachers are free to use any resources which may include extracts from books, magazines, newspapers, websites and any other possible resources. No grammar teaching is explicitly included in the curriculum. Sometimes it is up to the teachers to teach grammar if they feel there is a need for it.
Two types of assessment are used in the school by all subjects including English. Formative assessment is used through ongoing assessment which is allocated 50 % of the total mark of each semester. It is applied through the use of quizzes, short tests and performance assessment in reading, writing, listening and speaking. Each skill is allocated 25 % of the total mark of the ongoing assessment.
Few points to mention here, first is that the students will be divided into groups for the purpose of writing instruction and activities only. Since students’ abilities vary from skill to skill, for the purpose of this research, labeling students of higher, average and lower achievers will only be referring to their abilities in writing only. In addition, a particular level or group is not based on the subject perception or the other label, but on the results of the objective assessment tool. In other words students will not be grouped according to other skills than writing, such as their fluency or their oral abilities, mainly the results of a valid placement test in their writing abilities.
In one class, the students will be grouped homogeneously, when high achievers in writing >the raw score of 10 will sit together and low achievers < the raw score of 10 will sit together. In the second class students will be grouped heterogeneously in mixed ability groups when each group will include high and low achievers in writing.
A pretest will be held for the participants before grouping them. The treatment will include teaching students process writing that will be covered within twenty sessions each session is 45 minutes representing a school day period. Students will be involved in peer editing throughout the treatment period under the observation of the teacher. Techniques and strategies of peer editing will be provided to the students through models and examples by the teacher. During the sessions the students will be trained on using the writing strategies of peer editing and self editing, drafting and peer correction. The teaching techniques and strategies will be varied according groups abilities. The teacher will follow the techniques with both groups to see the effect of the type of grouping on students’ achievement. Consequently both classes will have the same treatment. The only difference will be the type of grouping decided for each. The posttest will be held soon after the end of the whole sessions.
A pretest post test tool will be used to collect the data needed for the study. A writing task is designed for students to write. Validity of the writing rubrics was determined by a number of experts in the field of EFL. They agree upon the rubric as valid for correcting grade 11 EFL writing and they also agree upon the validity of the rubric to collect the data for research purposes.
A nonequivalent control group design will be used due to the lack of random sample selection. One experimental group representing one class will be grouped homogeneously while the control group or the other class will be grouped heterogeneously. Both groups will have the same treatment that will be administered by the same teacher.