Formative e-feedback in collaborative writing assignments: the effect of the process and time

Teresa Guasch, Anna Espasa, Ibis Alvarez


Writing is one of the most common activities in higher education, and is essential if we are situated in virtual learning environments based on written communication. However, the fact that it is a customary activity does not mean that it is specifically taught or that guidance is given to help students in the academic writing process (Lonka, 2003). In fact, the opposite often happens; students are already expected to know how to write in different contexts. Nevertheless, students require specific support from teachers and their peers to enable them to deal with the processes and products of academic communication. Feedback could be one type of support, seen as a joint activity which entails active interaction between students and the teacher, including how students receive and utilise the feedback (Dysthe, 2007), but not all kinds of feedback are effective.

This study thus explores the impact of formative e-feedback on students' texts written collaboratively in an online learning environment and also it explores when the e-feedback takes place in a way which contributes to the inclusion of more complex arguments in academic texts. A proactive reaction by the students was caused in response to feedback. This happened when they received messages questioning their work but also suggesting changes, in addition to correction. The pattern that seems to generate quality changes in collaborative text revision processes is initiated by teacher elaboration feedback, which generates discussion among the students and, as a result, leads to contextualised changes to the text.

Proposing regular feedback that requires discussion among the students turns out to be an essential strategy to encourage high quality revision of texts written collaboratively in an online learning environment.


e-Feedback; Writing; Collaborative task; Higher education; Online learning environment; Timing of feedback

Full Text:


eLCRPS. eLearn Center Research Paper Series is an e-journal promoted by the eLearn Center of the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya.


Creative Commons
The texts published in this journal, unless otherwise indicated, are subject to a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Spain licence. They may be copied, distributed and broadcast provided that the author, the journal (eLCRPS. eLearn Center Research Paper Series), and the institution that publishes them are cited. The full licence can be consulted on