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Franziska Gürtl and Georg Lukas Hartleb (AT)


Collaborative writing as a way to empower students

Writing texts collaboratively is a widely assigned task in higher education. When students deal with collaborative writing tasks, they encounter specific challenges that go beyond the pitfalls of individual writing. These difficulties are discussed in interdisciplinary and heterogeneous fields of research. Looking at this body of research from an empowerment perspective, recent contributions quantitatively analyzed how collaborative writing may help students to improve their writing skills and the quality of their written work. However, how students subjectively perceive collaborative writing processes has not been analyzed systematically so far if one disregards literature on English as a second language. In a research project currently underway, we analyze what challenges students face in collaborative writing settings, what working practices they use in these processes, and what possible solutions may be deduced from their experiences. To address these research questions, we conducted a qualitative empirical study which places the students’ perspectives at the center.

In our presentation, we will focus on the students‘ experiences of collaborative writing processes and the perceived challenges associated with collaborative writing. We will discuss some of these challenges in detail and outline how they are related to the students‘ working practices, the class requirements, and the professors‘ role as facilitators. Particular emphasis will be placed on the complex coordinating processes which students navigate during the course of their writing projects: For example, students must allocate specific writing and research tasks within the group; additionally, they need to consolidate their individual ideas about the writing product and the organization of the writing process. In extensive discussions, students verbalize individual writing practices and preferences that usually remain implicit. We argue that these negotiation processes enable students to grow as academic writers. To conclude, we will discuss how didactic scenarios employing collaborative writing tasks may empower students to further develop the quality of their written work as well as refine their writing skills.

Short biographies

Franziska Gürtl works as peer writing tutor at the writing center of the University of Graz (AT). Currently, she is studying Science and Technology Studies (MA) at the University of Vienna and German Philology (BA) at the University of Graz. In a recent research project at the Graz University of Technology, she explored interactional challenges experienced by students and teachers in digital learning.

Lukas Georg Hartleb works as peer writing tutor at the writing center of the University of Graz (AT). He recently finished his master’s degree in Sociology and is currently studying Interdisciplinary Gender Studies. In his master’s thesis, he analyzed first-generation student challenges and support factors in their first year at university.


Dr. Doris Pany

Writing Center
Department of Academic Services
Halbärthgasse 6/I
A-8010 Graz

Phone:+43 316 380 - 1150

Unfortunately, our office is not wheelchair accessible. However, in order to make our services accessible to all, we are happy to arrange meetings in other rooms on campus.

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