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English Language Teaching 


Vol. 3, No. 3; September 2010 


Developing Business Management Students' Persuasive Writing 
Through Blog-based Peer-Feedback 

Osama H. Sayed 

Intensive English Program, Community College in Bisha, King Khalid University 
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Bisha, Postcode: 61922, PO Box: 1113 
E-mail: u_zedan555@yahoo.com 

Abstract 

The present study attempted to investigate the effect of using blog-based peer feedback on the persuasive writing 
of EFL business management students at the community college in Bisha, King Khalid University, Saudi Arabia. 
The study used a pre-test/post-test experimental and control group design. An experimental group and a control 
group were exposed to pre-post means of getting data (a pre-post test of persuasive writing). Results of the 
analysis of the differences between means of scores of the study subjects in the pre-post-measurements revealed 
a significant improvement in the experimental group students' persuasive writing. 

Keywords: Persuasive Writing, Weblog, Peer feedback 

1. Introduction and background 

With the astonishing advances in communications, brought about mainly by computer and internet, good writing 
skills have become more and more, essential for communication in both academic and real life. According to 
Olshtain (2001, p. 206), "the skill of writing enjoys special status-it is via writing that a person can communicate 
a variety of messages to a close or distant, known or unknown reader or readers. Such communication is 
extremely important in the modern world, whether the interaction takes the form of traditional paper-and-pencil 
writing or the most technologically advanced electronic mail". For Graham & Perin (2007, p. 3), "writing well is 
not just an option for young people—it is a necessity. Along with reading comprehension, writing skill is a 
predictor of academic success and a basic requirement for participation in civic life and in the global economy". 
Lin & Chien (2009, p. 79) put it clearly that "free writing, at the beginning of our second millennium, is one of 
the primary methods that human beings use to convey their thoughts and communicate with each other". 

However, writing is not a simple process, even in the mother language, and it is very challenging for almost all 
students. According to Celce-Murcia & Olshtain (2000, p. 141), even "a skilled writer, who writes often and for 
a variety of purposes, does not necessarily find the writing process easy. Many such writers report on the 
difficulties they encounter in sitting down to initiate a writing task or to carry out the final reformation of 
something that has already been written in draft form". For Miranda (2003, p. 3) "writing is not easy to acquire. 
People write less than they speak, even in their first language, which in turn leads to fewer opportunities to 
practice". Justifying the same difficulty, Brickman (1992, pp. 5-6), claims that "the preoccupation of ESL writers 
with writing error-free papers either paralyzes them or causes them sacrifice valuable ideas because they are 
afraid to write". According to the American alliance for excellent education (AFEE) report, the 2002 National 
Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) in writing shows that very large numbers of adolescents need 
interventions to help them become better writers (AFEE, 2006, p. 2). 

For business professionals, the need to write clearly, quickly and convincingly has never been more essential 
than in today's exceedingly competitive, technology-driven global economy. They are most likely to write in the 
genre of persuasive writing. They need to write business proposals, reports, letters, e-mails and briefings that 
persuade both individuals and groups of readers, n a recent survey of accounting professionals, a national sample 
of certified public accountant (CPA) firms was asked to rate nineteen professional skills on their importance and 
the perceived effectiveness of business curricula in developing these skills, writing skills ranked third in 
importance, out of nineteen (Ulrich et al., 2003). In another national survey of accounting professionals to 
determine the relative importance of 32 business communication skills needed by newly hired accounting 
graduates, seven of the top-ten skills were related to writing (Christensen et al., 2004). 

Unfortunately, writing, as Jack (2009) states, has been seen as a soft skill that would be nice to improve, not 
worth the time or money to invest in training. Most companies tend to invest in training for sales, project 
management, budgeting, or other skills that are easier to link to the bottom line, neglecting the reality that poor 
writing equals low productivity. Actually, poorly written and unconvincing documents can cause employees to 
reread instructions, perform tasks incorrectly, and miscommunicate with their customers. On the other hand, 
employees who possess superior writing skills help their organizations achieve their goals, create high customer 
satisfaction levels, and lower the business communication-related costs. 


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Reviewing features of the Web 2.0 era, it is found that blogging is the best-received feature. Blogs or weblogs 
have many advantages for all users over other internet tools. They are easy and quick to create; readers can often 
respond through a “comments” feature, no knowledge of HTML is needed, easily linked and crosslinked to other 
websites to create larger on-line communities and above all, they can be free or very low-cost to create. 

In the educational setting in general, and in language teaching and learning in particular, blogs have become 
extremely popular owing to their multi merits. According to Fellner & Apple (2006), using Blogs in EFL/ESL 
teaching and learning meets seven criteria of task appropriateness; blogs provide students with real learning 
opportunities and they fit with students’ interests and varying English levels. Blogs also meet a third criterion, 
meaning, as the students are responsible for making sure to write their blog entries clearly enough for their 
classmates to understand. In addition, blogs provide both students and teachers with authentic tasks. The fifth 
criterion, which is impact, is also met, as the blogs provide students not only with opportunities to acquire and 
use new vocabulary but also with new and useful computer skills. Blogging meets the criterion of practicality’ in 
that it imposes no extra financial burden on either the university or the students. Finally, blogs met the criterion 
of enhancement in that they are much more practical to use than paper-based diaries. For Wu (2006), using blogs 
in TEFL has tremendous advantages to both EFL teachers and students; they have the potential to be a truly 
transformational technology in that they provide a teaching and learning stage where students enjoy a high level 
of independence and good opportunities for greater interaction with peers and the teacher conducts his teaching 
with high efficiency. 

In contrast to traditional classroom settings, blogs can be very effective in many ways. First, helping students to 
communicate and collaborate with each other in the target language outside the confines of the classroom. 
Second, having the freedom to choose where and when they want to work. Third, expressing their thoughts at 
their own pace and in their own space. Fourth, supporting cooperative and autonomous learning. Fifth, 
encouraging ownership and responsibility on the part of students through self-publishing (Godwin-Jones, 2003; 
Edwards & Mehring, 2005; Anderson, 2006; Jones, 2006; Mynard, 2007; Sun, 2009). 

The adoption of competency-based learning and engaging students in active learning by completing authentic 
assignments resulted in an exponential increase in teachers' workloads. At the same time, it is commonly agreed 
upon that, providing students with frequent and detailed feedback on their work is something essential for the 
process of learning. Unfortunately, the increase in teachers' workloads together with the large numbers of 
students imposed additional, and sometimes unmanageable, administrative burden on the teachers (Mulder & 
Pearce, 2007). This, in turn, has led to a situation where students simply do not get feedback on many or even 
most of their assignments and if there is any, it is often scanty and arrives too late for the students to revise the 
assignments before turning them in. 

In this respect, many researchers stress the potential benefits of using peer feedback for EFL/ESL writers, as well 
as, writing teachers. According to Lundstrom (2006), peer feedback for second language learners provides 
students with the opportunity to use language in a meaningful way. For Lin & Chien (2009, p. 79), “when 
students are authorized to take on the role of the editor for their peer’s papers to carry out the correction process, 
they seem to be more confident and motivation-stimulated in their writing courses”. While feedback from other 
students may not be as authoritative as from an expert teacher, it is available in greater volume and with greater 
immediacy (De Voider et al., 2007). 

However, class time is always limited for giving and taking feedback among students and some students, 
especially the shy or the less confident ones, avoid giving critical feedback before their colleagues inside the 
classroom. To overcome these problems, Hall (2006) claims that weblogs are the primary vehicle for students to 
reflect and give each other feedback on what was presented in class. Supporting this claim, Doris (2009) declares 
that weblogs are potentially valuable tools for peer-feedback. Ertmer et al. (2007), state that despite students' 
preferences for instructor feedback, online peer feedback is very valuable and, more importantly, online peer 
feedback not only reinforces students' learning but enables them to achieve higher understanding. Ernst (2005) 
puts it clearly that being engaged in a non-threatening environment in weblogs, EFL/ESL students have the 
opportunity to explore many challenging topics. They also are encouraged to take risks without primarily 
focusing on grammatical form. According to Sun (2009), by reducing social-context clues such as gender, race, 
and status, and nonverbal cues such as facial expressions and body language, computer-mediated communication 
(CMC) provides a safer and a more relaxed environment for language learners. 

2. Context of the problem 

As can be understood, blogs have become very popular in the past few years. They have been supported more 
and more as a medium of teaching and learning, not only for native speakers, but for EFL/ESL learners as well. 
At the same time, the researcher, as an EFL instructor, noticed that business management students at the 


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community college in Bisha, King Khalid University, Saudi Arabia, where he works, suffer from poor writing 
skills. When they are asked to write a letter or a business proposal for example, during the writing class, their 
writing is often poor and unconvincing and lacks the needed persuasive techniques. In an attempt to solve this 
problem, the present study tries to investigate the effect of using blog-based peer feedback on students' 
persuasive writing. 

3. Statement of the problem 

Business management students at the community college in Bisha, King Khalid University, Saudi Arabia, suffer 
from poor persuasive writing skills. Hence, the present study is an attempt to investigate the effect of using 
blog-based peer feedback on their persuasive writing. More specifically, the study attempts to answer the 
following question: 

3.1 What is the effect of using blog-based peer feedback on the persuasive writing of EFL business management 
students at the community college in Bisha, King Khalid University’, Saudi Arabia? 

4. Hypotheses of the study 

The researcher hypothesizes the following: 

4.1 There is no statistically significant difference between the mean scores obtained by students of the 
experimental group and those of the control group in the pre-test ofpersuasive writing. 

4.2 There is a statistically significant difference favoring the experimental group between the mean scores 
obtained by students of the experimental group and those of the control group in the post-test of persuasive 
writing. 

5. Literature review 

In this review of literature, a discussion of the available previous research related to three main topics is 
presented; face-to-face peer feedback in language teaching and learning, online peer feedback in language 
teaching and learning, and using weblogs in language teaching and learning. 

5 .1 Face-to-face peer-feedback in language learning 

In language teaching, in general, and in the teaching of writing in particular, face-to-face peer-feedback, in 
which students exchange their work and comment on each other has been shown to be valuable. Peer review is 
not a new educational practice. The most important of the merits of peer learning is that it offers the opportunity 
for students to learn from each other and it provides a learning experience that is qualitatively different from the 
usual teacher-student interactions (Saunders, 2005). It also plays an important role in motivating students as it 
informs them about the degree of their learning and it enables them to distinguish between accepted and 
unaccepted forms of communication in the target language (Alavi & Kaivanpanah, 2007). 

The potential role of face-to-face peer-feedback in teaching and learning in secondary, as well as, higher 
education has been examined and discussed extensively in literature. Gielen et al. (2010) examined whether peer 
feedback can be a substitute for teacher feedback and which measures can be taken to improve its effectiveness. 
Results revealed that there is no significant difference between peer feedback and teacher feedback; both are of 
the same importance for the development of students' writing skills. The study of Lin & Chien (2009) focused on 
investigating effectiveness of peer feedback on the writing of English majors from communal, cognitive, 
cooperative and pedagogical perspectives. Results indicated that most participants believed that peer feedback 
positively assisted their learning in English writing. Lundstrom 's (2006) study attempted to investigate the 
benefits of peer review to the reviewer, or the student giving the feedback, in the field of second language 
writing; which is more beneficial to improving student writing: receiving or giving peer feedback. Results 
showed that the treatment groups, which focused solely on reviewing peers’ writing, made more significant gains 
in their writing than the control groups. 

5.2 Online peer-feedback in language learning 

With the growing interest in online learning in general, there is an equivalent growing interest in various forms 
of online assessment and feedback. Compared to face-to-face oral or written, online peer-feedback proved to 
have many advantages. Rourke et al. (2008) conducted two case studies, which showcase two approaches to 
using peer review to teach coursework masters students how to write a research paper in arts administration; the 
first case study used the anonymous and random online calibrated peer review (CPR) while the second used 
computer mediated peer review (CMPR) within the discussion forum. Results indicated that online peer review 
is a useful tool for assisting students towards writing a successful research paper, particularly when students are 
provided with specified assessment criteria, grade-ranking system and set deadlines. It helps them to take 
responsibility for their own learning process, to value the opinions of others, and to improve their time 


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management as they work collaboratively towards a common goal. Ware & O'Dowd (2008) explored the impact 
of online peer feedback on language development among English and Spanish learners in weekly asynchronous 
discussions. Pedagogical implications of this study included the need to situate peer feedback on form within 
current models of telecollaboration and to assist students in using feedback strategies. In an exploratory study, 
Ertmer et al. (2007) examined the use of an innovative instructional approach for online learning peer feedback. 
This study examined students’ perceptions of the perceived value of giving and receiving peer feedback, 
specifically related to the quality of discussion postings, in an online course. Results indicated that despite 
students’ preferences for instructor feedback, the quality of students’ postings was maintained through the use of 
online peer feedback. 

Guardado & Shi (2007) reported an exploratory study of English as a second language (ESL) students’ 
experiences of online peer feedback. The study showed that online peer feedback, while eliminating the 
logistical problems of carrying papers around, retains some of the best features of traditional written feedback, 
including a text-only environment that pushes students to write balanced comments with an awareness of the 
audience’s needs and with an anonymity that allows peers to make critical comments on each other’s writings. 
An intervention of face-to-face class discussion with teacher’s guidance to clarify comments in question is 
suggested to maximize the effect of online peer feedback. Ho & Savignon (2007) examined the use of 
face-to-face peer review and computer mediated peer review in an EFL academic writing context. Responses to 
the Likert-scale items suggested that although learners accepted both peer review modes, they had more 
favorable attitudes toward face-to-face peer review than computer-mediated peer review. 

The purpose of Lu & Bol's (2007) experiment was to compare the effects of anonymous and identifiable 
electronic peer review on college student writing performance and the extent of critical peer feedback. Results 
showed that students participating in anonymous e-peer review performed better on the writing performance task 
and provided more critical feedback to their peers than did students participating in the identifiable e-peer review. 
Mulder & Pearce's (2007) study reported on an initial trial in which they administered peer review using PRAZE 
- an online system -that allows the distribution and anonymous exchange of work between students in an 
educational setting to be automated. Surveys indicated that the opportunity to participate and benefit from peer 
review was broadly appreciated by students. 

Wu’s (2006) study investigated EFL adult learners' reactions to peer review and teacher feedback in composition 
class. Both the peer review and teacher feedback were given and transmitted via the web to learners' blog. While 
teacher feedback appeared to lead to both positive and negative revisions, depending on learners' attitudes and 
English proficiency, a significant proportion of the peer review did not serve a linguistic function to give 
meaningful and constructive comments but serve a pragmatic function to give complimentary praise or blessings. 
In their experimental study, (Bauer & Figl, 2006) explored the quality and kind of feedback given in a 
peer-reviewing task. The study analyzed the differences between the face-to-face and the online setting. Results 
showed that students commented on fewer topics in the online version but described them in more detail than in 
the paper version. In addition, the online version was experienced as time-efficient and easy to fill out, while 
students found it significantly easier to express feedback in the paper version. 

5.3 Using weblogs in language teaching and learning 

In a very recent descriptive study, Ennis & Gambrell (2010) concluded that there is no difference in the 
utilization of weblog and podcast technology for school related purposes between faculty and millennial students 
in a selected teacher education department, and that weblogs and podcasts enhance learning experience. Sun's 
(2009) study aimed at verifying the argument that extensive practice on blogs can constitute an integral part of 
instruction, and that blogs enable students to structure their thoughts. This study used voice blogs as a platform 
for an extensive study of language learners’ speaking skills. Results revealed that students (a) developed a series 
of blogging stages, including conceptualizing, brainstorming, articulation, monitoring, and evaluating, and used 
a wide variety of strategies to cope with blogging-related difficulties, and (b) perceived blogging as a means of 
learning, self-presentation, information exchange, and social networking. Findings also suggest that blogs can 
constitute a dynamic forum that fosters extensive practice, learning motivation, authorship, and development of 
learning strategies. Namvar et al.'s (2009) study aimed at studying the effect of web- based learning (weblog) by 
problem solving approach on English Literature student's reflective thinking. Data analysis showed that 
weblog based learning positively affected the development of student's reflective thinking. 

Doris's (2009) study investigated the extent to which blogs can facilitate peer feedback in an advanced German 
language class. Results indicated that blogs are potentially valuable tools for peer feedback, but entail the need to 
address specific issues regarding the choice of CMC tool for feedback tasks, training in the use of interactive 
online tools and the roles of teachers and students. 


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Mynard's (2007) study draws on data collected from female college students who kept voluntary blogs in their 
free time throughout a semester they spent studying English in the UK. The findings suggested that blogs could 
be one tool for educators to use in order to encourage students to reflect on their learning. The purpose of Jones's 
(2006) study was to introduce blogging into a community college ESL writing class and to examine the 
significance of its use for the process writing approach. Results came congruent with previous research on 
technology and second language writing. Blogging proved to be an effective tool for the writing process 
approach as evidenced by the numerous benefits for its use that outweighed the drawbacks. Blogging facilitated 
the students’ critical thinking skills; affected the quality of students’ writing; provided examples of feedback and 
entries for the students to read, model, and from which to learn; facilitated meaningful learning for students; 
gave students a purpose for writing; and motivated students’ writing and interaction by publishing for an 
authentic audience. 

Fellner & Apple (2006) utilized student blogs in an integrated CALL program for low proficiency, low 
motivation university language learners. Learner gains in writing fluency were described by comparing the 
number of words and word frequency levels in student blogs at the beginning and at the end of the program. 
Results indicated that blog-based learning positively affected students' writing fluency. 

In a phenomenological study, Xie and Sharma (2004) interviewed nine doctoral students who maintained 
Weblogs in a graduate course. Initial data analysis indicated that participants found Weblogs helpful for learning, 
reflecting, and building a sense of community. However, participants expressed concerns over the lack of 
structure for Weblog usage and the public nature of the reflective process. 

6. Method and procedures 

6.1 Participants: 

Twenty-seven EFL business management students at the community college in Bisha, King Khalid University, 
Saudi Arabia, volunteered to participate in this study. Students shared some common characteristics as they are 
all of average ages ranging from 18 to 20 years old, from the same Saudi culture, and with homogeneous English 
learning backgrounds. All students had personal computers or laptops and they had access to internet. In addition, 
all of them were skilled at using computer and navigating the internet. After excluding drop out the number of 
the students who successfully completed the experiment was 20 students. They were randomly assigned, either 
to experimental or to control group. 

6.2 Experimental design 

The study used a pre-test/post-test experimental and control group design. An experimental group and a control 
group were exposed to pre-post means of getting data (a pre-post test of persuasive writing). The experimental 
group practiced persuasive writing giving and receiving peer feedback through a class blog, while the control 
group practiced persuasive writing giving and receiving face-to-face peer feedback among all members of the 
group inside the classroom. 

6.3 Tools of the study 

In order to achieve the objective of the present study, the following tool was prepared by the researcher; 

6.3.1 Pre-post persuasive writing test (see appendix 1) 

6.3.1.1 Objective of the test 

Based on the main objective of the study, the present test aimed at measuring the persuasive writing skills among 
EFL business management students at the community college in Bisha, King Khalid University, Saudi Arabia. 

6.3.1.2 Construction of the test 

This test was of the essay type. The test in its final form consisted of two writing prompts; one for the pretest and 
the other for the posttest. For each prompt, subjects were asked to write a five-paragraph essay. 

6.3.1.3 Scoring 

The researcher developed a 5-point scoring rubric for scoring this test (see appendix 2). Five main areas were 
specified to be measured through this rubric. Each area represented a main criteria of persuasive writing; the first 
area was about statement of position, the second was about reasons supporting the stated position, the third was 
about anticipating opposing viewpoints or reasons against that position, the fourth was about writing 
organization and the fifth was about writing conventions. 

6.3.1.1 Nature of the scoring system 

Two raters scored each student’s paper. Raters independently rated the student's writing on five criteria of 
persuasive writing. These criteria of persuasive writing should be present in the student's writing. They are; 


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statement of position, reasons supporting the stated position, anticipating opposing viewpoints or reasons against 
that position, writing organization, and writing conventions. Thus, a student's final score on this test was the 
mean score given by the two raters. The scoring system was analytic. Analytic scoring simply means that more 
than one area of a paper is evaluated. Each area itself was scored holistically. The score assigned expresses the 
test rater’s overall impression of the student’s command of the components of each area. 

6.3.1.2 The score scale 

The score scale is a five-point scale. Each one of the five specified areas of persuasive writing is evaluated 
separately and assigned a score of "0"(lowest), "1," "2," "3," or "4"(highest). The scale is a continuum 
representing a range of quality. Each score point on the continuum is defined by area-specific scoring guidelines. 
Thus, the test maximum score of the test was 20 marks. 

6.3.1.3 Area-specific scoring guidelines 

6.3.1.3.1 Area (I): statement of position; 

The student takes a position or makes a claim and explains why it is debatable or argumentative. (Weight = 4) 

6.3.1.3.2 Area (II): reasons supporting the stated position; 

The student provides clear, accurate, strong and sufficient reasons to support his position or his claim. (Weight = 

4) 

6.3.1.3.3 Area (III): anticipating opposing viewpoints or reasons against that position; 

The student anticipates opposing viewpoints or reasons against his claim or his position and he addresses them 
successfully and thoroughly. (Weight = 4) 

6.3.1.3.4 Area (IV): writing organization; 

The student's writing is clearly developed and well organized; it has a convincing opening, strong informative 
body and satisfying conclusion. Paragraph format is appropriate. (Weight = 4) 

6.3.1.3.5 Area (V): writing conventions; 

The student's writing exhibits no grammatical, spelling, or punctuation errors. It consistently, exhibits variety in 
sentence structure and accuracy in word choice. (Weight = 4) 

6.3.1.4 Test validity 

To decide content and face validity, four persuasive writing prompts and a 5-point scoring rubric were prepared 
by the researcher and shown to a panel of TEFL experts. After revising the test according to the comments of the 
experts, the final form consisted of two writing prompts; one for the pretest and the other for the posttest. Thus, 
the test was approved as a valid and appropriate tool for measuring business management students' persuasive 
writing. 

6.3.1.5 Test reliability 

Two different ways were used to calculate the reliability of the present test; 

6.3.1.5.1 Reliability of the tool 

The reliability of this test was estimated by administering it to a piloting group of business management students, 
in two separate sessions (a test re-test method). After that, a coefficient of stability was decided on by calculating 
the correlation between the students' scores on the two administrations using Pearson product moment 
correlation formula. The reliability of this test was found (r = .80) which is considered a sound value for such 
tests. 

6.3.1.5.2 Inter-rater reliability 

The reliability of this test was also estimated by administering it to the same piloting group. The researcher and 
another trained rater of his TEFL colleagues rated the writings of the pilot group students on the test scoring 
rubric. Correlation between scores of the researcher and his colleague was calculated. The reliability coefficient 
for the persuasive writing test was found (r = 87). This value indicates that this persuasive writing test is 
reasonably reliable. 

6.3.1.6 Test duration 

The duration of this test was calculated while administering it to the pilot group for estimating its reliability. The 
average time for finishing this test was found to be (30) minutes. Accordingly, (30) minutes were decided on to 
be the optimum time for finishing this test. 


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6.4 Pre-testing 

On 1 st February, 2010, before starting the treatment, the persuasive writing test was administered, as a pretest, to 
level two business management students, the participants of the this study, in order to pre-assess their persuasive 
writing skills. The test was administered inside the classroom, during a regular writing class, under the direct 
supervision of the researcher. 

6.5 Treatment 

A week prior to the treatment, in two 50-minute sessions, students of the two groups were reminded of the 
particular format followed in writing a persuasive essay. They were given a handout of the persuasive writing 
scoring rubric used in this study, and they were given detailed oral instructions on how it is used in evaluating 
their essays. They were also informed that this rubric is useful and helpful for them, as knowing what makes an 
essay strong before the student begins writing will help him produce a better overall essay. In addition, students 
were given a handout of the peer feedback worksheet, used in the treatment, and they were instructed and trained 
on how to use it in giving feedback and comment on their peers' writings. 

The treatment was conducted from 2 nd February to 29 th March 2010, two 50-minute sessions per week, with 
students of the control group (n=10) giving and receiving feedback inside the classroom among group members, 
and the experimental group (n=10) giving and receiving feedback through a class blog. Eight persuasive writing 
prompts were worked upon throughout the eight weeks of the treatment; one assignment per week. 

In order to guarantee that every student in both groups has the opportunity to give and take feedback from as 
many different peers as possible, during the eight weeks of the treatment, students in each group were given 
numbers from one to ten, and they were paired as shown in table (1). 

According to the setting shown in table (1), each student was allowed to give and take feedback from at least 
three different peers (one at a time). For example, student no. 1, in both groups, was paired with students 2, 6, 
and 10 of his group; and student no. 7, in both groups, was paired with students 2, 4, 6, and 8 of his group .. .etc. 

Students in the control group were given a handout of the persuasive essay-writing prompt of the week. They 
were given one session every week for writing and the following session was devoted to face-to-face peer 
feedback in which they exchange drafts for feedback and comment. They were provided with a printed peer 
feedback worksheet and they were asked to read their peers' essays, and then give their feedbacks on their peers' 
writings by giving thoughtful and thorough responses to the questions on that worksheet. After getting feedback 
from their peers, students were allowed sufficient time to make modifications, corrections, additions, and 
deletions before submitting their essays to the researcher for grading. 

For students of the experimental group, the persuasive essay-writing prompt of the week was posted by the 
teacher on the class blog. After they were given the link to the class blog, they were asked to write their essays at 
home or in the computer lab at the college and then post them for their peers to give and take feedback through 
the class blog according to the setting mentioned above. An online peer feedback worksheet, the structure of 
which was the same as the printed one was posted on the class blog for the experimental group students. 
According to this worksheet, experimental group students were asked to read their peers' posted essays, then post 
their feedbacks and comments on their peers' writings by giving thoughtful and thorough responses to the 
questions on that worksheet. Students' essays and feedbacks were all posted with the students’ names. In addition 
to working in dyads, experimental group students had the option of reading all the posted essays and feedbacks of 
their colleagues, downloading them and/or printing them out. Certainly, students were allowed full time, as they 
work at home, to make required modifications, in the light of their peers' posted feedbacks, before posting their 
essays to the researcher for grading. 

6.6 Post-testing 

On 3 rd April, 2010, after finishing the treatment, the persuasive writing test was re-administered, as a posttest, to 
level two business management students, the participants of the this study, in order to post-assess their 
persuasive writing skills. The test was also re-administered inside the classroom, during a regular writing class 
and under the direct supervision of the researcher. 

6 .7 Statistical analysis of data 

After finishing post-testing procedures, a “t” test for small samples was used to analyze the differences between 
means of scores of the study participants. 

7. Findings and discussion 

Following is a discussion of the results obtained. Scores of the subjects in the pre and the post measurements of 
persuasive writing were compared. Results of comparisons revealed a significant improvement in experimental 
group students' persuasive writing. 


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7. 1 Testing the first hypothesis 

The first hypothesis stipulated, “There is no statistically significant difference between the mean scores obtained 
by students of the experimental group and those of the control group in the pre-test ofpersuasive writing’’. Table 
(2) shows a comparison of the mean scores of the experimental group students and those of the control group in 
the pre-test of persuasive writing. According to this table, there is no statistically significant difference between 
the mean scores of the two groups. Thus, the first hypothesis was affirmed. 

7.2 Testing the second hypothesis 

The second hypothesis stipulated, “ There is a statistically significant difference favoring the experimental group 
between the mean scores obtained by students of the experimental group and those of the control group in the 
post-test of persuasive writing”. Table (3) shows a comparison of the mean scores of the experimental group 
students and those of the control group in the post-test of persuasive writing. According to this table, there is a 
statistically significant difference between means of scores obtained by students of the experimental group and 
those of the control group in the post-test of persuasive writing. These differences are in favor of the 
experimental group students. The experimental group students got a higher mean (15.0500) than that obtained by 
students of the control group (12.7500). The result of the t-test shows that t-value = (-4.87) and the difference is 
significant at (0.01) level. 

These findings affirm the second hypothesis and indicate that the experimental group outperformed the control 
group in the posttest of persuasive writing. The superiority of the experimental group over the control group is 
attributed to the effectiveness of the blog-based peer feedback that the experimental group students received on 
their persuasive writing. 

The findings of the present study are compatible with the results of (Fellner & Apple, 2006; Jones, 2006; 
Mynard, 2007; Namvar et al„ 2009; Sun, 2009), who investigated the effectiveness of utilizing weblogs in 
EFL/ESL language learning. Results of these studies, together with the present one, indicated that Blogging, not 
only, facilitated language learning, but encouraged students to reflect on their learning and to structure their 
thoughts. 

These findings are in line with the results of many of the previous studies that investigated the effectiveness of 
using online peer feedback on language learning (Bauer & Figl, 2006; Wu 's , 2006; Ertmer et ah, 2007; 
Guardado & Shi, 2007; Ho & Savignon, 2007; Lu & Bol, 2007; Rourke et ah, 2008; Ware & O'Dowd, 2008; 
Doris, 2009; among others). Results of these studies, together with the present one, indicated that using online 
peer feedback, as opposed to, face-to-face, could be very beneficial in developing foreign/second language 
writing. 

Actually, through weblogs, EFL business management students were encouraged to trust their own linguistic 
abilities and they had the opportunity to write freely and express themselves in a relaxed and non-threatening 
environment. Keeping in mind that their essays were going to be published online for authentic readers, as well 
as, EFL colleagues who would comment on their postings, students wrote more carefully. 

It is clear that, the corrections that EFL business management students in the experimental group received from 
their peers through the weblog had a greater impact on their persuasive writing than normal face-to-face 
feedback. These corrections were done in a far more personalized and unthreatening manner, as they were freed 
from the embarrassment to comment on their peers' writings in traditional classroom face-to-face peer feedback. 

Above all, according to the norms of appropriateness in the Arabic and Islamic culture, being too direct in telling 
someone face-to-face about his mistakes sounds aggressive and impolite. In addition, this culture places a strong 
value in listening and silence in traditional classrooms. Consequently, in using weblogs, business management 
students, experienced s a suitable and a face-saving environment in which they give and receive feedback on 
their writings from their peers that resulted in an immense improvement in their persuasive writing. 

8. Conclusions 

The present study attempted to investigate the effect of using blog-based peer feedback on the persuasive writing 
of EFL business management students at the community college in Bisha, King Khalid University, Saudi Arabia. 
Results of the analysis of the differences between means of scores of the study subjects in the 
pre-post-measurements revealed a significant improvement in the students' persuasive writing. This 
improvement was attributed to the effectiveness of using blog-based peer feedback. These results indicate that 
blog-based peer feedback is a valuable means for improving students' writing and increasing their confidence as 
EFL writers. Blogs could be an important forum not only for language improvement but also for social 
interaction, cooperative learning and negotiation of meaning. 


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9. Implications 

In the light of these findings, some important pedagogical implications related to teaching in general and the 
teaching of composition in particular, are discussed. As for teaching, it is recommended that blog-based peer 
feedback is to be used in many courses and not only with language courses as it proved a potentially practical 
way of giving and receiving feedback in our digital age. Teachers should encourage using blog-based techniques 
other than peer feedback in the teaching of different courses. Students should be encouraged and helped to 
connect with their peers in other countries through weblogs to give and receive feedback. The relaxed and 
unthreatening atmosphere offered by weblogs should be better utilized in teaching other language skills and 
other disciplines especially among shy students. Careful and realistic web-based peer feedback training is 
urgently needed for students belonging to Saudi, as well as, similar conservative cultures as a preliminary step 
towards keener and fruitful peer-feedback. 

As for the teaching of composition, using blog-based peer feedback in the foreign\second language writing class 
can expand the audience of the students and allow them to feel that they are writing to more than just their 
colleagues or their teacher. In conservative societies, where strict gender segregation is enforced and where girls 
and boys are separated in school, blog-based peer feedback could be an effective tool for the mutual benefit of 
the two genders and for providing a forum, not only for the development of composition writing, but also for 
social interaction and negotiation of meaning. 

10. Suggestions for further research 

The results of this study can contribute to the literature on the potential values of using the appropriate features 
of the Web 2.0 era in educational settings. Further research is needed to assess the effectiveness of using the 
appropriate features of the Web 2.0 era on Arab learners’ apprehension of writing in a foreign language and on 
their confidence as EFL writers. More research is needed to examine the effectiveness of using weblogs, as well 
as other appropriate features of the Web 2.0 era, in teaching other subjects and in teaching other language skills. 
Furthermore, future descriptive studies are needed to identify the attitudes of learners with Arabic cultural 
backgrounds towards using the appropriate features of the Web 2.0 era in education. 

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Appendix (l):Pre-post Persuasive Writing Test 
King Khalid University 
Community College in Bisha 
Intensive English program (2) 

Persuasive Writing Pre-Test 
DIRECTIONS 

1. This is a test of your persuasive writing. 

2. You will have thirty (30) minutes to finish it. 

3. The test comprises only one writing prompt. 

4. You are asked to write on this writing prompt. 

5. Before you begin planning and writing, read the writing prompt carefully to understand exactly what you 
are being asked to do. 

6. Your writing will be evaluated on the evidence it provides of your ability to meet five main criteria of 
persuasive writing; statement of position; reasons supporting your position; anticipating opposing viewpoints or 
reasons against your position; organization of your writing;; and writing conventions. 

7. Try planning before you write. 

8. You may use the unlined pages in this test booklet to plan your writing. These pages will not be scored. 
Your writing only on the lined pages will be scored. You may not need all the lined pages, but to ensure you 
have enough room to finish, do NOT skip lines. 

9. You may write corrections or additions neatly between the lines of your essay, but do NOT write in the 
margins of the lined pages. Illegible essays cannot be scored, so you must write clearly. 

10. If you finish before time is called, you may review your work. Lay your pen down immediately when time 
is called. 

DO NOT TURN THIS PAGE UNTIL YOU ARE TOLD TO DO SO. 

The Persuasive Writing Pre-test Prompt 

Suppose that the company you are working in intends to make a television advertisement to attract buyers to its 
new product. This advertisement is intended to use sexual attraction as a tool of persuasion by drawing attention 
and interest to this product and consequently increasing sales. 

Write a five-paragraph persuasive essay in which you support or criticize the use of sex in advertising. Clearly 
state your position and justify it using a series of clear, well-supported reasons. Make sure to anticipate and 
address opposing viewpoints or reasons against your position. 


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END OF PRE-TEST 

The Persuasive Writing Post-test Prompt 

Suppose that, due to budget cuts, the manager decided to reduce the level of wages and salaries in the company 
you are working in. Of course, this action has its effects on the overall productivity of the company. Write a 
five-paragraph persuasive essay in which you persuade the manager why this is or is not a good idea. 

Clearly state your position and justify it using a series of clear, well-supported reasons. Make sure to anticipate 
and address opposing viewpoints or reasons against your position. 

End of post-Test 

Appendix (2) : 5-point Scoring Rubric for the Persuasive Writing Pre-Post Test 


Student Name:- Date: 


Criteria 

Scoring Scale 

Score 

4 

3 

2 

i 

0 

Claim or Position 

The student takes a 
position or makes a 
claim and explains 
why it is debatable or 
argumentative. 

The student takes a 
position or makes a 
claim but does not 
explain why it is 
debatable or 
argumentative 

The student takes a 
position or makes a 
claim but it is hidden, 
confused, or vague. 

The student attempts 
to take a position or 
make a claim but his 
position or his claim 
cannot 

be identified. 

The student does not 
take a position or 
make a claim at all. 


Reasons 
Supporting the 
Claim or the 

Position 

The student provides 
clear, accurate, 
strong and sufficient 
reasons to support his 
position or his claim. 

The student does not 
provide sufficient 
reasons to support his 
position or his claim. 

The student provides 
limited reasons that do 
not support his position 
or his claim well. 

The student attempts 
to provide reasons to 
support his position 
or claim but the 
reasons provided are 
unconvincing and 
unrelated to 
his position or his 
claim. 

The student 
provides no reasons 
at all that support 
his position or his 
claim. 


Opposing 
Viewpoints or 
Reasons against 
the Claim or the 

Position 

The student 
anticipates opposing 
viewpoints or reasons 
against his claim or 
his position and he 
addresses them 
successfully and 
thoroughly. 

The student anticipates 
and discusses opposing 
viewpoints or reasons 
against his claim or his 
position, but leaves out 
important reasons. 

The student anticipates 
opposing viewpoints or 
reasons against his 
claim or his position 
but fails to explain 
them in a way that 
strengthens his claim 
or his position. 

The student attempts 
to anticipate some 
opposing viewpoints 
or reasons against his 
claim or his position 
but in vain. 

The student does not 
anticipate opposing 
viewpoints and give 
no reasons against 
his claim or his 
position at all. 


Organization 

The student's writing 
is clearly developed 
and well organized; it 
has a convincing 
opening, strong 
informative body and 
satisfying 
conclusion. 
Paragraph format is 
appropriate. 

The student's writing is 
reasonably developed 
but lacks clarity. It has a 
beginning, middle and 
an end. It generally uses 
appropriate paragraph 
format. 

The student's writing is 
usually organized but 
sometimes gets off 
topic. There is a 
number of errors in 
paragraph format. 

The student attempts 
to structure his 
writing but the 
structure is 
unsuccessfully 
developed. 

The student's 
writing is aimless 
and totally lacks 
organization. 


Writing 

Conventions 

The student's writing 
exhibits no 
grammatical, 
spelling, or 
punctuation errors. It 
consistently, exhibits 
variety in sentence 
structure and 
accuracy in word 
choice. 

The student's errors in 
grammar, spelling, or 
punctuation do not 
interfere with 
understanding. His 
writing exhibits some 
variety in sentence 
structure and good word 
choice. 

The student's errors in 
grammar, spelling, or 
punctuation sometimes 
interfere with 
understanding. 

His writing exhibits 
uneven control over 
sentence boundaries 
and sentence structure. 

It may exhibit some 
inaccurate word 
choices. 

The student's errors 
in grammar, spelling, 
or punctuation 
interfere 

with understanding 
in much of the 
writing. It exhibits 
minimal control over 
sentence boundaries 
and sentence 
structure. Word 
choice is often 
inaccurate. 

The student's errors 
in grammar, 
spelling, or 
punctuation 
severely 
hinder 

understanding 
across the whole 
writing. It exhibits 
no control over 
sentence boundaries 
and 

sentence structure 

and inaccurate word 
choice 

in all the writing. 


! Total Score 



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Table 1. Experimental group students’ setting in giving and taking peer-feedback during the eight weeks of the 
treatment 


Weeks (1 & 5 ) 

Weeks (2& 6) 

Weeks (3 & 7) 

Weeks (4 & 8) 

1+2 

1+10 

5+10 

3+10 

3+4 

2+9 

4+9 

4+9 

5+6 

3+8 

3+8 

5+8 

7+8 

4+7 

2+7 

6+7 

9+10 

5+6 

1+6 

1+2 


Table 2. “t” value, standard deviations and Manes of scores of the students of the control and experimental 
groups in the pre-test of persuasive writing 


Group 

N 

M 

SD 

“T” value 

Significance 

Control 

10 

9.8000 

1.585 

.58 

No Significance 

Experimental 

10 

9.6500 

1.203 


Table 3. “t” value, standard deviations and Manes of scores of the students of the control and experimental 
groups in the post-test of persuasive writing 


Group 

N 

M 

SD 

“T” value 

Significance 

Control 

10 

12.7500 

1.087 

-4.87 

0.01 

Experimental 

10 

15.0500 

1.499 


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