Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department

Secondary Education

Major Professor

John I. Liontas, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Sanghoon Park, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Phil Smith, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Sara Smith, Ph.D.


Collaborative writing, EFL, Google Docs, Sociocultural theory, ZPD


The development of modern technology has presented new opportunities for language instruction. In recent years, technology-mediated collaborative writing has received great attention in research literature. The constraints and affordances of some tools, such as Wikispaces and Google Docs for collaborative writing have been explored. Although wiki-based collaborative writing have been conducted in a variety of contexts, studies in Google Docs-based collaborative writing in English as Foreign Language (EFL) contexts are underrepresented in research literature.

To contribute to research diversity, I conducted a dissertation study in an English for Specific Purposes class at a university in southern Vietnam. Sociocultural Theory and its concept of Zone of Proximal Development were theoretical underpinnings of this study. I explored student interaction, contribution, and employment of scaffolding strategies in the Google Docs platform. I also investigated the influence of task type on student collaboration and determined whether collaborative writing activities can impact student writing quality. Furthermore, I examined student perceptions and experiences of using Google Docs for their collaborative writing.

I chose exploratory multiple qualitative case study as the main design for this dissertation. Twelve students took part in this study and were assigned into three groups with four members in each. Each group was asked to collaborate with peers to complete two writing tasks: an argumentative essay and a medical report. I collected data from six sources: surveys, Google Docs pages, revision history in Google Docs, student writing products, reflections, and interviews.

The results showed that each group exhibited its own interaction pattern in each task. The types and frequency of language functions, contribution, and scaffolding strategies varied among group members. The influence of task types on student interaction could not be determined due to inconclusive results. Further, there was no significant correlation between student collaboration and writing quality. Finally, thematic analysis of student interviews indicated they perceived Google Docs to have the benefits of facilitating collaborative writing and student learning experiences. This dissertation added further insights, such as student attitudes and technological considerations to research in technology-mediated collaborative writing and provided some pertinent pedagogical implications.