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Languages and Literatures


In the present study, Vygotsky’s (1978, 1986) sociocultural framework of the zone of proximal development (ZPD) and scaffolding writing (Bodrova & Leong, 1995, 1996; Ross, 1976) are used as the theoretical basis to study the development of second language writing. A course project is presented in which advanced English language learners of Spanish acted as authors and editors to create their own professional magazines for an authentic audience. In the project, each student authored four essays which went through four peer- and instructor-edited stages of scaffolding writing techniques. After each stage, ratings were given by the editors who also facilitated feedback debriefing sessions (Lidz, 1991). Statistical analyses revealed significant improvement within the four essays demonstrating writing development of subsequent revisions of a single essay. There was also significant improvement between the four essays revealing a linear, continuous writing development. In all, these results support a notion that scaffolding writing techniques and feedback debriefing sessions within the ZPD effectively develops writing skills in second language learning when contextualized through a writing workshop involving the creation of a professional magazine designed for an authentic audience.


This article was originally published in Journal of College Teaching & Learning, 7(10): 31-46. © 2010 The Clute Institute. Reproduced with permission.