CALICO Journal, Vol 29, No 2 (2012)

An Activity Theory Exegesis on Conflict and Contradictions in Networked Discussions and Feedback Exchanges

Stella K. Hadjistassou
Issued Date: 7 Aug 2014


The goal of this study was to investigate the culturally-afforded contradictions that 10 advanced English a Second Language (ESL) learners encountered when they posted their paper topics and exchanged feedback strategies online and contextualized some of these strategies to draft their papers. Using Cultural-Historical Activity Theory (CHAT) and more precisely the notion of contradictions, the students’ paper topic postings and feedback exchanges were examined within the opposing historically- and politically-built values, salient cultural convictions, and life experiences in which they occurred (Leont’ev, 1981b; Engeström, 1987, 2001, 2008). An examination of students’ online postings, proffered feedback strategies, and rough drafts indicated that this activity was construed on three major contradictions: (1) instructor expectations for defining topics that student-authors perceived as salient, such as the Taiwanese military that contradicted student-reviewers’ beliefs and efforts to reinforce their relationships with their peers; (2) the requirements for devising thought-provoking strategies to assist student-authors in drafting their papers that then contradicted student-reviewers’ efforts to maintain friendly relationships with student-authors;  and (3) reviewers’ construction of challenging feedback strategies online to help authors with the drafting process that contradicted their efforts as authors to draft cogent arguments by strategically avoiding materializing some of their peers’ suggestions, especially counterarguments.

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DOI: 10.11139/cj.29.2.367-388


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