The first thing I noticed about the subject of collaboration is that it is huge—there are as many styles, types, methods, rationales, theories, benefits and drawbacks as there are theorists and scholars. Additionally, almost no one appears to agree on even such simple matters as terminology (Is it collaborative writing or collaborative learning? Is it peer response, review, or editing?), let alone on actual application and practice. As Kenneth Bruffee states in “Collaborative Learning and the ‘Conversation of Mankind,’” an essay many supporters and detractors of collaborative writing hearken back to time and time again, his essay “offers no recipes” because there are no recipes for effectively adding collaborative writing to an English classroom (394). There are merely guidelines for successful collaboration and rationales supporting or denying the usefulness of incorporating collaborative writing. Kenneth Topping, director for the Centre for Paired Learning at Dundee University, supporting the notion that collaboration is without rules or recipe, writes, “Collaborative writing is not a single homogeneous procedure” (1).
There are two main categories of collaboration: dialogic and hierarchical. Rebecca Moore Howard explains in her guide “Assigning Collaborative Writing—Tips for Teachers” that “in dialogic collaboration, the group works together in all aspects of the project, whereas in hierarchical collaboration, the group divides the task into component parts and assigns certain components to each group member” (1) George Landow, in “Hypertext: The Convergence of Contemporary Critical Theory and Technology,” identifies four basic types of collaboration, some dialogic, some hierar...
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Weiner, Harvey S. “Collaborative Learning in the Classroom: A Guide to Evaluation.” The Writing Teacher’s Sourcebook. Eds. Gary Tate and Corbett. New York, NY: Oxford UP: 1988. 238-247.
Yancey, Kathleen Blake, & Spooner, Michael. “Collaborative/Social Process Theory.” in Theorizing Composition: A Critical Sourcebook of Theory and Scholarship in Contemporary Composition Studies. Ed. Mary Kennedy. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1995. 37-41.
Zeni, Jane. “Oral Collaboration, Computers, and Revision.” in Writing With: New Directions in Collaborative Teaching, Learning, and Research. Eds. Bleich, David; Fox, Thomas; Reagan, Sally Barr. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1994. 213-226.