Why Are My Chinese Students so Quiet?: A Classroom Ethnographic Study of Chinese Students’ Peer Review Activities in an American Multilingual Writing Class


  • Chaoran Wang Indiana University Bloomington


This paper explored how Chinese students perceived peer review activities and how they viewed the roles of their Chinese identities played in their interaction and negotiation in a freshmen composition class at a Midwest university in the US. In this study, classroom ethnographic research methodology was used to analyze the sociocultural factors involved in Chinese students’ peer review activities and to uncover the way the tacit culture shaped students’ learning experiences in classroom. The findings showed that there was a significant gap between American pedagogical objectives and the Chinese students’ real practice. Students basically regarded peer review as a problem-identification process instead of a social-cultural practice that involved dynamic negotiation. Although they denied that it was their Chinese cultural background that made them speak less in class, they were unaware of the fact that the way they viewed peer review as “finding out the problems” was exactly how they were influenced by their previous teacher-centered classroom experiences.

Author Biography

Chaoran Wang, Indiana University Bloomington

Chaoran Wang is a Ph.D. student in Literacy, Culture, and Language Education at Indiana University Bloomington. She is also an Associate Instructor at the department of English at IU, where she teaches freshmen composition for multilingual students.



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