Studies on the use of synchronous text-based computer-mediated communication (SCMC) tasks have mostly focused on how they could be used to facilitate the learning of different aspects of a second language. Recent research from a functional perspective has suggested the need to examine the impact of SCMC tasks on the development of L2 academic literacy (Mohan & Luo, 2005). With the increase use of SCMC tasks in ESL writing and other content-based courses, it is necessary to examine the potential of SCMC tasks in facilitating the development of L2 academic literacy. Drawing on the approaches and findings from research on dialogic argumentation (e.g., Seibold & Meyers, 2007), the study examines the development in using argumentative moves in SCMC discourse for a group of three ESL students, and explores the differences between the group and one focal student from the group. The findings suggest that although both the group and the focal student have demonstrated a growing tendency of understanding and responding to others’ views, differences existed between the group and the focal student, indicating that SCMC tasks may help facilitate the development of L2 academic literacy. The differences between individual students may be an important factor and could be better understood by examining students’ learning experiences together with their perceptions of the tasks.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/jinrong-li/7/