Using Google Docs to Enhance Students’ Collaborative Translation and Engagement

Amira Ali
Journal of Information Technology Education: Research  •  Volume 20  •  2021  •  pp. 503-528

This study investigated the integration of Google Docs in facilitating undergraduate students’ interactional collaboration in an online translation course. The study also explored the engagement patterns that emerge when students use Google Docs and evaluated their experience of using this platform in collaborative translation.

Integration of technology in specialized English translation classes has become crucial to empower students with the required skills in the labor market. However, students might perceive specialized translation as a tedious and difficult process and become reluctant to engage in translation classes. Few studies have investigated students’ performance and engagement aspects in online collaborative translation contexts.

This study employed a mixed-method approach. Multiple sources of data were collected from translation tests, an engagement questionnaire, semi-structured interviews, and students’ interactions on the online platforms. Ninety-three students majoring in business administration were purposefully assigned into a control group and two experimental groups. Throughout six weeks, students in the first experimental group collaborated on translation assignments via discussion forum boards on a Learning Management System (LMS), whereas students in the second experimental group used Google Docs to complete three translation assignments. Control group students completed the same assignments individually.

This study contributes to the previous body of knowledge in the field of collaborative learning, translation, and educational technology by exploring the effectiveness of using Google Docs in improving students’ collaboration and engagement in a specialized translation course.

One-way ANOVA for the translation post-tests showed a statistically significant improvement in the overall translation performance and translation subskills of the experimental group who used Google Docs compared to the control group and the experimental group who interacted through discussion forums. Descriptive statistics of the engagement questionnaire revealed a significant statistical increase in the Google Docs group’s behavioral, cognitive, and affective engagement. Content analysis of the qualitative data showed that students engaged behaviorally by giving and receiving feedback both at the global and local levels and cognitively through questioning, giving constructive comments, and justifying arguments. Students also engaged effectively and expressed positive feelings when collaborating online. Moreover, students reported the usefulness of using Google Docs in the collaborative translation process and expressed their satisfaction and confidence.

Practitioners should use collaborative technological tools to upgrade translators’ skills and increase students’ engagement.

It is recommended that researchers compare students’ engagement in different learning modalities and explore the relationship between students’ translation competence and their engagement level.

The society of specialized translation will be improved by implementing innovative pedagogical techniques in teaching and training translators. This research can raise awareness of the importance of online tools in exchanging learning experiences inside and outside the academic contexts.

Future studies should explore the impact of implementing web/computer-based tools in the collaborative translation of different genres and various languages.

Google Docs, collaborative translation, engagement, specialized translation
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