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Most learners of English as a Foreign Language (EFL) consider writing a challenging task, and they experience difficulties such as organizing thoughts, selecting relevant words to represent their views, and producing rhetorical patterns specific to the target culture. Research into L2 writing suggests that collaboration in the classroom can assist students to set goals, generate ideas, write and edit, and reflect on the task. The effects of collaboration in online classes, however, remain unknown. This quasi-experimental study aims to examine the effect of online collaborative writing (OCW) in an online EFL writing class on students’ writing performance in terms of syntactic complexity, lexical complexity, and fluency. A four-week OCW intervention was carried out with 26 university students enrolled in an online English writing course at A2 level in the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). Data were collected using writing tasks administered as pre- and post-tests. Fluency, syntactic and lexical complexity were measured and analyzed across tasks. The results showed that OCW in an online EFL writing course improved the lexical complexity and fluency of the writings of students with an A2 level of English proficiency but had no effect on their syntactic complexity. Based on the findings, it is possible to conclude that OCW can be employed to promote students’ writing performance in online EFL classes.
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