This article argues that peer writing programmes based on co-operative learning theory have the potential to enhance students' writing development. It examines to what extent peer writing programmes can be considered co-operative. The co-operation theories of Johnson and Johnson and Damon and Phelps are drawn on, particularly Johnson and Johnson's theory of positive interdependence and Damon and Phelps' three-pronged model of peer writing programmes: peer tutoring; co-operative learning, and peer collaboration. These co-operation theories are then used to critique five peer writing programmes from New Zealand and overseas. Results suggest that few peer writing programmes foster positive interdependence and most do not go beyond the peer tutoring model. Therefore, teachers need to develop ways of implementing a co-operative approach within peer writing programmes.
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