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11th graders’ attitudes towards their teachers’ written feedback

VIETNAM NATIONAL UNIVERSITY, HANOI
UNIVERSITY OF LANGUAGES AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES
FACULTY OF POST-GRADUATE STUDIES



NGUYỄN BÍCH HIỀN

11th GRADERS’ ATTITUDES TOWARDS THEIR TEACHERS’
WRITTEN FEEDBACK
(Thái độ của học sinh lớp 11 đối với phản hồi dưới dạng viết của giáo viên)

M.A. MINOR PROGRAMME THESIS

Field: English Teaching Methodology
Code: 60140111

Hanoi, 2016


VIETNAM NATIONAL UNIVERSITY, HANOI

UNIVERSITY OF LANGUAGES AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES
FACULTY OF POST-GRADUATE STUDIES



NGUYỄN BÍCH HIỀN

11th GRADERS’ ATTITUDES TOWARDS THEIR TEACHERS’
WRITTEN FEEDBACK
(Thái độ của học sinh lớp 11 đối với phản hồi dưới dạng viết của giáo viên)

M.A. MINOR PROGRAMME THESIS

Field: English Teaching Methodology
Code: 60140111
Supervisors: Assoc.Prof.Dr Le Van Canh

Hanoi, 2016


DECLARATION OF AUTHORSHIP
I, NGUYỄN BÍCH HIỀN, hereby certify that this thesis, which is entitled
“11th graders’ attitudes towards their teachers’ written feedback” is entirely
my own work in the fulfillment of the requirement for the Degree of Master of
Arts at Faculty of Post-Graduate Studies, University of Languages and
International Studies, Vietnam National University, Hanoi. It has not been
submitted for assessment at any other university.

Hanoi, 2016

Nguyễn Bić h Hiề n

i


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
First and foremost, I am profoundly beholden to my supervisor,
Assoc.Prof.Dr. Lê Văn Canh, for his great expertise and unfailing support,
without which the thesis would not be completed.
I owe a great debt of gratitude to all the lecturers of the Faculty of PostGraduate Studies, Hanoi University of Languages and International Studies,


Vietnam National University, Hanoi, whose transfer of knowledge to me has
made me grow more professionally.
I would like to express my sincere thanks to my course members for their
sharing in times of uncertainty and for their giving my thesis a close reading.
My special thanks go to the English language teachers and students at Chu
Van An Gifted High School of Lang Son Province for their cooperation during
the data collection process.
I am deeply indebted to my family members for their wholehearted
backing all along the way.

ii


ABSTRACT
The study explores 11th graders‟ attitudes towards written corrective
feedback in an English class. Data were collected by means of a Likert-scale
questionnaire, which was administered to 314 students of 11 th grades, 38 of
whom were English-specialising students and 276 of whom were non-Englishspecialising students. The questionnaire elicited information on the students‟
attitudes towards teachers‟ utilisation of various corrective feedback types.
Results show that the students had a positive attitude towards corrective
feedback, be they English-specialising or non-English-specialising. The results
of this study can be viewed as a valuable contribution to existing research
findings in the realm of corrective feedback. Previous studies have examined the
efficacy of particular corrective feedback types in certain educational
environments. This study provides unique findings from a unique learning
environment, namely a high school for gifted students. The results presented in
this paper support previous findings that in certain circumstances corrective
feedback works. Additionally, the results reinforce the need to continue
scholarship on corrective feedback and student perceptions of its use. The thesis
concludes with some suggestions for teachers‟ implementation of written
corrective feedback on their students‟ writings.

iii


TABLE OF CONTENTS
DECLARATION OF AUTHORSHIP ................................................................... i
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS .................................................................................. ii
ABSTRACT ......................................................................................................... iii
TABLE OF CONTENTS ..................................................................................... iv
LIST OF TABLES ............................................................................................... vi
LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS ............................................................................. vii
PART A: INTRODUCTION ................................................................................ 1
1. Rationale of the Study ....................................................................................... 1
2. Aims of the Study, Research Questions and Scope of the Study ..................... 2
2.1. Aims of the Study ........................................................................................... 2
2.2. Research Questions ........................................................................................ 2
2.3. Scope of the Study.......................................................................................... 3
3. Method of the Study .......................................................................................... 3
4. Significance of the Study .................................................................................. 3
5. Structure of the Thesis....................................................................................... 4
PART B: DEVELOPMENT ................................................................................. 5
Chapter I: LITERATURE REVIEW .................................................................... 5
1. Attitudes ............................................................................................................ 5
2. Definitions of Feedback .................................................................................... 6
3. Types of Feedback ............................................................................................ 6
3.1. Direct Corrective Feedback............................................................................ 8
3.2. Indirect Corrective Feedback ......................................................................... 8
3.3. Metalinguistic Corrective Feedback .............................................................. 9
3.4. Focused versus Unfocused Corrective Feedback ........................................ 11
4. Effects of Corrective Feedback ....................................................................... 11
5. Students‟ Attitudes towards Teachers‟ Corrective Feedback ......................... 14
CHAPTER II: RESEARCH METHODOLOGY ................................................ 17
1. Research Method ............................................................................................. 17
2. Data Collection Instrument ............................................................................. 17
3. Research Site ................................................................................................... 18
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4. Participants ...................................................................................................... 18
5. Data Analysis .................................................................................................. 18
Chapter III: FINDINGS AND DISCUSSION .................................................... 20
1. Teachers‟ Frequency of Use of Written Corrective Feedback........................ 20
1.1. Teachers‟ Frequency of Use of Direct Corrective Feedback ....................... 20
1.2. Teachers‟ Frequency of Use of Indirect Corrective Feedback .................... 22
1.3. Teachers‟ Frequency of Use of Metalinguistic Corrective Feedback.......... 23
1.4. Teachers‟ Frequency of Use of Unfocused Corrective Feedback ............... 24
1.5. Teachers‟ Frequency of Use of Focused Corrective Feedback ................... 25
2. Students‟ Preference for Teacher Corrective Feedback Types ....................... 25
2.1. Students‟ Preference for Direct Corrective Feedback ................................. 26
2.2. Students‟ Preference for Indirect Corrective Feedback ............................... 26
2.3. Students‟ Preference for Metalinguistic Corrective Feedback .................... 28
2.4. Students‟ Preference for Unfocused Corrective Feedback .......................... 29
2.5. Students‟ Preference for Focused Corrective Feedback .............................. 29
3. Students‟ Perception of Usefulness of Various Forms of Corrective
Feedback .............................................................................................................. 30
3.1. Students‟ Perception of Usefulness of Direct Corrective Feedback ............ 31
3.2. Students‟ Perception of Usefulness of Indirect Corrective Feedback ......... 32
3.3. Students‟ Perception of Usefulness of Metalinguistic Corrective
Feedback .............................................................................................................. 33
3.4. Students‟ Perception of Usefulness of Unfocused Corrective Feedback .... 34
3.5. Students‟ Perception of Usefulness of Focused Corrective Feedback ........ 35
4. Discussion ....................................................................................................... 35
PART C: CONCLUSION ................................................................................... 38
1. Concluding Remarks ....................................................................................... 38
2. Implications ..................................................................................................... 39
3. Limitations and Suggestions for Further Study .............................................. 39
REFERENCES .................................................................................................... 41
APPENDIX ............................................................................................................ I

v


LIST OF TABLES
TABLES
Table 1.1

A typology of written corrective feedback

Page
7

Table 3.1

Students‟ self-reports on teachers‟ use of direct corrective feedback

20

techniques
Table 3.2

Students‟ self-reports on teachers‟ use of indirect corrective feedback

22

techniques
Table 3.3

Students‟ self-reports on the teachers‟ use of metalinguistic corrective

23

feedback techniques
Table 3.4

Students‟ self-reports on teachers‟ use of unfocused corrective feedback

24

techniques
Table 3.5

Students‟ self-reports on teachers‟ use of focused corrective feedback

25

techniques
Table 3.6

Students‟ preference for direct corrective feedback techniques

26

Table 3.7

Students‟ preference for indirect corrective feedback techniques

27

Table 3.8

Students‟ preference for metalinguistic corrective feedback techniques

28

Table 3.9

Students‟ preference for unfocused corrective feedback techniques

29

Table 3.10

Students‟ preference for focused corrective feedback techniques

29

Table 3.11

Students‟ perception of usefulness of direct corrective feedback techniques

31

Table 3.12

Students‟ perception of usefulness of indirect corrective feedback techniques

32

Table 3.13

Students‟ perception of usefulness of metalinguistic corrective feedback

33

techniques
Table 3.14

Students‟ perception of usefulness of unfocused corrective feedback

34

techniques
Table 3.15

Students‟ perception of usefulness of focused corrective feedback techniques

vi

35


LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS
L2: Second language
CF: Corrective Feedback
WCF: Written Corrective Feedback
EFL: English as a Foreign Language

vii


PART A: INTRODUCTION
1. Rationale of the Study
Feedback has been acknowledged as an essential component in the
learning cycle, providing stimuli for reflection and learner development.
Alerting students to their strengths and weaknesses can provide the means by
which they can assess their performance and make improvement to future work.
Feedback is also described as an effective means of encouraging greater student
autonomy (Kirkwood 2000). Teacher feedback helps learners move from otherregulation provided by the teacher to self-regulation and greater independent
control over target language forms. Despite the acknowledged benefits of
teacher feedback, teachers do not always know whether and how their feedback
is perceived by their students. Although a few studies have examined students‟
perspectives on written corrective feedback in general, very few have
investigated students‟ perceptions about the specific feedback types they have
received (Karim, 2015). As far as my knowledge is concerned, this issue has yet
to be researched in the high school where I have been teaching. This study,
therefore, sought to address this matter.
Using a questionnaire survey strategy, this study investigated the
students‟ attitudes towards teachers‟ different types of written corrective
feedback, their perceptions of the usefulness of teacher feedback to their
learning to write in English. Also, the study is aimed at finding out whether the
students‟ proficiency in English affects their attitudes and perceptions regarding
teacher written feedback or not. In order to achieve the second purpose of the
study, two different groups of 11th grade students, i.e. English-specialising
students and non-English-specialising students were selected. It was assumed
that the former was more proficient in English than the latter.

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2. Aims of the Study, Research Questions and Scope of the Study
2.1. Aims of the Study
This survey study was conducted at Chu Van An Gifted High School of
Lang Son province with the participants being the 11th grade learners. The
overall aim of this study is to explore how teachers tended to provide feedback
on students‟ writings and the students‟ attitudes towards their teacher feedback.
This information is to help teachers to better fulfil the students‟ expectations
with regard to teacher written corrective feedback, thereby helping the students
to improve their writing skills.
The study is designed and conducted in an effort to achieve the following
objectives:
- To identify the common types of feedback that teachers provided on
their students‟ writings as reported by the students;
- To gain understanding of the students‟ attitudes towards their teachers‟
feedback on their writings as well as their opinion of the usefulness of teacher
feedback to the development of their writing skills.
2.2. Research Questions
In order to achieve the aims and objectives of the study as stated in 2.1.,
this study is designed and conducted to find answers to the following research
questions:
1. What are the common types of corrective feedback that English language
teachers provide on their students‟ writings according to the students‟ selfreport?
2. What are the students‟ attitudes towards their teachers‟ feedback on their
writings?
3. Is there any difference between two groups of students – English-specialising
and non-English-specialising – regarding their attitudes towards their teachers‟
written corrective feedback types?

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2.3. Scope of the Study
The study, as a survey study, limits itself to the investigation of the
attitudes of the 11th graders at a gifted high school towards teacher written
corrective feedback on their writings. It is not intended to examine the impact of
teacher corrective feedback on the students‟ writings.
3. Method of the Study
In order to achieve the purpose of the study, which is to obtain the
information about the students‟ attitudes towards teacher written corrective
feedback, a questionnaire was used as the sole instrument of data collection.
Participants‟ responses to the questionnaire were analysed quantitatively and
tabulated to show the common patterns regarding the students‟ opinions of
teacher written corrective feedback. For analysis, the student responses to the
questionnaire were categorised into (a) the frequency of teachers‟ use of written
corrective feedback according to students‟ self-report, (b) their preferences for
teacher written corrective feedback, and (c) their opinions of the usefulness of
different types of corrective feedback. Since the number of the 11th graders at
the school was not so great (N= 314), the questionnaire was administered to all
of them, and the return rate was 100%.
4. Significance of the Study
The findings of the study will inform teachers at the researched school of
what the students think about the way they provide feedback on their writings.
While there is a lack of conclusive results in support of written corrective
feedback in the literature, especially in particular whether one type of feedback
is more effective than another, the information will help teachers to change the
way they provide feedback if necessary in order that they can narrow the gap
between their approaches to feedback and the students‟ expectations. This may
contribute to the improvement of students‟ writing skills.

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5. Structure of the Thesis
The thesis is composed of three main parts as follows:
Part A – Introduction – imparts information on the rationale of the study,
the aims, the research questions, the scope, the methodology and the
significance of the study. Also presented in this part is the organisation of the
thesis.
Part B – Development – consists of three chapters. The first chapter
reviews relevant literature on attitudes, feedback and its types, the effects of
feedback, and the students‟ attitudes towards feedback. The second chapter deals
with the research methodology. The findings and discussion are presented in the
last chapter.
Part C – Conclusion – offers the summary of the study and its
implications. This part also touches upon the limitations of the study and offers
suggestions for further study.

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PART B: DEVELOPMENT
Chapter I: LITERATURE REVIEW
1. Attitudes
A student‟ attitude and motivation have been frequently reported to be the
most critical factor for success in language learning (Ushida, 2005, p. 49).
Attitudes can be viewed as a tendency to respond positively or negatively
towards a certain thing, idea, person, situation, etc... Gardener (1995) defined
attitudes as an evaluation to some referent, inferred on the basis of the
individual‟s beliefs or opinions about the referent. Attitudes towards learning are
believed to influence behaviours such as selecting a learning activity,
responding to the teaching content and teaching methods. Ellis (1994, pp. 197201) claims that learners‟ attitudes have been identified as one set of variables of
major importance. The attitudes are shaped by social factors, which, in turn,
influence learner outcomes. Attitudes can be negative or positive and they can
be changed.
There are three aspects of attitudes: behavioural, cognitive, and emotional
(Kara, 2009). The behavioural aspect of attitude deals with the way one behaves
or reacts in particular situations. The cognitive aspect of attitude involves the
beliefs of the language learners about the knowledge that they receive and their
understanding in the process of language learning. The emotional aspect of
attitude helps learners to express whether they like or dislike the objects or
surrounding situations. It is agreed that the inner feelings and emotion of
English language learners influence their perspectives and attitudes towards the
target language (Choy & Troudi, 2006).
In this study, only one aspect of attitude, that is the emotional aspect, is
examined with a view to identifying the students‟ attitudes towards teachers‟
written corrective feedback (WCF). The reason why this aspect is emphasised is
simple. According to scholars, “Learning process is an emotional process. It is
affected by different emotional factors. The teacher and his students engage in
various emotional activities in it and varied fruits of emotion are yielded.” (Feng
5


& Chen, 2009, p. 94)
2. Definitions of Feedback
Feedback provides information relating to a specific learning process to
assist learners in understanding the what, how and why of what they are
learning/learned (Petchprasert, 2012). In addition, feedback makes comment on
performance, thus making effective feedback on a learner‟s task/outcome,
beneficial to learners. (Bitchener, 2008; 2010; Leki, 1991).
In this thesis, feedback is defined as written forms of correction on a
student‟s progress on a written task. This is a conventional practice in an
education setting for teachers to provide written corrections either as anecdotal
(pointing out strengths and weaknesses in sentences) or as markup, with errors
underlined, circled or completely corrected. Teachers may vary their frequency
of feedback, correcting one, several or all instances of an error/s.
When reviewing their students‟ text, L2 teachers give feedback on a wide
range of issues. They might address the content of a text, the way in which its
ideas are presented and organised, the appropriateness of the vocabulary that is
used, and so on. The type of feedback that has received most researchers‟
attention, however, is feedback on linguistic errors. Such responses to L2
learners‟ non-targetlike production have been commonly referred to as instances
of corrective feedback (Beuningen, 2010). Corrective feedback, therefore, is
concerned with any incorrect grammatical or lexical use of the target language.
It is distinguished from feedback on content, which refers to any comment,
suggestion, question, or request for clarification, elaboration, or information
provided by the teacher that pertains to the ideas, organization, style, and
rhetorical structure of the text (Hyland, K. & Hyland, F., 2006).
3. Types of Feedback
Written corrective feedback (WCF), which is the focus of this study, is
classified into four major types: direct feedback; indirect feedback;
metalinguistic feedback; and focused/unfocused feedback (Ellis, 2009). Table
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1.1 summarises these four types of feedback.
Table 1.1: A typology of written corrective feedback types
Type of CF

Description

Studies

1. Direct CF

The teacher provides the
student with the correct form.
The teacher indicates that an
error exists but does not
provide the correction.

e.g. Lalande (1982) and Robb
et al. (1986)

a. Indicating and
locating the error

This takes the form of
underlining and use of
cursors to show omissions in
the student‟s text.

b. Indication only

This takes the form of an
indication in the margin that
an error or errors have
occurred in a line of text.
The teacher provides some
kind of metalinguistic clue as
to the nature of the error.

Various studies have
employed indirect correction
of this kind (e.g. Ferris and
Roberts 2001: Chandler
2003).
Fewer studies have employed
this method (e.g. Robb et al.
1986).

2. Indirect CF

3. Metalinguistic CF

a. Use of error codes

b. Brief grammatical
descriptions

4. The focus of the feedback

a. Unfocused CF
b. Focused CF

The teacher writes codes in
the margin (e.g. ww = wrong
word; art = article).

Various studies have
examined the effects of using
error codes (e.g. Lalande
1982; Ferris and Roberts
2001; Chandler 2003).
The teacher numbers errors in Sheen (2007) compared the
text and writes a grammatical effects of direct CF and direct
description for each
CF + metalinguistic CF.
numbered error at the bottom
of the text.
This concerns whether the
Most studies have
teacher attempts to correct all investigated unfocused CF
(or most) of the students‟
(e.g. Chandler 2003; Ferris
errors or selects one or two
2006). Sheen (2007), drawing
specific types of errors to
on traditions in SLA studies
correct. This distinction can
of CF, investigated focused
be applied to each of the
CF.
above options.
Unfocused CF is extensive.
Focused CF is intensive.

Source: Ellis (2009)

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3.1. Direct Corrective Feedback
Direct corrective feedback may be defined as the provision of the correct
linguistic form or structure above or near the linguistic error (Bitchener, Young,
and & Cameron, 2005; Ferris, 2002). It may include the crossing out of an
unnecessary word/ phrase/ morpheme, the insertion of a missing word/ phrase/
morpheme, or the writing of the correct form or structure above or near the
erroneous form.
Direct corrective feedback has the advantage that it provides learners with
explicit guidance about how to correct their errors. This is clearly desirable if
learners do not know what the correct form is (i.e. are not capable of selfcorrecting the error). Ferris and Roberts (2001) suggest direct corrective
feedback is probably better than indirect corrective feedback with student
writers of low levels of proficiency. However, a disadvantage is that it requires
minimal processing on the part of the learner and thus, although it might help
them to produce the correct form when they revise their writing, it may not
contribute to long-term learning. However, a recent study by Sheen (2007)
suggests that direct corrective feedback can be effective in promoting
acquisition of specific grammatical features.
3.2. Indirect Corrective Feedback
On the other hand, indirect corrective feedback, which has been reported
to be favoured by teachers and L2 writing researchers (e.g., Ferris & Hedgcock,
2005), indicates that in some way an error has been made. This may be provided
in one of three ways: underlining or circling the error; indicating errors in a
given line by putting a check/ cross in the margin; or recording in the margin the
number of errors in a given line (Ferris & Roberts, 2001; Robb, Ross, &
Shortreed, 1986). Rather than the teacher providing an explicit correction,
students are left to resolve and correct the problem which has been drawn to
their attention.
Indirect feedback is often preferred to direct feedback on the grounds that
it caters to „guided learning and problem solving‟ (Lalande 1982) and
8


encourages students to reflect about linguistic forms. For these reasons, it is
considered more likely to lead to long-term learning (Ferris and Roberts op.
cit.). The results of studies that have investigated this claim, however, are very
mixed. Some studies (for example, Lalande op. cit.) suggest that indirect
feedback is indeed more effective in enabling students to correct their errors but
others (for example, Ferris and Roberts‟ own study) found no difference
between direct and indirect corrective feedback. No study to date has compared
the effects of these two types of corrective feedback on whether they have any
effect on accuracy in new pieces of writing.
In accordance with the general line of argument by Ferris and Roberts, it
might be claimed that indirect feedback where the exact location of errors is not
shown might be more effective than indirect feedback where the location of the
errors is shown as students would have to engage in deeper processing. Robb et
al. (op. cit.) investigated four types of feedback including direct feedback and
indirect feedback where the number of errors was given in each line of the text.
They reported no significant difference. Lee (1997), however, specifically
compared the two types of indirect correction and found that learners were better
able to correct errors that were indicated and located than errors that were just
indicated by a check/ cross in the margin. However, Lee did not consider longterm gains.
3.3. Metalinguistic Corrective Feedback
Metalingusitic corrective feedback involves providing learners with some
form of explicit comment about the nature of the errors they have made. The
explicit comment can take two forms. By far the most common is the use of
error codes. These consist of abbreviated labels for different kinds of errors. The
labels can be placed over the location of the error in the text or in the margin. In
the latter case, the exact location of the error may or may not be shown. In the
former, the student has to work out the correction needed from the clue provided
while in the latter the student needs to first locate the error and then work out the
correction.
9


A number of studies have compared using error codes with other types of
written corrective feedback. Lalande (op. cit.) reported that a group of learners
of L2 German that received correction using error codes improved accuracy in
subsequent writing whereas a group receiving direct correction made more
errors. However, the difference between the two groups was not statistically
significant. Robb et al. (op. cit.) included an error codes treatment in their study
but found it no more effective than any of the other three types of corrective
feedback they investigated (i.e. direct feedback and two kinds of indirect
feedback). Ferris (op. cit.) reported that error codes helped students to improve
their accuracy over time in only two of the four categories of error she
investigated. Longitudinal comparisons between the number of errors in
students‟ first and forth compositions showed improvement in total errors and
verb errors but not in noun errors, article errors, lexical errors, or sentence
errors. Ferris and Roberts (op. cit.) found that error codes did assist the students
to self-edit their writing but no more so than indirect feedback. Overall, then,
there is very limited evidence to show that error codes help writers to achieve
greater accuracy over time and it would also seem that they are no more
effective than other types of corrective feedback in assisting self-editing.
The second type of metalinguistic corrective feedback consists of
providing students with metalinguistic explanation of their errors. This is far less
common, perhaps because it is much more time-consuming than using error
codes and also because it calls for the teacher to possess sufficient metalinguistic
knowledge to be able to write clear and accurate explanations for a variety of
errors. Sheen (op. cit.) compared direct and metalinguistic corrective feedback,
finding that both were effective in increasing accuracy in the students‟ use of
articles in subsequent writing completed immediately after the corrective
feedback treatment. Interestingly, the metalinguistic corrective feedback also
proved more effective than the direct corrective feedback in the long term (i.e. in
a new piece of writing completed two weeks after the treatment).

10


3.4. Focused versus Unfocused Corrective Feedback
Teachers can elect to correct all of the students‟ errors, in which case the
corrective feedback is unfocused. Alternatively they can select specific error
types for correction. The distinction between unfocused and focused corrective
feedback applies to all of the previously discussed options.
Processing corrections is likely to be more difficult in unfocused
corrective feedback as the learner is required to attend to a variety of errors and
thus is unlikely to be able to reflect much on each error. In this respect, focused
corrective feedback may prove more effective as the learner is able to examine
multiple corrections of a single error and thus obtain the rich evidence they need
to both understand why what they wrote was erroneous and to acquire the
correct form. If learning is dependent on attention to form, then it is reasonable
to assume that the more intensive the attention, the more likely the correction is
to lead to learning. Focused metalinguistic corrective feedback may be
especially helpful in this respect as it promotes not just attention but also
understanding of the nature of the error. However, unfocused corrective
feedback has the advantage of addressing a range of errors, so while it might not
be as effective in assisting learners to acquire specific features as focused
corrective feedback in the short term, it may prove superior in the long run.
The bulk of the corrective feedback studies completed to date have
investigated unfocused corrective feedback. In Sheen‟s study (op. cit.), the
corrective feedback was of the focused kind (i.e. it addressed errors in the use of
articles for first and second mention) and, as already noted, that proved effective
in promoting more accurate language use of this feature. However, to date, there
have been no studies comparing the relative effects of focused and unfocused
corrective feedback.
4. Effects of Corrective Feedback
Debates by theorists exist about the effectiveness of written corrective
feedback on the intrinsic pedagogical practices of L2 improvement in fluency
and accuracy, whilst shaping a student‟s attitude towards more accurate self11


correction, minimising teachers‟ external intervention.
Corrective feedback is inexorably linked to L2 learning as it implicitly
and explicitly directs a learner to notice L2 forms of syntax, grammar or
semantics (Bitchener & Knoch, 2010). Teachers directly identify errors with the
aim that students will (a) be motivated to study the implications of why the
mistake was made, (b) understand the concept taught, (c) self-edit, and auto
correct in subsequent writings, and (d) minimise errors and increase in fluency
in subsequent writings.
The value of error correction in writing, and in particular L2 acquisition,
has been questioned by academics since the 1970s for its usefulness (Amrhein
and Nassaji, 2010). Studies that demonstrated minimalistic and/or no
improvements in students‟ L2 writings include Truscott (1996), Hendrickson
(1977, 1980) and Robb et al. (1986), Kepner (1991), Polio, Fleck, & Leder
(1998), Semke (1984) and Sheppard (1992).
Later studies that cast doubt over the effectiveness of utilising written
corrective feedback, includes Truscott (1996) who

concludes that written

feedback is actually detrimental in promoting negative orientation to L2
learners. Truscott references feedback methods outlined by Ellis (2009) as direct
correction, indirect correction, metalinguistic CF, electronic feedback and
reformation. He argues that written correction should be abandoned altogether
as theoretically and practically it doesn‟t work with L1 learners and thus won‟t
work with L2 learners. His recommendations for improving accuracy and
fluency include experiential experiences and continued practice in L2.
With error correction the focus for the aforementioned theorists, the
amount of data, frequency of rewriting raw material and lack of distinction of L2
students discipline major, casts doubt over the validity of their conclusions, with
growing literature demonstrating degrees of success in L2 writing after receiving
corrective feedback (Chandler, 2003). For example, Leki (1991) surveyed L2
tertiary students who wanted but did not receive direct feedback on their writing,
and Ferris (1995) similarly found that tertiary L2 learners were interested in
12


comments on content and grammar.
Alternatively, there are more theorists in favour of implementing the
method of written corrective feedback as some studies have demonstrated
improvements in error correction and error minimisation by students‟
subsequent writings over time (Chandler, 2003). Bitchener (2008) reported on a
two-month study with 144 international and immigrant ESL students in
Auckland, New Zealand that investigated the extent to which different written
corrective feedback options (direct corrective feedback, written and oral metalinguistic explanation; direct corrective feedback and written metalinguistic
explanation; direct corrective feedback only; no corrective feedback) helped
students improve their accuracy in the use of two functional uses of the English
article system („a‟ and „the‟). The study found that students who received all
three written corrective feedback options outperformed those who did not
receive written corrective feedback, and that there was no difference in the
extent to which migrant and international students improved the accuracy of
their writing as a result of written corrective feedback.
Positive result findings include Robb et al. (1986) whose Japanese
students learning English as a Second Language improved upon accuracy and
fluency after receiving direct correction, notation of the type of error using a
code, notation in the text of the location of errors, and marginal feedback about
the number of errors in the line.
On the other hand, in Frantzen‟s (1995) study of U.S. college students of
intermediate Spanish, both the grammar-supplementation group receiving direct
correction and the non-grammar group whose errors were marked but not
corrected improved in overall grammar usage on the post essay. Neither group
showed significant improvement in written fluency over the semester, however.
Bitchener, Young and Cameron (2005) state that a combination of written
corrective feedback with oral conference feedback assists with some but not all
structural accuracy by students.
The one study that dealt with the effectiveness of various kinds of teacher
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feedback on accuracy of both revision and subsequent writing is Ferris and
Roberts (2001). The study claimed that direct correction of error by the teacher
led to more correct revisions (88%) than indirect feedback (77%). This study has
not been published, but Ferris (2002, p. 20) discussed the findings: „„However,
over the course of the semester, students who received primarily indirect
feedback reduced their error frequency ratios substantially more than the
students who received mostly direct feedback.‟‟
Studies that demonstrate the link between motivation and intrinsic long
term results for L2 learners include Ferris (1995); Ferris & Roberts (2001) and
Leki (1991) consistently reporting that student writers want such error feedback.
According to Ferris and Roberts (2001), the most popular type of feedback was
underlining with description, followed by direct correction, and underlining was
third.
5. Students’ Attitudes towards Teachers’ Corrective Feedback
With a shift into student-centered learning (Rust, 2002) feedback and a
student‟s perception of its usefulness is important for educators in affecting the
pedagogy of best practice (Weaver, 2007).
Storch (2010) reviews the articles on written corrective feedback on just
one journal, the Journal of Second Language Writing from 2006 to 2009, and
reports that 16 articles dealing with written corrective feedback given by
teachers were published. Almost an equal number of articles (17) were
published in the last 10 years. This reflects the scholarly interest in written
corrective feedback.
Leki‟s (1991) studies on feelings and attitudes of individual learners
towards feedback gives credence to this study that students see corrective
feedback as important and highly personal in terms of preference with 70 out of
100 students wanting errors indicated by teachers in improving grammar
accuracy over time.
Schulz (2001) administered a questionnaire to 607 Colombian foreign
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language students and 122 of their teachers, as well as to 824 U.S. foreign
language students and 92 teachers to elicit students‟ and teachers‟ perceptions
concerning the role of grammar instruction and corrective feedback in foreign
language learning. The study revealed that students had a positive attitude
towards corrective feedback. Case studies by Hyland (2003) showed that
students‟ motivation and confidence in themselves as writers may be adversely
affected by the feedback they received. Similarly, Storch and Wigglesworth
(2010) report the results of their case study that learners‟ attitudes towards
feedback affects not only whether and how learners respond to the feedback
provided, but ultimately whether there is long-term learning.
There has been ample empirical evidence about the discrepancies between
teachers‟ and students‟ attitudes towards written corrective feedback. For
example, Amrhein and Nassaji (2010) reported the great differences between
teachers and students in their opinions of not only how written corrective
feedback should be provided, but also why. The authors recommend,
... student approval of WCF that requires less of their effort to correct shows
their keenness on transferring the responsibility of error correction to teachers.
... Teachers need to openly discuss the use of written corrective feedback with
students and ensure that students understand the purpose of written corrective
feedback and shoulder responsibility for error correction. ... Students and
teachers must become aware of any differences in opinion about what constitute
useful written corrective feedback, so that both students and teachers can modify
their expectations accordingly (Leiki, 1991).

(Amrhein and Nassaji, 2010, p. 116)
Chapter Summary
Taking into consideration the degrees of success in measuring corrective
feedback for its usefulness, this thesis will combine measurement of use and
effectiveness of

corrective feedback, but incorporate and analyse the

relationship it has to a student‟s attitude and feelings towards various forms of
corrective feedback. (Weaver, 2007 and Leki, 1991). It appears that the
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background of the student, teacher delivery, school culture and intellectual level
of the students all impact on effectiveness and orientation to various forms of
corrective feedback.

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