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The students’ attitudes towards teachers’ written feedback strategies on their writings at vocational college of posts and telecommunications

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

LÊ HẢI ĐOÀN

THE STUDENTS’ATTITUDES TOWARDS TEACHERS’WRITTEN
FEEDBACK STRATEGIES ON THEIR WRITINGS AT VOCATIONAL
COLLEGE OF POSTS AND TELECOMMUNICATIONS
(Thái độ của sinh viên đối với cách thức phản hồi dưới dạng viết của giáo viên
trên bài viết của sinh viên trường Cao đẳng nghề Bưu Chính Viễn Thông)

M.A. MINOR PROGRAMME THESIS

Field: English Teaching Methodology
Code: 60140111

HANOI – 2016


VIETNAM NATIONAL UNIVERSITY, HA NOI

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

LÊ HẢI ĐOÀN

THE STUDENTS’ATTITUDES TOWARDS TEACHERS’WRITTEN
FEEDBACK STRATEGIES ON THEIR WRITINGS AT VOCATIONAL
COLLEGE OF POSTS AND TELECOMMUNICATIONS
(Thái độ của sinh viên đối với cách thức phản hồi dưới dạng viết của giáo viên
trên bài viết của sinh viên trường Cao đẳng nghề Bưu Chính Viễn Thông)

M.A. MINOR PROGRAMME THESIS

Field: English Teaching Methodology
Code: 60140111
Supervisor: Assoc. Prof. Dr. Lê Hùng Tiến

HANOI - 2016


DECLARATION

I, Lê Hải Đoàn, hereby declare that this thesis is my own work, and I have
provided fully documented references to the work of others. In addition, this thesis
has not been submitted for assessment in other formal courses in any other
university. I also accept all the requirements of ULIS relating to the retention and
use of M.A Graduation Thesis deposited in the library.

Hanoi, 2016

Lê Hải Đoàn

i


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

First of all, I would like to express my sincere thanks to Associate Professor,
Doctor Le Hung Tien, for the support, guidance and valuable critical feedback. His
help, stimulating suggestion and encouragement helped me a lot right from the


beginning to the end of this study.

I would like acknowledge my thanks to the students at Vocational College of
Posts and Telecommunications in Hanoi who helped me a lot and showed great
willingness to take part in my survey.

My special thanks also go to my lecturers, my friends, my classmates for
valuable comments and criticism, their interest and encouragement.

Last but not least, I want to express my deepest gratitude to my parents and
friends for their love, care, tolerance and encouragement.

ii


ABSTRACT

This study investigates the students‘ attitudes towards teachers‘ written
feedback at Vocational College of Posts and Telecommunications in Hanoi. The
participants included 80 non-English major freshmen. The data were collected from
survey questionnaire and the interview with 12 students at different level of English
proficiency. The results show that the students highly valued the importance of
teacher‘s feedback and had different attitudes towards each type of them; especially
they prefer direct feedback to the others. It is suggested that the use of direct should
be maintained regularly, so as to not only satisfy student‘s interests on writing, but
also improve students‘ writing fluency by practicing writing. In terms of the
students‘ comprehension of teacher written feedback, the results show that most of
them had difficulty in understanding uncoded and content feedback. Based on their
responses about the ways they deal with the feedback, they are divided into two
groups: independent students who themselves tried to understand teacher written
feedback through books or internet and dependent students who asked their teacher
or friends for help. Thus, it is expected that the research results can provide EFL
writing teachers with pedagogical implications to improve EFL students‘ writing
performance.

iii


TABLE OF CONTENT
DECLARATION ........................................................................................................ i
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS ......................................................................................ii
ABSTRACT ............................................................................................................. iii
TABLE OF CONTENT ........................................................................................... iv
LIST OF ABBREVIATION TERMS .................................................................... vi
LIST OF TABLES ..................................................................................................vii
PART 1: INTRODUCTION..................................................................................... 1
1. Rationale of the study .......................................................................................... 1
2. Aims of the study ................................................................................................. 2
3. Research questions ............................................................................................... 2
4. Significance of the study ..................................................................................... 2
5. Scope of the study ................................................................................................ 3
6. Method of the study ............................................................................................. 3
7. Design of the study .............................................................................................. 3
PART 2: DEVELOPMENT ..................................................................................... 5
CHAPTER 1: LITERATURE REVIEW ................................................................ 5
1. Theoretical background of L2 writing ................................................................. 5
1.1. Definition of L2 writing ................................................................................ 5
1.2. Teaching L2 writing ...................................................................................... 5
2. Feedback on student‘s writings ........................................................................... 7
2.2. Teachers‘ feedback versus peers ‗feedback .................................................. 7
3. Theoretical background of teacher written feedback .......................................... 9
3.1. Feedback on grammatical errors ................................................................... 9
3.2. Feedback on content .................................................................................... 14
4. Students‘ perceptions of teacher written feedback ............................................ 16
4.1. Definition of attitude ................................................................................... 16
4.2. Students‘ attitudes towards teacher written feedback ................................. 16
CHAPTER 2: METHODOLOGY ......................................................................... 19
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2.1. Context of the study ........................................................................................ 19
2.2. Participants...................................................................................................... 20
2.3. Methods of data collection.............................................................................. 21
2.3.1. Attitude questionnaire .............................................................................. 21
2.3.2.Interviews .................................................................................................. 22
2.4. Teacher written feedback used in this study ................................................... 23
2.5. Data Collection Procedure .............................................................................. 24
CHAPTER 3: FINDINGS AND DISCUSSION ................................................... 25
3.1. Findings .......................................................................................................... 25
3.1.1. Answer to Research Question 1 ............................................................... 25
3.1.2. Answer to Research Question 2 ............................................................... 30
3.1.3. Answer to Research Question 3 ............................................................... 33
3.2. Discussion ....................................................................................................... 36
3.2.1. Direct feedback......................................................................................... 36
3.2.2. Coded feedback ........................................................................................ 37
3.2.3. Uncoded feedback .................................................................................... 38
3.2.4. Content feedback ...................................................................................... 39
PART 3: CONCLUSION ....................................................................................... 40
1. Conclusion ......................................................................................................... 40
2.Recommendation ................................................................................................ 41
3. Limitations of the study ..................................................................................... 41
4. Recommendations for further studies ................................................................ 42
REFERENCES ........................................................................................................ 43
APPENDICES ........................................................................................................... I

v


LIST OF ABBREVIATION TERMS

L2

Second language

ESL

English as a Second Language

EFL

English as a Foreign Language

vi


LIST OF TABLES

Table 1. Types of grammatical error
Table 2. Types of written feedback
Table 3. Student‘ frequency of writing in High school and College
Table 4.1 . The students‘ attitudes towards the importance of teacher‘s written
feedback
Table 4.2 : The students‘ satisfaction with teacher‘ written feedback
Table 4.3 The students‘ perception with regard to the helpfulness of teacher written
feedback
Table 4.4: The students‘ perceptions with regard to the clarity of teacher written
feedback
Table 4.5 : The students‘ perceptions towards the suitability of teacher written
feedback
Table 4.6 : The students‘ preference towards teacher‘ written feedback
Table 4.7 : The students‘ comprehension of the teacher written feedback.
Table 4.8 : The students‘ attempt to understand the teacher written feedback.
Table 4.9 : The students‘ problem regarding teacher written feedback
Table 4.10 : The students‘ attention to teacher written feedback
Table 4.11 : The student‘s careful thought to teacher written feedback
Table 4.12 : The students‘ attention to teacher written feedback if not being asked
to revise

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PART 1: INTRODUCTION
1. Rationale of the study
―What is the shortest word in the English language that contains the letters: abcdef?
Answer: Feedback. Don't forget that feedback is one of the essential elements of
good communication.‖ (Anonymous)
English writing, going with global development, has become an important
instrument for students to get better jobs. Advice, evaluation, grades - none of these
may give the descriptive information that students need to reach their goals in
writing. Moreover, marking student‘ writing is always considered one of the most
difficult tasks for an English teacher. After receiving students‘ written work, teacher
starts correcting errors, rearranging word order, leaving comments and eventually
giving the mark. Some researchers in writing (Leki, 1991; Raimes, 1983) have
belief in that giving feedback is one of the important methods for teachers to help
the student writers improve their writing pieces. Up to now, feedback used in
educational context is considered as an essential part of the teaching and learning
process to improve knowledge and skill acquisition. Although many studies have
been written on the subject of error correction in writing and the question about its‘
effectiveness is open-ended, we have to admit that students want feedback and
teachers feel obliged to provide it. Moreover, many studies give more attention to
the importance of feedback, the ways of providing and receiving feedback and how
feedback has effect on students‘ writing. We can see in the study of Lee (2005),
Noora (2006).―What have been neglected in those studies are preferences and
attitudes of the learners and teachers towards error correction‖ (Katayama,2007).
He also stated:― Differences in learners‖ learning styles affected the learning
environment by either supporting or inhibiting their intentional cognition and active
engagement‖. In addition, ―matching the learning styles of the students and the
teaching style of the teacher would help improve students‘ learning, attitudes,
behavior, and motivation‖ (Ferris, 2003).

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Also, a large number of studies on feedback types have been carried out; however, a
few ones pay attention to the ways the students deal with the errors after receiving
feedback from their teachers. It can be seen in some previous studies investigated
the effects of different types of feedback on grammatical improvement in students‘
writing (Fathman & Walley,1990; Padgate,1999; Hyland,2003) or surveyed
students‘ preferences for error correction (Cohen, 1987; Leki, 1991; Ferris, 2006).
Therefore, it is crucial to find out the feedback through which students prefer
receiving, their attitudes towards, their comprehension of and their attention to
different types of teacher written feedback. It is hoped that the results of this study
would help teachers to be more effective in teaching English.
2. Aims of the study
The aim of the present study is to examine the students‘ attitudes towards teachers‘
written feedback strategies. Moreover, the study aims to find out whether the
students understand the written feedback as intended by their teacher. Finally, the
study aims to find out the students‘ strategies for handling feedback after they
received their writings.
3. Research questions
To achieve the purposes of the study, the following questions were developed:
1. What are the students’ attitudes towards teacher’ written feedback strategies?
2. To what extent do the students understand teacher written feedback?
3. How do the students handle the feedback they receive?
4. Significance of the study
Feedback is an essential component of any English language writing course that
second language students expect to receive. It is necessary in the students‘ whole
writing process. There exists a conflict between teacher written feedback on
compositions and the learner‘s interest. This mismatch between the needs of the
students and those of the teachers can affect the practical effectiveness of the
written feedback.

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Under these circumstances, it is necessary to let students write drafts and teachers
can give comments to fix errors before an official version can be made. Therefore,
both teachers and students need to work more at establishing agreement on their
interpretation of feedback and at improving the students‘ writing strategies by
obtaining maximal benefit from the feedback they receive. The present study
investigated students‘ attitudes towards the different types of teacher written
feedback. It was expected that this study might provide an insight into how the
students perceived the teacher written feedback strategies. This was mainly related
to the language learning process that could be of potential value for English as a
Foreign Language teachers.
5. Scope of the study
The study is limited to 80 non-English major freshmen at Vocational College of
Posts and Telecommunications in 2015.This study focuses on the four different
types of teacher written feedback strategies: direct feedback, coded feedback and
uncoded feedback and content feedback.
6. Method of the study
Both quantitative and qualitative research methods were used in this survey research
in order to get a more detailed and comprehensive picture about what is
investigated.
A survey questionnaire was administered to 80 non-English major freshmen at
Vocational college of Posts and Telecommunications to collect their opinions
towards teacher written feedback.
An interview conducted with the participation of 12 non-English major freshmen
selected from survey population to explore further issues being investigated.
7. Design of the study
This study is composed of three following parts:
Part 1: Introduction presents the background, aims, research questions, the
significance, the scope, and the design of the study.

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Part 2: Development is organized around three chapters as follows:
Chapter 1- Literature review, conceptualizes the framework of the study through
the discussion of issues and ideas on theories of writing in second language, types
of grammatical errors and feedback.
Chapter 2 - Methodology, presents the context, the methodology used in this study
including the subject, the data collection instruments, data collection procedure, and
data analysis
Chapter 3 – Findings and Discussions consists of a comprehensive analysis of the
data and a discussion on the findings of this study.
Part 3: Conclusion, offers a summary of the findings, recommendations,
limitations, and future directions for further study.

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PART 2: DEVELOPMENT
CHAPTER 1: LITERATURE REVIEW
This part of research is divided into four major sections. The first sections shed
some light on theoretical background to second language writing. The second
section focuses on types of feedback to student’s writings. The third section details
studies that show theoretical background to teacher written feedback. The forth
section focus on students’ perceptions of teacher written feedback.
1. Theoretical background of L2 writing
1.1. Definition of L2 writing
Second language writing appeared in the late twentieth century as an
interdisciplinary field of inquiry.According to Zamel (1982), second language
writing is considered a product of a person‘s search for meaning and the writers
begin the process of writing without knowing what they say and go through the
process and lastly create meaning. Harris, Muriel and Tony Silva (1993) view
second language writing as a complex activity in second language context whereas
Grabe, Kaplan (1997) explore L2 writing basing on the role of the reader, the writer
and the text in the journey towards meaning.
1.2. Teaching L2 writing
Writing is one of the most difficult skills that second-language learners are expected
to obtain. It requires the mastery of a variety of linguistic, cognitive, and
sociocultural competencies. Many teachers confirm that teaching second language
writing is a challenging task. Of the different types of written assignments, three
orientations—text-focused, process-focused, and sociocultural are mentioned much
in most relevant research (Cumming, 2001).
According to text-focused orientations, if L2 learners want to be able to write an
effective written work, they have to ―learn to write in a second language. Their
written texts display more sophisticated, complex syntax and morphology, a greater

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range and specificity of vocabulary, and improved command over conventional
rhetorical forms and over ways of signaling the relations of their texts to other texts
when performing tasks that involve reading and writing.‖(Cumming, 2001).
The process-oriented approach to the teaching of writing emphasizes mechanical
aspects of writing, such as focusing on grammatical and syntactical structures and
imitating models. It sees learning second language writing as the acquisition of
successful writing strategies. From this orientation, learning second language writer
need to improve abilities of planning, revising and editing their text and attending to
content and form concurrently and automatic searches for words and syntax. This
approach is primarily concerned with "correctness" and the form of the final
product. The learner is expected to write as much as possible without worrying
about correctness or formality and therefore, they can be more creative in writing.
Vygotsky (1978) confirmed that human learning cannot be understood
independently from the social and cultural forces that influence individuals, and that
sociocultural interactions are critical to learning. Sociocultural research sees writing
development as the learning of the genres, values, and practices of the target
community. This approach emphasizes the role of context and audience in learning
second language writing, the casual relationship between social interaction and
cognitive development, including language learning. Hyland (2002) stated that
proficient second language writers ―act effectively in new cultural settings‖
according to this orientation.
These orientations help conceptualize what learning to write in a L2 entails.
However they do so in three relatively distinctive, though necessarily
interdependent, ways. Instructional modeling of second language writing probably
should include not just modeling of text forms but also modeling of composing
processes and of the socio-culture purposes and functions that writing in the second
language serves (Cumming,1995).

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2. Feedback on student’s writings
2.1. Students’ self-editing endeavor
Students‘ self-editing endeavor plays a very important role in minimizing their
errors in their writings and help in producing well-written texts.―Only the writer, via
drafting and redrafting, reviewing (by self or peers), re-casting, and repeated selfediting, can respond to the entirely of textual detail, ranging from punctuation to
word appropriateness to sentence length, cohesiveness, viewpoint, force of
argument, pacing, and so on‖ ( Kasule and Lunga ,2010). This means it is so
important for students to find and correct their own mistakes. Students‘ endeavor is
one of the essential factors towards their success in language learning. However,
students may find it difficult to focus on different types of writing problems as he
reviews prose and lack the psychological distance necessary to distinguish between
the information on their writing and the information still inside the writer‘s head. In
order to help students to have success in self-editing their writing, some techniques
are designed to combat these difficulties. Take self-grade draft as an example of
techniques that helps students identify strengths, weaknesses, and omissions in
their writing (Beazley,1997).In that study, self-grade draft requires the writer to
find, mark, and evaluate individual substantive, organizational or mechanical
elements within each part of the document. It ―forces the writer to include the
document‘s basic elements…help more sophisticated writers improve their writing
independently, without the aid of a teacher‖. Because of editing writings
independently, it seems not to be suitable way for students with low English
proficiency to revise their writing.
2.2. Teachers’ feedback versus peers ‘feedback
Feedback on EFL writing was given to students not only by teachers but also by
writers themselves, peers, teachers or automatic computer programs. In this
situation, providing feedback on EFL writing by teachers and by students emerge as
the two more important methods affecting much the improvement of students‘
written work.
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Connor and Asenavage (1994) investigated the impact of peer and teacher feedback
on eight ESL students from different countries in a university in the USA. The
result was found that teacher feedback had a much more significant effect than peer
feedback, with only 5% of peer feedback resulting in changes.
Zhang (1995) carried out a controversial study of ESL students at two universities
in the USA. A very high figure of 94% of students preferred teacher feedback to
peer feedback.
Yang Miaoa, Richard Badger, Yu Zhen (2006) conducted a comparative study of
peer and teacher feedback in a Chinese EFL writing class. The result showed that
the students adopted more teacher feedback than peer feedback. Of the usable
feedback points in the teacher feedback group, 90% were incorporated as against
67% of the usable feedback points in the peer feedback group. In the interviews,
students said the teacher was more ‗‗professional,‘‘ ‗‗experienced,‘‘ and
‗‗trustworthy‘‘ than their peers. The usefulness of teacher feedback was confirmed
absolutely while the usefulness of peer feedback was expressed with reservations.
The findings of

the study conducted by Srichanyachon (2012) to investigate

university EFL students' attitudes toward two types of revision methods namely
peer feedback and teacher feedback, demonstrate that the students preferred to
receive teacher feedback because they could be sure that their mistakes in writing
would be properly and fully corrected. EFL students may feel frustrated if they do
not have feedback that helps them improve their papers.
Lee (2009) found that 17% of students gave criticism to their peers‘ writing in
comparison with 5% of ones who gave praise. The reason was stated in the previous
studies. It is due to the negative nature of feedback and limited written teacher
feedback was given in the classes. Consequently, students were not confident with
making appropriate praise feedback and consequently produced less number of
comments.

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In conclusion, teacher written feedback plays an important role on students
‘acquisition; however, peer feedback also leads to improvements and appears to
encourage student autonomy as a useful adjunct to teacher feedback.
3. Theoretical background of teacher written feedback
In the context of teaching and learning language, feedback has recently become an
issue of a special interest to many researcher, a considerable number of studies have
been carried out to look at the roles of feedback. The main idea behind feedback
that most researchers share is to motivate learners‘ behavior for the purpose of
improving learning, give them some advice or point out grammatical errors made by
learners. In fact, consciously or unconsciously, we are giving students feedback all
the time. Feedback, according to Ur (1996), ―is information that is given to the
learner about his or her performance of a learning task, usually with the objective of
improving this performance‖. Ferris (1999) feedback is simply viewed as ―any
response a teacher may give his or her students. According to Keh (1990), feedback
is a fundamental element of a process approach to writing. It may have a definition
of input from a reader to a writer with the effect of providing information to the
writer for revision In other words, it is the comments, questions, and suggestions a
reader gives a writer to produce reader-based prose as opposed to writer prose.
Kepner (1991) defines feedback is general as any procedures used to inform a
learner whether an instructional response is right or wrong.
Teacher written feedback or handwritten commentary is a primary method to
respond to students‘ written work to help students‘ writing development; teacher
written feedback on the students‘ drafts indicate and are limited to comments on
grammatical errors and the content of the students‘ writing.

3.1. Feedback on grammatical errors
3.1.1. Grammatical Errors

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We can find many definitions of grammatical errors in different researches and
there are many ways to classify errors in term of grammatical aspects. According to
Ferris & Roberts (2001, p.169) grammatical errors are classified into five groups.
Verb errors

All errors in verb tense or form, including relevant
subject-verb agreement errors.
Plural or possessive ending incorrect, omitted, or

Noun ending errors

unnecessary; includes relevant subject-verb agreement
errors.

Article errors

Article or other determiner incorrect, omitted, or
unnecessary.
All specific lexical errors in word choice or word form

Wrong word

including preposition and pronoun errors. Spelling
errors only included if the (apparent) misspelling
resulted in an actual English word.
Errors in sentence/clause boundaries (run-on,

Sentence structure

fragments, comma splices), word order, omitted words,
or phrases, unnecessary words or phrases, other
unidiomatic sentence construction.
Table 1: Types of grammatical error

Chaney (1999) had another way to classify grammatical error. According to him,
there are five categories of grammatical errors: Verbs errors, noun ending errors,
article errors, wrong word and sentence structure.
Batstone (1994) states, ―Language without grammar would be chaotic and cause the
same communication problem, such as grammatical errors in writing and speaking‖.

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Therefore, grammatical errors are in need of correcting to help students improve
their proficiency.
3.1.2. Feedback on grammatical errors
Many articles have been written about feedback on grammatical errors and the
effect of feedback in knowledge and acquisition; however, there exits many
different opinions about the question of whether teachers‘ feedback is useful or not
among researchers.
In the famous article of Truscott, he created two point of view flows about the
importance of feedback. Firstly, Truscott gave a great deal of evidence regarding
second language writing from previous research (Semke,1984; Robb, Ross, and
Shortreed,1986; Kepner,1991…) that there are persuasive research evidences to
show that grammar correction in writing courses is not helpful .He also draws
carefully the specific problems encountered by grammar correction. Truscott
arrived at the conclusion that feedback on students‘ errors is both ineffective and
harmful and therefore be abandoned. He saw very little benefit in positive effect of
written feedback given by language teachers to students to improve their writing.
On the contrary, these arguments of Truscott‘s were then confuted by a number of
researchers. Many studies were carried out to examine student progress in written
accuracy over time. Researchers have found that writers who received feedback on
their grammatical errors showed betterment. Ferris (1999) claimed the assertion of
Truscott to be premature. Ferris pointed out that some of Truscott‘s view and
citation of the previous studies of second language literature were one side and
therefore not able to determine whether grammar feedback helps students‘ longterm development of accuracy.
In order to provide more conclusive finding of this issue, some studies do
researches to focus on students‘ response to teacher feedback. Ferris (1995)
conducted a study to examine student response to teacher feedback in multiple-draft
composition contexts, it was found that 93.5% of the student s‘ respondents felt that

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teachers‘ feedback was helpful in improving their writing skill because it helped
them know what to improve or avoid in the future, find their mistakes, and clarify
their ideas. Garmi (2005) set out a study to investigate students‘ attitude towards
that they have their writing corrected and commented, and their belief in the
effectiveness and importance of teacher ‗feedback. The findings the study showed
that most ESL students valued the feedback they received from their teacher to their
writing because of their value. Moreover, Zhang (1995) has support the view that
second language students appreciated teacher written feedback more than either
peer feedback or oral feedback in writing .Having the same conclusion as Zhang,
Lee (2008) indicated that most students believe teacher written feedback to be the
best type rather than peers or even self-evaluation. Ibrahim (2002) pointed out that
grammar feedback from teacher is important in two ways: it not only draws
students‘ attention to their errors, but also raises their awareness of these errors.
In brief, most students agreed that teachers‘ feedback has some influence on their
writing. After Truscott gave his claim that teachers‘ feedback was both harmful and
ineffective and should be abandoned, most researchers have demonstrated a positive
effect on teacher‘ feedback on student composition. The fact that grammar
correction may have less effect than other types; however, it does not mean that
grammar correction has no impact and should be abandoned. Ferris (1996) said that
there was always a ―more‖ or ―less‖ effective approach that could be used to
response to a student‘ writing.
3.1.3. Direct versus indirect feedback
There are two types of written feedback that teachers responded to students‘ written
work on their grammatical error : direct and indirect feedback.
Type
of
feedback
Direct feedback

written

Description

The teacher provides the
student with the correct form

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Example

her


I give she a book.
coded This takes the form of
Vf
underlining and use of cursors She eat too much
(Indicating and locating to show omissions in the cheese
student‘s text
the error)
Indirect
feedback

uncoded This takes the form of an
indication in the margin that an They
go
error
or
errors
have
taken
place
( Indication only)
hospital now.
in a line of text
Indirect
feedback

to

(adapted from Ellis,2007)
Table 2:Types of written feedback
The word direct feedback appeared in many previous researches with different
names: Corrective feedback (Lalande, 1982), form-focused feedback (correction)
(Fazio, 2001), direct correction (Chandler, 2003) and overt correction (Lee, 2004).
However, they all refer to a technique of correcting students‘ error by giving
explicit written correction. Ferris (2002) pointed out that direct error correction
gives learners correct linguistic form such as word, morpheme, phrase, rewritten
sentence, deleted word [s] or morpheme [s] and correct forms are offered by the
teacher. Therefore, giving detection and correction are obviously the responsibility
of the teachers.
On the other hand, Ferris (2006) said: ‖Indirect feedback is when the teacher
indicate in some way that an error has been made …but not provided the correct
form, leaving the student to solve the problem, that has been called to his or her
attention‖. Indirect feedback is provided to indicate that there is an error, but it is
not corrected, leaving the learner to discover and to solve it (Bitchener, 2008).
Indirect is simply underlining or circling students‘ mistakes without providing
correct form or noting the number of errors in the margins of each line (Bitchener
and Knoch, 2008).Indirect feedback is divided into coded and uncoded feedback.
Coded feedback refers to error identification (Lee,2004) that specifies the exact

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location of an error and indicates the type of error with a code or comment right
above or next to the errors underlined or circled. Uncoded feedback refers to errors
that teachers underline or highlight them and leaves for students to identify and use
their knowledge to self -correct such errors.
The effectiveness between direct and indirect feedback became an interesting topic
for linguistic researchers. Ferris and Roberts (2001) show that teachers and students
are interested in direct feedback. According to them, direct feedback helps writers
reduce the type of confusion when they fail to remember the feedback they have
received and deal with complex errors from the information provided by teacher.
Ferris (2002) continued to point out that direct feedback gives learners right
answers and learners, especially those with low level feel it less threatening. The
result from different strategies on both text revisions and new pieces of writing
show that more correct revisions with direct feedback rather than indirect feedback.
However, Hedge (2000) noted that providing direct feedback could make learners
neglect their role in correcting errors process and become passive.
On the contrary, indirect feedback was considered to be the most effective method
to improve student‘ accuracy in subsequent writing. Lalande(1982) compared two
groups: one provided direct feedback and the other receiving indirect feedback. The
result indicates that the group with indirect feedback had shown more accuracy in
writing after six month-course. In the article named ‖Treatment of error in second
language student writing‖, Ferris (2002) stated that indirect feedback helped
students know clearly about their responsibility in error correction and be able to
improve their long-term writing accuracy.
3.2. Feedback on content
Feedback on content consists mainly of comments written by teachers on drafts that
usually point out problems and offer suggestions for improvements on future
rewrites. It is the way teacher gives comments or suggestions by praising (for
encouraging students such as ― You are doing great ! ‖, ―I know you can do it‖) or

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criticizing (pointing out places students lack on their writing such as ―Not enough
words!‖,‖ I want to see a second draft next Monday‖) or suggesting (giving
constructive advice to students to improve the flow of their writing, such as ― ―You
should describe her appearance more detail!‖ in order to improve the following
areas: Creativity, coherence, paragraphing, and organization. Content feedback
focuses more on content quality and organizational features in students'
composition. The students got feedback in a dialogic fashion on the content of their
writing through comments, questions, or both. No explicit or consistent attempt was
made to handle the student‘s grammatical errors (Kepner,1991; Semke,1984).
Besides feedback on grammatical errors, a number of studies showed that feedback
on the contents of a student‘s writing has noticeable improvement. Semke (1984)
conducted a research with 141 students to investigate the effect of four methods of
teacher treatment of free writing assignment.She found that the students who
received only comment on their writing, showed more progress than the groups
which received error correction.Semke‘s findings showed that grammar correction
does not improve writing skill, nor does it increase total competency in the
language. It is obvious to say that the students who received feedback on content
made improvement in their writing skills. Students who received feedback on
grammatical errors, naturally, made improvement in

their grammar only.

According to Semke, the main focus of writing is not grammar, it is how to express
ideas in writing.
Kepner (1991) carried out a study to find out the most helpful type of teacher
written feedback in second language writing. He compared a group receiving only
error correction and a group receiving feedback on content. Like Semke, the result
of the study showed that the group receiving feedback on content performed better
than the group receiving only error correction. However, Kepner just point out that
feedback on content is one of alternatives to make students improve their writing
skill.

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Fathman and Whalley (1990) conducted a study to support the idea that both
grammar correction and feedback on content in students‘ writing are necessary. In
their research, the students who received both grammar correction and feedback on
content in their composition showed the improvement in their grammar accuracy
and more than 70 percent of students improved the content of their writing.
Whereas the students getting only feedback on content had progress in writing
grades; however, their grammar errors still existed. It is true that students have their
own choice of preference on how they like to receive feedback. In brief, the
argument on the types of feedback and their role in student‘ composition never
come to one conclusion.
In conclusion, the impact of a teacher‘s feedback, whether given feedback is
positive or negative, on a student‘ writing has been still argued by many
researchers.
4. Students’ perceptions of teacher written feedback
4.1. Definition of attitude
―Attitude‖ has been defined as a hypothetical construct used to explain the direction
and persistence of human behavior (Backer,1992). From an operational point of
view, Child (1973: 253) defines it as a term ―generally reserved for an opinion
which represents a person‘s overall inclination towards an object, idea or
institution‖. In practical terms, then an ―attitude‖ is a construct derived from
subjects‘ answers to a number of questions about an object.
As a concept, attitude is subject to all the normal worries of the validity of
instrument used and of the honesty of the subjects‘ answers to the questions.
4.2. Students’ attitudes towards teacher written feedback
4.2.1. Negative attitudes
According to previous studies, teacher‘s feedback is distortive for students to
understand because teachers misunderstanding students‘ contents leave some

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