Academic journal article Journal of College Reading and Learning

The Effect of Audio and Written Teacher Responses on EFL Student Revision

Academic journal article Journal of College Reading and Learning

The Effect of Audio and Written Teacher Responses on EFL Student Revision

Article excerpt

Over the last twenty-five years, the focus of writing instruction has changed from product to process, from seeing students' writing less as a finished product than as a piece of work perfectible through multiple drafting with feedback between drafts (K. Hyland, 2003; K. Hyland & F Hyland, 2006). Whether the process approach to writing instruction per se has brought about positive results in foreign language pedagogy has provoked much controversy, resulting in a thrust towards a more balanced view of process and form (Applebee, 2000; Bromley, 2003). No doubt the process approach has had a major impact on writing research and instruction (K. Hyland, 2003). It continues to be applied in the teaching of English as a foreign language (EFL) because by placing considerable emphasis on revising and responding to writing, it allows teachers and students more meaningful interaction. Process feedback, with its emphasis on the recursive nature of writing, has emerged as an essential component of the approach and has stayed in the forefront of instructional practice.

Review of Literature

Several studies have shown the positive results of teacher feedback. These studies have focused on feedback on form (Ferris, 1997) and content (Fathman & Whalley 1990), others on different means of delivery, such as electronic (Greenfield, 2003; Warschauer, 2002; Williams, 2002) and conferencing (Goldstein & Conrad, 1 990; Patthey-Chavez & Ferris, 1997). Additional research, however, has questioned the effect of teacher feedback on language errors (Goldstein & Conrad, 1990; K. Hyland & F. Hyland, 2006). A few studies have shown no clear signs of improvement of students' writing accuracy after response, so the debate has continued between those who have believed in the effectiveness of corrective feedback on form and those who have not (Guénette, 2007). The most adamant argument against grammar correction came from Truscott (1 999, 2007), whose position has provoked claims for additional research before the controversy over the effectiveness of error correction on learners' ability to write accurately is settled (Ferris, 2004). Still other researchers have not found significant differences on student revision and editing involving the explicitness of teacher response (direct, indirect) or the means used (written, verbal) (Ferris, 1995, 2006; K. Hyland, 2003).

Both a paucity of research on teacher response to student writing and, in some cases, contradictory results, have left many key questions only partially answered (K. Hyland & F. Hyland, 2006). One aspect in particular has remained virtually unexplored: the effect of taped feedback on learners' revisions, hence the need for further research on teacher feedback in EFL contexts.

Purpose of the Study

The present study aimed at contributing to efforts to improve EFL writing by investigating the effects of two different modes of teacher response: written comments on the margins and recorded feedback. Reformulations made by students who did not receive any teacher feedback during the process were also included in the data for analysis.

Context and Rationale of the Study

This study was carried out at the School of Languages, National University of Cordoba, Argentina, where teachers were concerned about students' poor performance in the composition component of their exams. Many explanations could have reasonably accounted for these poor results: overcrowded classrooms, a deficit of student reading and writing strategies, lack of prior knowledge of content and rhetorical structures, or a flaw at some stage of the teaching practice, among others. These considerations led to an examination of the feedback students were receiving and their reactions to it. Teachers annotated students' written assignments by writing observations on the margins or by making general comments at the bottom of students' papers. Remarks concentrated heavily on language use rather than on content and global organization. …

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