Academic journal article International Journal of English Linguistics

The Effect of Student Receptivity to Instructional Feedback on Writing Proficiency among Chinese Speaking English Language Learners

Academic journal article International Journal of English Linguistics

The Effect of Student Receptivity to Instructional Feedback on Writing Proficiency among Chinese Speaking English Language Learners

Article excerpt


The purpose of this research study is to discover the degree to which student acceptance of instructor feedback influences developing writing proficiency among Chinese speaking English Language Learners enrolled in an American middle school. This study was designed as a qualitative case study-an approach using in-depth inductive processes to observe and evaluate the receptivity of eighth-grade students to instructor feedback during an extended unit of instruction covering the five-paragraph essay model.

The principal results in this study show that students who receive timely feedback and are receptive to this feedback become proficient writers, able to pass a Writing Multiple Measurement Assessment (WMMA), contrary to those who are not receptive to feedback.

The author reviews research regarding the importance of structured writing instruction for English Language Learners and tactics writing instructors should consider to strategically provide heeded feedback. This study also recommends practical applications for future research direction.

Keywords: ESL, English Language Learner (ELL) writing teacher, Effective feedback practice, An in-depth inductive approach, Qualitative case study, Five-paragraph essay, Structural writing, Chinese Mandarin speaker

1. Introduction: Student Perceptions and Instructor's Feedback

Writing instruction can be an extremely painful task for students and instructor, if an appropriate learning environment for optimal performance is not in place. An appropriate learning environment must include practical, research-based teaching strategies. This is because writing can expose a student's academic vulnerabilities as no other process-based student activity can (Elbow, 2002). Hunt and Hunt (2004) believe that an effective way of engaging students in writing is to enable them to view this ability as an immediate, responsive mode of communication (Daniels, 2005; Ball and Jarr, 2003). As Macaro says, "Feedback is to a learner what the ballet is to a ballerina" (2003).

1.1 The Overarching Research Question

How does a middle school ELL (English Language Learner) student's reaction to instructor feedback effect individual writing proficiency?

1.2 The Purpose of the Study: To Fill a Research Gap

Although there is a great deal of research on writing instruction feedback strategies, little is written about the use of feedback when teaching the five-paragraph essay (FPE). There is an even greater gap in the research literature on teaching writing to English Language Learners-particularly, Chinese middle school-aged ELL students. Little is known about their reaction to an instructor's feedback in the process of teaching the FPE. My intention with this study is to help fill this gap in the research by presenting observations that can produce effective feedback practices to improve motivation among English learners.

1.3 Overview of the Study's Basic Elements

Of course, educators need to prudently find ways to give appropriate feedback. Notably, the effect of a teacher's reactions, beliefs and feedback on student writing drafts has generated a heated debate (Macaro, 2003). Yet, ultimately, the support ELLs receive along the way matter most. Individual studies by researchers Ferris (2002), Semke (1982), and Kreizman (as cited in Macaro, 2003) all propose essential strategies for feedback within three different aspects. These strategies focus on the ways in which feedback can be presented: direct versus indirect feedback, the content of feedback, and the time frame when feedback is offered (or timely feedback).

This current study used an in-depth, inductive approach to design a qualitative case study of four Chinese-speaking middle school ELLs and their responses to their English teacher's feedback. The specific subject of instruction was the FPE format.

2. Literature Review

Research investigating the use of the five-paragraph essay structure for writing instruction does often view this instructional tool as a structured way for ELLs to organize their thinking. …

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