Academic journal article Modern Journal of Language Teaching Methods

An Investigation into Four Types of Teacher-Written Feedback: Revision within Sociocultural Framework

Academic journal article Modern Journal of Language Teaching Methods

An Investigation into Four Types of Teacher-Written Feedback: Revision within Sociocultural Framework

Article excerpt

1. Introduction

Revision has a long history in the field of composition and has been understood and measured in various ways (Fitzgerald, 1987). It is generally viewed as a process broader than, though including, editing for errors. Several researchers have observed that revision occurs during several stages of writing and planning process (even before a text has been composed) and can operate as a catalyst for writers modifying intentions and plans for writing (Fitzgerald, 1987).

Written feedback enables teachers to complement and individualize classroom instruction and helps students make effective revisions to improve their final written products (Zamel, 1985). Few experts on L2 writing argues against the propositions that written accuracy is important to students in many contexts and that students themselves want and expect feedback on their errors from their teachers (Ferris & Roberts, 2001; Hedgcock & Lefkowitz, 1994; Radecki & Swales, 1988; Truscott, 1996).

Nonetheless, issues surrounding how, and even whether, to give L2 students feedback on their errors continue to be a source of interest and debate among researchers, instructors, and students (Ferris, 1999; Truscott, 1996, 1999). Only a few available studies have explicitly examined differences in accuracy and writing quality between students who have received error feedback and those who have not, and these have reported conflicting results (Kepner, 1991; Polio, Fleck, & Leder, 1998; Semke, 1984).

2. Literature Review

The importance of revision in writing is universally recognized. Experts see the need for student writers to learn how to revise more effectively (Leki, 1992, cited in Sengupta, 2000). Murray (1991, cited in Cameron Horn, 2009) describing the relationship between writing and revision asserts "writing is revising, and the writer's craft is largely a matter of knowing how to discover what you have to say, develop, and clarify it, each requiring the craft of revision" (p. 2).

The main objective of revision is to improve the quality of a text's communication, as well as to clarify a writer's thoughts (McCutchen, Francis, & Kerr, 1997). Revision has been described as an examination, or review, of text that has already been written, followed by modifications in order to align with the writer's original intentions for the writing piece (Temple, et al., 1982, cited in Cameron Horn, 2009).

Revisions can be classified in terms of whether they are oriented towards conceptual, linguistic, or typographic aspects of a text. The major difference between content and language revisions is that content revisions affect meaning significantly, whereas language revisions do not. Content revisions affect the informational content of the text, whereas language revisions involve manipulation of the surface features of the text (Stevenson et al., 2006).

Revisions can also be classified in terms of action, that is, the kind of mechanical operation that the writer carries out in order to make revision. A writer may, for example, make additions or deletions to the text, substitute words or sentences, change the order of words or clauses, or recombine clauses into different syntactic structures (Faigley & Witte, 1981). Revisions can also be classified in terms of domain. For example, a revision can be made to letters within a word, to a word, to a clause, to a paragraph, or even to larger stretches of a text.

The most widely-used method for quantitative measurement of revision was devised by Faigley and Witte (1981) for writers composing in their first language. This complex and detailed method distinguishes between meaning-preserving and meaning-changing revisions. The latter category is further subdivided into micro- and macro-changes, the second making a change to the gist or to a summary of the text. Within these categories, changes are classified as additions, deletions, permutations, substitutions, consolidations, and distributions. …

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