Academic journal article IUP Journal of English Studies

A Comparison of Teacher Feedback versus Students' Joint Feedback on EFL Students' Composition

Academic journal article IUP Journal of English Studies

A Comparison of Teacher Feedback versus Students' Joint Feedback on EFL Students' Composition

Article excerpt

Introduction

Over the past decades, writing pedagogy has shifted from the traditional product-oriented approach to a process-oriented approach (Graham and Sandmel 2011; Lee 2006). In product-oriented writing, the teacher sets students a writing topic and receives the final draft for correction without any intervention in the process of writing. However, process oriented writing approach emphasizes the process of invention and discovery, and collaborative participation of peers. In process writing, the importance of grammar correction is reduced, and the presentation of individual perspectives and meaning making are emphasized. An important component of L2 (second language) writing instruction in process approach is "response to revisions," which includes teacher's or peers' response or feedback to ideas, organization, and style (Hyland 1996). This approach views writing as a dynamic, nonlinear, and recursive process (Leki 1990; Mangelsdorf 1992; Zamel 1985). Peer feedback refers to learners' engagement in the process of sharing and receiving ideas as well as provision of constructive comments and suggestions in order to improve a piece of writing. Part of the great appeal of peer feedback is also derived from its strong foothold in theoretical principles of social interaction and mediation in individual development. Vygotsky (1978) emphasizes that learning is a cognitive activity, changing the focus on learning from individual to the interaction within a social environment. Therefore, peer interaction is vital to improve learning quality since it permits students to construct knowledge through social sharing and interaction.

Although the potential benet of peer feedback for writing development has been supported in several research studies, it was viewed with doubt due to several reasons. A number of studies cautioned that some learners are likely to provide feedback on surface errors and consequently their comments may not help revision. Similarly, Storch (2004) claimed that most peer responses are focused on the product of writing rather than the process, and many learners in L2 settings commented on the micro-level errors (local) rather than the macro-level ones (global). Moreover, in order to provide helpful comments, student reviewers need to possess the necessary skills. As Zue (1995, 517) warns, "We cannot assume that because students work in peer groups, they will automatically engage in and benefit from interaction and negotiation of meaning." Therefore, students need to be trained to acquire the necessary skills in order to do more complicated tasks since they are not considered qualified enough to give helpful comments. Tsui and Ng (2000), in their study on the influence of peer and teacher feedback on the writing of secondary EFL (English as a Foreign Language) learners, found that the teacher is considered as the only source of authority and the one who is qualified to provide suitable comments. However, it is not clear how teacher's comment compares to peer's comment in terms of quality, and whether the latter is, indeed, not as qualified as the former. Against this background, this study is an attempt to examine the comments of teacher and the joint comment of peer reviewers as provided following an intra-feedback session on the EFL students' compositions.

Literature Review

With the arrival of a more social view on teaching and learning of language, Vygotsky's (1978) sociocultural theory of learning has gained significant attention. To implement the sociocultural theory in a learning environment, several techniques have been introduced, from which scaffolding is widely accepted. Numerous teachers are now employing scaffolding techniques in their classrooms. Scaffolding is defined as a "dialogically produced interpsychological process through which learners internalize knowledge they co-construct with more capable peers" (Lantolf and Thorne 2006, 282). For many years, research on scaffolding in the L2 setting has been focused on expert-novice interaction. …

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