Friday, December 2, 2011

Feedback on L2 Writing

The Problem
Have you ever wondered what students are thinking when they see the feedback you give them on their writing, or whether they learn from it?

The Study
Storch and Wigglesworth (2010) examined the efficacy of direct (reformulation) and indirect (editing symbols) feedback and the factors impacting advanced learners’ processing, uptake, and retention. They found the following: (1) Editing symbols prompt learners to engage more deeply than reformulation-type feedback; (2) The more students engage with the feedback, the more likely they are to learn from it; but (3) The learning that results from feedback may depend on the type of errors as well as the learners' beliefs about and attitudes toward the feedback they receive.

The Take-Home Message
There are no hard and fast rules for giving written feedback, but this study indicates that editing symbols may be best for lexical and grammatical errors, while reformulations can be used for mechanical and formatting mistakes. In addition, as teachers, we can help learners build positive beliefs, attitudes, and goals for using the feedback we give them by discussing our feedback choices openly with them.

Article Citation
Storch, N. and Wigglesworth, G. (2010). Learners’ processing, uptake, and retention of corrective feedback on writing. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 32, 303-334.

Entry by Qiandi Liu

Curator's note: There is a rich body of research on written corrective feedback. Those interested in this topic might want to check out Bitchener and Ferris' (2011) book: Written Corrective Feedback in Second Language Acquisition and Writing.