Islamic Azad University
Department of English Language
A Thesis Submitted in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of M.A. in Teaching English as a Foreign Language
The Effect of Corrective Feedback as Scaffolding Technique on EFL Learners’ Writing Skill
Dr. Forouzan Rezaei
Delaram Mahjoubi Asil
Islamic Azad University
Department of English Language
THIS IS TO CERTIFY THAT THE CONTENT, FORMAT AND THE QUALITY OF PRESENTATION OF THE THESIS SUBMITTED BY DELARAM MAHJOUBI ASIL ENTITLED:
THE EFFECT OF CORRECTIVE FEEDBACK AS SCAFFOLDING TECHNIQUE ON EFL LEARNERS’ WRITING SKILL.
AS PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF M.A. IN TEACHING ENGLISH AS A FOREIGN LANGUAGE, ARE ACCEPTED AND APPROVED BY THE DISSERTATION COMMITTEE:
1. Supervisor: Dr. Forouzan Rezaei Signature
2. Examiner: Dr. Signature
Research Vice President:
Signature ………… Date …………….
My dear family
This study had the following aims: (1) to investigate the feedback and teaching practices of L2 essay writing at the Lahijan Azad University through classroom observations; (2) to investigate the effectiveness of a type of written corrective feedback (direct corrective feedback by teacher scaffolding in the form of corrections of errors next to or above the original errors). Through a 12 week teaching the principals of writing essays an conduct experimental study that involved 14 female students receiving treatment, their scores evaluated through pre and posttest. (3) to investigate teachers’ and students’ beliefs about corrective feedback through observation. the study showed that corrective feedback had a significant effect on their essay writings, and students preferred direct corrective to indirect corrective feedback (i.e. they preferred it when their errors were corrected by providing the corrections on their scripts to underlining) and that the teachers and the students valued feedback and believed it was beneficial.
Keyword: Feedback, Corrective feedback, scaffolding, writing skill
This study would not have been possible without the tremendous support and help of many individuals. I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to all of them. My sincerest gratitude goes to my thesis supervisor, Dr. Forouzan Rezaei, for her valuable guidance, support, patience, and providing me with constructive suggestions and advice. She has always been resourceful and dedicated much of her time in guiding me to complete my thesis. I particularly owe my sincere gratitude to my beloved parents for their endless love and support.
Table of Contents
Table of Contents……………………………………………………………………….. iii
List of Tables…………………………………………………………………………… vii
List of Figures………………………………………………………………………….. viii
List of Abbreviations, Acronyms, Blendings, Clippings….……………………………. ix
1.1. Statement of the Problem………………………………………..………………….
1.2. The significance of the Study…………………………………………..……………
1.3.The objective of the study……………………..
1.4. Research Questions….………….…………………………………………………….
1.6. Definitions of Key Terms……………………………………………………………
2.1. Theoretical Framework…………………………………………….
2.2. Corrective feedback……………………………………………………………..…..
2.2.1. Definition of Corrective feedback………………………………………………
2.2.2. The Efficacy of CF…………………..………………………
2.2.3. Choice of Errors to Correct…………………………………………..
2.2.4. Choice of Corrector
2.2.5. Major Types of Corrective Feedback……………………….…………….
184.108.40.206. Focused and unfocused CF……………………..
220.127.116.11.Direct and Indirect CF
2.3.1. Defining Scaffolding………………………………..
2.3.2. Scaffolded CF……………………………..
2.3.3. Scaffolding Writing………………………………….
2.4. Writing Skill………………………………………….
2.4.1. Process of Writing……………………………………………….
2.4.2. Approaches to Learning and Teaching…………………………….
2.4.3. Writing Essays…………………………………
18.104.22.168. Types of Essays ………………………………….
3.1. The Design of the Study…………………………………………………………… 3.2. The Pilot of the Study……………………………………..
3.4. Materials and Instruments…………………………………………………….……..
3.5. Procedures for Data Collection and Analysis………………………………………
4.1. The Results of the Reliability Analyses (Pilot Study)
4.4. Descriptive Statistics for the Pretest Scores
4.5. The Research Questions…………………………………………………………….
DISCUSSION AND PEDAGOGICAL IMPLICATIONS
5.0.Introduction………………………………………………………………………… 5.1. General Discussion…………………………………………………………………
5.2. Pedagogical Implications of the Study…………………………………………….. 5.3. Limitations and Delimitations of the Study…………………………………………
5.4. Suggestions for Further Research………………………………………………….. 5.5. Conclusion…………………………………………………………………………..
List of Tables
List of Figures
List of Abbreviations, Acronyms, Blendings, Clippings
SCT: Sociocultural Theory
ZPD: Zone of Proximal Development
CF: Corrective Feedback
EFL: English as a Foreign Language
In recent years, teachers at all levels of instruction have become more and more interested in how they can support their learners in learning and using forms of written language. One useful technique for this support is scaffolding, a concept which owes much to the work of Vygotsky (1920) whose sociocultural ideology of human learning and development through interaction left a great impact on learning and teaching profession. The Vygotskian Sociocultural Theory (SCT) including language learning, is essentially a socially mediated process in which the learner moves from object/other regulation to self-regulation, the stage when he or she is capable of independent problem- solving (Lantolf, 2000). The proponents of SCT argue that “for intellectual growth to occur, interactions need to operate within the learner’s Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD)” (De Guerrero, M.C.M. and O.S. Villamil, 2000). The concept of scaffolding, however, has originally and typically been associated with the context of oral communication and scaffolding through the medium of writing and there is no doubt that writing is a difficult skill to master and in order to help students be aware of their errors in writing, the teacher should provide appropriate feedback for them. The reaction that a teacher shows the errors is referred to as corrective feedback (CF), which is the central scope of this research. Corrective feedback is the most common strategy used by L2 writing teachers for enhancing their students’ writings and it can be whether direct or indirect. The extent to which CF can play a role in helping L2 writers improve their writing continues to be an issue of interest to researchers and teachers. There is an ample body of evidence which supports the benefits of CF in L2 learning (Nassaji, 2007; Zhang, Zhang, & Ma, 2010). In this case, as Ellis, Sheen, Murakami, and Takashima (2008) found, it is better to give direct CF. Some researchers have argued against error correction in writing (Truscott, 1996, 2007; Zamel, 1985). Additionally, as Erel and Bulut (2007) point out, even if research doesn’t support the effectiveness of CF, “student expectations and teacher responsibilities will compel language teaching programs to find strategies to respond to student writing in some ways” (p. 399). Thus, given the growing evidence in favor of CF provision as well as students’ strong desire for receiving feedback on their written errors, the main question for many researchers and teachers is not so much as to whether CF is effective but rather what type of CF is more beneficial and how it should be given to students (Nassaji, 2007).In an attempt to apply the concept to the context of written error correction, this study proposes ‘scaffolded written CF’ as an innovative error correction technique. The aim of this research is to find out whether or not the use of direct corrective feedback as a scaffolding technique can improve the students’ writing ability.
1.1. Statement of the Problem
Since in learning a foreign language, making an error is an indispensable part of the learning process, finely tuned and pertinent corrective feedback is an important tool for teachers to prevent their learners’ errors from being fossilized and help them progress along their inter-language continuum. Giving relevant feedback based on the mistakes made by a learner has always been a common method for improving learners’ speaking and writing skills. There is no doubt that writing is a difficult skill and teachers need to find other ways of improving the learners writing other than just correcting the errors. In order to help students be aware of their errors; the teacher should provide appropriate feedback for them.
One major issue that has obsessed the scholars’ minds is how to provide students with fruitful feedback, so that it could produce a positive effect on students’ writing processes and best contribute to the improvement of the overall, long-term quality of their writing (e.g., Ferris, 2004; Ferris & Roberts, 2001; Long, 1990; Lyster & Saito, 2010b; Swain, 1985). although providing feedback has been proved to be more effective than no feedback, there are different variables which mediate the effectiveness of corrective Feedback.
In most EFL contexts, language learners are not proficient enough in English, particularly in writing skill. EFL teachers are responsible for aiding students to cope with writing problems by providing helpful feedback on their writing papers. Traditionally, in Iranian EFL context, one of the most commonly practiced error treatment techniques in writing classes has been giving Explicit Feedback (EF). Some of the prior studies have questioned the effectiveness of EFL in improving students’ writing (Robb, Ross, & Shortreed, 1986; Williams, 2003). Corrective feedback (CF) is regarded as a controversial topic when it comes to writing in the L2 classroom. Some researchers have found it to be both meaningless and harmful, while others have researched the effects of different types of CF and found it to be good for language development in several ways. Over the years researchers have examined the effects of different types of CF on adult L2 writers with results that do not necessarily agree with one another. Truscott (1996), who first started this debate, found it to be enormously ineffective and even in some cases harmful, while on the other hand Ferris (1999) argued that CF is highly recommendable and should, therefore, have a natural place in L2 writing classes. Today, most data attests to the value of CF on overall accuracy on L2 students’ texts. Teachers are supposed to help their students learn in the best way they possibly can. This means, among other things, that they sometimes need to provide feedback to help the students see what they have already accomplished and what can be done better (Lightbown & Spada 2006). The teacher must also at all times consider the students’ feelings regarding the feedback so that it does not have a negative effect on their motivation. As with most teaching and learning techniques, it is important to stress consistency in the writing process. Establishing a structured approach that is used for every assigned paper is one way to create independent writers and ensure generalization of writing skills. Differentiating writing instruction for a population of diverse learners may sound difficult; but, it does not have to be. Scaffolding is one process that allows teachers to organize a writing activity systematically to meet the needs of all students. Scaffolding allows the teacher to help students transition from assisted tasks to independent performances (Bliss & Askew, 1996; Bodrova & Leong, 1998; Palincsar, 1998). It is a step-by-step process that provides the learner with sufficient guidance until the process is learned, and then gradually removes the supports in order to transfer the responsibility for completing the task to the
student. For scaffolding to be successful, a foundation or organized procedure must first be developed. The teacher must provide students with the optimal amount of support necessary to complete the task, and then progressively decrease the level of assistance until the student becomes capable of completing the activity independently (Bodrova & Leong, 1998; Elicker, 1995).
1.2. The significance of the Study
One area in language acquisition that has always attracted practitioners is Corrective Feedback (CF). Scholars and practitioners have studied different aspects of error correction such as the type that best fits certain groups of learners,
the time that errors should be taken care of, the type of error that should be addressed, and many more areas. CF has been studied from different perspectives: role of anxiety (see, for example, DeKeyser, 1993), efficiency (see, for example, Lightbown & Spada, 2006; Swain, 1985), obtrusiveness (see, for example, C. J. Doughty,2003; C. Doughty & Varela, 1998; Long, Inagaki, & Ortega,1998), learners’ preferences, and proficiency (see, for example, Mackey & Philp, 1998) just to name a few. What is ostensibly missing from the bulk of research in this realm is an all-inclusive study whereby the effect of all these CF strategies is studied. R. Ellis (2009) also pointed out that no research has been carried out that encompasses all the different types of CF. The researchers, therefore, aimed at finding out which of the CF strategies best serves Iranian English as a Foreign Language (EFL) learners with their writing proficiency, could pave the way for English language teachers to find out the best CF type especially for the essay writing of EFL learners. It can also be conducive to better language performance for the learners should they know what CF strategy best works for them and use scaffolding in EFL writing class through the writing process to find out the effects and improvements of scaffolding on students’ writing. Lots of EFL learners have problems with writing class experience as shown through their meaningfully vague sentences. These mistakes are the result of students’ little understanding of pre-requisite knowledge for writing such as ‘grammar’. In fact, it is not something wise to ask learners to attend all the grammar classes before their revision in writing classes. In addition, writing indicates students’ learning to communicate their ideas and viewpoints in written forms than applying grammatical rules. Moreover, students have difficulties “in getting ideas, organizing ideas and developing details, choosing correct words and structuring ideas incorrect sentences, as well as maintaining paragraph unity” (Graves, 1994 as cited in Laksmi, 2006, pp. 144-145). So, for the sake of solving and helping students’ difficulties in terms of the writing process, the researcher has decided to implement scaffolding students’ writing through the writing process approach. Emig in 1970s began with the view that students who are the writer of the texts can be called as creator or writer of texts. So, they need to have enough experience about what writers do as they write so as to help them to have enough experience in writing skill (Laksmi, 2006, p. 145). Therefore, by introducing the process of writing, the researcher is going to use the technique of “scaffolding” as a means of assisting learners to build up their writing skill. Using a scaffolding technique in the process of EFL students’ writing is a tool of instructors to help learner’s transition from the assisted tasks to independent performances.
1.3. Objective of the Study
The aim of the current study was to find out whether or not the use of direct corrective feedback could improve the students’ writing ability to the second semester of EFL learners in Lahijan Azad University. In this case, the researcher assumed that applying of teacher scaffolding and giving direct corrective feedback as one of ways to overcome the problems of writings faced by the students of this university. In this study, since the major concern is to provide appropriate techniques to expand students’ essay writing, the teacher gave direct corrective feedback for correcting errors made by students in writing tasks to see if this type of feedback leads to more correct revision or no.
1.4. Research Questions
This study aimed to seek answers to the following questions:
1. Does direct corrective feedback as a scaffolding technique have any effect on Iranian EFL learners’ writing skill?
2. Is there any difference in the writing ability of Iranian EFL learners who received different types of corrective feedback?
1.5. Research Hypotheses
Along with the research questions mentioned above, the following hypotheses were formulated:
H01: The direct corrective feedback does not have any effect on Iranian EFL learners’ writing skill.
H02: There is no difference in the writing ability of Iranian EFL learners who received different types of corrective feedback.
1.6. Definitions of Key Terms
Corrective feedback (CF)
Corrective feedback gives either an explicit or an implicit indication to the learner that he or she uses the target language incorrectly (Lightbown & Spada 2006, p. 197). Ellis (2009) identifies six different types of CF (p. 99). However, we will just present the two that are relevant to this study:
• Direct CF: the teacher marks the error and provides the student with the correct form.
• Indirect CF: the teacher indicates that the student has made an error without providing the correct form.
Scaffolding is a concept based on the theory proposed by Lev Vygotsky, known as, ‘Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD)’. It is one of the most popular teaching methods. In this mode of instruction, a teacher helps the student initially, to learn a new concept and offers maximum assistance. Gradually, the teacher sets up newer tasks for the students to perform and apply their knowledge independently. The zone of proximal development literally means the distance between what a student can do on their own and what they can do when assisted by an adult. Scaffolding in education is a strategy in which a knowledgeable person equips the student and provides him with all the information and support to acquire or learn a particular thing.
Writing is a form of communication that allows students to put their feelings and ideas on paper, to organize their knowledge and beliefs into convincing arguments, and to convey meaning through well-constructed text. In its most advanced form, written expression can be as vivid as a work of art.
Writing like listening involves a writer (producer) and a reader (receiver). Writing involves interaction between the writer (encoder) and the reader (decoder). Communicative writing means the use of orthography in order to construct grammatically correct sentences which communicate a meaning to the reader. This skill is consists of four types: Expository, Persuasive, Descriptive and Narrative.
In the scope of corrective feedback, the most central issue is to understand which kinds of CF are more effective. Since correcting L2 students’ written errors is an exhausting and time-consuming activity, the results of this study could shed light on what degree of feedback would be sufficient for learners. A few studies have examined the role of scaffolding in assisting learners to improve their writing. Hence, considerable attention is needed in order to answer the above-mentioned delicate questions. This chapter was introductory and highlighted the importance of Corrective feedback as scaffolding technique in EFL learners’ writing ability. In addition, it considered the characteristics of the direct and indirect CF proposed by some researchers. Then some general problems that EFL learners are frequently encountered were stated clearly followed by significance and purpose of the study. The research questions and hypotheses of this study were clarified. In the end, some key terms were defined. The next chapter will provide an overview of corrective feedback and scaffolding techniques and their sub-branches. The subsequent section of the following chapter will discuss the process of writing, the definition of writing and the main types of its style.
The present chapter gives a historical overview of scaffolded corrective feedback in writing ability. At the outset, a theoretical framework is provided, Then the concept of corrective feedback and different types of it are discussed. Moreover, the definition of scaffolding and the concept of scaffolding in teaching writing and scaffolded corrective feedback are taken into account respectively. In the subsequent section of this chapter, the process and approaches of writing and its definition and styles (Expository, Persuasive, Descriptive, Narrative) are discussed.
2.1. Theoretical Framework
Basically, language is a tool for expressing ideas, minds, opinions, and feelings. In studying English, writing is an essential part of communicating, thinking, and learning. It allows students to express their ideas, to negotiate relationships, to give definition to their thoughts, and to learn about language skills. Therefore, to utilize the language well, students should master all language elements, i.e.: vocabulary, pronunciation, structure, spelling, and the language skills: listening, speaking, writing, and reading. The focus of this research is on writing as one skill in English.
Feedback is one of the teaching techniques that can be used in improving students’ writing ability. In a writing class, it is an efficient way for students having corrective feedback in their writing. Corrective feedback gives information to students and teachers about learning and it can reduce the gap between the student’s current level and expected goal. It is intended to complete an academic task and to achieve their accountability individually. Positive corrective feedback affirms that a learner response to an activity is correct. Gulcat & Ozagac (2004) described that the most important aspect while giving feedback is adopting a positive attitude to students writing.
Arising from the background above, there should be a certain technique as an effective way of teaching writing which allows the students to know their mistakes or errors in their writing and to improve their writing ability. Corrective feedback (CF) has generally been associated with direct and indirect strategies. There is still
a debate on both whether or not CF is helpful and which strategy is more effective.
2.2. Corrective feedback
Feedback is an essential part of education and training programs. It helps learners to maximize their potential at different stages of training, raise their awareness of strengths and areas for improvement, and identify actions to be taken to improve performance.
One major issue that has obsessed the scholars’ minds is how to provide students with fruitful feedback, so that it could produce a positive effect on students’ writing processes and best contribute to the improvement of the overall, long-term quality of their writing (e.g., Ferris, 2004; Ferris & Roberts, 2001; Long, 1990; Lyster & Saito, 2010b; Swain, 1985). In most EFL contexts, language learners are not proficient enough in English, particularly in writing skill. As Soori, Janfaza, and Zamani (2012) state, EFL teachers are responsible for aiding students to cope with writing problems by providing helpful feedback on their writing papers. Traditionally, in Iranian EFL context, one of the most commonly practiced error treatment techniques in writing classes has been giving Explicit Feedback (EF). Some of the prior studies have questioned the effectiveness of EF in improving students’ writing (Robb, Ross, & Shortreed, 1986; Williams, 2003). During the late 1980s and the early 1990s, L2 writing started to change to an interdisciplinary field of inquiry (Matsuda, 2003). According to Richards and Renandya (2002), the problem exists not only in generating and organizing ideas but also in translating these ideas into a well-written text. Being aware of this, English language teachers hope to help students write better, develop useful revision strategies, and think more systematically. Teachers’ comments are essential to a student revising and rewriting his/her composition. Several empirical studies have shown that correction does not significantly decrease the number of student errors (Hendrickson, 1978; Truscott, 1996). Theorists like Krashen (1982) asserted that correction hinders acquisition since it encourages the learners to avoid difficult structures and to focus on form (FonF) rather than on meaning and that correction inhibits communication in the classroom. Kepner (1991) also remarked that error feedback by the teacher is not effective for developing accuracy in L2 student writing. Furthermore, Fazio (as cited in Storch, 2010) claimed that error correction not only fails to help students improve their written accuracy but also inherently damages students’ writing competence.
On the other hand, some researchers provided empirical evidence supporting the positive effects of error feedback. Ferris (2004) argued that Truscott did not consider some positive research evidence on the effects of grammar correction. He stated that error treatment is an essential component of L2 writing instruction. In the same vein, Ferris (2004) concluded that it was necessary for teachers to correct students’ errors because it had a motivating effect on the students. There are many different terms in calling this technique, such as corrective feedback, error correction, and negative evidence (Karim & Nassaji, 2013). It doesn’t matter which term is used since they share the same objective which is to inform students that errors do exist in their written work, and it needs a correction. The better-known teacher corrective feedback is teacher written feedback. This type of feedback is provided by a teacher by means of writing their comments, correction of errors, etc. on students’ pieces of writing. Praise can also enhance students’ motivation and a good relationship between teachers and students in a writing class. Apart from teacher feedback in the written form, teacher oral feedback also plays an important role in students’ writing improvement. This type of feedback can be done to a whole class to discuss errors made by most of the students. It can also be done personally between a teacher and one student in a one-to-one conference. Previous studies (Cepni, 2016; William, 2003) indicate that oral feedback makes corrective feedback given by a teacher more effective because it gives an opportunity to both teachers and students to clarify there. In addition, Hamidun et al (2012) mention that oral praise can be given to students to boost up their confidence in writing. In summary, teacher corrective feedback can be given either directly or indirectly, and it can be written or oral. In most research studies, oral feedback is normally employed along with the written one to assure that students understand what teachers would like to communicate with them. As pointed out by Bitchener et al. (2005), exposing students to both oral and written corrective feedback can yield the most effective results.
2.2.1. Defining corrective feedback (CF)
Feedback can be positive or negative. Positive feedback affirms that a learned response to an activity is correct. It may signal the veracity of the content of a learner utterance or the linguistic correctness of the utterance. In pedagogical theory, positive feedback is viewed as important because it provides effective support to the learner and fosters motivation to continue learning. Negative feedback signals, in one way or another, that the learner’s utterance lacks veracity or is linguistically deviant. In other words, it is corrective in intent. Language educators have paid careful attention to corrective feedback (CF), but they have frequently disagreed about whether to correct errors, what errors to correct, how to correct them, and when to correct them (see, for example, Hendrickson, 1978 and Hyland & Hyland, 2006). Corrective feedback constitutes one type of negative feedback. It takes the form of a response to a learner utterance containing a linguistic error. The response is an other-initiated repair and can consist of (1) an indication that an error has been committed, (2) provision of the correct target language form, (3) metalinguistic information about the nature of the error, or any
combination of these (Ellis, Loewen, & Erlam, 2006).
There are various terms used in identifying errors and providing corrective feedback. The most common terms are error correction, evidence, and corrective feedback. Error correction can be defined as strategies used by a teacher or more advanced learner to correct errors in learners’ language production (Schmidt & Richards, 2002). Providing feedback is often seen as one of the most important tasks of EFL writing teachers. Many teachers feel that they have done justice to students’ efforts if they write substantial comments on their papers to justify the grade they have given and to covey that they have considered the effort. Similarly, many students see their teacher’s feedback as crucial to their improvement as writers (Richards,2004). After the Second World War, foreign language teaching gained unprecedented momentum and contrastive analysis became the basis of teaching a foreign language. Materials were designed in a way to ensure that, as far as possible, learners’ speaking and writing performances were error-free. The occurrence of errors was considered as an evil sign of teachers’ inadequacy Teaching techniques and deficiency in learning (Corder,1982).
Error analysis emerged as a reaction to the view of second language Learning proposed by contrastive analysis theory which saw language transfer as the central process of language learning. Error analysis aims to account for learners’ performance in terms of the cognitive processes that learners go through in reorganizing the input they receive from the target language. Thus, a more positive attitude was developed towards learners’ errors. Learners use their errors to get feedback from the environment and in turn, they use that feedback to test and modify their hypotheses about the target language; therefore, learners profit from their errors (Keshavarz,1994).
In the 1960s and 1970s, researches gave rise to the hypothesis that language learning should start first with comprehension and later proceed to production. This is the way an infant acquires its first language. Krashen (1982) proposed the input hypothesis, that the learners progress in their knowledge of the language when they comprehend language input that is slightly more advanced than their current level. Krashen called this level of input “i+1”, where “i” is the learner’s interlanguage and “+1” is the next stage of language acquisition. According to Cook (2003), the idea was that learning would proceed without explanation or correction of errors, but simply by exposure to meaningful input. Error correction was seen as unnecessary, counterproductive, and even harmful.
Schmidt (1990: as cited in R. Ellis et al.,2009), in his noticing hypothesis, Introduces noticing as the linguistic equivalent of attention. Noticing is a cognitive activity that is employed by language learners when they consciously attend to a linguistic structure in the input. When conscious attention to the linguistic form is considered facilitative to or even a prerequisite for interlanguage development, corrective feedback can be expected to support the second language acquisition process. Corrective feedback can be considered as a cognitive focusing device for learner attention. It enables learners to notice the gaps between their own output and the target language input (i.e., the feedback provided).In written corrective feedback, learners have enough time to compare their output with the corrective feedback they receive, which increases the likelihood of learners’ noticing gaps in their interlanguage (Beuningen, 2010).
Corrective feedback (CF) has always been a challenging issue for foreign language learners and teachers since the effectiveness of various types of CF is questioned by proponents of different approaches to foreign language teaching which makes it difficult for the teachers to decide when and how to correct students. Some theories and researchers claim that providing any type of correction for foreign language learners is not effective and causes anxiety among learners. They claim that learners’ mistakes will take care of themselves as long as they are provided with enough target language input. This may be right for kids learning a second language in the classroom or outside of the classroom. However, it may not be the same for adult foreign language learners who have different perceptions of making mistakes, preferences, and knowledge of the world than kids do. Most adult foreign language learners may clearly ask their teacher to correct them when they make a mistake. Some learners may ask their teacher for implicit error correction while others may ask to correct them on the spot. The latter group might be afraid they will repeat the incorrect language form over and over until it is automatized and then it may take them more time to correct it than learning it correctly on the first place. These learners usually take their time to think first and then speak which can cause some long pauses in the speech. On the other hand, there are some foreign language learners who are not afraid of making mistakes and they may speak fluently, but native speakers may not understand or misunderstand them due to a large number of mistakes they make in the target language. They will continue making the same mistakes even after they hear the correct form repeatedly from the native or proficient speakers.
Based on the above scenarios, it is apparent that foreign language learners do need to be provided with CF, but it is necessary to identify what type of corrective feedback, how often and how it should be provided. It is important to remember that explicit CF increases accuracy while slows down learners fluency. Now it is the language teacher’s job to use a variety of different types of corrective feedback to help learners in areas they need more help. If a student needs to improve their fluency, the teacher should decrease explicit CF and provide more implicit CF, but s/he may need to provide explicit feedback if a student is making the same mistake over and over which hinders understanding or causes misunderstanding.
Scholars and practitioners have studied different aspects of error correction such as the type that best fits certain groups of learners, the time that errors should be taken care of, the type of error that should be addressed, and many more areas.
What is ostensibly missing from the bulk of research in this realm is an all-inclusive study whereby the effect of all these CF strategies is studied. Ellis (2009) also pointed out that no research has been carried out that encompasses all the different types of CF:
There is an obvious need for carefully designed experimental studies to further investigate the effects of written CF in general and of different types of CF. This typology . . . is based on the type of CF . . . making systematic research possible to examine the effect of distinct types and combinations of CF. (p. 106)
2.2.2.The efficacy of CF
The value attributed to CF in language pedagogy varies according to the tenets of
different methods. Thus, in audiolingualism “negative assessment is to be avoided as far as possible since it functions as ‘punishment’ and may inhibit or discourage learning,” whereas in humanistic methods “assessment should be positive or non-judgmental” in order to “promote a positive self-image of the learner as a person and language learner,” and in skill-learning theory “the learner needs feedback on how well he or she is doing” (Ur, 1996, p. 243). However, in the post-method era, language teaching methodologists are less inclined to be so prescriptive about CF, acknowledging the cognitive contribution it can make while also issuing warnings about the potential affective damage it can do. Ur recognized that “there is certainly a place for correction” but claimed, “we should not over-estimate this contribution” (because it often fails to eliminate errors) and concluded that she would rather invest time in avoiding errors than in correcting them—a position that accords with a behaviorist view of language learning. Other methodologists, however, distinguish between “accuracy” and “fluency” work and argue that CF has a place in the former but not in the latter. Harmer (1983), for example, argued that when students are engaged in a communicative activity, the teacher should not intervene by “telling students that they are making mistakes, insisting on accuracy and asking for repetition” (p. 44). This is a view that is reflected in teachers’ own opinions about CF. Harmer’s advice has the merit of acknowledging that CF needs to be viewed as a contextual rather than as a monolithic phenomenon. The above comments pertain to oral CF. But similar differences in opinion exist where written CF is concerned, as is evident in the debate between Truscott and Ferris (Truscott, 1996, 1999, 2007; Ferris, 1999). Truscott, reflecting the views of teachers who adhere to process theories of writing, advanced the strong claim that correcting learners’ errors in a written composition may enable them to eliminate the errors in a subsequent draft but has no effect on grammatical accuracy in a new piece of writing (i.e., it does not result in acquisition). Ferris disputed this claim, arguing that it was not possible to dismiss correction in general as it depended on the quality of the correction—in other words if the correction was clear and consistent it would work for acquisition. Truscott replied by claiming that Ferris failed to cite any evidence in support of her contention. To correct or not to correct written errors, then, remains contentious, although a number of recent studies (e.g., Sheen, 2007; Ellis, Sheen, Murakami, & Takashima, 2008) have produced evidence to show that written CF can result in the acquisition. Reviewing literature relating to this controversy, Hyland, and Hyland (2006) commented: “it is difficult to draw any clear conclusions and generalizations from the literature as a result of varied populations, treatments and research designs” (p. 84), implying that contextual factors influence the extent to which CF is effective.
Krashen (1982) called error correction “a serious mistake” (p. 74). He offered two main reasons for this view. First, “error correction has the immediate effect of putting the student on the defensive” (p. 75) with the result that the learner seeks to eliminate mistakes by avoiding the use of complex constructions. Second, error correction only assists the development of “learned knowledge” and plays no role in “acquired knowledge.” However, Krashen felt that error correction directed at simple and portable rules, such as third person –s, was of value because it would enable learners to monitor their production when the conditions allowed (i.e., the learner was focused on form and had sufficient time to access learned knowledge). There is increasing evidence that CF can assist learning (see, for example, Ellis, Loewen, & Erlam, 2006; Bitchener, Young, & Cameron, 2005), and current research has switched from addressing whether CF works to examining what kind works best.
2.2.3.Choice of errors to correct
There are two separate issues here: (1) which specific errors should be corrected and (2) whether CF should be unfocused (i.e., address all or most of the errors learners commit) or focused (i.e., address just one or two error types).
Various proposals have been advanced regarding which errors to correct. Corder(1967) distinguished “errors” and “mistakes.” An error takes place as a result of lack of knowledge (i.e., it represents a gap in competence). A mistake is a performance phenomenon, reflecting processing failures that arise as a result of competing plans, memory limitations, and lack of automaticity. Burt (1975) suggested that teachers should focus on “global” rather than “local errors.” Global errors are errors that affect the overall sentence organization. Examples are the wrong word order, missing or wrongly placed sentence connectors, and syntactic overgeneralizations. Local errors are errors that affect single elements in a sentence (for example, errors in morphology or grammatical functors). Krashen (1982), argued that CF should be limited to features that are simple and portable (i.e., “rules of thumb”). Ferris (1999) similarly suggested that written CF is directed at “treatable errors” (i.e., errors relating to features that occur in “a patterned, rule-governed way” (p. 6). Others, including myself (Ellis 1993), have suggested that CF is directed at marked grammatical features or features that learners have shown they have problems with.
In fact, none of these proposals are easy to implement in practice. The distinction between an “error” and a “mistake” is nothing like as clear-cut as Corder made out. The gravity of an error is to a very considerable extent a matter of personal opinion. Vann, Meyer, and Lorenz (1984), for example, found that some teachers were inclined to view all errors as equally serious” an error is an error.” There is no widely accepted theory of grammatical complexity to help teachers (or researchers) decide which rules are simple and portable or to determine which features are marked. Hard-pressed teachers often do not have the time to ascertain which features are problematic. Even if the careful selection of errors to target were possible in written correction, it would be well-nigh impossible in on-line oral correction. Selection is more possible regarding the second issue relating to the choice of errors to correct. Methodologists generally advise teachers to focus attention on a few error types rather than try to address all the errors learners make (see, for example, Harmer, 1983, and Ur, 1996). Recent studies (Bitchener, Young, & Cameron, 2005; Sheen 2007; Ellis et al., 2008) have shown that when written CF is “focused” it is effective in promoting acquisition. These studies suggest that Truscott’s opinions about the inefficacy of written CF, in general, may be wrong. SLA studies of oral CF have increasingly investigated focused as opposed to unfocused correction with plenty of evidence of its efficacy.
2.2.4.Choice of corrector
Teachers are often advised to give students the opportunity to self-correct and, if that fails, to invite other students to perform the correction (e.g., Hedge, 2000). Such advice can be seen as part and parcel of the western educational ideology of learner-centeredness. Motivated by theories that place a premium on learner output as opposed to input, researchers have also examined whether self-correction is both possible and beneficial. Some CF strategies automatically place the burden of correction on the learner—for example, signaling an error by means of a clarification request or by simply repeating the erroneous utterance. In the case of written CF, “indirect correction” (e.g., indicating the presence of an error without supplying the correct form or using an error-coding system to signal the general category of an error) constitutes a half-way house—the teacher takes on some responsibility for correcting but leaves it up to the individual student to make the actual correction. There is evidence to suggest that prodding the learner to self-correct is effective in promoting acquisition (e.g., Lyster, 2004; Ferris, 2006).
There are, however, a number of problems with learner self-correction. First, typically prefer the teacher to do the correction for them. Second, and more importantly, learners can only self-correct if they possess the necessary linguistic knowledge. That is, in Corer’s terms, they can correct their “mistakes” but not their “errors.” Other (typically teacher) correction will be necessary to enable learners to identify forms that are not yet part of the interlanguage. Third, although output-prompting CF strategies signal that there is some kind of problem with the learner’s utterance, they do not make it clear that the problem is a linguistic one (as opposed to just a communicative one).
Thus, there are clear grounds (theoretical and practical) for encouraging self-correction, but this will not always be possible, as indeed methodologists such as Hedge acknowledge. This presents teachers that push the learner to self-correct or provide the correction directly themselves. One solution sometimes advocated this problem is to conduct CF as a two-stage process: first encourage self-correction and then, if that fails, provide the correction. This was the approach adopted by Doughty and Varela (1998). They responded to learner errors by first repeating the learner utterance highlighting the error by means of emphatic stress and, then, if the learner failed to correct, reformulating the utterance.
2.2.5. Major types of Corrective feedback
CF on L2 learners’ writing can take many different forms. Methodologies of written error correction may vary, for example, with respect to their explicitness, their focus, the person providing the feedback, the feedback medium, and so on. The two dichotomies which have been receiving the lion’s share of researchers’ attention are that between focused and unfocused CF, and the contrast between direct and indirect CF. The following is a synopsis of the different positions that have been advanced in the literature concerning the relative effectiveness of these different CF types.
22.214.171.124. Focused and unfocused CF
The focused-unfocused dichotomy refers to the comprehensiveness of correction
methodologies. The unfocused (or comprehensive) approach involves correction of all errors in a learner’s text, irrespective of their error category. Focused (or selective) CF, on the other hand, targets a (number of) specific linguistic feature(s) only (e.g. errors in the use of English articles). Errors outside the focus domain are left uncorrected. Different predictions have been made with respect to the relative effectiveness of focused and unfocused CF. Ellis et al. (2008), for example, claimed that there are theoretical reasons for expecting the focused approach to be more beneficial to accuracy development than unfocused CF. They stated that learners are more likely to notice and understand corrections when they target a specific (set of) error type(s). The idea that noticing and understanding are essential for acquisition (e.g. Schmidt, 1994; Ellis, 2005).
Focused CF has greater potential to impact accuracy development. Sheen (2007) and Bitchener (2008) furthermore argued that unfocused CF may not be the most effective correction method because L2 learners have a limited processing capacity. They claimed that asking learners to deal with CF which targets a broad range of linguistic features at the same time might produce a cognitive overload, and prohibit feedback processing.
126.96.36.199. Direct and indirect CF
The second much discussed contrast is that between direct and indirect error correction. The main factor distinguishing these two types of CF is the learner’s involvement in the correction process.
Various hypotheses considering the relative effectiveness of direct and indirect CF have been put forward, some in favour of direct error correction, others supporting the indirect approach. On the one hand, it has been suggested that learners will benefit more from indirect CF because they have to engage in a more profound form of language processing when they are self-editing their writing (e.g. Ferris, 1995; Lalande, 1982). In this view, the value of the indirect approach lies in the fact that it “requires pupils to engage in guided learning and problem solving and, as a result, promotes the type of reflection that is more likely to foster long-term acquisition” (Bitchener & Knoch, 2008, p. 415). Advocates of direct CF (e.g. Chandler, 2003), on the other hand, have claimed that the indirect approach might fail because indirect CF provides learners with insufficient information to resolve complex errors (e.g. syntactic errors). Chandler (2003) furthermore argued that, whereas direct CF enables learners to instantly internalize the correct form as
provided by their teacher, learners whose errors are corrected indirectly do not know if their own hypothesized corrections are indeed accurate. This delay in access to the target form might level out the potential advantage of the additional cognitive effort associated with indirect CF. Additionally, Bitchener and Knoch (2010) suggested that only direct CF offers learners the kind of explicit information that is needed for testing hypotheses about the target language.
There are different classifications for CF strategies proposed by different researchers (Burke & Pieterick, 2010; R. Ellis, 2009; Lyster & Ranta, 1997). However, these classifications differ in essence. Lyster and Ranta’s (1997) classification that encompasses six different categories, namely: clarification request, explicit feedback, recasts, metalinguistic feedback, elicitation, and repetition is mainly used for learners’ oral productions, although with a little modification, it could also be used for learners’ writing activities. A little modification should be exerted because a technique like elicitation in which the teacher might pause and suggest an erroneous part in the speaker’s performance is not possible in written form. The teacher should, thus, resort to an offline way of correcting rather than an online one, when the learners immediately get feedback.
Among all, the classification put forward by R. Ellis (2009) best serves the purpose
of this research in that the focus in this research was writing and how and whether it could be improved via the different CF strategies. Ellis’s classification encompasses six major categories, namely: direct, indirect, metalinguistic, focused/unfocused, electronic, and reformulation.
According to Ferris (2006), this could be done by adding or omitting some words to form the correct form. This type of feedback could best work with elementary learners. However, teachers will have to spend a lot of time correcting the learners’ papers (Ferris & Roberts, 2001). Direct feedback is a strategy of providing feedback to students to help them correct their errors by providing the correct linguistic form or linguistic structure of the target language. Direct feedback is usually given by teachers, upon noticing a grammatical mistake, by providing the correct answer or the expected response above or near the linguistic or grammatical error (Bitchener et al., 2005; Ferris, 2003a). Direct feedback may be done in various ways such as by striking out an incorrect or unnecessary word, phrase, or morpheme; inserting a missing or expected word, phrase, or morpheme; and by providing the correct linguistic form above or near the erroneous form (Ellis, 2008; Ferris, 2006), usually above it or in the margin. Direct feedback has the advantage that it provides explicit information about the correct form (Ellis, 2008). Lee (2003) adds that direct feedback may be appropriate for beginner students, or in a situation when errors are ‘untreatable’ that are not susceptible to self-correction such as sentence structure and word choice, and when teachers want to direct student attention to error patterns that require student correction. Conversely, in the indirect CF, the teacher indicates where the error exists by underlining or specifying the location of the error. Indirect feedback is a strategy of providing feedback commonly used by teachers to help students correct their errors by indicating an error without providing the correct form (Ferris & Roberts, 2001). Indirect feedback takes place when teachers only provide indications which in some way makes students aware that an error exists but they do not provide the students with the correction. In doing so, teachers can provide general clues regarding the location and nature or type of an error by providing an underline, a circle, a code, a mark, or a highlight on the error, and ask the students to correct the error themselves (Lee, 2008; O’Sullivan & Chambers, 2006).
Through indirect feedback, students are cognitively challenged to reflect upon the
clues given by the teacher, who acts as a ‘reflective agent’ (Pollard, 1990) providing meaningful and appropriate guidance to students’ cognitive structuring skills arising from students’ prior experience. Students can then relate these clues to the context where an error exists, determine the area of the error, and correct the
error based on their informed knowledge. Indeed, facilitating students with indirect
feedback to discover the correct form can be very instructive to students (Lalande, 1982). It increases students’ engagement and attention to forms and allows them to
problem-solve which many researchers agree to be beneficial for long-term learning improvement. This kind of feedback is advantageous to the direct form in that the learners spend more time trying to figure out what is wrong, hence, more processing time. In other words, this will allow more reflection on the kind of error the learner has; thus, there will more cognitive processing. Metalinguistic feedback could take one of two forms: use of error coding or a brief grammatical description. In the former type, the teacher writes some codes in the margin to suggest what problems learners have. Of course, the learners will have a list of the codes to avoid confusion. However, in the second type of metalinguistic feedback, the teacher numbers the errors and briefly provides a brief explanation for the error at the end of the text. The next type of feedback according to. Ellis (2009) depends on the focus of the feedback. As the name suggests in unfocused feedback, the scope of correction is unrestrained and the teacher could correct all extant errors, be it grammatical, lexical, sociolinguistic, or the like, but in focused CF, the teacher only focuses on what he or she has taught and ignores the rest of the errors. The processing time of errors in unfocused CF strategy might be overwhelming for the learners because the teacher pinpoints all errors. The last two types of CF strategies are electronic feedback and reformulation, which are not as common as the ones mentioned earlier. In electronic feedback, learners use electronic software. Use of an electronic corpus like concordancing can give learners the feedback they need. Reformulation as the last CF type in Ellis’s classification is a kind of feedback in which the teacher reconstructs the inaccurate part to make it more natural. In reformulation, the whole idea is to retain the original meaning but to reshape the form to make it more native-like. A range of studies has investigated whether certain types of written corrective feedback or combinations of different types are more effective than others. These studies have most often categorized feedback as either direct (explicit) or indirect (implicit).
A taxonomy of CF strategies
Input-providing Recast Explicit correction
Clarification request Metalinguistic explanation
Ellis, R. (2009). Corrective Feedback and Teacher Development. L2 Journal, Volume 1, 8
Corrective feedback strategies
Corrective feedback Definition Example
1. Recast The corrector incorporates L: I went there two times.
the content words of the T: You’ve been. You’ve
immediately preceding been there twice as a
incorrect utterance and group?
changes and corrects the
utterance in some way
2. Repetition The corrector repeats the L: I will showed you.
learner utterance T: I will SHOWED you.
highlighting the error by L: I’ll show you.
means of emphatic stress
3. Clarification request The corrector indicates L: What do you spend with
that he/she has not your wife?
understood what the
4. Explicit correction The corrector indicates an L: On May.
error has been committed, T: Not on May, In May.
identifies the error and We say, “It will start in
provides the correction. May.”
5. Elicitation The corrector repeats part L: I’ll come if it will not
of the learner utterance but rain.
not the erroneous part and T: I’ll come if it ……?
uses rising intonation to
signal the learner should
6. Paralinguistic signal The corrector uses a L: Yesterday I go cinema.
gesture or facial T: (gestures with right
expression to indicate that forefinger over left
the learner has made an shoulder to indicate past)
Ellis, R. (2009). Corrective Feedback and Teacher Development. L2 Journal, Volume 1, 9
The teacher has to select both the particular strategy to use in response to a learner error and the specific linguistic devices for realizing that strategy. This calls for considerable pragmatic and pragmalinguistic competence, and it is likely that teachers respond intuitively to particular errors committed by individual students rather than knowingly in accordance with some predetermined error-correction policy. This may explain two general characteristics of teachers’ error correction practices—they are imprecise and inconsistent. Imprecision is evident in the fact that teachers use the same overt behavior (e.g., “repetition”) both to indicate that an error has been made and to reinforce a correct response (Lyster, 1998). Nystrom (1983) commented that “teachers typically are unable to sort through the feedback options available to them and arrive at an appropriate response.” Inconsistency arises when teachers respond variably to the same error made by different students in the same class, correcting some students and ignoring others. Such inconsistency is not necessarily detrimental, however, for, as Allwright (1975) has pointed out, it may reflect teachers’ attempts to cater for individual differences among the students. Teacher educators have been understandably reluctant to prescribe or proscribe the strategies that teachers should use. In part, this is because they are uncertain as to which strategies are the effective ones. But it also almost certainly reflects their recognition that the process of correcting errors is a complex one involving a number of competing factors. The approach adopted by questions for teachers’ to consider and then to offer answers based on her own practical teaching experience. On the other hand, SLA researchers, armed with theory, have not been slow to advocate one or another CF strategy. Long (2006) has made the case for using recasts. This is based on the argument that recasts provide learners with the correct target forms, that they do so in a context that establishes form-meaning connections, and that they are non-intrusive (i.e., do not interfere with the flow of communication which Long sees as important for acquisition). Other researchers, however, have been less enthusiastic about recasts. Seedhouse (1997, 2004), reviewing data from a number of descriptive studies, reported that in general teachers were reluctant to utilize unmitigated, direct repair strategies, preferring instead indirect ones such as recasts (a finding echoed in a number of other studies). He suggested that this reflected the pedagogical advice that teachers receive (i.e., use indirect strategies to avoid embarrassing students) and argued that, in fact, given the interactional organization of the L2 classroom and the expectations that result from this. Lyster (1998, 2004) also weighed in against recasts on the grounds that they were often ambiguous (i.e., learners had difficulty in determining when they were corrective and when they were not) and maintained that output-prompting strategies were preferable because they enabled learners to increase control over linguistic forms that they had partially acquired.
The disagreements regarding the relative efficacy of different CF strategies have
motivated a number of experimental studies. Russell and Spada (2006) conducted a metaanalysis of studies that have investigated the effects of different CF strategies on the acquisition. This analysis demonstrated that CF is effective in promoting acquisition (the mean effect size for the fifteen studies they included in their analysis was 1.16), but they were unable to reach any conclusion regarding the relative effectiveness of different strategies due to insufficient studies meeting the requirements of a meta-analysis. However, in a more traditional narrative survey of the research, Ellis, Loewen, and Erlam (2006) concluded that (1) both types of CF, implicit and explicit, assist acquisition and (2) explicit CF is generally more effective than implicit. Their own study of the effects of recasts and metalinguistic explanation on the acquisition of past tense –ed supported (2); that is, metalinguistic explanation proved more effective. Other recent studies on oral CF (e.g., Lyster, 2004; Ammar & Spada, 2006) have shown that output-prompting strategies are more effective than recasts (an input-prompting strategy). These studies suggest that it might be possible to identify those oral CF strategies that are generally the most effective, but caveats will inevitably arise as to whether they will prove the most effective with all learners in all contexts. In the case of written CF, there is as yet no clear evidence as to which of the three major types of strategies (direct, indirect, or metalinguistic) is the most effective.
The Vygotskian Sociocultural theory, which has recently gained considerable momentum, views learning, including language learning, as a socially and interactionally mediated process, in which the learner proceeds from object/other regulation to self-regulation, a stage when the learner become capable of independent problem solving (Lantolf, 2000). The proponents of the theory, however, argue that not all interactional and regulatory encounters could promote learning or development, maintaining that “for intellectual growth to occur, interactions need to operate within the learner’s zone of proximal development (ZPD) (De Guerrero & Villamil, 2000, p. 52). Assistance or other regulation within a learner’s ZPD is referred to as scaffolding (Mitchel ; Myles, 2004). It is a dialogic process in which an expert (e.g. a teacher) assists a novice (e.g. a student) in solving a problem that he or she cannot solve alone (Ellis, 2003). Ellis and Barkhuizen (2005) point to three mechanisms involved in scaffolded assistance: 1 graduation (help is given gradually from implicit to explicit until an appropriate level is reached), 2 contingency (help should be given only when it is needed and stopped as soon as it becomes clear that the learner is able to tackle the problem in question independently), and 3 ongoing assessment of the learner’s need and abilities and adjusting of help to fit these. Scaffolding allows the teacher to help students transition from assisted tasks to independent performances (Bliss & Askew, 1996; Bodrova & Leong, 1998; Palincsar, 1998). It is a step-by-step process that provides the learner with sufficient guidance until the process is learned, and then gradually removes the supports in order to transfer the responsibility for completing the task to the student.
2.3.1.Defining scaffolding :
The underlying idea for learning scaffolding is relatively old. Most people trace the concept to Lev Vygotsky’s (1978) idea of the “zone of proximal development.” Vygotsky believed that a learner’s developmental level consisted of two parts: the “actual developmental level” and the “potential developmental level.” The zone of proximal development, then, is “the distance between the actual developmental level as determined by independent problem solving and the level of potential development as determined through problem-solving under adult guidance, or in collaboration with more capable peers” (p. 86). In Vygotsky’s words, the zone of proximal development “awakens a variety of internal developmental processes that are able to operate only when the child is interacting with people in his environment” (p. 90).
The zone of proximal development can also be described as the difference between what a learner can do independently and what can be accomplished with the help of a “more knowledgeable other.” This concept is critical for understanding how to scaffold learning. The more knowledgeable other, who can be an adult or a peer, share knowledge with the learner to bridge the gap between what is known and what is not known. When the learner has expanded her knowledge, the actual developmental level has been increased and the zone of proximal development has shifted upward. In other words, the zone of proximal development is ever changing as the learner validates and extends knowledge. This process is what led Vygotsky to write: “Through others, we become ourselves” (Rieber, 1998, p. 170).
But Vygotsky did not use the term scaffold or scaffolding. The term scaffold, as applied to learn situations, comes from Wood, Bruner, and Ross (1976), who define it as a process “that enables a child or novice to solve a task or achieve a goal that would be beyond his unassisted efforts” (p. 90). As they note, scaffolds require the adult’s “controlling those elements of the task that are initially beyond the learner’s capability, thus permitting him to concentrate upon and complete only those elements that are within his range of competence” (p. 90). Like scaffolds that hold a building in place as it’s constructed, “scaffolding is actually a bridge used to build upon what students already know to arrive at something they do not know. If scaffolding is properly administered, it will act as an enabler, not as a disabler”. According to Greenfield (1999), The scaffold, as it is known in building construction, has five characteristics: it provides a support; it functions as a tool; it extends the range of the worker; it allows a worker to accomplish a task not otherwise possible, and it is used to selectively aid the worker where needed. (p. 118)
Dixon (1993) remind us that effective scaffolds must be “gradually dismantled” in order to remain effective (p. 100). However, if scaffolds are dismantled too quickly, learning does not occur and the learner becomes frustrated in the process. The activities provided in scaffolding instruction are just beyond the level of what the learner can do alone. The more capable other provides the scaffolds so that the learner can accomplish (with assistance) the tasks that he or she could otherwise not complete, thus helping the learner through the ZPD (Bransford, Brown, & Cocking, 2000).
Vygotsky defined scaffolding instruction as the “role of teachers and others in supporting the learner’s development and providing support structures to get to that next stage or level. An important aspect of scaffolding instruction is that the scaffolds are temporary. As the learner’s abilities increase the scaffolding provided by the more knowledgeable other is progressively withdrawn. Finally, the learner is able to complete the task or master the concepts independently. Therefore the goal of the educator when using the scaffolding teaching strategy is for the student to become an independent and self-regulating learner and problem solver. As the learner’s knowledge and learning competency increases, the educator gradually reduces the supports provided (Ellis, Larkin, Worthington). According to Vygotsky, the external scaffolds provided by the educator can be removed because the learner has developed “…more sophisticated cognitive systems, related to fields of learning such as mathematics or language, the system of knowledge itself becomes part of the scaffold or social support for the new learning.
Over the past decades, there has been an increasing interest in exploring the notion of scaffolding in the process of students’ learning. This has been due to the fact that educators’ attention has shifted to the quality of adult or knowledgeable peer interventions on students’ learning. Vygotsky’s (1978) Socio-Cultural Theory (SCT) emphasizes the influence of culture, peers, and adults on the children and other learners’ linguistic and cognitive development. That is, central to SCT is the idea that higher form of thinking and acquiring certain skills are shaped by social interaction among participants involved in the learning task within the learners’ ZPD and through scaffolding assistance. SCT and its related components of ZPD and scaffolding have become an appealing and important frame in educational contexts and particularly in L2 studies. Clark and Graves (2004, pp. 571-572) argue, “The way that scaffolding is implemented in the classroom depends on students’ abilities. Varying levels of support are possible, and the more complex a task is, the more support students will need to accomplish it”. They also emphasize, “What makes scaffolding so effective is that it enables a teacher to keep a task whole, while students learn to understand and manage the parts, and presents the learner with just the right challenge” (Clark & Graves, 2004, p. 571). As such, they encourage teachers to add scaffolding to their instructional repertoire. Because scaffolding is a highly flexible and adoptable model of instruction that supports students as they acquire basic skills and higher order processes, it allows for explicit instruction within authentic contexts of reading and writing and enables teachers to differentiate instruction for students of diverse needs. Due to the momentum that negotiation and collaboration have gathered in recent years, a number of researchers have conducted studies on the extent to which negotiated feedback can contribute to the acquisition of L2 rules. The bulk of these studies, however, have addressed the effect of negotiation on students’ oral performance. Lyster and Ranta’s (1997) study on the effect of form negotiation (carried out through four feedback types of elicitation, metalinguistic clues, clarification requests, and repetition) revealed the effectiveness of this technique in generating student repair.
A few studies have examined the role of scaffolding in assisting learners to improve their writing. Aljaafreh and Lantolf (1994) examined the effect of negotiated CF on three L2 learners’ written errors, using a twelve-level ‘Regulatory Scale’ which provided help to the learner from the most implicit to the most explicit. They found that the amount of scaffolding provided by the teacher to the learner decreased (i.e. the teacher’s help became implicit over time), as they gained control over the L2. This study, too, showed positive effects of feedback given within the learners’ ZPD. Nassaji (2007) conducted a study on the effect of the degree of negotiation on L2 students’ writing, comparing three groups of students receiving extended negotiated feedback, limited negotiated feedback, and non-negotiated feedback. The results showed that feedback involving extended and limited negotiation resulted in significantly more correction than the feedback involving non-negotiation; however, the difference between the feedback with extended negotiation and that with limited negotiation was not significant.
Whereas studies on scaffolding are mostly concentrated on teacher-student interactions, in the field of second language research, as Storch (2007) states, scaffolding can also occur in peer interaction, when learners work in small groups or pairs. Donato (1994) explored the notion of “mutual scaffolding” to show that intervention among learners can also be as effective as an intervention among teacher and students. However, the results of the studies in this area are conflicting to some extent. Tudge (1999), for example, examined peer interaction from a Vygotskyan perspective concerning both the outcomes and processes of collaboration. While the findings of the study provided some support for the Vygotskyan position, in that less competent children could indeed benefit from working with a more competent peer in arriving at shared meaning or intersubjective understanding in the course of the discussion. De Guerrero and Villamil’s (2000) conducted a study on peer-scaffolding in ESL writing classroom to observe the mechanisms by which strategies of revision take shape and develop in the inner psychological space created when two learners are working in their respective ZPDs.
They concluded that revision skills in the L2 writing class, as it occurs in mediated peer interaction, is not, of course, a smooth, linear process of development toward L2 norms but an irregular and dynamic movement entailing the possibility of regression, creativity, and progress. Storch (2007) also investigated the merits of pair work on a text editing task in ESL classes. Analysis of the edited texts showed that there were no significant differences between the accuracy of tasks completed individually and those completed in pairs. Storch concluded that although pair work on a grammar-focused task may not lead to greater accuracy in completing the task, pair work provides learners with opportunities to use the second language for a range of functions, and in turn for language learning. While previous research has contributed a lot to the knowledge base on teacher and peers scaffolding topic, more research is needed in other contexts to investigate the effect of teacher- vs. peer-scaffolding on students’ writing in a second or foreign language.
Differentiating writing instruction for a population of diverse learners may sound difficult; but, it does not have to be. Scaffolding is one process that allows teachers to organize a writing activity systematically to meet the needs of all students. There are four steps of scaffolding writing:
Step 1: Setting context and building the field
Students’ ability to use their existing linguistic and cultural resources can be maximized by ensuring that they have meaningful ideas to write about. Therefore, the writing process should start with a focus on content: how to build up the information about the topic the students will write about. Knowledge of the topic is essential for both factual and narrative texts. Writers need to gather new information and structure their prior knowledge and experiences. At this step, it may be relevant to encourage students with L1 literacy backgrounds to draw upon this resource to help them locate, evaluate and analyze information. Key vocabulary related to the topic needs to be collected and activated.
Step 2: Modeling and deconstructing the genre
This step aims to build students’ knowledge of the focus genre. Students should become familiar with the social purpose, organization and language features of the genre. With the help of good model texts, the key features can be highlighted: How is the text structured? How is it sequenced (e.g. logically or in time?) What tense is typically used? What is typical of the vocabulary used? What are the special characteristics of the language used (e.g. typical linguistic constructions)?
Step 3. Practicing through collaborative writing
At this step, the teacher and students write a piece of text on the chosen genre together. In this teacher – guided collaborative task, it is important to discuss the relevance of content, structure, and language during the process of writing. The teacher’s role is to help students to reshape the wording to follow the conventions related to the genre in question. This step is important in terms of demonstrating both the process and the product of writing. Students see that writing is a continuous process of rereading,
revising and rewriting the text. The final text is not developed the first time.
Step 4. Practicing independent writing
As students have developed knowledge of the topic and genre and experienced the process of writing a text representing the chosen genre, they should now be able to write a text independently. The teacher’s role during this step is to encourage students to make use of the models used in earlier phases, show their initial drafts to each other, to give and receive feedback and to support individual students as
necessary. By using a writing frame student begins to gain familiarity with form and language relevant to a particular curriculum context, so that s/he can gradually use language appropriately to write independently.
The way teachers interact with students affects students’ achievement. Scaffolding and more specifically contingent support represent intervening in such a way that the learner can succeed at the task (Mattanah et al. 2005). Contingent support continually provides learners with problems of controlled complexity; it makes the task manageable at any time. Scaffolding is widely considered to be an essential element of effective teaching, and all teachers—to a greater or lesser extent—almost certainly use various forms of instructional scaffolding in their teaching. In addition, scaffolding is often used to bridge learning gaps—i.e., the difference between what students have learned and what they are expected to know and be able to do at a certain point in their education. One of the main goals of scaffolding is to reduce the negative emotions and self-perceptions that students may experience when they get frustrated, intimidated, or discouraged when attempting a difficult task without the assistance, direction, or understanding they need to complete it.
2.4. Writing skill
Good writing skills are essential for effective communication. The better you write, the more easily readers will understand you. Learning to write well takes time and practice. It has been agreed that writing is a means of communication made possible through graphics symbols, arranged according to certain conventions to form words which in turn are arranged to form sentences. The sentences are logically and grammatically connected to form a piece of writing.
Writing like listening involves a writer (producer) and a reader (receiver). Writing involves interaction between the writer (encoder) and the reader (decoder). Communicative writing means the use of orthography in order to construct grammatically correct sentences which communicate a meaning to the reader.
Smith suggests that both writers and readers must respect the writing conventions in order for communication to take place. Writing has its conventions for spelling, for punctuation, for grammar, for paraphrasing and capitalization. There is more than one convention for arranging words grammatically and meaningfully into sentences and conventions about how sentences themselves are interrelated. Thus an effective piece of the writing requests a number of things including the graphic systems of the language.
For a natural piece of writing coherence and cohesion are also extremely important features. Coherence is the thread or the theme of the writing that keeps the text together and cohesion is part of the system of the language, expressed partly in grammar ad partly through vocabulary. Cohesion is also expressed in other features such as punctuation and intonation. In everyday conversation, we make all kinds of points or assertions in written form. To communicate clearly and effectively we need to learn, practice and apply writing skills. During the process, we may discover that we have a positive attitude about writing. However, even if we have mixed or negative feelings, we are probably now more aware of the fact. Such awareness can be a vital first step in changing attitude. Always be sure to limit the point that starts a paragraph. If you do not limit your point, you may have to write a book to support the point adequately. Like words, sentences should also be made specific, making indefinite writing into lively image filled writing.
2.4.1.Process of Writing
As with most teaching and learning techniques, it is important to stress consistency in the writing process. Establishing a structured approach that is used for every assigned paper is one way to create independent writers and ensure generalization of writing skills. A typical writing process consists of steps. Essentially, it is a method used by teachers to lead students from random thoughts to a cohesive, written paper. The basic writing process for the purpose of this packet includes six steps: brainstorming, outline, rough draft, evaluation, final draft, and publishing.
Step 1: Brainstorming
Brainstorming suggests a haphazard approach to getting thoughts out of the mind and onto some type of canvas (e.g., chalkboard, overhead, worksheet). Brainstorming can be and should be guided by the teacher before students are expected to complete this step independently. Graphic organizers, such as a web, map, or frame (Ellis, 2000), are relatively simple devices that can be used to guide this step.
Step 2: Outline
The outline is used to further organize the thoughts revealed in the Brainstorming step. Teacher-generated and later, co-constructed outlines allow students to visualize the different topics and paragraphs within the paper.
Step 3: Rough Draft
Beginning to write, you discover what you have to write about.
The transition between outline and the rough draft is a relatively small step. A solid outline visually identifies the sections of the paper so students can transfer the isolated sentences or details into flowing paragraphs.
Step 4: Evaluation
The evaluation step includes peer and teacher proofing as well as editing. The teacher provides a list of questions and instructions that are both general (e.g., spelling, grammar) and specific (e.g., number of paragraphs, sentence length) that guides the evaluator through this stage of the process. The writer uses the evaluation feedback to make corrections as necessary.
Step 5: Final Draft
After the suggestions from the evaluator(s) are considered, the student proceeds to the final draft. The final draft is usually a handwritten copy that the student submits for a grade. (Note: It may be necessary to require some or all students to review the corrections with the teacher before proceeding to this stage.)
Step 6: Publishing
This is considered an optional stage for the writing process. The students should be
encouraged to produce some type of creative product that enhances the written work. This step incorporates technology, art, music, drama, and the like into the lesson and may provide an incentive for completing the writing task.
Writing is an extremely complex undertaking with a number of operations such as generating ideas, planning and outlining, drafting, revising etc. At any time a line can be erased, a page threw away, and even sometimes everything that has been written can be changed, added to, and deleted from and put into a completely different order. Writing is thus viewed as a series of overlapping and interacting process.
2.4.2.Approaches to Learning and Teaching Writing
Instructing writing has seen various methodologies and strategies crossing its way since the early eighties. This focus has moved from sentence structure and language structure drills to use and content organization. Its comprehension and use are to a great extent esteemed in each discipline, each of which requires a particular technique for teaching. Instructors in the first place, understudies then, have ended up mindful of the way that written work takes specific customary structures in various connections. Thus, an extraordinary number of methodologies and strategies for educating have turned out. Albeit none of these methodologies can be considered perfect, they have all turned out to be fruitful in some period. The prompt result is that today there are a few methodologies which are contending in writing classrooms and in course books.
188.8.131.52. The Controlled-to-Free Method
In the 1950s and 1960s, when the Audio-lingual methodology won, written work was instructed just to fortify discourse. It was trusted that the mastery of grammatical guidelines could prompt that of the foreign language, particularly in its spoken structure. This conviction empowered the educating of language structure in the time distributed to writing. It was in such conditions that the technique known as a controlled-to-free rose. It comprises basically in furnishing the understudies with bits of writing, This kind of activity makes the learners write often and gives them the chance to create their own compositions without oversights on the grounds that their preparations are entirely controlled. The movement from controlled-to-free writing task takes place step by step as the instructor’s direction diminishes steadily from the first activity to the last.
184.108.40.206. The Free-Writing Approach
The Free-writing Approach is basically in view of the conviction that when we compose uninhibitedly and every now and again, we enhance our capacity in that language expertise. It is of two sorts: when it is focused, it answers an inquiry or a topic proposed by the understudy himself. The educator’s impedance is exceptionally restricted in light of the fact that he gives his directions toward the start of the activity and permits the understudies to compose freely. In fact, when the educator peruses the understudies’ compositions, he remarks on the thoughts communicated in the piece without revising the oversights. At the point when free-writing work is unfocused, it turns into an individual action which comprises in scribbling down on paper any thought that comes to mind. Some of the time, we acquire short passages, yet for the most part, the understudies produce incongruous non-unified pieces.
220.127.116.11. The Power Writing Approach
The origin of this methodology moves back to 1989 when J. E. Flashes (1989) of the University of Southern California distributed his book entitled “Power Writing”. He examined numerous verifiable scholars from Aristotle to present authors and reasoned that every one of these creators exhibited a principle thought and bolstered it with proper points of interest. From this perception, J.E. Flashes built up the idea of “Power Writing”, a technique for composing which allocates numerical qualities to principle thought, major and minor subtle elements. One of the parts of Power Writing as introduced initially is a strategy for straightforward passage development called the “Powergraph”. This strategy incorporates a recipe for composing passages, as well as helps understudies in the distinguishing proof of principle thought and supporting points of interest.
18.104.22.168.The Product-Oriented Approach
Comprehensively, a product-oriented methodology, as the title demonstrates, is concerned with the last consequence of the composition procedure. It offers priority to classroom exercises which require the learner to be occupied with mimicking and changing model writings. It means, the product approach has its beginning in the conventions of rhetoric and centers its study on model writings keeping in mind the end goal to make understudies aware of the text elements. It comprises investigating the understudies’ writing keeping in mind the end goal to distinguish and measure their qualities and shortcomings. It is obvious that when such a methodology is received, it prompts precision. Indeed, it endeavors to make the student acquainted with the traditions of composing through a model, before he gets his last draft.
22.214.171.124. The Process Approach
The previous forty-five years acquired noteworthy changes in composing research and in the ways to deal with instructing composing. Earliest work in the teaching of composing depended on the thought of controlled or guided creation. In the 1960s, notwithstanding, educators started to feel that controlled piece was insufficient. Until the 1970s, most investigations of composing were about the composed item. Amid this decade, the center moved from product to process, and the primary purpose behind this change was the new mindfulness that every bit of composing had its own history and took after its own formative way. The process methodology was not, in any case, all around acknowledged by instructors with writers. The goal of the process approach is to make the understudy mindful of, and increase control over, the psychological techniques required in writing. It works at the level of the individual’s particular needs.
126.96.36.199. The Genre Approach
Since the 1980s, the ‘genre approach’ to instructing composition has occurred under various structures in various parts of the world. It has had diverse fundamental objectives and also centered around various educating circumstances. The essential rule that underlies the genre-based methodology is that language is utilitarian; it is through language that we accomplish certain objectives. Another vital part of this perspective is the one that considers language to be happening specifically cultural and social connections, and subsequently, can’t be comprehended outside its setting. Specific classes are utilized to satisfy specific social capacities in specific settings. language, then, is not to be isolated from the cultural and social connection in which it shows up. The goal of receiving a genre approach is to empower understudies to utilize proper registers which are essential for them.
Writing is a significant way of expressing thought and ideas; however, it is still believed to be difficult for the majority of ESL/EFL students as they have to go through difficult processes of learning how to write in their second/foreign language. An essay is a piece of writing, usually from an author’s personal point of view. Essays are non-fictional but often subjective; while expository, they can also include narrative. The writer of an essay is trying to tell the truth, not merely entertain. Essays can be literary criticism, political manifestos, learned arguments, observations of daily life, recollections, and reflections of the author. Crews define an essay as “a fairly brief piece of nonfiction that tries to make a point in an interesting way”.
In addition to different topics, when generating the writing prompt, test designers may opt between different genres: the narrative, descriptive, expository and argumentative genres are those most commonly mentioned. Writing argumentative and expository text is more cognitively demanding than writing narrative and descriptive text (Weigle, 2002). Because of its relevance in academic discourse, the argumentative genre has been one of the most favored genres in writing an assessment.
188.8.131.52.Types of Essays
1.Narrative Essays: Telling a Story
In a narrative essay, the writer tells a story about a real-life experience. While telling a story may sound easy to do, the narrative essay challenges students to think and write about themselves. When writing a narrative essay, writers should try to involve the reader by making the story as vivid as possible. The fact that narrative essays are usually written in the first person helps engage the reader. “I” sentences give readers a feeling of being part of the story. A well-crafted narrative essay will also build towards drawing a conclusion or making a personal statement.
The skills needed to narrate a story well are not entirely the same as the skills needed to write a good essay. Some wonderful short fiction writers are not particularly good essayists and vice versa. Still, it is useful to look at those elements that make up a good narrative and know how to apply what we learn toward making our essays as dramatic as possible whenever that is appropriate.
In writing a narrative essay, your purpose is not to merely tell an interesting story but to show your readers the importance and influence the experience has had on you.
2.Descriptive Essays: Painting a Picture
A cousin of the narrative essay, a descriptive essay paints a picture with words. A writer might describe a person, place, object, or even a memory of special significance. However, this type of essay is not a description for description’s sake. The descriptive essay strives to communicate a deeper meaning through the description. In a descriptive essay, the writer should show, not tell, through the use of colorful words and sensory details. The best descriptive essays appeal to the reader’s emotions, with a result that is highly evocative. Writers must let nouns and verbs do the work of description. With nouns, readers will see; with verbs, they will feel. A descriptive essay allows a reader to understand the essay’s subject using illustrative language.
3.Expository Essays: Just the Facts
The expository essay is a genre of essay that requires the student to investigate an idea, evaluate evidence, expound on the idea, and set forth an argument concerning that idea in a clear and concise manner. It is an informative piece of writing that presents a balanced analysis of a topic. In an expository essay, the writer explains or defines a topic, using facts, statistics, and examples. Expository writing encompasses a wide range of essay variations, such as the comparison and contrast essay, the cause and effect essay, and the “how to” or process essay. Because expository essays are based on facts and not personal feelings, writers don’t reveal their emotions or write in the first person. This genre is commonly assigned as a tool for classroom evaluation and is often found in various exam formats. An expository essay does have certain baseline requirements that are standard in nearly every essay type:
? A clear thesis or controlling idea that establishes and sustains your focus.
? An opening paragraph that introduces the thesis.
? Body paragraphs that use specific evidence to illustrate your informative or analytic points.
? Smooth transitions that connect the ideas of adjoining paragraphs in specific, interesting ways.
? A conclusion that emphasizes your central idea without being repetitive.
4.Argumentative/ Persuasive Essays: Convince Me
While like an expository essay in its presentation of facts, the goal of the persuasive essay is to convince the reader to accept the writer’s point of view or recommendation. The writer must build a case using facts and logic, as well as examples, expert opinion, and sound reasoning. The writer should present all sides of the argument but must be able to communicate clearly and without equivocation why a certain position is correct.
Academically, written argumentation helps students acquire knowledge promotes scientific thinking skills and enhances comprehension of history and social studies. Furthermore, written argumentation can lead to an increase in intrinsic motivation and problem-solving performance in the academic setting.
This form of essay writing requires the writer to draw upon his or her knowledge of argumentative discourse and create sub-goals related to supporting a thesis (Scardamalia & Bereiter, 1986).
This chapter began by developing a theoretical framework regarding corrective feedback, its definition and controversies regarding its direct and indirect types. The literature review of CF and also different types of it were presented. Furthermore, the definition of scaffolding and its importance as teaching strategies and scaffolding in writing were clarified. In the end, writing skill and its processes and approaches to learning and teaching, writing essays and its styles were analyzed. The following chapter will give a clear explanation regarding the design of the study, participants, materials, and procedures for data collection and analysis.
In the previous chapter, the relevant literature regarding the dependent and independent variables of this study was reviewed. The present chapter discusses the related methodology utilized in order to collect data in considerable detail. The objective of this chapter is to investigate the effect of direct corrective feedback as a scaffolding technique in EFL learners’ essay writing. This chapter gives a clear and detailed explanation as to the design of the study, participants, materials, and procedures for collecting and analyzing the data respectively.
3.1. The Design of the Study
The aim of this research is to find out whether or not the use of direct corrective feedback as a scaffolding technique could improve the students’ essay writing. This technique is an effective way of teaching writing which allows the students to know their mistakes or errors in their writing. In this case, by applying direct corrective feedback, the present study employs a type of experimental. A pretest was administered to the participants of the experimental group. Then, the participants of the experimental groups received instruction for appropriate writing for 12 sessions, that the teacher gave direct corrective feedback to their writing.
At the end of the treatment, a posttest was administered to measure and analyze the effectiveness of the treatments in the experimental groups. The design of the present study has been illustrated in Figure 3.1.
Pretest of Essay Writing
treatment with teacher scaffolded direct corrective feedback
Posttest of Essay Writing
Figure 3.1. the design of the study
3.2.pilot of the study
The participants’ pieces of writing were evaluated and scored by two raters for assessing inter-rater reliability. To estimate the inter-rater reliability of the test, we calculated the correlation coefficient between the two raters. Table 1.3 depicts the resulting inter-rater reliability indices.
INTER-RATER RELIABILITY INDICES
CM test R2
CM test R1
Note. R1= first rater; R2= second rater.
** p < 0.1.
The test is shown to have very high reliability, which is statistically significant at level of significance.
The content validity of the instruments was assured by a panel of experts.
The study was conducted with a sample of 14 female intermediate-level EFL learners, with the age range of 20 to 30, studying English language and in their essay writing class in Azad University of Lahijan, Iran. The participants as an experimental group after taking a pretest on essay writing received 12-session treatment in the form of direct corrective feedback by their instructor followed by a posttest after one academic semester.
3.4. Materials and Instruments
This study adopted a quantitative research method. This is because this kind of research is the standard experimental method used by many researchers. From the series of treatment conducted in the classroom, the researcher can test the result gained meaningfully and allow the researcher to narrow down the possible directions in future use and finally lead to a final answer. This approach can benefit this study because the score computed using the obligatory occurrence would be presented using statistical descriptive based on percentage and mean. Since this study aimed to measure the effects of direct corrective feedback that influences the noticing on students’ writing. Quantitative research would be the design for it as it was controlled with a predetermined structure. Like other quantitative studies, the data was collected through a series of tests and this resulted accurate and numerical in findings. From this view, the researcher could compare the experimentation of using direct corrective feedback on the essays writing, and the main data gathering instruments in this study were students' writing papers, holding a total score of 10 each. The participants wrote seven essays during the semester, one essay as a pretest, five essays corrective feedback on writing thesis statements, introduction, body paragraphs and conclusion as treatment.
De Larios, Murphy and Mar`in (2002) provide a detailed discussion of this issue. They present different approaches to collecting representative samples of second language writing. They say:
"there is considerable debate about what constitutes a representative sampling of second language writing, whether brief tasks or students’ written samples collected during a period of time."
Obtaining writing samples can reveal students' levels of English at the beginning of the experiment and help to track their improvement at the end of the experiment. This was mainly done by conducting a pre-test and a post-test, following Bitchener et al. (2005) and Bitchener and Knoch (2009b). The group in the experiment were given a pre-test in writing at the beginning of the academic semester. All students, in no less than 200 words, write an essay on the problems of university students. They were given 30 minutes to write the essay.
3.4.2 Treatment: Teaching and Feedback Procedure
A group of 14 students who wrote 7 essays in 12 weeks. This group as an experimental group was given the type of treatment, which was direct corrective feedback. Every essay the students wrote, was corrected directly with a red pen. The essays were given back to the students and handed in again.
Over one semester, the teacher taught all the required of writing in an essay class. Students were reminded at the beginning of the writing process of the importance of grammar, vocabulary, organization and writing mechanics. They were received feedback on their writing. This was done by correcting students' writing, as direct written corrective feedback on their scripts. The teacher initiated a general discussion on major writing errors and give examples and explanations on the board. The scripts would be collected at the end of the task and would be returned to the students with feedback on them the following lesson.
Students at the end of the experiment were given a post-test. The same process was followed when conducting the post-test as in the pre-test. The students had to produce an essay of around 200-250 words in 30 minutes. The topic, however, differed from that of the pre-test: The difficulties of learning English as a foreign language. The marks were calculated only by focusing on students' errors in their thesis statement essays writing. Marks gathered then were computed to find meaning. A pretest was administered before the treatments to consider the initial differences existing among the groups with respect to their ability in writing an essay. Like other essays, its structure consists of three parts: introduction, body, and conclusion.
The aim of this test was analyzing the effectiveness of CF that participants received during the treatment.
3.5. Procedures for Data Collection and Analysis
At the outset, a group of 14 female intermediate level students doing their fifth academic semester at a university within the age range of 20-30, were asked to write an essay on a topic determined by the teacher. This group was considered the experimental group. The allowed time for the pretest was 30 minutes. The scores ranged from 5 to 4 out of 10 and the mean was obtained to be 1.42. The courses lasted for 12 sessions, three hours a week.
After carrying out the treatments, a posttest was given to the participants in order to scrutinize the results and to measure the progress from pretest to posttest and the effectiveness of the treatments on the experimental group. Furthermore, the Wilcoxon Signed Rank Test was run to compare the means of these groups from pretest to posttest.
In this chapter, the researcher explained the methodology of the present study. All the crucial information needed to conduct the practical phase of the study was outlined. At the outset, the design of the study was described. The design of the study included using a pretest to examine the knowledge of the participants, treatments for the two experimental group, and a posttest which was administered. Then, the characteristics of the participants of this study, the materials that were used, and the procedures for collecting and analyzing data were discussed in details. The next chapter will describe the data analyses procedures run in this study and will report the findings attained from the statistical analyses.
This study looked into inspecting the possible effects of direct corrective feedback as a scaffolding technique on Iranian EFL learners' writing essays. Descriptive statistics were run to the results of their writings by accomplishing the specific treatment to the experimental group. The marks were collected from the pretest and posttest. Wilcoxon Signed Rank Test was used to inspect the possible differences among the students in terms of their writing essays ability. After instructing the determined treatments to the experimental groups, a posttest of an essay was directed to this group. To supply an answer for the research questions, the Wilcoxon Signed Rank Test was run to the results of the posttest of the writings. The analysis of variance for the dependent variable was employed to check if this type of corrective feedback had any effect on the participants' writing ability.
4.1. Data Analysis and Findings
To answer the question of the study 14 female intermediate-level EFL learners participated in this study. The findings of the study were analyzed on the basis of the mentioned statistical methods in chapter three.
4.1.1. Descriptive Analysis of Data
This section focuses on the descriptive analysis of the obtained data in this study. Such analysis was done by using the SPSS software. Since the design of this study is one group pretest posttest design the descriptive analysis of it is shown in Table (4.1)
Table 4.1. Descriptive statistic results of the pre and posttest of the writing
N Mean Rank Sum of Ranks
pre – post Negative Ranks 14a 7.50 105.00
Positive Ranks 0b .00 .00
The purpose of this study was to find out the effects of direct corrective feedback as a scaffolding technique on Iranian EFL learners' writing essays. In this regard, the mean scores of students’ performance was calculated in order to observe the probable change in students’ performance before and after the instruction. As you can see in Table 4.1. sum of ranks was (105.00). which indicates the positive effect of treatment.
4.1.2. Inferential Analysis of Data
Since the writings were evaluated and scored by two raters the inter-rater reliability was calculated. The results obtained from this statistical test are summarized in table (4.2).
Table 4.2. Inter-rater reliability
Rater 1 Scores Rater 2 scores
Rater 1 Scores Pearson Correlation 1 .962**
Sig. (2-tailed) .000
N 14 14
Rater 2 scores Pearson Correlation .962** 1
Sig. (2-tailed) .000
N 14 14
As it is evident from Table (4.2), there is no significant difference between two raters’ judgment (Sig.2-tailed=.000).
In order to probe whether the treatment given to the experimental group had made any significant change within this group and to see if the students in this group had performed significantly differently on the posttest compared with the pretest, the writing pretest and posttest scores of the experimental and control groups were compared by using Wilcoxon Signed Ranks Test.
Table 4.3. Wilcoxon Signed Ranks Test
pre – post
Asymp. Sig. (2-tailed) .001
a. Wilcoxon Signed Ranks Test
b. Based on positive ranks.
The results of data analysis in table (4.3) indicates that there is a statistically significant difference between students’ performance in writing in pretest and posttest. (p-value=0.001). By taking the results of data analysis into account, the hypothesis ” The direct corrective feedback does not have any effect on Iranian EFL learners’ writing skill” is rejected. In other words, direct corrective feedback could play a significant role in enhancing EFL learners’ writing.
4.2. Results of Hypothesis Testing
The current study attempted to answer the following research question. The question will be restated and the answer, based on the findings of the study, will be provided below.
Q: Does direct corrective feedback as a scaffolding technique have any effect on Iranian EFL learners’ writing skill?
The researcher selected direct corrective feedback for teaching writing. According to the results of the analysis shown in Table (4.3), the answer is positive. Direct corrective feedback could influence students’ writing sufficiently and made statistically significant improvement in the students' writing.
Generally, the results of the current study demonstrated that writing ability can be improved by employing direct corrective feedback. Hence, the null hypothesis of the research, i.e., “The direct corrective feedback does not have any effect on Iranian EFL learners’ writing skill” was rejected.
Using the acquired data, in this chapter, the researcher performed the required statistical and analytical processes and evaluated the hypothesis of the study in two forms of both descriptive and inferential analyses. The results were interpreted. The outcome of the study revealed that the null hypothesis of the study was rejected and it was confirmed that direct corrective feedback was an effective way of improving writing.
DISCUSSION AND PEDAGOGICAL IMPLICATIONS
The purpose of the current chapter is to summarize the study that was carried out. It starts with a general discussion in which the research questions and hypotheses are restated along with a short account of the findings and results of the current study and more importantly, the findings of this study are compared with the relevant literature. Furthermore, the pedagogical implications of the current study for different stakeholders in educational settings are proposed. Some limitations put on for this study are expressed. It ends with some suggestions for further research and other studies in this field.
5.1. General Discussion
The salient point of this study clarified was to analyze. At the outset, this study tried to find out answers to the following questions:
1. Does direct corrective feedback as a scaffolding technique have any effect on Iranian EFL learners’ writing skill?
2. Is there any difference in the writing ability of Iranian EFL learners who received different types of corrective feedback
On the basis of the research questions, the following hypotheses were formulated:
H01: The direct corrective feedback does not have any effect on Iranian EFL learners’ writing skill.
H02: There is no difference in the writing ability of Iranian EFL learners who received different types of corrective feedback.
Therefore, the null hypotheses of this study were rejected.
Feedback, an inherent part and an important element in the instructional design, has a strong foundation in major learning theories. The practice of instructional design has been influenced by major learning theories such as behavioral learning theory, cognitive information processing theory, and all these theories regard feedback as a crucial part in learning and instruction, including language learning and language instruction.
The findings of the present study are in line with the results of studies concerning direct corrective feedback that has a positive attitude to students writing. Regardless of recent research findings that found evidence in support of written corrective feedback (Bitchener, 2008; Ellis, et al., 2008 ; Ferris, 2012). So the current study clearly indicates that the reduction of errors in students’ writings was, in fact, a result of learning from teacher feedback that they received in treatments and they applied in their writings.
5.2. Pedagogical Implications of the Study
Through observation that I had with an experienced writing teacher who usually applies CF in her teaching essay writing class, I can say that the results of this study can be used to inform ESL/EFL teachers and researchers interested in applying or investigating teacher of direct corrective feedback strategies, including written corrective feedback, as used in this study. The finding that participants in the treatment group in this study in their writings gained, may encourage teachers and researchers in the EFL field to provide corrective feedback with confidence that students' writings can benefit from corrective feedback. The results of this study are in line with Bitchener's (2008) findings who found that direct corrective feedback(DCF) by the teacher seemed to be the best corrective feedback method. She also stated that DCF by the teacher was the most preferable method among the students. According to Bitchener, the reason for the failure of other methods was that self-correction might delay internalizing the correct form. Based on this finding, we could easily jump to the conclusion that Truscott (1996) was not right with other findings when he claimed that the provision of corrective feedback on L2 writing is ineffective. Also the results of this study revealed, in contrast to Hsu (2008) who believe that successful error reduction is not related to learning, there was empirical evidence in this study that teacher written corrective feedback was effective in reducing students’ errors in their essay writings.
5.3. Limitations and Delimitations of the Study
A call for continued feedback is stressed throughout the literature on feedback (Kim ; Mathes, 2001). Some limitations in the implementation of the present study are: The most important limitation which can be associated with this study is its generalizability; that the results may not be generalizable to other essay writing class, since due to the university criteria, random sampling of the participants was impossible, because the number of students were low for sampling and shortage of time during one semester for having different experimental groups; Secondly, it has been suggested that various personality factors may differentially affect the success of corrective feedback (Sheen, 2007), an aspect not considered in this research. A few recommendations for future researchers to ponder on would be: because of the most support the application of CF in improving L2 writers’ accuracy (Van Beuningen, De Jong, Kuiken, 2012;Farid & Samad, 2012; Bitchener, Young & Cameron, 2005; Ellis, Sheen, Murakami & Takashima, 2008 and Ferris & Roberts, 2001). That is the reason why this case study has been conducted to contribute a voice to the existing literature and to examine the effectiveness of CF in learners’ writing development, especially in essay writing.
5.4. Suggestions for Further Research
It is a fact that no research is complete in its own right. The more answers are obtained the more questions will naturally be raised. The domain of feedbacks is too vast to be explored in one single study. It is, therefore, reasonable by suggesting some topics related to future studies.
1. With all the findings of the study described above, further research is recommended in the context of the application of different strategies of teacher corrective feedback in improving ESL/EFL students’ writing in the essay and writing quality in general.
2. Last but not least, the present study used explicit corrective comments approach in providing feedback and was focused on the topic sentence and thesis statement. Also, additional research may be needed in regards to other items or other aspects of writing such as content, organization, vocabulary, or mechanic. This study would help clarify whether the effectiveness of direct corrective feedback comments can be helpful in essay writings or not.
3. Further investigation based on larger corpora from different institutes will contribute to the creation of more reliable research.
4. This research focuses on the writing skill; the others can study the other language skills and language components, such as listening, reading, and speaking.
5. In this research, the researcher did not conduct the learners separately; the investigations based on observation case study.
6. The focus of the current research was on the EFL learners, so the other researchers can turn their attention to the ESL learners for new information.
In relation to the scaffolding writing, this is due to the fact, that using writing process with teacher’s scaffolding techniques in teaching writing skill provides a better basis for enhancing the students to write a good and an academic piece of writing in English compared to the students that only get knowledge about writing process without practically practicing it and without teacher’s scaffolding.
Practicing writing process practically with teacher’s scaffolding provides learners with the practice and skills necessary to write a good piece of writing accurately, meaningfully and appropriately.
Students, who previously struggled to write, now have a growing awareness of how to gather information and use it in their writing confidently and Scaffolding writing help students to examine their learning of writing skills, and it is an effective way to support students’ writing with inefficient English language proficiency that most of them have. Scaffold writing not only improve students’ writing skills but also it makes it possible to establish and shift student’s other skills of English language (reading, speaking, and listening), since they use the feedback, which
they get from their writing, to help them with other English skills (reading, speaking, and listening). Scaffolding technique helped educators develop themselves and become autonomous learners. In other words, the scaffolding technique presented in this study has helped the students to find out their weaknesses and strengths, and how to work on their weaknesses and improve them.
Since teacher gives the right instruction to the students through the mini-lesson they know how to organize their writings and how to make correction in both reviewing and editing stages independently before publishing stage and researcher could find out how much using scaffolding techniques be effective on developing students’ abilities and skills of writing if we compare it to traditional method that the facilitator only passed on the theoretical framework of writing and giving orders to write.
CF is a complex phenomenon. This complexity is reflected in the controversies that surround such issues as whether to correct, what to correct, how to correct, and when to correct. Different perspectives on CF are afforded by interactionist/cognitive theories and
sociocultural theory. Whereas the former seeks to identify the CF strategies that are most
effective in promoting the internal processes responsible for acquisition, the latter views CF as a form of social mediation that assists learners in performing language functions that they are incapable of performing independently. Both perspectives help to illuminate CF and the role it plays in the L2 acquisition.
Teaching is a form of social mediation; CF constitutes one form of relatively well-researched social mediation. It offers teachers an opportunity to examine through reflection and through practitioner research a specific aspect of their own instructional practices and, in so doing, to contribute to our general understanding of how CF can be most effectively executed to promote language learning.
CF is a common strategy adopted by most instructors in writing class, and thus CF arouses research attention to discuss and examine its effectiveness. Researchers who are against CF have questioned the efficacy of CF in terms of its role for promoting the acquisition and the demotivating factor imposed on L2 Learners. There are no simple answers to the issues and the controversies require further investigation. However, as applying a scaffolding writing of L2 learning to CF, some new and important insights emerge to enlarge its positive effects. CF should be regarded as an interactive process where both teachers and students can participate and negotiate.
Considering that, joint-participation is the core value. This requires teachers to invite and motivate learners to approach the feedback and also the criteria and goals of writing should be understood by learners, through explaining criteria and co-marking writing. The shared understanding is conductive for learners to accept CF in a positive way and hold clear goals for better writing.
Meanwhile, CF should be within learners ZDP, which means the CF is accessible for learners. Assisted help from teachers should also be provided, as learners are needed.
Based on the result of data analysis, I conclude that the use of direct corrective feedback significantly improved the students’ writing ability to the second-semester students of essay writing in Lahijan Azad University. It was clearly shown that the score of students’ posttest showed improvement. It could be seen from students’ mean score. The mean score of posttest increased to from in pretest.
For that reason, Direct corrective feedback is effective. This study and literature review have shown that corrective feedback in writing is a very important tool in the development of a student’s writing skills in teaching English as a Foreign/Second language and an irreplaceable tool on teacher’s hands to motivate, push and help improve writing skills of their students.
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