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Relationship Between Teacher Written Feedback And Progress Of The Freshmen In Writing Nguyen Thi Huyen Trang

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  • This is an interesting topic. Ms Trang is very excellent in her work. congratulation one more thing to be done, like if you could get data of interpersonal relationship of student-student , teacher-student, staff- teacher and some more will be batter
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  • This is an interesting topic. Ms Trang is very excellent in her work. congratulation
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  • can i have a share of your work? its very useful..thank you...
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Relationship Between Teacher Written Feedback And Progress Of The Freshmen In Writing   Nguyen Thi Huyen Trang Relationship Between Teacher Written Feedback And Progress Of The Freshmen In Writing Nguyen Thi Huyen Trang Document Transcript

  • Vietnam national university, Hanoi University of languages and international studies English department Nguyen thi huyen trang Relationship between teacher written feedback and progress of the freshmen in writing (An investigation among the first- year students at Ed, CFL, VNU) Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of bachelor of arts (tefl) Hanoi, May-2009
  • Vietnam national university, Hanoi University of languages and international studies English department Nguyen thi huyen trang Relationship between teacher written feedback and progress of the freshmen in writing (An investigation among the first- year students at Ed, CFL, VNU) Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of bachelor of arts (tefl) Supervisor: vu mai trang, ma. Hanoi, May-2009
  • I hereby state that I: Nguyen Thi Huyen Trang, 051E7, being a candidate for the degree of Bachelor of Arts (TEFL) accept the requirements of the College relating to the retention and use of Bachelor’s Graduation Paper deposited in the library. In terms of these conditions, I agree that the origin of my paper deposited in the library should be accessible for the purposes of study and research, in accordance with the normal conditions established by the librarian for the care, loan or reproduction of the paper. Signature Date
  • Acknowledgements First and foremost, I would like to express my deep gratitude to my supervisor, Ms Vu Mai Trang. Without her enthusiastic help and her precious advices and comments, the paper would not have been completed. Secondly, I would like to send my warmest thank to Ms Pham Minh Tam, Ms Luu Ngoc Ly, Ms Nguyen Hong Dieu, Ms Nguyen Tran Ngoc Lien, Mr Nguyen Tuan Anh and other teachers of the Division 1 of ED, CFL, VNU for their supports and contributions for my study. Thirdly, my thanks are also come to the freshmen of ED, CFL, VNU whose cooperation during the implementation of my study was absolutely vital. Finally, this is a good opportunity for me to give my special thank to my beloved parents and friends who are always beside me whenever I encounter difficulties.
  • Abstract It is no doubt that teacher written feedback plays an essential role in teaching writing skill in English. However, despite enormous contribution of time and effort from both teachers and students, the process of providing and receiving feedback is still problematic. This study was carried out aiming to find out the current ways of giving teacher written feedback, the progress made by students in writing after receiving teacher written feedback and the factors involving in this improvement, the difficulties of teachers and students during the process, and their preferences and suggestions on the matter. To fulfill the abovementioned objectives, the combination of both qualitative and quantitative methodology was utilized. The data from questionnaires with 10 teachers and 50 first-year students from English Department-College of Foreign Languages-Hanoi National University, semi-structured interviews with 3 teachers and 4 first-year students, and together with the analysis of 32 writing samples of these students were then synthesized and analyzed. The results of the study, in summary, were quite positive in finding that the teachers have done their work relatively effective. The improvement of the students, more or less, could be seeable. However, both the teachers and students have encountered a number of difficulties during the implementation of the process, so suggestions and recommendations have been investigated so as to deal with the problems. Though the limitations have been unavoidable, the study is expected to be beneficial to teachers, students, and researchers of the related subjects.
  • List of tables, figures and abbreviations Table 1: Students’ writings and mark given for the two drafts before and after receiving teacher written feedback Table 2: Improvement in correcting mistakes between two drafts Figure 1: Amount of correction Figure 2: Forms of giving feedback Figure 3: Types of feedback Figure 4: When to give feedback Figure 5: Color of pen to give comments Figure 6: Teachers' work after providing feedback Figure 7: Mark improvement Figure 8: Students' making new mistakes Figure 9: Content improved after receiving teacher written feedback Figure 10: Students' rewriting after receiving feedback Figure 11: Progress made by students after receiving feedback (Data from the questionnaires for Teachers) Figure 12: Progress made by students after receiving feedback (Data from the questionnaires for Students) Figure 13: Improvements made by students after receiving feedback
  • Figure 14: Problems after receiving feedback Figure 15: Teachers' difficulties in giving feedback Figure 16: Problems students sometimes encounter when rewriting after receiving feedback Figure 17: Reasons why sometimes students can not revise the papers after receiving feedback Figure 18: Reasons why students do not understand feedback Figure 19: Students' responses to the problems Figure 20: Forms of feedback that students like Figure 21: Types of feedback students find effective to revise the papers Figure 22: Focus of feedback that students would like Figure 23: Amount of feedback that students would like Figure 24: Color of pen that students would like Teacher to give feedback Figure 25: Stages of giving feedback that Students would like Abbreviation: ED, CFL, VNU: English Department, College of Foreign Languages, Viet Nam National University, Hanoi.
  • Table of content Pag e Acknowledgements i Abstract ii List of tables, figures, and abbreviations iii Chapter 1: introduction 1 1.1 Statement of the problem and the rationale for the study 1 1.2 Aims and objectives of the study 3 1.3 Scope of the study 3 1.4 Significance of the study 4 1.5 Organization of the study 5 Chapter 2: Literature Review 6 2.1 Concept of writing 6 2.1.1 Criteria of a good writing 7 2.1.2 Stages of writing 9 2.2 Teacher written feedback on writing 11 2.2.1 Concept of feedback 11 2.2.2 Concept of teacher written feedback 12 2.2.3 The role of teacher written feedback 13 2.2.4 Criteria of a good teacher written feedback 14 2.2.5 Major issues of teacher written feedback 16 2.2.5.1 Teacher written feedback in process writing versus 16 in product writing 2.2.5.2 Focus of teacher written feedback 18 2.2.5.3 Amount of teacher written feedback 21 2.2.5.4 Forms of teacher written feedback 23 2.2.5.5 Tools of providing teacher written feedback 26
  • 2.2.5.6 When to give teacher written feedback 27 2.2.5.7 Types of teacher written feedback 28 2.2.5.7.1 Direct feedback versus indirect feedback 28 2.2.5.7.2 Positive feedback versus negative feedback 29 2.2.5.7.3Text-specific feedback versus generic 30 feedback 2.2.5.7.4 Margin feedback versus end feedback 32 2.3 Summary 33 Chapter 3: Methodology 34 3.1 Participants 34 3.1.1 Teachers teaching writing for the freshmen of ED, CFL, 35 VNU 3.1.2 The freshmen of ED, CFL, VNU 35 3.1.3 Writing samples 35 3.2 Data collection instruments 37 3.2.1 Questionnaires 37 3.2.2 Semi-structured interviews 39 3.2.3 Writing samples analysis 40 3.3 Data collection procedures 40 3.3.1 Designing and preparing instruments 40 3.3.2 Analyzing writing samples 41 3.3.3 Delivering questionnaires 41 3.3.4 Holding the semi-structured interviews 43 3.4 Data analysis procedure 43 3.5 Summary 44
  • Chapter IV: Results and discussions 45 4.1. What are the current ways of giving teacher written 45 feedback? 4.1.1 Approach to teaching writing the teachers apply in their 45 lessons 4.1.2 Focus of teacher written feedback 45 4.1.3 Amount of teacher written feedback 46 4.1.4 Forms of giving feedback 47 4.1.5 Types of feedback 49 4.1.6 When to give feedback 51 4.1.7 Tools of providing teacher written feedback 52 4.1.8 Teacher’s work after providing feedback 54 4.2 What is the progress made by the freshmen in writing? 55 4.2.1 Findings from sample analysis and interviews 55 4.2.2 Findings from the questionnaires for teachers and the 61 interviews 4.2.3 Findings from the questionnaires for students and the 62 interviews 4.3 What are the difficulties of the teachers in providing 65 feedback and of the freshmen in revising the papers after receiving teacher written feedback? 4.3.1 Difficulties of the teachers in providing feedback 65 4.3.2 Difficulties of the students in revising the papers after 68 receiving feedback 4.4 Teachers’ and students’ preferences and suggestions on 75 giving and receiving feedback
  • 4.4.1 Teachers’ preferences and suggestions on giving 75 feedback 4.4.2 Students’ preferences and suggestions in receiving 77 teacher written feedback 4.5 Summary 84 Sao the Chapter V: Conclusion 85 5.1 Summaries of the major findings 85 5.2Pedagogical suggestions for bettering teacher written 89 feedback 5.3 Limitations of the study 92 5.4 Recommendations for further related study 93 References Appendices Chapter 1: Introduction
  • 1.1 Statement of the problem and the rationale for the study It is the fact that many students consider writing as the most difficult skill among the other three: listening, reading, and speaking. Moreover, “it is fair to say that the writing skill has, for a long time, been ignored or been treated with less respect than it deserves” (O’muircheartaigh, 2002). Therefore, to master an effective writing, there must be a lot of contributions and efforts from both teachers and students. A lot of studies have been done with an aim to seek for the measures that help to improve the quality of writing. Teacher written feedback, to some extent, can be taken into account as one of the most effective supports to get a good final version, which “help students identify areas for improvement as well as commending them for evident achievement” (Coffin et al., 2003, p103). However, according to Coffin et al. (2003), the usefulness of teacher written feedback is “put into question by the student’s response”. In his point of view, students tend to “pick up on the lecturer’s negative comment” so they can not recognize what the good points they have done in their writing assignments. In addition, they have difficulties in making sense of teacher critical and valuable suggestion to improve their next writing versions. Apart from the abovementioned aspects, in the researcher’s own opinion, some problems have still revealed in both teachers and students’ work during the process of implementing such kind of feedback. For the students, there is a fact that after receiving feedback from the teachers, some still can not improve the quality of their writing or even make the mistakes again. Some students, on the other hand, are interested in the final grade rather than make use of this feedback to better their writing assignments. For the teachers, providing feedback to the students’ writing papers sometimes can be a heavy workload due to “the
  • enormous amount of time and energy poured into” (Leki, 1990). Obviously, different teachers hold different attitudes towards this type of feedback and therefore have different ways to give correction and response. Furthermore, still there has not much concern about this activity among teachers over the world - “only 4 % of all pedagogical decisions are to do with correction and feedback” (cited by Bartram & Walton, 1991, p.2). The same situation can be found in our ED, CFL, VNU. There have been some studies on the matter, but they mainly focus on the way teachers provide feedback or aim at finding the related matters among the upper- secondary school or High school students instead of the first-year students. Moreover, the assessment of progress made by students in writing after receiving teacher written feedback seems not to be highlighted. Of all the little number of related researches on the aforementioned issue, while some “are forced” to the conclusion that none of the different ways of responding to student writing produce the “significant improvements” in these assignments, the others remain inconclusive (cited by Leki, 1990, p.61). Last but not least, the study is carried out due to the author’s interest and experience after doing some small-scale studies on the same issue while she was in the second and third year of the university. To sum up, for the abovementioned reasons, the researcher finds a need to carry out the study on the relationship between teacher written feedback and the progress of the students in writing at ED, CFL, VNU. 1.2 Aims and objectives of the study
  • The study is done aiming to find out the current ways of providing written feedback by the teachers teaching the freshmen at Ed, CFL, VNU, and the progress of these students in writing afterwards. Moreover, the difficulties revealed in the process of giving and receiving feedback and the factors affecting the progress of these students in writing will also be analyzed to give more support for the above issue. Then, preferences and suggestions made by both teachers and students are introduced for further improvement. The purposes of the study will be achieved through the answering of four research questions: 1, What are the current ways of providing written feedback to the freshmen at ED, CFL, VNU? 2, Have the freshmen made progress in their writing after receiving teacher written feedback? What are the factors contributing to their progress? 3, What are the difficulties of the teachers in providing feedback and of the freshmen in receiving feedback and revising the drafts? 4, What are the preferences and suggestions of the teachers on providing feedback and of the students on receiving feedback and revising the drafts? 1.3 Scope of the study: There are three terms that should be specified in the study. Firstly, there are many kinds of feedback applied in writing process such as peer checking, conferences, etc, but the research only focuses on the teachers’ feedback. Moreover, the study concentrates on teacher written feedback for students’ writing, not spoken feedback or feedback on others skills. Secondly, the freshmen at the ED, CFL, VNU are the subjects of the study,
  • not the first- year students in general. Finally, the progress made by these freshmen is measured by the improvement in mark, in mistakes correction and in content of the next drafts over the first-marked papers. 1.4 Significance of the study Investigating the “relationship between teacher written feedback and the progress made by the freshmen in writing”, the study is expected to make certain contributions to the related populations including teachers teaching writing, freshmen, and researchers of the same subjects. First of all, the study would help writing teachers to realize their problems in providing feedback to avoid making them again. Moreover, by noticing the students’ difficulties in receiving feedback and revising the papers, and also their preferences in getting feedback, the teachers could make suitable and timely changes to meet the need of students in writing. In addition, the suggestions contributed by different teachers would help them to better their ways of giving written feedback. Similar to the teachers, the students could learn much from the suggestions made by the others in receiving feedback and rewriting the papers. Furthermore, through the study, the students could know more about their teachers’ difficulties in providing feedback to them; therefore, they would do their work more carefully and consider their teacher written feedback more seriously. In addition to the benefits given to the two above subjects, the study may serve as the foundation based on which further related research would be carried out. Particularly, future research could be made better after the limitations of the study are considered.
  • 1.5 Organization of the study The rest of the study includes four chapters as follow: Chapter 2, Literature Review, presents related theoretical background of the study in which concepts of writing and of teacher written feedback on writing would be discussed. Chapter 3, Methodology, covers four major parts, namely, participants, data collection instruments, data collection procedures, and data analysis procedures. Chapter 4, Results and Discussions, presents, analyzes and discusses the findings in order to answer the four research questions of the study. Chapter 5, Conclusion, provides summaries of the main findings, suggestions for bettering teacher written feedback, limitations of the study, and lastly, recommendations for further related researches. Chapter 2: Literature Review
  • In this chapter, relevant knowledge collected from various sources will be presented so that it can suitably serve as a foundation for the research. The paper is divided into two parts including theories on writing and on teacher written feedback. However, basing on the aims of the study, the latter part will be discussed in detail. 2.1 Concept of writing Different researchers have their own understandings as well as terms towards the definitions of writing. According to Byrne (1998) writing is “the act of forming graphic symbols” (p.1) which may be implicated in both physical and mental way. Nudelman and Troyka (1994), however, seem not to agree with this definition. Writing, in their point of view, “involves much more than your taking a pen in hand and expecting words to flow perfectly onto paper” (p.13). The researcher of this study, on the other hand, prefers the definition made by Hedge (2000) which considers “writing is the result of employing strategies to manage the composing process, which is one of gradually developing a text” (Hedge, 2000, p.302). In this sense, Hedge may mean the involvement of various activities such as generating ideas, drafting, editing, etc in a writing process, which, at the same time, bring the feedback chances to take part in. Therefore the researcher finds Hedge’s version most suitable to the matter of her study as compared to the two above versions. 2.1.1 Criteria of a good writing
  • So far, there have been a hard-to-count number of criteria of a good writing by authors worldwide. The consideration of “how good a wring is?”, however, is not completely different from the past up to now; there always remain common elements of good composition. According to Hedge (1988, p.8): “Successful writing depends on more than the ability to produce clear and correct sentences”. In other words, good writing brings readers the “necessary information” that make them easy to understand what the writer wants to present without having to try to grasp it. (Reynolds, 1993, p.7). Furthermore, Hairston (1998) suggests that: good writing has three characteristics as follow: • It says something significant • To a specific audience • For some purposes Under such definition, many other kinds of writing like formal or casual, elegant or plain, straightforward or subtle can be an effective one in their own” (Hairston, 1998, p.7-15). Langan (1997), in addition, provides four bases to evaluate a writing, namely “unity, support, coherence, and sentence skill”. Specifically, unity is understood as “advancing a single point and stick to that point” while support involves using “specific evidence to support the point”. Coherence, on the other hand, requires “organizing and connecting the specific evidence” and lastly, sentence skill mentions writing “clear, error-free sentences”. To achieve error-free sentences, these following elements should be taken into consideration, including: Grammar • Subjects and verbs • Fragments • Run-ons
  • • Regular and irregular verbs • Subject-verb agreement • Consistent verb tense • Additional information about verbs (infinitives, participle, gerund, active and passive) • Pronoun agreement, reference and point of view (first, second, third pronouns) • Pronoun types (subject and object, possessive, demonstrative) • Adjectives and adverbs • Misplaced modifiers • Dangling modifiers • Faulty parallelism Mechanics • Manuscript form/ format (papers look attractive, neat and easy to read) • Capital letters • Numbers and abbreviations Punctuation • Apostrophe • Quotation marks • Comma • Other punctuation marks Word use • Improving spelling • Vocabulary development • Commonly confused words • Effective word choice • Sentence variety (Adopted from Langan, 1997, p.95) In short, though all the criteria mentioned are clear and thorough, the researcher considers the last one given by Langan (1997) the best because this set of criteria shows specific points to evaluate a good writing paper. It is, in addition, easy to interpret and follow.
  • Bearing in mind some criteria of a good writing, to some extent, is the crucial element which helps teachers succeed more in giving written feedback on the students’ works. 2.1.2 Stages of writing Writing is a multi-stage process; however, according to Harris (1993, p.45-6), “it is usual to consider the process of writing in three stages: pre- writing, drafting, and revising and editing”. Having the same categories in clarifying stages of writing, Nudelman and Troyka (1994, p.13-4), on the other hand, divide them into five stages, namely: Stage 1: Prewriting: thinking and planning Stage 2: Drafting: using the ideas developed during prewriting to write Stage 3: Revising: reading over what have been written, deciding what need to be improved and more importantly, rewriting to have a more successful piece of writing. Stage 4: Editing: checking thoroughly to make sure that grammar, punctuation and spelling are correct. Stage 5: Proofreading: carefully rereading the paper before handing in to the teacher. Through the aforementioned classifications of stages of writing, we can come to conclude that although there are some minor differences in the ways to divide the stages or even the names of each stage, these classifications share one thing in common. It seems to be that only the writer takes part in the process of writing, from the first stage to the last one without any involvement of the readers. By this implication, the role of readers, say, in the context of classroom, teachers or peers may not be paid much attention. Raimes (1983), however, provides a more thorough pattern
  • which, in my own opinion, is better in reflecting what a real process of writing should contain. It is better to have a look at the diagram: Selection of T topic Preparation T Ss T and Ss Ss T S S T assigns by T for reads Ss make Ss read write read reads writes edits evaluates follow-up and/or writing/ notes, write outline draft: draft draft draft draft 3 and progress tasks Ss prewriting lists, draft of draft add 2 2 2: proofreads from to help in activities outlines, 1 1 comments with indicates draft 1 toweak areas etc. and guidelines good draft 3 and suggestions or points makes about checklist: and areas suggestions content makes for changes improvement By dividing in this way, Raimes not only emphasizes the role of feedback in the process of writing but also promotes the new way to teach writing under the light of process approach whose main features will be presented later. However, it takes a lot of time to carry out these steps and that explains why the process may happen only in theory. To sum up, “student writers” should be encouraged to engage in writing process through a “cyclical approach” instead of a “single-pot” one in which they are expected to produce their work going through stages of drafting, receiving feedback from peers or teachers and following by revising of their “evolving texts” (Kroll, 2001, p.220-1). In other words, teachers should assess students’ work throughout the process of writing which involving the feedback instead of evaluating only the final writing version.
  • Along with the discussion of writing, writing a good version, and the stages of writing process, the basic theories relating to teacher written feedback in writing will be specified in the following part. 2.2 Teacher written feedback on writing Teacher written feedback, obviously, plays a crucial role in teaching writing skill. With an aim to gain more insights into the concepts related, different points of view will be compared and contrasted. 2.2.1 Concept of feedback Feedback is widely seen in education as the crucial factor for both encouraging and consolidating learning (Hyland and Hyland, 2006). Kepner (1991) defines feedback in general as “any procedures used to inform a learner whether an instructional response is right or wrong”. When dealing with the term “feedback”, there are some terms related and sometimes used for substitution as “comments”, “respond”, or “correction”. These terms, according to Kepner can be used interchangeably (Kepner, 1991, p.141, as cited in Grami, 2005). However, it needs to be careful when mentioning these terms on students’ papers. Actually there still some minor points among them which should be bore in mind that “feedback” is the information a teacher or another learner, gives to learners on how well they are doing, either to help the learner improve specific points, or to help plan their learning. While for response, Vengadasamy (2002) suggests that it brings the teachers “option of personalizing his/her comments”. Responding to students’ work, in Harmer’s point of view, “is about reacting to their ideas and to how they put them across”. By responding, we mean “discussing the students’ writing rather than judging it”. On the other hand, correcting is the “stage at
  • which we indicate when something is not right” (Harmer, 2004, p.112) but it “does not mean marking everything absolutely correct; correction means helping people learn to express themselves better” (Edge, 1989, p.65). Comments, according to Sommers (1982), are considered to “create the motive for doing something in different in the next draft” (p.232). For these reasons, it is better to use these different terms according to what teachers would like to focus on. 2.2.2 Concept of teacher written feedback It is no doubt that teacher written feedback “can not be ignored” in teaching and learning writing. Concerning the matter of teacher’s written feedback, there exists a huge number of understanding so far, both favorably and unfavorably. Keh (1990, cited in To et al., 2008, p.206) defines feedback as “any input from a reader to a writer with the effect of providing information to the writer for revision” (p.294). Teacher written feedback, “in this sense denotes any input provided by the teacher to the student for revision” (Keh, 1990). In Hyland and Hyland’s point of views, this kind of feedback may be considered as either ignoring students their own voice and putting teachers’ own requirements on them, or as forcing them to meet expectations needed to gain success in writing (Hyland and Hyland, 2003, p.2). Sommers (1982), however, disagrees with this idea and provides another explanation as written comments should be considered as a means to help students write effectively rather than a way for teachers to “satisfy themselves that they have done their jobs” (p.239). In short, feedback is a process of giving comments on what one has done, in this sense can be understood as teachers’ response to students’
  • performances. Along with definitions, some other related issues, namely, the role of teacher written feedback and some criteria of good teacher written feedback should be mentioned. 2.2.3 The role of teacher written feedback According to Coffin et al. (2003), “the provision of feedback on students’ writing is a central pedagogical practice in higher education” (p.102). Not only researchers but also teachers and students do agree that written feedback from teachers plays the crucial role in improving students’ writing and their attitude toward writing (Leki, 1990, p.58). However, there has been a debate on the role of teacher written feedback in which there are people who believe in giving feedback to improve students’ writing and who do not (Gue’nette, 2007 cited by Li and Lin, 2007, p.231). Leki (1990), in his study, also raises the question that whether the written response to students can do any good (p.60). It seems obvious that the quality of the feedback provided by the teacher is one of the most important factors in enhancing students’ writing (Bartram & Walton, 1991, p.90). It can “highlight the academic conventions” within which students are expected to write, to be able to produce writing with minimal errors and maximum clarity, and moreover, it can suggest ways for students to improve their future writing” (Coffin et al., 2003, p.17; Williams, 2003). In addition, thorough written feedback from teachers can create “motive for revising”; without these comments, students will revise their work in a “consistently, narrow, and predictable way” (Sommers, 1982, p.233). Last but not least, teacher written comments not only indicate the strengths and weaknesses of the students’ writing but they may also assist students in monitoring their own progress and identifying specific language areas to develop further (Hedge, 2000,
  • p.385). Teacher written feedback, in reality, can promote students’ self- study skills. The researcher does agree that teacher written comments can do good to some extent, but this still contains problems. Teachers should notice that “…feedback aids learning but students need a lot of encouragement to use the feedback in order to reflect on their work” (Kannan, 2000), and “Responding to students’ work- and correcting it - only become useful if the students can do something with this feedback” (Harmer, 2004, p.109). What we have to do, in conclusion, is to take the advantages of this kind of feedback and find ways to deal with the problems raised. 2.2.4 Criteria of a good teacher written feedback Bearing in mind the clear criteria of good written feedback can help writing teachers much in providing this kind of feedback to students’ writing. However, like the case of having criteria for a good writing, different authors have different views on what a good written comment is. The better solution is to consider different criteria for good teacher written feedback. Hammond (2002) concludes that “encouraging students” and “being supportive”, “offering praise”, and “constructive criticism” should be contained to achieve the good feedback. Coffin et al. (2003), besides, takes “positive comment”, “criticism”, and “suggestion for improvements” (p.101) into account when defining good feedback. He also specifies that “the comment makes sense, they are positive and encouraging but still identify the additional points that could have been made, or links that have been missed” (p.118). These authors, when mentioning the features of good
  • feedback, emphasize on tone of feedback as positive and encouraging comments, and form of feedback as suggestions for improvement. Unlike these above authors based on the tone and types of feedback to define good feedback, Ferris (2003) generalizes his own criteria as good feedback should has comments on all aspects of student texts, including content, rhetorical structure, grammar, and mechanics. Moreover, teacher written feedback should be clear and concrete to help students with revision and take individual and contextual variables into account. (as cited in Ryoo, 2004, p.122). Similarly, Leki (1990) says that teacher feedback is effective when it focuses on content together with a limited amount of feedback on grammar, punctuation, and spelling into consideration. By this way, Ferris and Leki’s criteria tend to be about the focus and format of feedback. It is not only difficult for researchers but also for teachers and students to reach an agreement on what good feedback is. Good feedback, in students’ ideas, means that all language and content mistakes should be identified and corrected. However, for teachers, good feedback includes positive and encouraging comments, underlining errors but not correcting, and using guiding questions to help students to work out their problems and make progress (Kannan, 2000). In this case, Kannan seems to focus on the types (direct or indirect) and tone of feedback. Though these aforementioned features of good feedback are clear and thorough, the researcher feels that they are not really sufficient. Good feedback, in her point of view, should be more than that as the one cited by Konold, Miller & Konold (2004), which requires effective feedback to be “timely, accurate, constructive, outcome-focused, encouraging and positive”. Moreover, good feedback should not contain “unknown abbreviations, codes, and unobtainable suggestions for improvements”
  • (Mastropiery and Scuggs, 1994, as cired in Konold, Miller & Konold, 2004). These elements cover almost all aspects of feedback which the researcher attempts to present in the following parts. 2.2. 5 Major issues of teacher written feedback Providing effective feedback to help students improve their writing skills has always been one of the biggest concerns in teaching languages up to now. Over the matter, there are still continuing debates both within researchers and lectures over important questions such as: “What kind of feedback is most valuable to students?”, or “When, what and where should feedback focus on?” However, the answers to the above issues have still remained inconclusive. 2.2.5.1 Teacher written feedback in process writing versus in product writing According to Tribble (1996), different approaches to the teaching of writing can require different types of response from the teacher (p.118). Before searching for the appropriate types of feedback for each approach, it is advisable to have a thorough look at these two, say, process approach and product approach. Product approach which follows a “linear pattern” is a largely “prescriptive and product-centered” way of teaching writing (Applebee, 1986, cited by Smith, 2000). When concentrating on product, it is believed to have only interest in the aim of the task and the end of product regardless of the different stages. In this approach, attention is paid to the final outcome and students are said to produce only one version. Therefore, the role of feedback seems to be of little help. Another feature of product approach is that structural accuracy is much considered in comparison with
  • the ideas or meaning of the writing. In other words, language proficiency is the most important factor taken into consideration when evaluating students’ writing. Revision, in addition, is not something that clearly exists in product writing, as the assumption is that the provided model has been followed. The process approach, on the other hand, is viewed as “multistage process” (Reid, 1993, cited in To et al., 2008, p.188) which follows a “cyclical pattern”. The process approach to teaching writing considers all writing as a creative act and emphasizes the writer as an independent producer of texts so that teachers let their student’s time and opportunity to develop on their own. Response, therefore, is crucial in assisting learners to move through the stages of the writing process (Hyland, 2003). In other words, teachers must support student writers through multiple drafts by providing feedback and suggesting revisions during the process of writing itself, rather than at the end of it. Unlike the product approach, “sentence grammar is not the only subject of attention” in process approach (Mcdonoudh and Shaw, 2003) and the focus is shifted from “a concern with mechanical accuracy and control of language to a greater emphasis on the development and discovery of meaning through the experience of writing and rewriting” (Hyland and Hyland, 2006). However, it is not true to say that the form of writing, i.e language proficiency, is neglected in the process approach. The attention, in fact, is to the content before the form (Kim and Kim, 2005). Considering its positive features over the product approach, process approach should be employed widely in writing classes. 2.2.5.2 Focus of teacher written feedback
  • Although changes in the focus of feedback have happened overtime (Fathman and Whalley, 1990), there still remains the lack of consensus on the matter. Griffin (1982) notes that “the major question confronting any theory of responding to student writing is where we should focus our attention” (cited by Fathman and Whalley, 1990, p.299). Hillocks (1986), on the other hand, concludes that “focused feedback can have an effect on certain aspects of writing” (Fathman and Whalley, 1990, p.166). Before going to decide whether teachers should focus on form or content works, it is better to have an understanding of form-focused feedback as well as content-focused one. According to Grami (2005) “Form feedback” which will be also known as “grammar feedback” and “surface-level feedback” is the type of feedback that concentrates on matters as spelling, grammar, punctuation, etc. On the other hand, “content feedback” usually refers to issues like organization, choice of vocabularies, rhetoric use of the language, cohesion and coherence, and other more abstract and notional matters of writing. Williams (2003), in his study, suggests that feedback on form is usually found in the correction of surface errors by indicating or underlining them. While feedback on content consists mainly of comments written by teachers on drafts in which problems are pointed out and suggestion are offered for improvement. It is necessary to note that the distinction between the two types is not always clear but this should be overlooked for more appropriate focus of feedback. It is normal and traditional to see that written feedback, in the past and even in today’s classes, seems to pay much attention on form. Vengadasamy (2002) claims that there are several reasons explaining why teachers feel compelled to correct errors. The very first possibility is that they feel “duty bound to correct the errors”, and “failing to do so could
  • mean a loss of credibility”. Kepner (1991) explains that teachers also correct errors out of the fear that the “erroneous structures” would become “fossilized” in the students. Keh (1990) offers a different explanation altogether, say, it will be of great face value when a headmaster decides to check a teacher's work with clear red-ink corrections. This focus of feedback is viewed helpful because it can serve as guidance for “eventual writing development” as far as students are concerned (Hyland, 2003). However, White and Arntd (cited by Stanley, 2003) claim that focusing on language errors improves neither grammatical accuracy nor writing fluency. Such focus of feedback can have effect on students’ work, that is, receiving a corrected draft from teacher with red ink smeared all over the page may lead them to the apprehension when attempting another writing. Moreover, much feedback on form will make students start to think that grammar is the only thing that counts in writing, and the focus should be on grammar in stead of developing in the areas of content (Gulcat and Ozagac, 2004). Advocates of content-focused feedback, on the other hand, may have different point of views. According to Harmer (2004), it is not appropriate to focus on only lexical and grammatical mistakes; in stead, ideas and ways to present them should be looked on when reacting to students’ work (p.112). Supporting for the effectiveness of content-focused feedback, Edge (1989) also proves that by responding to the content of what the student has written, the teacher might suggest the need for an example, a reason, a result, etc whatever might be appropriate at a particular point of the text; therefore, it is a good way to help students improve a draft (p.61). Nevertheless, apart from the positive side, content-focused feedback still has problems, that is, teacher comments on content will be of little use if students do not know what they mean or how to use them productively to
  • improve their skills as writers. Moreover, Zamel (1985, as cited in Fathman and whalley, p.180) finds that comments on content are “vague and contradictory, unsystematic and inconsistent”, therefore, this leads to various reactions by students including confusion, frustration and neglect of the comments. While the debate continues over what should be focused on, Krashen (1984) and some others agree that feedback should emphasize on both content and form. Raimes (1993) also suggests that teachers should have a look at content and errors “in structure” and focus on ideas developed before linguistic features. Song (1998) concludes that written feedback which emphasizes more on meaning without excluding corrections on linguistic errors, has better effect than either surface-error correction alone or just meaning-based feedback alone in terms of improving students’ writing. In general, the researcher does agree that it is better to pay attention on both content and form of students’ work as both are considered important in developing writing skill of students. Moreover, it should be noticed that the authors do not have intention of indicating whether content or grammar should receive equal treatment or even priority. The preference, in contrast, depends on the background of teachers and students, on the needs of students, on the feature of each assignment, and so forth (Cohen and Cavalcanti, 1990, p.173). To be more specific, take the idea suggested by Reid (1993) as an example. According to her, there is no need to comment on all those aspects on every draft. On early drafts, students’ generating, focusing and organizing ideas should be responded so that students can develop their ideas fully and present them effectively. Whereas on later drafts, comments on grammar and mechanics should be provided, and students are “encouraged to proofread, edit and correct their
  • writing” (Reid, 1993; Ferris and Hedgcok, 1998 as cited in To et al., 2008, p.207). 2.2.5.3 Amount of teacher written feedback Amount of feedback, specifically, how much feedback should be given to students during their writing process is another matter that still challenges teachers overtime. According to Bartram and Walton (1991), it is the problem of overcorrection (known as heavy correction) and non- correction, in contrast. Obviously, teachers tend to fall into the matter of overcorrection out of the fear that they will not be considered as the real teacher if they refuse to do that way. Some, on the other hand, say that every error should be corrected to let students know what is wrong and what is right (Anker, 2000). Not only teachers feel the need to correct everything in students’ writing but some students prefer that way as well. In fact, it is not right to deny some of the teachers and students’ attitudes towards the amount of feedback, however, there should be noticed that overcorrection can have bad effect as it is very depressing and discouraging for a student to get back any piece of written work with lots of teacher correction or notes on it (Edge, 1989, p.50; Gulcat and Ozagac, 2004). Moreover, in Anker’s collection of different ideas from writing teachers worldwide, he suggests that if teachers correct every errors students make, they begin hating them. Overcorrection, to some extent, takes too much time without any improvement because students will forget the corrections afterward. Another issue relating to the amount of feedback which is in the opposition of overcorrection is non-correction. The latter problem raised is
  • even more serious than the former since it provides no help at all for students’ improvement. This situation, in Bartram and Walton’ point of view, makes students think that their teachers are incompetent, irresponsible, or lazy (Bartram and Walton, 1991). Considering the above problems, there is a must to find some solutions. Selective correction or “focusing” which emphasizes on particular features of written English (Harmer, 2000, p.112) is a good “learning tool” to avoid the proliferation of red ink all over a students’ work (Harmer, 2004, p.110). In this way, teachers do not have to correct everything but only choose some areas to focus on, i.e. verb tense, organization, spelling, etc. However, when adopting this kind of feedback, it is advisable to remind students beforehand. Another suggestion made by Gulcat and Ozagac (2004) can be taken into account, that is, “distinguishing between serious and minor errors may be a good guide in choosing what to correct”. In general, it is necessary to clarify that correcting all students’ errors does not mean doing a good work; in stead, students sometimes should be let to discover them themselves as the recent research shows that “up to 20% of written mistakes can be identified and corrected by the writers themselves” (Bartram and Walton, 1991, p.74). Teachers should bear in mind that the amount of feedback given on students’ work may also change over time, as students progress in their courses, so it may be better to give more feedback on the work at the beginning of a student's course, and less at the end when the student's academic style develops. 2.2.5.4 Forms of teacher written feedback Comments on students’ papers can be found in a variety of forms. Raimes (1983) suggests that feedback can take the form of “a paraphrase of
  • the ideas expressed, praise, questions, or suggestions”. Similarly, Ferris et al. (1997) provides the set of four forms when giving feedback on students’ writing as “questions, imperatives, statements, or exclamations” which the researcher finds most reasonable and easiest to follow. These forms are investigated to serve some functions as: (1) Asking for further information; (2) Giving directions, suggestions, or requests for revision; (3) Giving the student new information that will help him or her revises; (4) Giving positive feedback about what the student has done well (as cited in To et al., 2008, p.208) Questions, e.g. “What do you mean?” or “Is it an example?” are “implicit recommendations for revision” which are useful to direct a student’s attention to unclear content or organization or to the lack of details. (Raimes, 1983, p.144). Questions are valuable; in addition, if teachers want to lead the students to consider other options without necessarily suggesting those options themselves. Moreover, questions can be chosen to call attention to the location of problems, but it is essential to avoid which can be answered simple “yes” or “no” and then be neglected. To help students in reexamining the papers and becoming self-critical of their own prose, preface questions with why, how, or what should be presented (Lindemann, 1982, p.231). However, questions sometimes are confusing, which may make students misunderstand, or difficult to correct and have changes. Imperatives, e.g. “explain” or “give a specific example”, on the other hand, are easier for students to “follow the instruction” (Sugita, 2006) because they are direct and straightforward. Therefore, imperatives are believed to assist students to make “substantial and effective revision”
  • (Sugita, 2006). Moreover, according to To et al., (2008), it is necessary to provide clear and direct instruction in the places where “teacher authority are valued and respected”. However, though imperatives can point out problems, they do not help students learn how to solve them. It is, in addition, make students discouraged in case they feel that they are forced to revise. Statements, e.g. “the argument is not convincing”, to some extent, can do good as they state clearly what the problem is and what the teacher expects from students’ writing. Furthermore, by providing statements, teachers mean to intervene students’ work in a friendly voice in comparison with the imperative ones. Nevertheless, there has been not much discussion mentioning this form of feedback up to now. Making exclamation or praise as “good” or “I like it” toward students’ improvements will help to let them know how a teacher response to their work. Under the light of praise work, students may feel encouraged and motivated to revise their writing. However, these token of exclamation like “good” or “I like this” should be avoided unless teachers add a reason for those (Lindemann, 1982, p.232). Other forms appreciated by many writing teachers when doing feedback work are the great deal of “underlining, crossing-out, question marks” (Harmer, 2004, p.110) and “coding” mentioning the use of correction symbols either in the body of the writing itself, or in a corresponding margin (Harmer, 2001, p.111). Underlining, on the other hand, helps to address the mistakes in students’ papers which is said to be beneficial for some good students as it serves as a prompt to motivate their self- correct abilities. However, for
  • low- lever ones, underling or circling simply locates and labels errors, so that students probably do not see the problems to make a change (Lindemann, 1982, p.232). Putting codes can help to avoid an overabundance of red ink; therefore, it makes correction “neater, less threatening and considerably more helpful than random marks and comments” (Harmer, 2001, p.111). Moreover, many teachers use correction symbols to encourage students to think about what the mistake is, so that they can correct it themselves. Particularly, much time and effort can be saved if a set of symbols is used since the teacher does not need to write in the correct word, form or phrase each time and they can “see at a glance” whether student’s errors tend to fall into particular categories (Nott, 2008). However, coding can “become cumbersome” if teachers try to present a lot of different symbols for a lot of different problems; therefore, the teacher should bear in mind that these codes may be very useful for only surface errors and for problems that students might be able to easily self correct; but for others like paraphrasing, style or register, it is difficult to categorize within codes (O’Muircheartaigh, 2002). In short, the abovementioned forms of giving feedback contain in themselves both advantages as well as disadvantages which require teachers to consider and weigh their two sides before doing their work on students’ papers. A minor point that the researcher would like to remind when using symbol correction is that different teachers and course books have their own ways of expressing different concepts; therefore, the teacher should make sure in advance that students are clear about their own version. 2.2.5.5 Tools of providing teacher written feedback
  • Tick chart, marking scale, checklist, pen, etc can be taken as tools of giving feedback on students’ writing. Teachers, obviously, can have their own desire to consider the one which suits them most in providing comments to their students. However, in the small frame of study, the researcher would like to focus only on using pens as the main tools. The problem revealed is that while giving feedback we may of course “use pink pens and put smiling faces here and there on the paper but still we see the light in the students’ eye fading”.(Gulcat and Ozagac, 2004). Over the matter, practitioners worldwide do agree that a piece of students’ writing returned with a lot of red ink on is inherently negative and too aggressive (McDonough and Shaw, 2003, p.167). Receiving such feedback, can demotivate students in rewriting their next versions, or even more seriously, leave them a fear when attempting for another writing. Therefore, solutions need to be found. Hammond (2002) suggests that red pen should be out and try to use a pencil instead. Numerous studies done, in addition, show that using pencil is much more reader- friendly since penciled comments are seen as “relatively tentative, and open to negotiation”, whereas, at the other extreme, “a red pen is the symbol of teachers” (Ivanic et al., 2000, p.51, cited in Coffin et al., 2003, p.121). 2.2.5.6 When to give teacher written feedback In general, there is a consensus that providing feedback timely can have great impact on students’ improvement, and feedback is most effective when it is delivered at intermediate stages of writing process (Ryoo, 2004, p.127; Leki, 1990, p.64). Providing early feedback at intermediate stages helps “bridge the gulf between teaching/learning and assessment, and provides a model for critical review of work in progress
  • which the student can gradually learn to implement independently of the tutor” (Leki, 1990, p.64). Meanwhile, corrections on composition made after the process has finished seem not to be helpful in improving students’ writing (Stanley, 2003). Moreover, “writing teachers considered successful agree that intervening during the writing process helps student writers improve” (Freedman 1987, as cited by Leki, 1990, p.64). In this sense, the teacher should give feedback many times between drafts, not just one time when students submit their final draft. That is, while the student is planning and organizing his ideas, the teacher can comment on the unity and coherence of ideas. Or the teacher can proofread for word-order, subject-verb agreement, spelling mistakes while the student is writing his draft. This gradual checking can minimize the exhaustive red marks on the student paper. Another benefit of such correction is that the student sees these comments when the writing experience is still fresh in his mind (Gulcat and Ozagac, 2004). Unlike the aforementioned issues of teacher written feedback which are constantly found in heated debates, when to give feedback is received nearly all agreement on. The researcher, having the same reasons, also agrees with these points of views. 2.2.5.7 Types of teacher written feedback The following part will deal with clarifying different types of feedback which teachers may encounter when responding to students’ writing. These types, including direct and indirect feedback, positive and negative feedback, text-specific and generic feedback, margin and end feedback, will be presented in pair in order to have an overview of their both advantageous and disadvantageous points.
  • 2.2.5.7.1 Direct feedback versus indirect feedback Direct feedback means explicitly correcting the mistake which consists of writing the correct letter(s), word, phrase or construction directly on the student’s script. Different from direct feedback, indirect one indicates that an error exists but without giving the correction. In other words, directive feedback contains the correction provided by teachers while in indirect feedback, students do it by themselves (Ferris, 2002). To some extent, directive response can have immediate advantage as the students make fewer mistakes in re-draft; however, it does not improve students’ accuracy in different papers (Stannard, 2008). Furthermore, direct feedback fails to be effective in promoting autonomous learning because when it is provided to students, they do not need to do much more than copy the correction in the new draft. In addition, direct response in the form of instructions causes students to lose control over their work, with the possible effect of students feeling demotivated (Vengadasamy, 2002). Indirect feedback, on the other hand, is considered a better approach. Frodesen (2001) notes that indirect response is more useful than direct one in motivating students and also contributes to enhance students’ self-edit ability. When teachers only point out the mistakes, underlining or coding without providing correction can leave students place to explore the problems as well as the ways to solve them. In other words, requiring students to process their mistakes will lead to better language acquisition. In short, it is true that motivation in learning can be achieved not only when teachers tell students exactly what to do, but when teachers return the responsibility to the students themselves to identify the problems and work out them. By doing so, students can “take full credit” for any
  • improvements they make (McBride, 2000, as cited in Vengadasamy, 2002). However, it does not means that direct feedback is not beneficial at all. In fact, it still has its place in responding process in case of complicated errors in students’ writing (Ravichandran, 1996, as cited in Vengadasamy, 2002). 2.2.5.7.2 Positive feedback versus negative feedback Positive feedback, in the sense of responding to students’ work can take the forms of praise and encouraging while negative feedback involves the tone of criticism. Concerning to the effect of these types of feedback on students’ writing, there seems to have a consensus over the importance of positive comments. According to Gulcat and Ozagac (2004) “the most important aspect while giving feedback is adopting a positive attitude to student writing”. Obviously, positive comments are vital because they are necessary for students to know what they have done well in addition to how their writing could be improved (Coffin et al., 2003, p.117). Raimes (1983), expresses the effectiveness of positive feedback in the similar way, that is, “noticing and praising whatever a student does well improves writing more than any kind or amount of correction of what he does badly” (p143). Positive comments, moreover, in Stanley’s point of view, can help to build confidence in students and create good feeling for the next writing class (Stanley, 2003). However, only positive feedback, sometimes, is not sufficient to motivate students in rewriting better versions. Though results of many studies conclude that students remember and value encouraging remarks, they, in fact expect to receive constructive criticism rather than “simple platitudes” (Hyland and Hyland, 2006). In this sense, negative feedback can do good as it helps to highlight the problems for further changes.
  • Nevertheless, there is a notice that over-negative feedback may “undermine students’ confidence as writers” (Coffin et al., 2003, p.117). More specifically, if the student receives only negative feedback, he may easily be discouraged from trying to form complex structures and using new vocabulary. Considering the above different but reasonable point of views, the researcher, in short, agrees with the conclusion made by Cardelle and Corno (1981, as cited in Cohen & Cavalcanti, 1990, p.174), that is, “a balance between criticism and praise may be the best means of encouraging quality of writing” 2.2.5.7.3 Text-specific feedback versus generic feedback Text- specific feedback means the feedback “directly related to the text at hand”, or in other words is the one that “only apply to that writer’s text at that place within the text”, while generic feedback “can be attacked to any paper” (Ferris and Hedgecock, 1998, p.133). It is no doubt that text-specific feedback which points out where and why mistakes are made, along with providing suggestions for changes can have great impact on students’ improvement. According to Ferris (1995, as cited in Ryoo, 2004, p.123), “when teachers ask for specific information or gave clear and concrete suggestions, students appreciated it and produced more effective revision”. It is the text- specific comment that “detailed enough to allow students to act, to commit to change their writing” (Reid, 1993, p.218). However, despite the advantages of text-specific feedback, results from many studies show that teachers rarely make content-specific comments. Moreover, Sommers, in her study, claims that most teachers’
  • comments are not text- specific and could be interchanged, “rubber- stamped”, from text to text. The comments, in addition, are not attacked in the particulars of the students’ texts, but rather are “a series of vague directives” (Sommers, 1982, p.236). Another issue revealed when mentioning the usefulness of text- specific feedback is that it focuses too heavily on surface features and it is too specific, i.e. giving students advice that is so text-specific that “they can not use it on subsequent writing” (Searle and Dillon, 1980, as cited in Leki, 1990, p.60). Generic feedback, as compared with text-specific feedback, seems not to be helpful since it only provides some general comments on students’ papers. Nevertheless, advocates of this type may argue that “general comments giving encouragement and suggesting revision helped improve the content of composition rewrites” (Fathman and Whalley, 1990, p186). Besides, to foster independent writers, teachers can provide summary comments that instruct students to look for problems and correct on their own. Therefore, instead of adding an ‘s’ to the end of every first person present verbs, a comment at the end might say “there are several verbs that are missing an ‘-s’ at the end. Try to locate and correct these verbs in the next version of this paper” (Adopted from Nunan, 2003). As a whole, both specific and generic feedback contain two sides of the matter, therefore, it is better to have a combination of them: text- specific feedback for addressing students problems and general feedback for remarking the overall process. 2.2.5.7.4 Margin feedback versus end feedback Marginal comment means the feedback is written on the margin of the paper where the problems occur. Meanwhile, end comment, refers to the one given at the end of students’ writing.
  • Over the matter, Stiff (1967) after examining whether college freshmen profits most from comments made in the margins or comments made at the end of the paper, or combination of these two, concludes that “the location of comments had no effect” (as cited in Fathman and Whalley, 1990, p.179). According to Stannard (2006), it seems that a few notes in a margin or at the end of a paper are simply not enough for students to be clear about the mistakes they have made. The margin of a paper, to some extent, is too narrow for teachers to write long comments; hence, they tend to write simply as “unclear” or just a question mark ‘?’ which students may consider as unkind and unhelpful comments. For this problem, feedback needs not always be written in the margins (Nunan, 2003). On the other hand, end comment, to some extent, is said to take teachers a lot of time to write as summative and thorough as possible. However, it is not right to deny the role of these two types of feedback as well as to conclude which one is more effective. In fact, margin feedback can help teachers to call students’ attention to exact places where the errors happen. End feedback, on the other hand, is useful when being used to response to the general performance of students and may be “clearer, less ambiguous, easier to read and more thorough” (To et al., 2008, p.208). In short, despite the fact that “researchers are forced to the conclusion that none of these different ways of responding to student writing produce significant improvements in students’ subsequent writing” (Leki, 1990, p.60), the researcher thinks differently. In her point of view, each aforementioned type of teacher written feedback, though having some problems, is still beneficial to students’ work. Moreover, writing teachers can have their own reasons and desire to take some types into account. The
  • same situation can be found in students’ preference on which types of feedback they would like to receive and which ones are most helpful for their writing. Therefore, it is advisable to have a discussion between teachers and students to reach an agreement on these points. 2.3 Summary To sum up, this chapter has provided some different current theories of both writing and teacher written feedback in order to give a clear overview on the matter of the study. The following chapter will deal with the methodology with which the study was conducted. Chapter 3: Methodology After reviewing a theoretical basis for the study in the previous part, in this chapter, the researcher will discuss the methodology used to implement the research. The chapter will cover four major parts, namely, participants, data collection instruments, data collection procedures, and data analysis procedures. 3.1 Participants The study involves three kinds of participants including teachers who teach writing for the freshmen of ED, CFL, VNU, the freshmen of ED, CFL, VNU, and writing samples of these students. 3.1.1 Teachers teaching writing for the freshmen of ED, CFL, VNU
  • They are 13 teachers who have been teaching writing for the freshmen at ED, CFL, VNU. Among these 13 teachers, 10 of them completed the questionnaires while the other three participated in the semi- structured interviews. The teachers who responded to the questionnaires are from the Division 1of ED, CFL, VNU with different range of teaching experience. These 10 teachers, therefore, were chosen randomly among the teachers of the Division 1of ED, CFL, VNU, following random sampling method (also known as probability sampling) because “it seeks representativeness of the wider population” (Cohen, Manion, & Morrisor, 2000). The other three teachers who participated in the semi-structured interviews, however, were chosen with a purpose because they were the ones who mark the writing papers which the researcher selected to be the samples of the analysis part. 3.1.2 The freshmen of ED, CFL, VNU Similarly to the teacher’s sampling procedure, 50 first-year students who are in the second semester of the academic year 2008-2009 at Ed., CFL, VNU were chosen randomly for the study. They come from different classes at different levels and they have different attitudes and preferences towards writing skills. Particularly, these students were not the ones whose writing papers were collected for analyzing as the researcher would not like the information to be overlapped. Despite the limited number of the subjects, she still believes that 10% of the population (50 over 500 students of ED) will partly represent for the whole group; therefore, the reliability and validity of the study could be achieved. Apart from these surveyed
  • students, other 4 students whose writing papers were analyzed were chosen to participate in the semi-structured interviews. 3.1.3 Writing samples In order to find out the relationship between teacher written feedback and the progress of the freshmen in writing, student writing papers can be considered as the most important and indispensable subject of the research. To gain more reliability and validity for the study, the researcher spent a large amount of time and effort to collect these samples from the first-year students of ED, CFL, VNU. 32 writing papers (including the 1st marking and 2nd marking) were selected from 32 students of 4 classes at different range of levels from good, quite good, average and not good. More specifically, of the 8 papers from each class, 2 were from students of the same level or have similar marks. The reason of doing this is to compare the ways the students of the same levels rewrite their papers after receiving the teacher written feedback in order to achieve the progress. Moreover, the papers were on the same topic and at the same period of time to make the analysis more reliable and valid. The criteria of categorizing the samples were based on the marks given on each draft with “good” ranging from 8-9, “quite good” from 7-8, “average” from 6-7, and “not good” from 5-6. However, due to the fact that each teacher has their own marking scale to evaluate student writing papers, the criteria utilized to classify these papers were flexible and depending on each class. For details of the samples, please see the table below:
  • Class Class A Class B Class C Class D Draft Draft Draft Draft Draft Draft Draft Draft 1 2 1 2 1 2 1 2 Student Student 1 5.5 7 5 5 5 7.5 5 7 Student 2 5.5 6 5 6 5 7.5 5 8 Student 3 6.5 7 6 7 6 7 6 7.5 Student 4 6.5 6 6 6 6 8.5 6 7.5 Student 5 7.5 7 7 8 7.5 7.5 7 8.5 Student 6 7.5 7.5 7 7 7.5 9 7 9 Student 7 8.5 9 8 8.5 8.5 9 8 8.5 Student 8 8.5 9 8 9 8.5 9 8 9 Table 1: Students’ writings and mark given for the two drafts before and after receiving teacher written feedback 3.2 Data collection instruments Concerning the aims at answering the four research questions, both quantitative and qualitative approaches with the triangulation of questionnaires, writing samples analysis, and semi-structured interviews were utilized in the study so as to reach the targeted goals. According to Cohen et al. (2000), the combination was investigated because it helps myself as the researcher feel confident about the findings, and moreover increases the depth and quality of information, (Verma & Mallick, 1999). 3.2.1 Questionnaires Questionnaire “is a relatively popular means of collecting data” (Nunan, 1992, p.143) which is “unprecedented efficient in terms of researcher time, researcher effort, and financial resources” (Nguyen et al., 2007). The questionnaires were done to collect data answering for four research questions and had two sets for teachers and for students. In the
  • questionnaires, both open-ended and close-ended questions were made under a variety of forms such as multiple choices, putting a tick, etc. The content of questionnaire takes the basis of what has been discussed in this paper’s Literature Review and contained factual, behavioral, and attitudinal questions. In each set of questionnaires, different questions were categorized in groups following the four research questions. Particularly, to help the participants find it easy to complete the questionnaires, the researcher paid much attention to clarify the terms used in the papers thoroughly. To be more specific, the questionnaires for teachers consisted of 4 sections with 13 questions, namely, current ways of giving teacher written feedback, progress made by students in writings, difficulties in giving feedback to student writings, and teacher’s preference and suggestions for improvement. The first section having 8 items addressed the first research question (what are the current ways of giving teacher written feedback?). The second section which contained questions 9, 10, 11 was done to investigate the progress of students under teachers’ own evaluations answering the second research question (Have the freshmen made progress in their writing after receiving teachers’ written feedback? What are the factors contributing to their progress? ). Question 12 in the third section was to answer the first part of the research question number 3 (What are the difficulties of the teachers in providing feedback?). Finally, question 13 in the last section answered the first part of the fourth research question (What are teachers’ preferences and suggestions on providing teacher written feedback?). Almost similar to the questionnaire for teachers, the set for students included 3 sections with 12 items. The first section containing the questions 1, 2, 3, 4 addressed the second research question (Have the freshmen made
  • progress in their writing after receiving teachers’ written feedback? What are the factors contributing to their progress? ). The second part of the research question number 3 (What are the difficulties of the students receiving feedback and revising the drafts?) was answered by questions 5, 6, 7, and 8 in the second section. Finally, the last 7 questions were to give information answering the second part of the research question number 4 (What are the students’ preferences and suggestions on receiving feedback and revising the drafts?) In general, it can be said that the questionnaires could answer all the research questions made; however, along with writing samples analysis and semi-structured interviews, the outcome could yield more reliable and valuable. 3.2.2 Semi-structured interviews Semi-structured interview is carried out as “the interviewer has a general idea of where she wants the interview to go, and what should come out of it” (Nunan, 1992, p.197). The semi-structured interviews were carried out for 3 teachers and 4 students who involved in marking and revising the writing papers selected by the researcher. With an attempt to create an open and friendly atmosphere for the respondents to express and share their opinions as well as their attitudes, the interviews were held one-by-one with Vietnamese as the main language. In terms of structure, the interview for teachers consisted of four parts aiming to find out their opinions and attitudes towards teacher written feedback, the reason why they have made the feedback as in their students’ writing papers, their difficulties while producing such kind of feedback, and their own preferences as well as suggestions for further improvement.
  • The interview for students, similarly, included four parts yet attempting to investigate their opinions and attitudes towards teacher written feedback, the ways they have revised their papers after receiving teacher written feedback, the difficulties of revising papers, and lastly, their own preferences and suggestions for improvement. Along with other instruments, the semi-structured interviews help to “validate other methods, or to go deeper into the motivation of respondents and their reasons for responding as they do” (cited by Cohen, Manion, and Morrisor, 2000, p.268) 3.2.3 Writing samples analysis In order to find out the progress made by students in writing after receiving teacher written feedback, the writing papers analysis was paid much effort and time. As mentioned in the scope of the study, the progress was evaluated basing on the comparison of mark, of mistakes frequency between two versions, before and after having teacher written feedback, and the content improvement. Overall improvement could be seen in the ways the students made better changes following their teachers’ suggestions or in the teachers’ final comments. These data were helpful since they served as an obvious evidence to consider the progress made by students in revising their papers after receiving teacher written feedback. In addition, these papers were the materials used in the semi-structured interviews in which the researcher could ask the respondents for their further explanations of what they have done.
  • 3.3 Data collection procedures The procedures of data collection went through four main phases in chronological order: designing and preparing instruments, analyzing writings samples, delivering questionnaires, and carrying out semi- structured interviews. 3.3.1 Designing and preparing instruments The writing samples were the first data among the others to be collected at the end of the first semester of the academic year 2008-2009 when the freshmen completed the writing portfolio and handed in to the teachers. The reason to wait until the end of the semester was to easily select the sample which best met the requirements set in advanced. With permission from the teachers, the researcher made the copy versions of these samples before they were given back to students. At the same time of collecting the samples, the researcher started designing two sets of questionnaires. After finishing the first versions, they were sent to the Supervisor for getting further revised. Then, these two set of questionnaires were piloted with two teachers of the Division 1 of ED, CFL, VNU and some freshmen from the same college. Questions for the semi-structured interviews were the last ones to be constructed after a quick study of the writing samples collected. The procedure of building questions for the semi-structured interviews happened in the same way as the process of drawing up the questionnaires. The next steps after preparing the instruments were to analyze the writing samples, deliver questionnaires, and make appointments for the semi-structured interviews.
  • 3.3.2 Analyzing writing samples The samples after being selected were categorized according to their classes and the range of mark. The researcher made a detailed table to compare the second versions over the first ones in terms of mark, mistake frequency, content improvement, and overall improvement proved by teachers’ comments or better changes students have achieved. 3.3.3 Delivering questionnaires The procedures of delivering questionnaires for teachers and students were separated. First of all, 75 questionnaires for students were randomly distributed to three first-year classes at ED, CFL, VNU. The reason to deliver such number of questionnaires was to eliminate the invalid ones and get back 50 most comprehensible ones, and to avoid losing the questionnaires made by the students. On the day of giving questionnaires, the researcher asked for the help of the teachers teaching those periods to deliver the papers to the students after introducing the purposes and explaining some necessary information in case of having any problems. The reason to let the teachers send out the questionnaires was that under the “authority” of the teachers, students would complete the papers seriously. The researcher decided to let students do the questionnaires at home as she thought that they would have time to think more about the answers instead of quick responding during the break time. Then, the researcher asked for the help from the monitors of three classes to collect these papers on the next day. Though the process of collecting these questionnaires took time and effort, the researcher believed the reliability and validity of the work. Fortunately, the teachers, the monitors and almost students were welcomed to help.
  • After sending out the questionnaires for the students, the researcher chose randomly ten teachers of Division 1 of ED, CFL, VNU to give the questionnaires. Studying the schedules of each teacher, the researcher then met each one directly and had a brief introduction of the research as well as asking for their permission before distributing the questionnaires to them. Like the questionnaires for students, these ones for teachers were done at home for the sake of the data. Then, the researcher made the appointments up to the teachers’ time to collect these papers. Thankfully, all the teachers were open and enthusiastic to help. 3.3.4 Holding the semi-structured interviews One-by-one interviews for teachers were carried out during their break time at the room for the teachers while the ones for the students were done at their rooms in the hostel. The first part of the interviews was to introduce and establish the close rapport between the interviewer and the interviewees. Then, the researcher started the interviews and asked the permission to the use of tape-recording along with the confirmation of confidentiality of the interviews. Under the friendly and open atmosphere, the respondents were encouraged to express their views and share their opinions towards the questions raised by the researcher. During the interviews, in addition to asking for the respondents’ point of views, the researcher also let them chances to clarify and explain what they have done on the students’ writing papers. A part from the use of tape-recording, the researcher took notes on some important information through the interviews for the sake of later transcription. 3.4 Data analysis procedure
  • Procedure “refers to sifting, organizing, summarizing, and synthesizing the data so as to arrive at the results and conclusion of the research” (Seliger and Shohamy, 1989, p.201). The data collected was synthesized and analyzed according to four research questions as follow: The first research question (What are the current ways of giving teacher written feedback?) was answered by the information from the first 8 questions in the set of questionnaires for teachers. Moreover, the data analyzed from the writing samples and the interviews also contributed to the finding. The second research question (Have the freshmen made progress in their writing after receiving teachers’ written feedback? What are the factors contributing to their progress?) was addressed by the questions 9, 10, 11 in the questionnaires for teachers and 1, 2, 3, 4 in the questionnaires for students. In addition, the interviews and specially the analysis of the writing samples provided much information. The next research question (What are the difficulties of the teachers in providing feedback and of the freshmen in receiving feedback and revising the drafts?) required information from the interviews as well as the data from question 12 in the questionnaires for teachers and questions 5, 6, 7, 8 in the ones for students. Like the third research question, the last one (What are the preferences and suggestions of the teachers on providing feedback and of the students on receiving feedback and revising the drafts?) was dealt with the information during the interviews. Furthermore, the question 13 of the questionnaires for the teachers and the last 7 questions of the one for the students were another source of data to answer this research question.
  • To make the data analyzed easy to follow, the data was synthesized in form of charts, tables and diagrams according to the features of each item. 3.5 Summary The third chapter gave a clear view on the methodology of the research including participants, data collection instruments, data collection procedure and data analysis procedure. Based on the aims of the study, using triangulation of questionnaires, writing sample analysis and semi-structured interviews was considered as the best choice to collect the thorough and in-depth information from the respondents and can make the data gained afterward reliable and comprehensive. All those findings will come in the following chapter. Chapter IV: Results and discussions The data, after being collected from the questionnaires, the sample analysis, and the semi-structured interviews, would be analyzed and interpreted to answer the four research questions. The findings would be presented following the research questions namely, (1) the current ways of giving teacher written feedback, (2) the progress made by the freshmen in writing after receiving teacher written feedback and the factors contributing to that progress, (3) the difficulties of the teachers in providing feedback and of the students in receiving feedback and revising their papers, and (4) the teachers’ and students’ preferences and suggestions in providing and receiving feedback. 4.1. What are the current ways of giving teacher written feedback? 4.1.1 Approach to teaching writing the teachers apply in their lessons
  • Not surprisingly, when being asked about the approach to teaching writing the teachers apply in their lessons, all the 10 respondents shared that they use the process approach which focuses more on process of writing from prewriting, drafting, revising to evaluating. By doing this way, the students can get enormous support from teachers through the process of writing; therefore, their progress can be evaluated through a number of stages rather than the only final products. 4.1.2 Focus of teacher written feedback Regarding to the focus of teacher written feedback, among the options given by the researcher, namely, focus on form of writing such as grammar or mechanic mistakes, focus on content of writing such as ideas or organization, focus on both content and form or none of them, all the 10 teachers said that they took both content and form of the students’ papers into consideration when providing feedback to them. These views were similar to the researcher’s that emphasis on both was better than one only. It was understandable that, for the first time approaching the academic writing, the freshmen could not easily overcome the difficulties in gathering ideas as well as structuring error-free sentences without teacher’s help. 4.1.3 Amount of teacher written feedback Concerning to the amount of providing feedback, all the respondents were asked to define how much feedback have they given onto students’ writings including correcting all the errors existing in students’ writings, selecting some errors existing in students’ writing, correcting nothing or other ideas. The details were as follow:
  • Figure 1: Amount of correction 4 4 I correct all the errors existing in the 3 3 students' writigns 3 I select some errors existing in the students' writings 2 I do not correct any error existing in 1 the students' writings 0 Others 0 As can be seen clearly from the chart, none of the teachers did not correct any mistakes existing in the students’ writing. This was good as though correcting students’ writing mistake could be time and effort- consuming, the teachers have still tried their best for the sake of the students. Among them, 3 teachers said that they corrected all the mistakes while the other four teachers only selected some typical errors which happened frequently in students’ writings to correct. Actually, these above 3 teachers felt into the concept of overcorrection though it was sometimes preferred by a large number of students. Obviously, it would take the teachers a lot of time and effort to do so, and moreover, it may leave bad effect as it was very depressing and discouraging for a student to get back any piece of written work with lots of teacher correction or notes on it (Edge, 1989, p.50; Gulcat and Ozagac, 2004). In addition, correcting all the errors for students may lead to the bad impact on the students’ self- awareness as they only copied what have been corrected by the teacher into the new papers. Having other options in dealing with amount of giving feedback, the other 3 teachers said that they underlined or circled the grammar and mechanic mistakes, and gave correction symbols together with giving comments on ideas and expressions. The another teacher among these 3 teachers wrote that she sometimes corrected all the errors, but sometimes only selected some, depending on the objectives of those lessons.
  • In conclusion, the teachers are expected to correct all the errors occurring in the students’ writings, however, doing this way could be overloaded work for them. It is better to select the typical ones and leave the rest with suggestions for students to correct. Following this way, it is advisable to remind students in advance. 4.1.4 Forms of giving feedback Figure 2: Forms of giving feedback 8 7 7 6 6 6 6 5 4 4 3 3 3 3 3 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 1 1 1 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 Questions Exclamations Statements Imperatives Giving or praises Underlining or circling the correction mistakes codes Always Often Sometimes Rarely Never From the chart, we can see clearly that there were no place for the option “never”, which indicates that the teachers here have varied the forms of giving feedback from questions, statements, imperatives, exclamations, underlining or circling the mistakes to giving correction codes. Among these forms, “underlining or circling the mistakes” was at the highest rank with 7 answers for “always”. Coming next were “giving correction codes” with 6 answers for “always” and “exclamations or praises” with 3 for “always” and 6 for “often”. Imperatives, statements, and questions were at the last positions in the rank. Almost the same as the questionnaires, findings from the sample analysis also illustrated the higher places for “underlining, circling mistakes” and “giving correction codes”. Particularly, the teachers tent to
  • underline or circle the mistakes together with giving the correction codes. Explaining for this frequency, these teachers said that it could help to address the problems students made as it was easy to realize, and moreover, help them to develop their abilities of self-correcting. With correction symbols, the aim was also to make students think of the mistakes and aware of those types of mistakes. Therefore, a table of correction symbols was given to the freshmen at the beginning of the course to ensure that the students know what their mistakes were. However the implementation of coding was not really effective causing a number of problems, which would be discussed more in the later part. Noticeably, feedback in the form of exclamations or praises were found more on the second marking than on the first marking, which showed that the teachers often praised the students’ improvements when comparing the two drafts rather than right at the very first ones. Mentioning the little use of “statements”, one of the teachers shared that sometimes it was hard for teachers to express their ideas in a completed sentence since giving feedback to students’ writings needed to be short and simple. Another teacher, in addition, wrote in the questionnaire that the space provided in the writing paper was too small for writing long comments. The first interviewed teacher, moreover, said that all these forms could be applied depending on the types of mistakes. For grammar and mechanic mistakes, underlining or circling the mistakes and giving codes were acceptable while for the other complex ones as expressions, it should involve a variety of forms (T1, line 26-28). In short, the forms of giving feedback among the teachers were quite diversifying and the highest frequency are underlining or circling the mistakes, and giving correction codes. In addition, it should be flexible to
  • utilize different forms of feedback in accordance with different kinds of mistakes. 4.1.5 Types of feedback Figure 3: Types of feedback 7 6 6 6 5 55 5 5 5 4 44 4 3 3 3 3 3 3 2 2 2 2 2 2 1 1 1 1 11 1 00 00 0 00 0 00 00 00 0 Indirect Direct Positive Negative Text-specific General Margin End feedback feedback feedback feedback feedback feedback feedback feedback Always Often Sometimes Rarely Never Overall, the teachers of Division 1 of ED, CFL, VNU seemed to use a various types of feedback; however, the higher frequency were end feedback (40% for “always” and 40% for “often”), margin feedback (20% for “always” and 60% for “often”), indirect feedback (50% for “always” and 20% for “often”), and text-specific feedback (20% for “always” and 50% for “often”). With 60% for “sometime”, 30% for “rarely” and 10% for “never”, direct feedback was of the least favor as compared to the others. Indirect feedback and direct feedback, distinctively, had much difference in the number of advocates. It was understandable as the former was much better than the latter since it provided the increase of motivation in students and also contributed to improve students’ self-edited ability (Frodesen, 2001). Noticeably, positive feedback and negative feedback were quite equal in teachers’ favor showing a balance in utilizing two types of
  • feedback in giving feedback to the students’ writings. Obviously, only positive comments could not help to motivate students in rewriting better versions, but over-negative feedback may “undermine students’ confidence as writers” (Coffin et al., 2003, p.117). Regarding the text-specific feedback and general feedback, it was surprised that text-specific got only little higher proportion with 20% for “always”, 50% for “often”, and 30% for “sometimes” as compared to that of general feedback with 40% for “always”, 10% for “often”, and 30% for “sometimes”. Though text-specific was in general more effective than the general feedback in terms of providing clear and concrete suggestions, all the respondents agreed that the combination of the two was better. Strikingly from the chart, margin feedback and end feedback accounted for the highest frequency among the others. Responding for this phenomenon, the second interviewed teacher said that “although end comments take me lot of time to summary what I would like students to focus; I think I still need to do so for the sake of my students. By using end feedback, I can generate the typical mistakes or the serious mistakes that students make in their writing; therefore, students can be much aware of them in the next writings.” (T2, line 66-71) Apart from the findings from the questionnaires and interviews, that of from samples analysis also contributed to reveal the currently-used types of teacher written feedback. Through analyzing the students’ writing, the researcher found that the teachers here have utilized more than one type of feedback together in the students’ writings, but the most popular ones were end feedback, margin feedback, text-specific feedback and indirect feedback.
  • In conclusion, using a combination of different types of feedback could yield more good effect for the students’ improvement in rewriting their papers. 4.1.6 When to give feedback Figure 4: when to give feedback 7 Prewriting 8 6 5 5 Drafting 4 Revising 2 0 0 Evaluating Figure 4 demonstrates the time to provide feedback to students’ writings whether in the prewriting, drafting, revising or evaluating. On this issue, it was obvious that there were some teachers giving feedback during more than one stage of writing process; therefore, the respondents could choose more than one option when being asked about their own preferred stages of commenting. However, slightly different from the researcher’s point of view, giving feedback in the evaluating stage accounted for the highest rank with 70% (7 out of 10 respondents) while the stage of drafting and revising shared the second position with 50% (5 out of 10 respondents for each). In fact, providing feedback at drafting or revising process could be better than at the evaluating since corrections on composition made after the process has finished seem not to be helpful in improving students’ writing (Stanley, 2003). However, it was inferable that the aim of giving feedback at the last stage of the process may be for the further improvements in the next assignments. One more thing that could be drawn from the chart was that there was no teacher giving feedback at the very early stages of writing as it could discourage students from attempting to
  • rewrite if they receive their papers with full of red-inked notes. As a whole, providing feedback during the process could yield more benefits than at the beginning of the process, which was agreed by the majority of the respondents. 4.1.7 Tools of providing teacher written feedback Figure 5: Color of pen to give comments 10% 0% Red pen Pencil Other colors 90% Regarding to the color of pen that the teachers used to give comments on the students’ writing, 90% of the respondents (9 out of 10) have used red pen to give feedback to students’ papers as “it is the symbol of teachers” (Ivanic et al., 2000, p.51, cited in Coffin et al., 2003, p.121). Strikingly, however, it could be predicted that there was no teacher using other colors of pens to provide feedback while there was a little favor of using pencil with 10% of respondents (1 out of 10). Obviously, the good points of pencil in commenting as reader-friendly, “relatively tentative, and open to negotiation” (Ivanic et al., 2000, p.51, cited in Coffin et al., 2003, p.121) have not been recognized. The findings from the sample analysis and interviews were also similar to those from the questionnaires. That was, apart from showing the symbol of teachers, using red pen to give comments could help students see the mistakes as well as the suggestions made by the teachers easier. The teacher (T3) who used pencil for giving feedback, however, claimed that feedback in red ink “could be very stressful and threatening to the students whereas it was not the same problem when using pencil” (lines 115-117).
  • Moreover, his aim of using pencil was to make students “carefully read their writings word by word since the pencil was not clear to see as the red- inked notes”. By doing so, the students can remember their mistakes longer and may avoid making them again. Noticeably, from the papers he has commented for his students, the researcher found that there appeared a little use of written notes in Vietnamese. Explaining for this very different point of view, he said that sometimes it should be the Vietnamese to avoid the misunderstanding from the students towards the teacher written feedback. In summary, despite the benefits from using pencil to provide feedback, the respondents here have had their own reasons to keep the use of red pen. 4.1.8 Teacher’s work after providing feedback Figure 6 : Teachers' work after providing feedback I talk to the students to give them 9 10 further help 8 7 I go through students' common 6 errors in class 4 I do nothing 2 0 0 Others 0 On being asked about the work after providing feedback, 90% of the respondents (9 out of 10) went through students’ common errors in class and 70% of them (7 out of 10) talked to the student to give them further help while no one did nothing or invested other things to do. These findings, overall, were within the researcher’s expectation and prediction.
  • To be more detailed, the teachers during the interviews shared that they tend to spend nearly the whole period after giving feedback called revision to go through students’ most typical mistakes in class and to let students chance to ask them directly for further explaining or suggesting. It was no doubt that different teachers have different way to go through the errors made by students, however, they all used the board as the main means to show these mistakes and ask students to correct together. Sometimes, the projector was involved to save the time and attract students’ attention. In addition to going through the errors by writing on board or typing on the projector, the teachers here welcomed the students to ask them orally. All the three teachers interviewed said that they first let students go around asking the classmates for help before asking the teachers. One of the interviewees also advised that the teachers should have the habit of synthesizing the basic mistakes to let the students know and correct them timely, for avoiding making them again (T3, line 137-138). As a whole, the teacher’s work after giving feedback such as going through the common errors or talking directly to the students is very vital since it can help the students clarify what they confuse or do not understand relating to the feedback provided by the teachers. Moreover, for the mistakes the students can not correct, asking the teachers directly for suggestion can be good idea to deal with the problems. 4.2 What is the progress made by the freshmen in writing? Different from the findings of current ways of giving feedback which much relied on the questionnaires for the teachers and small amount of data from the interviews and sample analysis, the progress made by the freshmen in writing was drawn from all the instruments involved, namely, questionnaires for teachers, questionnaires for students, sample analysis,
  • and semi-structured interviews. Among these data resources, findings from samples analysis were much emphasized on while those of from interviews were considered as the additional support. 4.2.1 Findings from sample analysis and interviews It is no doubt to say analyzing the students’ writing samples could help to evaluate their progress more clearly and reliably than the questionnaires or the interviews. To analyze the samples, marks in the two drafts, the mistakes students made including grammatical and mechanic mistakes, expressions and word choices, and content were involved in the process. Among those, there was a notice that the mistakes made by students were divided into two categories. The first type was mistakes made in the first drafts and the second one was the new mistakes happened in the revised papers (please see the Appendix 3 for more details). Specifically, 32 students’ writing papers consisting of the first and second marking by the teachers were sorted out following the classes named class A, B, C, D and were analyzed based on four abovementioned categories, (please see the Appendix 3 for more details). There was one thing needed to be clarified that though the teachers have had the criteria to evaluate the students’ writings which are nearly similar to those of Langan (1997) including “Unity, Support, Coherence, Sentence skills” (p.95) , however in fact, the teachers seemed to give comments and correction on the grammatical and mechanic mistakes, expressions and word used. The first criteria to evaluate the students’ progress in writing after receiving teacher written feedback was the marks provided by the teacher, which was presented in the pie chart below: 4.2.1.1 Mark improvement in the second revised drafts
  • Figure 7: Mark improvement Get higher mark as compared to the 6% first draft 16% Get the same mark as compared to the first draft 78% Get lower mark as compared to the first draft Within the researcher’ s prediction, there were not all the students getting higher marks in the revised drafts, however, the percentage was still positive with 78% in comparison with getting the same marks (16%) and getting lower marks (6%). The students who got higher mark said that they tried to correct the surface mistakes by checking them in dictionary, in grammar books, or asking their friends. For more difficult aspects such as expressions or organization, they turned to the teacher to get help (S2, line 193-194). Those students whose papers were marked the same or even lower said this was because of their laziness in reading the comments thoroughly, of “lacking of time” (S4, line 267) or “thinking that it would not be marked again” (S4, line 254). However, in general, through mark-based evaluating, it could be assumed that the majority of the students get higher marks after receiving teacher written feedback. The reasons for getting higher, the same or even lower marks, however, were further explained in the latter part. The second point to define the progress made by the students after getting teacher written feedback was depending on the correction of mistakes between two drafts. There were five ranges to consider the improvements on correcting mistakes as demonstrated in the table below:
  • 4.2.1.2 Improvement in correcting mistakes in the revised drafts Table 2: Improvement in correcting mistakes between two drafts Percentages 0% 0% - 50% 50% - 70% 70% - 90% 100% Mistakes Grammar &Mechanic 0% 3% 12% 44% 41% mistakes Expressions 9% 17% 35% 17% 22% Word choices 19% 4% 19% 20% 38% Overall, grammatical and mechanic mistakes were much revised as compared to the other two, namely, expressions and word choices. More than 80% of the students could correct nearly all the grammatical and mechanic mistakes pointed out by the teachers while there was no student who could not correct any mistake. For the improvement in expressions and word choices, the proportion varied in the whole scale. Particularly, the disproportion between the students who could correct much (from 70% to 100%) and the ones who could correct less than 50% downwards was not vast. In fact, the grammatical and mechanic mistakes were made due to “the students’ carelessness”, “students’ habits” or “ lacking of time to proofread” (T2, line 61 and S2, line 200-201). Therefore, after being pointed out by the teacher, the students could correct these mistakes by themselves, or by asking the others like their friends or teachers. The expressions and word choices, on the other hand, were hard for the students to change if the teachers “only pointed out by circling, underlying, or questioning without suggestions or correction” (S3, line 235-236). It was understandable that the expressions and words choices were difficult to
  • correct as the students always tried to think in their own languages and translate it into English (Peterson & Hagen, 1999, p.91). As a result, not many of them could better the expressions as well as the word choices, even if they attempted to do so, they still got more mistakes (S4, line 266-267). The third factor to determine students’ improvement in writing is the amount of new mistakes that they made when rewriting their papers. 4.2.1.3 New mistakes in the second revised drafts Figure 8: Students' making new mistakes 14% Grammar and Mechanic mistakes 31% Expressions 75% Word choices Not surprisingly, grammatical and mechanic mistakes were in the highest position with 75% of the students made in the new versions though they were the ones that could be much revised after being pointed out or suggested the correction by the teachers. Being in the next place was the expressions with 31% and the last was the word choices with 14%. The reasons for making such kinds of mistakes, again, were the students’ carelessness and “lacking of time to reread” (S4, line 267). In addition, some more mistakes were made in the revised papers while students tried to rewrite the papers without understanding feedback given by the teacher, “sometimes, I (the student) do not understand why my teacher underlined
  • those mistakes and asked me to rewrite, hence, I tried to use the new expressions to rewrite those mistakes.” (S2, line 197-198). Lastly, to analyze the progress made by students after getting teacher written feedback, the content was considered through 3 different levels like “much improved”, “improved”, and “not improved” as below: 4.2.1.4 Content improved in the second revised drafts Figure 9: Content improved after receiving teacher Written feedback 31% Much improved 41% Improved 28% Not improved From the chart, nearly 50% of the students could not improve the content of their papers after getting teacher written feedback. It was not surprising as not all the students tried to revise the content by adding more details or beautifying the ideas (only 4% of the respondents). In stead, they only rewrote the papers basing the teacher’s corrections and suggestions (48%), copied what the teacher had corrected (10%), or even did nothing with their new papers (2%). The figure 10 below illustrated the problems:
  • Figure 10: Students' rewriting after receiving feedback I do nothing with my new papers 4% 2% 10% 36% I only copy what my teacher corrects into my new papers I rewrite my papers basing my teacher's corrections and suggestions 48% I revise my papers corrections and suggestions, and add more details Others In summary, the students in general made progress in writing the next versions after receiving teacher written feedback. The improvements that the majority got could be found in their higher marks and their enhancement in correcting the errors as compared to the previous drafts. More specifically, the students, when rewriting their papers after getting the feedback, made fewer mistakes or were able to deal with the errors pointed out by the teachers. Some students, moreover, could better their writing by improving their expressions and content of the papers based on the teacher’s suggestions. However, the most important progress made by the students in writing, in the teachers’ opinions, was the awareness of mistakes and English writing style. 4.2.2 Findings from the questionnaires for teachers and the interviews On being asked about the progress made by students in writings, all the teachers completing the questionnaires agreed that in general, their students made improvement after receiving teacher written feedback. However, different teachers held their own criteria to evaluate the progress made by the students, please see the figure 11 below for more details:
  • Figure 11: Progress made by students after receiving feedback (In Teachers' opinions) 10 They get higher marks on the next versions 9 8 They get fewer mistakes on the next versions 6 They do not get any mistakes on the next 6 4 versions 4 3 They can correct all the grammatical and mechanical mistakes that the teacher points out 2 1 They can revise the content and the 0 organization suggested by the teacher 0 Others On the matter, there was a great consensus that the students made fewer mistakes on the next versions and they could revise the content and the expressions suggested by the teachers with 90% (9 out of 10) and 60% (6 out of 10) of the respondents representatively. Different from the researcher’s prediction, only 10% of the teachers (1 out 10) considered higher marks as the improvements made by the students in writings after getting teacher written feedback. It was inferable that mark was not the most vital goal that the teacher would like their students to gain in their writing as their improvements. The importance here, in one teacher’ opinion, was “the awareness of those mistakes” (T2, line 63). In her view, higher mark for the next version was determined by the attitude and attempt of the students in rewriting their papers, but not only copying what the teacher had corrected. Moreover, from the chart, there was no teacher asserted that their students did not get any mistake on the next versions, and nearly 50% of them said that their students can correct all the grammatical and mechanic mistakes pointed out. Understandably, it was impossible for the freshmen to produce error-free sentences in their writings. In addition, the ability to
  • correct all the mistakes sorting out by the teacher was not at the hand of all the students. Apart from what suggested by the researcher, other 30% (3 out of 10) of the teachers added progress could mean students realizing, after receiving teacher written feedback, what typical mistakes they often made and being more aware of their English writing styles. 4.2.3 Findings from the questionnaires for students and the interviews Unlike the teachers, there was not total number of students agreeing on the progress made after receiving teacher written feedback. However, the proportion of students who admitted the improvements was still much higher than that of denying with 92% over 8%. Figure 12: Progress made by students after receiving feedback 8% Yes No 92% 4.2.3.1 Improvements made by students after receiving feedback (In the students’ opinions) Regarding to the progress made after receiving the teacher written feedback, it was noticeable that the students shared the same answers with their teachers on the two most outstanding improvements: they make fewer mistakes on the next versions and they could revise the content and the expressions suggested by the teachers (please see the figure 13 below).
  • Figure 13: Improvements made by students after receiving feedback 85% I get higher marks on the next versions 90% 80% I get fewer mistakes on the next versions 70% 57% 60% I do not get any mistakes on the next versions 50% 50% 43% 40% 35% I can correct all the grammatical and mechanic 30% mistakes that the teacher points out 20% I can revise the content and the expressions 9% suggested by the teacher 10% Others 0% Strikingly, if 50% of the teachers said that their students could correct all the grammatical and mechanic mistakes pointed out, the percentage of the students choosing this option was the same, (50%). However, unlike the teachers, 35% of the students considered higher marks as the progress made after getting teacher written feedback, and particularly, 43% of them were quite confident to say that they did not get any mistakes on the next versions. There were 9% of the students showing their improvements by making their new writings more logical and clearer, improving word choices and getting more ideas for revising their papers. Particularly, one of the interviewed students said that what she could enhance in writing, apart from the abovementioned criteria, was “the ability to assess her writing level and skill” (S4, line 254) 8% of the respondents who claimed that they did not get progress in the next drafts after receiving teacher written feedback, on the other hand, gave reasons why they thought that: 4.2.3.2 What makes students think they have not made progress
  • Figure 14: Problems after receiving feedback I get the same or even lower marks as compared 50% 50% 50% to the previous versions I get the same mistakes as compared to the 40% previous versions I make no changes and even get more mistakes on 30% 25% 25% the next versions 20% I can not correct all the grammatical and mechanic mistakes that the teacher points out 10% I can not revise the content and the expressions suggested by the teacher 0% 0% 0% Others For these students, as can be seen from the chart, getting the same or even lower marks and getting the same mistakes as compared to the previous versions were the major problems they had encountered after receiving teacher written feedback, which were agreed by 50% of the respondents for each. Coming next in the rank were two other problems as the students made no changes or even more mistakes in the next versions (25%), and students could not correct all the grammatical and mechanic mistakes pointed out by the teacher (25%). Besides, it was surprising for the researcher to see that there was no student considered inability to revise the content and expressions suggested by the teacher as a problem after receiving feedback. Generally, in the abovementioned students’ opinions, only the four first problems were considered as the reasons why they thought that they did not make progress in writing after getting teacher written feedback.
  • 4.3 What are the difficulties of the teachers in providing feedback and of the freshmen in revising the papers after receiving teacher written feedback? It was unavoidable for both the teachers and the students to encounter the difficulties during the process of giving and receiving feedback. To get deeper understanding of these problems, the obstacles of each group would be analyzed separately based on the data taken from the questionnaires and the interviews. 4.3.1 Difficulties of the teachers in providing feedback Responding to the questionnaires, the teacher considered their hindrances in giving feedback to the students’ writings as follow: Figure 15: Teachers' difficulties in giving feedback 9 9 It takes a lot of time and effort to give comments 10 8 There are too many papers to mark 6 6 Students make too many mistakes 4 3 2 1 Students do not read teachers' comments, they only look at the mark given 0 Others There was no surprise that taking a lot of time and effort to give comments and having too many papers to mark were the two major difficulties that the teachers faced when providing feedback to the students’ writings. These two problems, in addition, were received the consensus by all the respondents of the interviews (please see the Appendix 4). Obviously, not only these teachers but also the other researchers agreed that: …responding to and commenting on students writing consumes the largest proportion of our time. Most teachers estimate that it takes
  • them at least 20 to 40 minutes to comment on an individual student paper, and those 20 to 40 minutes times 20 students per class, times 8 papers, more or less, during the course of a semester add up to an enormous amount of time. (Sommers, 1982, p.232) Apart from “time and effort consuming” (Leki, 1990, p.58), having too many papers to mark could cause numerous problems as the teachers sometimes could not thoroughly read the papers and as results, could not point out all the mistakes made by the students as well as provided them with more suggestions (T2, line 75-76). Coming next on the rank was that the students made too many mistakes with 60% of the respondents (6 out of 10) choosing the option. When the learners are making so many mistakes, it may be “futile for the teacher to try to correct every error on the paper, and it will be a waste of both time and effort for the teacher” (Gulcat and Ozagac, 2004). This problem could be seen clearly on the students’ writings which having full of red notes. Marking these papers sometimes made the teachers depressed, or “lead to the repression” if it was together with carelessness in lay out (T2, line 82). The fact that “if there is a grade on a paper, the students read the grade and simply discard the paper” (Burkland & Grimm, 1986, as cited by Leki, 1990, p.62) was another trouble for the teachers which could discourage them from providing feedback to the students’ writings. However, it was not the serious problems for the teachers as it only took the concern of 30% of the teachers (3 out of 10). Making up 10% of the participants (1 out of 10), the teacher here, moreover, presented another hindrance out of what was given by the researcher: the students did not understand the feedback. Giving reason for
  • it, this respondent claimed that the space provided was too small to write a long and detailed feedback, hence the students found it difficult to grasp. This problem, in fact, was also found during the interview with the first teacher. In her sharing, it was hard to clarify her ideas to some mistakes in expressions or word choices apart from asking the students to rewrite them and make them clearer. Furthermore, there were some mistakes that she know what they were, but it was still difficult to explain them to the students through writing since “the amount of information that can be conveyed in the written form is very limited. Teachers tend to give short, inadequate feedback in many cases” (Stannard, 2008). This problem, therefore, could be considered as a drawback of teacher written feedback. In addition to these difficulties of the teacher when providing feedback to the students’ writings, the two other interviewed teachers also contributed some more obstacles. According to the second interviewed teacher, the time during the revision period was too short (only 45 minutes) to give further explanation for students one by one. The third teacher, on the other hand, sometimes felt depressed as “the mistakes corrected still occur in the next assignments” (T3, line 110). In summary, it is impossible to point out all the obstacles the teachers have encountered when providing feedback to the students’ writings. It is also true that the teachers sometimes “can not aware of the difficulties arisen” (T2, line 81-82). However, though numerous problems have been revealed during the process of giving feedback, and though “it takes time and effort to provide such detailed and thorough comments”, the teachers have still continued to do that for the sake of the students as “our students desire for those feedback” (T3, line 128-129). For all the problems above, it is true that “Without training in how to use the comments to better their
  • writing, students are likely to either ignore the comments, misunderstand them, or fail to use them constructively”(Cohen, & Cavalcanti, 1990). 4. 3.2 Difficulties of the students in revising the papers after receiving feedback Similar to the teachers facing the problems during the process of giving feedback, the students, in turn, have encountered enormous difficulties in revising the papers after getting teacher written feedback. The data of this part was drawn from the questionnaires for the students and the interviews, in addition. 4.3.2.1 Students’ problems when revising the papers after getting feedback Figure 16: Problems students sometimes encounter when rewriting After receiving feedback I do not have any problems 80% 64% I can not correct all the grammatical and mechanic 60% 48% mistakes that the teacher points out 40% I can not revise the content and the expressions 28% suggested by the teacher 20% I am afraid of making other new mistakes 8% 6% 0% Others Accounting for the highest proportion was students’ fear of making other new mistakes with 64% of the respondents. In fact, it was true that sometimes, “students’ revised papers seem worse than the original” (Sommers, 1982, as cited by Fathman & Whalley, 1990, p.179). Clearly,
  • there were large number of reasons for making new mistakes such as due to the students’ carelessness, “students’ habit” (T2, line 61) of making those kind of mistakes, and even students’ struggle for rewriting the papers “without actually understanding what they were correcting” (Crawford, 1992, cited by Stannard, 2008). Again, the inability in revising the content and expressions suggested by the teacher and in correcting all the grammatical and mechanic mistakes were the problems the students faced when revising the papers with 48% and 28% representatively. Responding to those problems, one of the interviewed students said that “it is easy to correct the grammar and mechanic mistakes why it is hard to rewrite the expressions and the long sentences” (S3, line 228-229). Different from the students having problems when revising the papers, 8% of the participants were quite confident to state that they did not have any problem in rewriting their papers after getting feedback. The situation was also found in the first interviewed student. Answering for her not having any difficulty, she asserted that she “got improvement in both mistakes correction and mark as she asked the teacher directly for any confusion or hard-to-solve errors” (S1, line 157-158). This finding was positive since the students could take advantages of teacher’s help to revise their papers in order to achieve the progress. However, these number of students were not many and students in general seemed “reluctant and found it hard to ask the teacher” (S4, line 269-270). The other 6% of the respondents (3 out of 50), in addition, added more problems they had faced as sometimes they did not know how to rewrite the papers even after receiving the teacher written feedback. The problem was also found in the situation of the third and the fourth
  • interviewed students. This matter will be further explained in the latter part, 4.3.2.2. Contributing to the difficulties in rewriting the papers after getting feedback, the second interviewed student took producing an impressive and interesting conclusion into consideration. Furthermore, sometimes she did not know why some sentences or expressions were marked wrong by the teacher though she had taken them from some references. The third and the fourth interviewed students, in contrast, sometimes understood the problems pointed out by the teacher, but found it hard to change or rewrite. 4.3.2.2 Students’ reasons for not being able to revise their papers after receiving teacher written feedback Obviously, there were numerous reasons why the students sometimes could not rewrite their papers though being provided feedback by the teachers. However, in the chart below, the researcher only gave some most common ones as follow: figure 17: Reasons why sometimes students can not revise the papers after receiving feedback 40% 38% I do not understand my teacher written feedback 35% 30% 28% 28% I do not agree with my teacher written feedback 25% 20% 16% There are too many mistakes to revise 15% 10% 6% I think my teacher written feedback is not helpful 5% 0% Others
  • Despite the teachers’ time and effort consumed to provide feedback on the students’ writings, large number of students still claimed that not understanding teacher written feedback was the reason why they sometimes could not revise their papers, which accounted for highest percentage (38%) as compared to the others. It was serious that this matter would result in the students’ ignorance to feedback when rewriting their papers (Stannard, 2008) or it could “lead to feelings of confusion and frustration as well as passive action and indifference on behalf of the students” (Williams, 2003). The problems would be deeply discussed in the latter part, 4.3.2.3. Having too many mistakes to revise (28% of the participants), was another drawback discouraging students from rewriting their papers. This is similar to the findings by Gulcat and Ozagac (2004). The matter again, mentioned the effect of returning to students writing papers full of red-ink notes and mistakes pointed out. It is true that the teacher written feedback is not always helpful when it was “unclear and vague” (Cohen, & Cavalcanti, 1990), and the students sometimes could not agree with these comments and suggestions. Among the respondents completing the questionnaires, more than 20% of them took these two problems to explain why they sometimes could not revise their papers. Of all the 28% of the participants who had other ideas on the matter, a small proportion (6 out of 14) wrote that they could revise the papers after getting teacher written feedback. Another proportion, however, considered the lack of time and the unclear pointed mistakes as the reasons for not being able to revise the drafts. 4.3.2.3 Students’ reasons for not understanding their teacher written feedback
  • Regarding to the question of why sometimes students do not understand their teacher written feedback, some possible answers were given as follow: figure 18: Reasons why students do not understand feedback My teacher written feedback is too general 70% 64% 60% My teacher written feedback is not clear 50% My teacher's handwriting is hard to follow 40% My teacher's correction codes are difficult to 30% 24% 24% understand 20% 20% 12% My teacher's comments with lots of new words and 10% structures 2% Others 0% It was problematic when a large proportion of the students claimed that their teacher written feedback was too general (64%) and not clear (24%) to understand. The teachers may have reasons for their unspecific feedback, however, it would “lead to feelings of confusion and frustration as well as passive action and indifference on behalf of the students” (Wiliams, 2003). Obviously, the students did not know how to revise their papers without the clear support from the teachers, and moreover, though “they have managed to decipher these comments, they often have no idea how to respond to them” (cited by Leki, 1990, p.62). Far from the researcher’s prediction, up to 24% of the students claimed that correction codes were hard to understand. It was surprising as according to the interviewed teachers, each of the students was provided with a handout containing the correction symbols right at the beginning of the course, hence they must have been familiar with these codes. The reasons here could be the lack of interest of the students in these symbols or the teachers’ infrequency of using some codes. Moreover, the teachers’ lack
  • of clear explaining these codes to the students could be considered as another cause. The teachers’ bad handwriting and proving feedback with lots of new words and structures, in addition, were the other reasons for the problems. However, they only accounted for a small proportion (14%) indicating that the teachers “have had to choose the appropriate language and style to accomplish a range of informational, pedagogic, and interpersonal goals” (Hyland & Hyland, 2006). Apart from these reasons making the students not understand the teacher written feedback, 20% of the students complained that their teachers did not provide examples together with their comments; hence, they could not understand the meanings of such comments. Moreover, underlining or circling the mistakes sometimes made it difficult for the students to grasp. Responding to the problems, different students had different ways; however, they seemed to be under these following options: 4.3.2.4 Students’ responses to the problems Figure 19: students' responses to the problems I ask my teacher directly for further explanation and help 80% 76% 70% I ask my classmates for help 64% 60% 56% I ask some other teachers for help 50% I ask my English friends for help 40% I go to the library to find more references 30% I use internet to find more references 20% 16% I look up dictionary to find the answers 10% 4%2% 6% 2% 0% Others
  • Strikingly from the chart, asking the classmates, asking the teacher, and looking up the dictionary to find the solution were the most common ways to deal with the problems with 74%, 64%, and 56% of the respondents orderly. It was easier for the students to ask their classmates for help for being comfortable, and not fearful. However, the classmates sometimes could not give the satisfied answers, therefore the teachers were the ones to giver further explanation and suggestions. By asking the teachers directly, the students’ confusion or hard-to-understand problems could be solved. Looking up the words in the dictionary, besides, may be convenient for the students as each could possess at least one dictionary; however, for other complex matter as expressions or content, the dictionary could not contribute much help. Up to 16% of the students going to library and 6% using the Internet to find more references indicated that the freshmen here lacked of the habits to utilize such kinds of helpful resources in enhancing their papers. The reasons, in general, may be due to the limitation of the facilities and equipment; however, the students’ attitudes as well as perceptions should also be taken into consideration. Among these ideas, the other 8% of the students may have their own ways as asking the other teachers, their English friends, or their “roommates to help” (S2, line 207). Doing such ways could contribute to deal with the problems, nevertheless, not many students could have the foreign friends or could dare to ask the other teachers. In summary, the respondents nearly all agreed on the good effect of the teacher written feedback on the students’ writing, however, during the process of providing and receiving feedback, a large number of problems were revealed raising a need to find solution.
  • 4.4 Teachers’ and students’ preferences and suggestions on giving and receiving feedback It was no doubt that finding out the preferences as well as the suggestions made by both teachers and students could help to handle the problems raised. These two issues of the teachers and of the students would be discussed separately. 4.4.1 Teachers’ preferences and suggestions on giving feedback Regarding to the preferences on giving feedback, nearly all the teachers agreed that the process was quite smooth, hence there was no need to change much, except for one teacher asked for widening the space of the paper format so as to give more detailed and specific comments on the students’ writing. Moreover, the second interviewed teacher would like to have more time in the revision period to give further explanations to the students. Concerning to the time and effort consumed to give feedback, the teachers sometimes would like to have less papers to mark; however, they never did that ways “for the sake of the students” (T2, line 68). Facing the problems during the process of providing feedback to the students’ writings, the teachers had to find ways to deal with the situation. First of all, nearly total number of the respondents suggested using peer checking “to reduce the burden for the teacher” (T1, line 45). However, there were some problems with this kind of feedback as it “only works with the surface mistakes like grammatical or mechanic mistakes, but not for the more complex aspects as expressions” (T3, 145-146). In stead, he encouraged his students to let their papers checked by the superior students.
  • Similar to the peer checking, a need for the revision period was much agreed by the teachers. It was necessary to have at least a revision period after each assignment to synthesize the common mistakes made by the students in those assignments and to provide further explanation for each individual. Each teacher, during that period, could have their own ways to present the typical mistakes by using the board or utilizing the projector. Moreover, according to the third interviewed teacher, the teachers should spend time on introducing or teaching some points of theory relating to the topic at the beginning. Focusing on a certain kind of mistakes or aspects like content or form of writing at a time with explanation to the students before, furthermore, could help to solve the problems. To cope with time and effort consuming problems, in addition, some teachers had the ideas of asking the students to find the good writing samples on the internet, in books or from the friends’ high-marked papers to learn more good expressions and to vary their vocabulary. By doing those ways, the students could have fewer problems in these aspects; hence the teachers could not have to spend much time and effort on commenting the papers. In short, numerous solutions or suggestions have been made in attempt to make the process of providing feedback better. However, the teachers should be flexible in utilizing these points into their own situation. 4.4.2 Students’ preferences and suggestions in receiving teacher written feedback There was no doubt that suitable feedback from the teachers to different kind of students would help them much in enhancing their writings skills. To find more preferences of the students in receiving
  • feedback, some major issues like forms, types, focus, amount, tool, and time of giving feedback were involved in. 4.4.2.1 Students’ preferences on forms of feedback figure 20: Forms of feedback that students like Questions 80% 74% Statements 70% 56% Imperatives 60% 46% 50% Exclamations or praises 38% 40% 26% 26% Underlining or circling the mistakes 30% 14% Giving correction codes 20% 10% Others 0% Clearly from the chart, underlining or circling the mistakes (74%), exclamation or praises (56%) and statements (46%) were three forms that the students liked most. The reasons why the students preferred those to the others were due to their advantages in identifying mistakes easily, in avoiding misunderstanding or confusion, and in finding motivation to revise the papers. Questions (26%), imperatives (30%), and giving codes (26%), on the other hand, were less favored by the students as compared to the three above forms. Answering for these problems may be due to their lack of support in helping the students rewrite their papers, and moreover, they could lead to confusion or misunderstanding. Among the participants, 14% of them would like to get the combination of these forms which could be flexible in different situation and different students’ favor.
  • 4.4.2.2 Students’ preferences on types of feedback figure 21: Types of feedback students find effective to revise the papers Indirect feedback 50% Direct feedback 42% 40% 36% Positive feedback 34% Negative feedback 30% 24% 26% Text-specific feedback 22%22% 20% 16% General feedback Margin feedback 10% 6% End feedback 0% Others Unlike the case of forms of feedback, there was not great difference in the choice for each option, which meant that the students had taken all kind of feedback into consideration and agreed on their good effect. However, among these others, direct feedback still accounted for the highest proportion with 42% of the respondents. This was inferred that the majority of students seemed to get improvement if they had all their mistakes pointed out and corrected by the teachers. The situation, however, was not positive as the students depended too much on the support from their teachers in revising the papers without individual attempt. The second outstanding point going beyond the researcher’s expectation was the students’ favor of negative feedback which was at the third position in the rank (34%). Obviously, it was natural of the students to prefer the positive feedback which could encourage and motivate them by praise or exclamation. However, these students expected to receive constructive criticism rather than “simple platitudes” (Hyland and Hyland, 2006) since they found that it could help them to see the problems instead of getting the general good comments.
  • Similar to the forms of feedback, the small proportion of the students preferred the combination of different types of feedback in their writings and, explained that the margin feedback was for surface mistakes while the end feedback was for the logic ones as an example. 4.4.2.3 Students’ preferences on focus of feedback Figure 22: Focus of feedback that students Would like 56% Expressions 60% 44% 44% Content 50% 36% Mechanics 40% 30% Word choices 20% 16% Grammar 8% 10% Others 0% On the focus of feedback or called aspects of feedback that were favored by the students, it was noticeable that the students seemed to desire to get all their problems commented by the teachers. However, the most preferred aspect was word choices with 56% of the respondents as compared to the others. It was understandable as the students’ vocabulary
  • was not various that they would like the teachers to provide more support on this area. Expressions, grammar, and content were no doubt to stand in the second and the third place. Facing the difficulty in mother-tongue thinking, the students preferred their teachers to help them deal with the problems in expressing ideas and bettering their content. Grammar, on the other hand, was still needed feedback since some kinds of grammar were considered hard to overcome like run-on or fragment. There was no surprise when the mechanic mistakes were of the least favor because the students could deal with these problems when they were pointed out by the teachers. Apart from the above aspects, other 6% of the students would like the teachers to give more comments on the organization and style of writings. Moreover, the combination of these matters was also mentioned. 4.4.2.4 Students’ preferences on amount of feedback Figure 23: Amount of feedback that students Would like 2% 6% My teacher corrects all the errors in my writing My teacher does not correct any error in my writing 36% 56% My teacher only corrects some major errors with announcement beforehand 0% My teacher only corrects some erroes without any announcement beforehand Others Again, it was not surprising to see that “the students’ most common request for teacher feedback was for correction of errors” (Ryoo, 2004, p.115). Though it would take the teachers enormous time and effort to do so, and
  • though the students would become lazy in thinking of the better changes, they still “wanted to have every error marked” (Leki, 1990, p.62). Other 36% of the students, on the other hand, only needed the corrections on some major errors which were focused of by the teachers. By doing so, these students could concentrate on some certain kinds of mistakes and get improvements instead of getting confused with a large number of mistakes pointed out and commented on. A small proportion of the students (3 out of 50), in addition, preferred to be “let them make corrections on their own” (Leki, 1990) in order to enhance their self-correcting ability. This trend was said to be good, however, not many students could do the same. 4.4.2.5 Students’ preferences on the color of pen used to give feedback figure 24: Color of pen that students would like Teacher to give feedback 12% 0% Red pen Pencil Other colours 88% Clearly from the chart, using red pen was got the highest agreement of the students with 88% as compared to that of in using pencil with 12%. Undoubtfully, the red pen was the symbol of the teachers in the belief of the Vietnamese; therefore, it was understandable when the students preferred it to other colors of pen utilized to give feedback on their writing papers. Moreover, with red-inked notes, it may easier for them to see their problems than the comments by pencil. However, receiving the feedback in
  • pencil still favored by other 12% of the students indicated that these students did not like to be discouraged from rewriting their drafts after getting papers full of red-inked notes. The comments in pencil, in addition, were much more reader-friendly, “relatively tentative, and open to negotiation” ( Ivanic et al., 2000, p51, cited in Coffin et al., 2003, p121). 4.4.2.6 Students’ preferences on when to receive feedback Figure 25: Stages of giving feedback that Students would like 52% Prewriting 60% 44% Drafting 40% 20% Revising 20% 6% Evaluating 0% The students, in fact, would like to receive feedback “as frequently as possible” (S3). However, because of their main concern is the grade” (Freedman, 1987, cited in Cohen & Cavalcanti, 1990, p.156), the majority of the students (52%) would like to get feedback at evaluating stage. Another reason for this choice may be the notice to avoid mistakes in the next assignments. It was quite different from the researcher’s expectation when the students favored the feedback which was given during the revising process than at the drafting stage. However, it was reasonable since the students could ask their friends for help while drafting their papers, and finally turned to the teachers for the final but most important support.
  • Not surprisingly, the majority of students would not like their teachers to interfere at the prewriting stage when they were brainstorming and starting to write their first draft. As a whole, the students could have their own favor on each issue of teacher written feedback which they found most suitable and effective in revising their better papers. Apart from the abovementioned matters, the interviewed students, in addition, would like the teachers to give feedback more on the conclusion for them to write “an impressive ending” (S2, line 202). Moreover, it was common for the students to ask more detailed feedback which could provide them with correction or suggestions, and more face- to- face discussion with the teachers to deal with the unclear or confusing feedback. 4.4.2.7 Students’ suggestions in receiving feedback On being asked to give suggestions on receiving feedback, all the participants completing he questionnaire were quite open to share ideas. The first interviewed students, however, suggested reading the feedback first and then selecting some difficult problems to ask the teachers later. Moreover, by writing the types of the errors she made and the corrections to them in a notebook, she could remember them longer to avoid making these mistakes again. In summary, it was no doubt that students had various preferences as well as suggestions relating to receiving teacher written feedback. However, there was much consensus on the request for detailed, clear and supportive comments from the teachers. Clearly, there is no “one-size-fits- all” formula in forms, in types or aspects of feedback (cited in Nott, 2008), hence it is better to combine the different ones suitably and flexibly.
  • 4.5 Summary In this chapter, findings of the three instruments (questionnaires, sample analysis, and semis-structured interviews) were carefully analyzed and interpreted. The summaries drawn from these results, suggestions for improvements, limitation of the study as well as recommendations for further studies would be specified in the following part. Chapter V: Conclusion The previous chapters have already introduced the general introduction, provided the theoretical background, justified the methods, and analyzed and discussed the findings of the study. This chapter, serving as the conclusion of the whole research, will cover summaries of the major findings, pedagogical suggestions for bettering teacher written feedback, limitations of the study and recommendations for further studies. 5.1 Summaries of the major findings With an aim to find the answers for the four research questions set at the beginning of the study, the data from questionnaires, samples analysis,
  • and semi-structure interviews were involved to draw the conclusion. The findings, then, were summarized as follow: 5.1.1 The current ways of giving teacher written feedback On the current teaching writing approach, all of the teachers completed the questionnaires have followed the feedback model in which “the students can receive feedback during and between the writing of drafts” (Ryoo, 2004, p. 126). It was, moreover, positive that the teachers have paid attention to both the content and form of the papers, although the content sometimes was hard to give supportive comments on. When it came to the amount of correction, the teachers here selected some errors to correct instead of correcting nothing on the students’ papers. Some teachers, however, faced the problem of overcorrection. Noticeably, the teachers here varied the forms and types of feedback while commenting on the students’ writing; nevertheless, certain forms and types of feedback were found to be more frequent than the others. For time of giving feedback, large number of teachers provided feedback at the evaluation stage more than at drafting and revising stage. Regardless of the bad effect of red-inked notes on the students’ attempt to revise, red pen was still utilized much more than pencil in writing feedback to students’ writings. It was, finally, a good sign when the teachers were aware of the importance of going through the common errors made by the students and talked to them to give further explanation after giving feedback. 5.1. 2 The progress made by the students in writings In general, the majority of the students made progress when rewriting their papers after receiving the teacher written feedback. Their improvements here were defined mostly by the enhancement in correcting the mistakes pointed out or suggested by the teachers. However, the
  • students were able to deal with the mechanic mistakes or simple grammatical mistakes; whereas, for the more complex aspects as run-on and fragment (belonging to grammar), expressions, word choices, or content of the papers, it was hard for the majority of them to solve. Mark improvement, on the other hand, was what the majority of the students could achieve. 5.1.3 The difficulties of the teachers in providing written feedback and of the students in receiving feedback and revising the papers During the process of providing and receiving feedback, both the teachers and the students encountered numerous problems. For the teachers, enormous time and effort was consumed to give comments on the students’ writing; however, the first and foremost concern of the students was the grades. Some other students, on the other hand, claimed for not understanding teacher written feedback. The mistakes corrected, in addition, were still found in the next assignments. Besides, the large number of papers needed to be mark at a time, and also too many mistakes to comment on that made it sometimes hard for the teachers to read and feedback thoroughly. The shortage of time during the revision period, lastly, prevented the teacher from providing further explanation for individual confusion. On the other hand, fear of making new mistakes, inability to correct all the surface mistakes pointed out, and occasionally, inability to revise the content and expressions suggested by the teacher were the major problems that the students faced when receiving teacher written feedback and revising the papers. Solving all the mistakes pointed out or suggested by the teacher seemed to be impossible for the students due to a number of
  • reasons including the hard-to-be-understood feedback, the disagreement between teacher feedback and students’ expectation, the overload of mistakes to deal with, and lastly the lack of time to rewrite. In the students’ opinions, the confusion of correction symbol, the bad handwriting of the teacher, and most importantly, the unclear and unspecific feedback were the reasons why sometimes they could not understand their teacher written feedback Responding to the problems, it was positive that the students took much consideration on asking the help from their classmates and asking their teacher directly for further explanation. By doing these ways, their improvements could be yielded more. However, the number of students who were willing to ask the teacher orally to clarify their confusion was quite small. Apart from these two ways, the students used the dictionary and the Internet or went to the library to find more references. 5.1.4 The teachers and students’ preferences and suggestions on providing and receiving teacher written feedback Nearly all the teachers, on being asked about the preferences on giving such kind of feedback, agreed that there were no need to change much except for widening the space of the papers and lengthening the time in the revision period. To handle the difficulties rising during the process of giving feedback, the teachers advised to combine the peer feedback, group feedback, teacher written feedback, and teacher oral explanation. Moreover, focusing on some aspects of students’ writings at a time with announcement in advance could help to deal with the time and effort consuming. Lastly, some teachers suggested asking the students to make
  • use of the Internet and library to find more writing samples or making copies of the high-marked papers of the classmates to learn more good expressions and ideas. Different from the teachers, the students seemed to have a hard-to- count number of preferences to ask for. Firstly, they would like to receive a combination of different forms, different types, and different aspects of feedback in a writing, so as to get more support for rewriting. Specifically in term of aspects, the students favored much feedback on word choice, then expression, grammar and content. Secondly, it was typical of the students to ask for the correction of every mistakes existing in their papers. However, there still have some students who would like their teacher to let them correct some kinds of mistakes instead of overcorrecting. Thirdly, the students preferred their teacher to give feedback in the evaluation and revising stage to the other stages, and lastly, the majority of them favored the feedback given in red pen instead of pencil or other colors. Apart from preferences on major issues of teacher written feedback, the students would like to receive feedback that was clearer, more detailed and supportive. On being asked about the suggestions on receiving teacher written feedback, the students were not open to share, except for advising other students to write down the problems pointed out by the teachers and the corrections made afterwards into a notebook to avoid making them again. Some students, on the other hand, suggested to ask the teacher directly if having difficulties after getting feedback. To summary, apart from some smooth steps, there still exist numerous problems during the process of providing and receiving teacher written feedback that calls for timely and effective solutions. 5. 2 Pedagogical suggestions for bettering teacher written feedback
  • First and foremost, the researcher highly appreciates the suggestions made by the respondents for bettering the process of giving and receiving teacher written feedback. In addition to that precious contribution, she would like to offer some recommendations basing on the relevant theoretical background and the synthesized data. 5.2.1 Suitable combination of different forms of teacher written feedback Which forms of feedback is best in helping students to revise their papers is a hard question to answer. The teachers’ tendency of underlining, circling and giving codes only, to some extent, is not proven to be most effective. It was no doubt that each form of feedback could work well for a certain kind mistakes, hence it is suggested that the suitable combination of some different forms should be investigated. 5.2.2 Suitable combination of different types of teacher written feedback Obviously, there is no-one-size-fit-all type of feedback; therefore, it should be the balance between each pair of feedback (2.2.5.7) and the involvement of various types at a time. Among those kinds, end feedback should always be provided serving as the summary to evaluate what students have performed, to remind them of their problems and giving some suggestions for improvement. 5.2.3 Proper amount of teacher written feedback To some extent, it is good when the teachers attempt to point out and give comment on every mistakes occurring in the students’ writings; however, doing this way has not been greatly effective as mentioned in 2.2.5.3. Instead, it is suggested that the teachers should select some
  • mistakes at a time to correct or give comments on with announcement in advance, or decide which are the most serious problems to work on and draw attention. 5.2.4 Proper focus of teacher written feedback The fact that much attention was paid on the surface mistakes rather than other aspects is believed not a good feedback since the students tent to face more problems on expressions and words choices. Therefore, the teachers should provide more support on these areas, but it does not mean to ignore the surface errors. In other words, focusing on serious surface mistakes together with giving comments on more complex matters such as expression, word choices, or ideas organization should be better. 5.2.5 Timely and suitably frequent intervention during the students’ work Feedback only on evaluation stage is not immensely helpful to students’ work. It is agreed that “inventing during the writing process helps student writers improve” (Freedman, 1987, cited by Leki, 1990, p.64). Moreover, it is better if the teachers could arrange time to give feedback frequently instead of one time only to meet the desire of the students. 5.2.6 Specific and clear teacher written feedback The fact shows that too general and unclear feedback could affect the improvements of the students in rewriting their papers. Therefore, the teachers should provide written feedback as detailed and clear as possible. In addition, it is needed to train the students with the use of correction
  • symbol or some personal favored ways of giving feedback to limit confusion and misunderstanding. 5.2.7 Involvement of peer feedback, group feedback and both teacher written and oral feedback By involving peer feedback and group feedback, the workload of teachers could be shared; however, to deal with the problems that peer feedback and group feedback could bring about, the purpose and focus of these two kinds of feedback should be changed such as to learn peers and groups’ ideas and good expressions. In addition, some simple mistakes could be solved through these types right after the students write their first drafts or during the revision. However, the teachers should play the most important role in proving written comments on the students’ writings. Last but not least, oral explanation and clarification for individual confusion and misunderstanding are also needed. In summary, “the students need and deserve responses to their writings” (Leki, 1990, p.66); however, it needs time and effort of the teachers to provide such help to the students. From that point, both teachers and students should try their best to meet the requirements. 5.3 Limitations of the study After completing the study, there still exist a number of limitations regardless of the contribution of time and effort. On the first place, the limited number of participants with only 54 students and 13 teachers could not best represent for the whole freshmen and teachers of the Division 1 of ED, CFL, VNU. Moreover, the students may come from different backgrounds and levels or may have different
  • needs and favors in writing, hence the reliability and validity of the general conclusion could be affected. The limited number of writing samples, in addition, was another shortcoming of the study. Only 32 papers (including the first and second marking) of an assignment could not guarantee for the overall progress made by the students in the whole process of writing. It is obvious that there are numerous factors that could influence the progress made by the students in writing; therefore, it was hard to point out all the elements contributed due to the time constraints. Limitations are unavoidable when conducting the study. However, through highlighting the shortcomings of the study, the recommendations for further related studies could be offered. 5.4 Recommendations for further related study Under the light of limitations exposed, some recommendations for further related research could be made. Being aware of the restriction on the number of participants, the future related studies should involve a larger number of them to confirm the reliability as well as reliability. Moreover, if possible, further studies should focus on certain levels of the students to find out their different need and favor in receiving feedback to enhance their writing skills. Apart from focusing on the freshmen’ progress in writing, these studies could widen the scope of the research to the superior students of the second year, for example. In addition, further research on other genres of teacher feedback as teacher oral feedback or the combination of these two could be a good idea.
  • Regarding the limited evidence for concluding the progress made by the students in writing after receiving teacher written feedback as well as other factors affecting that progress, it is suggested that the future studies carry out much more thorough experiments on the targeted subjects.
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  • Appendices Appendix 1: Questionnaire for the teachers Appendix 2: Questionnaire for the students Appendix 3: Tables of analyzing writing samples Appendix 4: Findings from the interviews with the teachers Appendix 5: Findings from the interviews with the students Appendix 6: Student’ s writing sample
  • Appendix 1 Questionnaires for the teachers Questionnaire for Teachers My name is Nguyen Thi Huyen Trang, from the group 051E7, English Department, CFL_VNU. I am conducting this survey questionnaire in order to collect information for my thesis “Relationship between teacher written feedback and progress of students in writing. An investigation among the freshmen of Ed., CFL, VNU”. I hope that you will be cooperative and supportive to help me to fulfill my research. I hereby certify that all of the information achieved from this questionnaire would be dealt with confidentially and anonymously. Part 1: Current ways of giving teacher written feedback 1, Which approach to teaching writing do you apply in your lessons? A, Process approach which focuses more on process of writing from prewriting, drafting, revising to evaluating. B, Product approach which focuses more on the final product. 2, When providing feedback to students’ writings, you often focus on: A, Form of writing: grammar or mechanic mistakes such as spelling, punctuation, etc. B, Content of writing: organization, ideas, etc. C, Both content and form D, None of them. I only give marks. 3, Which of the following statements below best describes your current giving feedback? A, I correct all the errors existing in students’ writings. B, I select some errors existing in students’ writings to correct. C, I do not correct any errors existing in students’ writings. D, Others (please specify)……………………………………..…………………
  • …………………………………………………………………………………… …………………………………………………………………………………… 4, How often do you use these following forms of giving feedback? (Please put the tick into the right boxes) Always Often Sometimes Rarely Never A, Questions (i.e. what do you mean?) B, Statements (i.e. this sentences is not clear) C, Imperatives (i.e. give more examples) D, Exclamations or praises (i.e. good) E, Underlining or circle the mistakes F, Giving correction codes Others (please specify)……………………………………..…………………… …………………………………………………………………………………… …………………………………………………………………………………… …………………………………………………………………………………… 5, How often do you use these types of feedback? (Please put the tick into the right boxes) Always Often Sometimes Rarely Never A, Indirect feedback: only points out the mistakes and lets students correct themselves B, Direct feedback: points out the mistakes and corrects them all for students C, Positive feedback: focuses more on strengths and praises for students’ work D, Negative feedback: points out students’ weaknesses E, Text-specific feedback: gives
  • feedback within the text where problems occur F, General feedback gives general comments G, Margin feedback: provides feedback on the margin where problems occur H, End feedback: provides feedback at the end of students writing Others (please specify)……………………………………..…………………… …………………………………………………………………………………… …………………………………………………………………………………… …………………………………………………………………………………… …………………………………………………………………………………… 6, At which stage of the writing process do you give feedback to your students’ writing? (you can choose more than one option) A, Prewriting stage B, Drafting C, Revising D, Evaluating 7, Which color of pens do you use to give comments on your students’ writing? A, Red pens B, Pencil C, Other colors 8, What do you do after providing feedback to students? (you can choose more than one option) A, I talk to the student(s) to give them further help. B, I go through students’ common errors in class. C, I do nothing D, Others (please specify)………………………………………………………. …………………………………………………………………………………… …………………………………………………………………………………… …………………………………………………………………………………… Part 2: Progress made by the freshmen in writing
  • 9, In your opinion, do you think students can make progress after receiving teacher written feedback? A, Yes (please go to question 12) B, No (please go to question 13) 10, If Yes, what are the improvements made by your students after receiving teacher written feedback? (you can choose more than one option) A, They get higher marks on the next versions B, They get fewer mistakes on the next versions C, They do not get any mistakes on the next versions D, They can correct all the grammatical and mechanic mistakes that the teacher points out E, They can revise the content and the organization suggested by the teacher F, Others (please specify)…………………………………………………….….. ……………………………………………………………………………………. …………………………………………………………………………………… …………………………………………………………………………………… 11, If No, what are the problems made by students after receiving teacher written feedback? ( you can choose more than one option) A, They get the same or even lower marks as compared to the previous versions B, They get the same mistakes as compared to the first previous versions. C, They make no changes and even get more mistakes on the next versions. D, They can not correct all the grammatical and mechanic mistakes that the teacher points out E, They can not revise the content and the organization suggested by the teacher F, Others (please specify)…………………………………………………….…. ……………………………………………………………………………………. ... …………………………………………………………………………………… …………………………………………………………………………………
  • Part 3: Difficulties in giving feedback to students’ writings 12, Which of the following difficulties do you encounter when providing feedback to students’ writing? (you can choose more than one option) A, It takes a lot of time and effort to give comments B, There are too many papers to mark C, Students make too many mistakes D, Students do not read teacher’s comments, they only look at the mark given. E, Other (please specify) ……………………………………………………….. …………………………………………………………………………………… …………………………………………………………………………………… …………………………………………………………………………………… Part 4: Teachers’ preference and suggestions for further improvement. 13, Do you have any suggestions for making it easier for teachers in giving feedback and for helping students improve their writing? Please specify …………………………………………………………………………………………… …………………………………………………………………………………………… …………………………………………………………………………………………… …………………………………………………………………………………………… …………………………………………………………………………………………… …………………………………………………………………………………………… Thank you very much for your support and cooperation!
  • Appendix 2 Questionnaires for the students Questionnaire for students My name is Nguyen Thi Huyen Trang, from the group 051E7, English Department, CFL_VNU. I am conducting this survey questionnaire in order to collect information for my thesis “Relationship between teacher written feedback and progress of students in writing. An investigation among the freshmen of Ed., CFL, VNU”. I hope that you will be cooperative and supportive to help me to fulfill my research. I hereby certify that all of the information achieved from this questionnaire would be dealt with confidentially and anonymously. Part 1: Progress made by the freshmen in writing 1, In your opinion, do you think you make progress after receiving teacher written feedback? A, Yes (please go to question 2) B, No (please go to question 3) 2, If Yes, what are your improvements after receiving teacher written feedback? (you can choose more than one option) A, I get higher marks on the next versions B, I get fewer mistakes on the next versions C, I do not get any mistakes on the next versions D, I can correct all the grammatical and mechanic mistakes that the teacher points out E, I can revise the content and the organization suggested by the teacher F, Others (please specify)………………………………………………………… …………………………………………………………………………………… …………………………………………………………………………………… 3, If No, what are the problems after receiving teacher written feedback? (you can choose more than one option) A, I get the same or even lower marks as compared to the previous versions
  • B, I get the same mistakes as compared to the first previous versions. C, I make no changes and even get more mistakes on the next versions. D, I can not correct all the grammatical and mechanic mistakes that the teacher points out E, I can not revise the content and the organization suggested by the teacher F, Others ( please specify)………………………………………………………. ……………………………………………………………………………………. ……………………………………………………………………………………. 4. How do you rewrite your papers after receiving teacher written feedback? A, I do nothing with my new papers B, I only copy what my teacher corrects into my new papers C, I rewrite my papers basing on my teacher’s corrections and suggestions D, I rewrite my papers basing on my teacher’s corrections and suggestions, and add more details E, Others (please specify) ……………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………. ……………………………………………………………………………………. Part 2: Difficulties of students when receiving feedback and revising the papers. 5. What are the problems you sometimes encounter when rewriting your papers after receiving your teacher written feedback? A, I do not have any problems B, I can not correct all the grammatical and mechanic mistakes that the teacher points out C, I can not revise the content and the expression suggested by the teacher D, I am afraid of making other new mistakes E, Others (please specify)………………………………………………………… …………………………………………………………………………………… …………………………………………………………………………………… 6, What are the reasons why sometimes you can not revise your papers after receiving teacher written feedback? (you can choose more than one option) A, I do not understand my teacher written feedback
  • B, I do not agree with my teacher written feedback C, There are too many mistakes to revise D, I think my teacher written feedback is not helpful E, Others (please specify)……………………………………………………….. ……………………………………………………………………………………. ……………………………………………………………………………………. 7, What are the reasons why sometimes you do not understand your teacher written feedback? (you can choose more than one option) A, My teacher written feedback is too general B, My teacher written feedback is not clear C, My teacher’s handwriting is hard to follow D, My teacher’s correction codes are difficult to understand E, My teacher comments with lots of new words and structures F, Others (please specify) ……………………………………………………….. …………………………………………………………………………………… …………………………………………………………………………………… …………………………………………………………………………………… 8. What do you often do if you do not understand your teacher written feedback or can not rewrite your papers after receiving your teacher written feedback? A, I ask my teacher directly for further explanation and help B, I ask my classmates for help C, I ask some other teachers for help D, I ask my English friends for help E, I go to library to find more references F, I use internet to find more references G, I look up dictionary to find the answers H, Others (please specify) ……………………………………………………… …………………………………………………………………………………… …………………………………………………………………………………… . Part 3: Students’ preference and suggestions for further improvements 9, What forms of feedback do you like best? (you can choose more than one option) A, Questions (i.e. what do you mean?)
  • B, Statements (i.e. this sentences is not clear) C, Imperatives (i.e. give more examples) D, Exclamations or praises (i.e. good) E, Underlining or circle the mistakes F, Giving correction codes G. Others (please specify)……………………………………………………….. …………………………………………………………………………………… …………………………………………………………………………………… 10, Which types of feedback do you find effective to your revising the papers? (you can choose more than one option) A, Indirect feedback in which my teacher only points out the mistakes and lets me correct myself B, Direct feedback in which my teacher points out the mistakes and correct them all for me C, Positive feedback in which my teacher focuses more on my strengths and praises for my work D, Negative feedback in which my teacher points out my weaknesses E, Text- specific feedback in which my teacher gives feedback directly related to the text F, General feedback in which my teacher gives general comments about my writing G, Margin feedback in which my teacher provides feedback on the margin where I have problems H, End feedback in which my teacher provides feedback at the end of my writing I. Others (please specify)………………………………………………………… …………………………………………………………………………………… …………………………………………………………………………………… 11, What aspects do you like your teacher gives feedback on? (you can choose more than one option) A, Expression B, Content C, Mechanics (i.e. spelling, punctuation) D, Word choices E, Grammar F Others (please specify)………………………………………………………..
  • …………………………………………………………………………………… …………………………………………………………………………………... 12, Which of the following statements do you like best? A, My teacher corrects all the errors in my writing B, My teacher does not correct any error in my writing C, My teacher only corrects some major errors with announcement beforehand D, My teacher only corrects some errors without any announcement beforehand E. Others (please specify)……………………………………………………….. …………………………………………………………………………………… …………………………………………………………………………………… 13, What color of pens do you find the most acceptable when receiving teacher written feedback? A, Red pens B, Pencils C,Others (Please specify)………………………… 14, Which stage do you like the teacher provides feedback to your writing? (you can choose more than one option) A, Prewriting B, Drafting C, Revising D, Evaluating 15, Do you have any preferences or suggestions related to this issue? Please specify. …………………………………………………………………………………………… …………………………………………………………………………………………… …………………………………………………………………………………………… Thank you very much for your support and cooperation!
  • Appendix 3 Tables of analyzing writing samples There are some notes for the tables: St: student S1: student 1 Dr: Draft D1: Draft 1 Gr & Me: Grammatical and Mechanic mistakes Exp: mistakes on Expression WC: mistakes on Word Choice √ : Improved √√ : Much improved  : Not improved
  • Class A St & Dr S1 S2 S3 S4 S5 S6 S7 S8 D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D Criteria 1 2 1 2 1 2 1 2 1 2 1 2 1 2 1 2 Mark 5 7. 5. 8 6 7 6 8. 7. 7. 7. 9 8. 9 8. 9 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 Mistakes Gr&Me 11 2 7 1 8 3 7 0 8 3 6 0 3 0 1 0 Exp 8 3 7 2 2 1 2 1 1 1 4 1 1 0 2 0 WC 4 1 2 0 3 3 3 1 2 2 1 0 0 0 1 0 New Gr&Me 1 0 0 2 4 0 1 0 Exp 1 1 1 0 1 0 0 0 mistakes WC 2 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 Content improved √√ √√  √√  √√ √ √ Overall improvement √ √ √ √  √ √ √ Class b St & Dr S1 S2 S3 S4 S5 S6 S7 S8 D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D Criteria 1 2 1 2 1 2 1 2 1 2 1 2 1 2 1 2 Mark 5 7 5 8 6 7. 6 7. 7 8. 7 9 8 8. 8 9 5 5 5 5 Mistakes Gr&Me 17 2 14 1 10 1 11 1 7 0 6 0 8 0 6 1 Exp 2 1 4 1 2 1 3 1 3 1 1 0 1 0 1 0 WC 5 2 3 1 4 1 2 0 2 0 3 0 0 0 0 0 New Gr&Me 4 7 4 5 2 1 2 4 Exp 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 mistakes WC 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 Content improved √√ √√ √ √ √√ √√  √√ Overall improvement √ √ √ √ √ √ √ √
  • Class c St & Dr S1 S2 S3 S4 S5 S6 S7 S8 D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D Criteria 1 2 1 2 1 2 1 2 1 2 1 2 1 2 1 2 Mark 5. 7 5. 6 6. 7 6. 6 7. 7 7. 7. 8. 9 8. 9. 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 Mistakes Gr&Me 6 1 9 2 6 2 6 3 5 2 6 2 3 0 6 0 Exp 6 2 3 1 3 1 2 2 4 3 2 1 1 0 0 0 WC 4 1 3 1 2 0 2 2 2 2 1 1 0 0 0 0 New Gr&Me 4 1 1 3 6 2 0 0 Exp 2 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 mistakes WC 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 Content improved √  √     √ Overall improvement √ √ √    √ √ Class d St & Dr S1 S2 S3 S4 S5 S6 S7 S8 D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D Criteria 1 2 1 2 1 2 1 2 1 2 1 2 1 2 1 2 Mark 5 5 5 6 6 7 6 6 7 8 7 7 8 8. 8 9 5 Mistakes Gr&Me 13 10 11 0 7 0 8 2 6 2 6 3 3 0 2 0 Exp 3 3 4 1 4 1 3 1 3 2 2 2 2 1 2 0 WC 2 2 4 1 3 0 3 1 2 0 3 2 0 0 0 0 New Gr&Me 2 2 5 5 1 2 0 1 Exp 0 1 0 2 0 0 0 0 mistakes WC 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 Content improved   √  √   √√ Overall improvement  √ √  √  √ √ Appendix 4 Findings from the interview with the teachers 5 4.1 Finding from the interview with Teacher 1 4.1.1 Background of the subject: • Date of interview: February, 30th, 2009
  • • Interview Duration: 15 minutes • Gender: Female 10 • Year of teaching: 1 year 4.1.2 Findings: Interviewer: What do you think about the teacher written feedback in general? Interviewee: In my opinion, teacher written feedback is the main tool 15 to support for the students’ writings. It is, in fact, effective and hence indispensable. However, it should be combined with oral feedback and revision to give the students further explanation for their common mistakes and their confusion when read the feedback from the teacher. 20 Interviewer: You seemed to use the form of underlining, circling the mistakes and giving codes quite frequently, what are the reasons for that? Interviewee: Yes, by doing so, my students could easily identify the mistakes and try to correct them in their own. Actually, at the 25 beginning of the course, I provided them with a list of the correction symbols; hence they can follow these codes to revise their papers. However, underlining or circling the mistakes and giving codes, in general, work well for grammar and mechanic mistakes while for the other complex ones as expressions, it should involve a variety of 30 forms. Interviewer: Do you have any difficulties in giving feedback to the students’ writings?
  • Interviewee: Yes, of course. First of all, there are some mistakes that I know but they are still hard to clarify and explain to the students as 35 it needs to write short and simple in the limited space. Therefore, it is sometimes difficult for the students to understand, especially on aspects of expression or ideas organization. Secondly, there are too many papers to mark. In fact, I let the students write as many as possible for practice, hence it takes me quite a lot of time to comment 40 on. Interviewer: Do you have any preferences or recommendation towards the teacher written feedback? Interviewee: Well, in my view, the first drafts after written in the class are peer checked at home. Then, in the revision, it turns to the 45 group checking and the last is teacher feedback. Using peer checking can help to reduce the burden for the teacher. Another thing I would like to recommend that the teacher should underline the mistakes if possible, but focus much on expression, idea organization, and sentence connection 50 4.2: Finding from the interview with Teacher 2 4.2.1 Background of the subject: • Date of interview: February, 30th, 2009 • Interview Duration: 17 minutes • Gender: Female 55 • Year of teaching: 1 year 4.2.2 Findings:
  • Interviewer: What do you think about the teacher written feedback in general? Interviewee: of course, it is effective, but not the whole. In fact, the 60 majority of my students though corrects those mistakes in the next drafts; still make them again in the following assignments. However, it was the students’ nature and habit in writing. Therefore, by giving feedback to my students’ writings, I would like to make them aware of those mistakes. 65 Interviewer: I realize that you seem to use end comments quite a lot, is it true? Do you have any reasons to do so? Interviewee: Yes, that is right. End comments though take me lot of time to summary what I would like students to focus, I think I still need to do so for the sake of my students. By using end feedback, I 70 can generate the typical mistakes or the serious mistakes that students make in their writing, therefore, students can much aware of them in the next writings. Interviewer: Do you have any difficulties in giving feedback to the students’ writings? 75 Interviewee: Yes, it is unavoidable. Firstly, I have too many papers to mark which could cause numerous problems as it make me sometimes could not thoroughly read the papers and hence, could not point out all the mistakes and provide the students with more suggestions. Moreover, the students tend to concentrate on the surface 80 mistakes as grammar or mechanics, but not the expressions or content of the writings; therefore, it takes me time to deal with these problems occurring in their papers. In addition, sometimes, the students write
  • too carelessly which could annoy me or lead to the repression. Last but not least, the biggest problem is that sometimes I can not aware of 85 the difficulties arisen. Interviewer: Do you have any preferences or recommendation towards the teacher written feedback? Interviewer: Yes, sometimes, I would like to have less paper to mark. I fact, we are require to mark only haft of the total number of each assignment, and then take turn. However, for the sake of the 90 students, I could not do so. Moreover, I would like to have more time during the revision to give each student more explanation on their problems. And recommendation? I think the current process is ok. We should follow the steps like letting the students write the first drafts in the class, then peer checking at home, group checking in the 95 revision, and finally, teacher feedback. I think by peer checking, the students can help to correct their friends’ grammar mistakes, however, the expression is not often corrected well. 4.3: Finding from the interview with Teacher 3 10 4.3.1 Background of the subject: 0 • Date of interview: April 1st, 2009 • Interview Duration: 20 minutes • Gender: Male • Year of teaching: 5 years 4.3.2 Findings: 10 5 Interviewer: What do you think about the teacher written feedback in general?
  • Interviewee: Well, it is good, and may be effective. In fact, the second version is always better than the first one, however, in the next assignment the mistakes are occurred again. Nevertheless, the frequency of making those mistakes is lessened. 11 0 Interviewer: Having a look at your feedback in your students’ writings, I saw that you use pencil to comment instead of red pen as the others. What is your aim to do so? Interviewee: Yes, you are right. Using red pen could be very stressful and threatening to the students whereas it was not the same 11 problem when using pencil. Moreover, comments in pencil will make 5 students carefully read their writings word by word since the pencil were not clear to see as the red-inked notes. By doing so, they can remember their mistakes longer and may avoid making them again. Interviewer: You sometimes use Vietnamese to comment, is it true? 12 Interviewee: Yes, if the students can not understand the teacher 0 written feedback, it can be counter-productive; hence, Vietnamese is involved to avoid the misunderstanding from the students towards the teacher written feedback. Interviewer: Do you have any difficulties in giving feedback to the students’ writings? 12 5 Interviewee: Sure, the freshmen actually desire for the detailed feedback but it needs time and effort to provide such detailed and thorough comments to them. Nevertheless, we should try to do for the sake of the students. Interviewer: Do you have any preferences or recommendation
  • towards the teacher written feedback? 13 Interviewee: The feedback must be detailed, specific, and should not 0 be too general. The teachers should name exact problem the students have to revise to let them know and correct timely, for avoiding making them again. Moreover, they should have the habit of synthesizing the basic mistakes and show them to the students in the revision by using the projector, for example. The teachers when giving comments need to be sure that those problems have already 13 5 been introduced before. For the students, I ask them to collect good samples on the internet or of the classmates’ highest-scored papers and highlight the good expressions to learn. I encourage my students to have their writings checked by the superior students in stead of the peers since they can deal with the surface mistakes, but not for the 14 more complex aspects as expressions. 0 14 5
  • Appendix 5 Findings from the interview with the students 5. Findings from the interviews with the students 5.1 Findings from the interview with the student 1 5.1.1 Background of the subject: • Date of interview: April 2nd, 2009 150 • Interview Duration: 10 minutes • Gender: Female • First mark: 7.5 - Second mark: 9 5.1.2 Findings Interviewer: What do you think about the teacher written feedback 155 in general? Interviewee: In my case, it is really effective and detailed. I got improvement in both mistakes and mark as she asked the teacher directly for any confusion or hard-to-solve errors. Interviewer: How could you make much improvement in the next 160 draft over the first one? Interviewee: I based on the teachers’ suggestion and found more help from the English-English Dictionary. For the problems I could not solve, I ask my teacher directly to help me clarify and suggest more ideas. 165 Interviewer: Do you have any difficulties while revising your paper?
  • Interviewee: Actually, I think that I do not have many problems because I always ask my teacher for help. However, I find the errors on articles hard to avoid and solve. It is too complex and difficult to 170 remember. Interviewer: Do you have any preferences or suggestions on receiving teacher written feedback and revising the papers? Interviewee: yes, the students, after getting teacher written feedback, should write these mistakes and the corrections on the notebook to 175 remember longer and also to avoid making them again. Moreover, they should ask the friends or look up the dictionary to find the help, especially, ask the teacher directly if having any confusion or difficulty. 5.2 Findings from the interview with the student 2 180 5.2.1 Background of the subject: • Date of interview: April 2nd, 2009 • Interview Duration: 10 minutes • Gender: Female • First mark: 5-Second mark: 8 185 5.2.2 Findings Interviewer: What do you think about the teacher written feedback in general? Interviewee: I think it ok; I could improve my writing after getting that feedback. 190
  • Interviewer: How could you get higher mark as compared to the first marking? Interviewee: I tried to correct the grammatical mistakes by checking them in dictionary, in grammar books, or asking my friends. And I 195 asked my teacher to help for more difficult aspects such as expressions or organization. Interviewer: Do you have any difficulties while revising your paper? Interviewee: Sometimes, I do not understand why my teacher 200 underlined those mistakes and asked me to rewrite, hence, I try to use the new expressions to rewrite those mistakes. In fact, fragment, run- on mistakes and expression are my most difficult aspects to work on. Moreover, sometimes, I get the low mark as being careless in writing or lacking of time to proofread some of my papers. Writing “an impressive ending”, in addition, is hard for me. 205 Interviewer: Do you have any preferences or suggestions on receiving teacher written feedback and revising the papers? Interviewee: I have some suggestions as when we should sometime lengthen the sentences suggested by the teachers. After rewriting the 210 papers, it is advised to ask the roommates for checking. Moreover, we should use the internet or go to the library to find more references. In addition, reading the friends’ high-marked papers could be the good way to learn more ideas and expression. 5.3 Findings from the interview with the student 3 215 5.3.1 Background of the subject:
  • • Date of interview: April 2nd, 2009 • Interview Duration: 10 minutes • Gender: Female • First mark: 6.5-Second mark: 7 5.3.2 Findings: 220 Interviewer: What do you think about the teacher written feedback in general? Interviewee: It is good and I could get improvement as reduce the run-on and fragment mistakes. Interviewer: What did you do to revise this paper? 225 Interviewee: Well, I read the mistakes circled by my teacher and tried to solve the. For some difficult mistakes, I asked my friends for help. I seldom asked my teacher directly because I felt shy as the large number of the classmates around. In fact, it is easy to correct the 230 grammar and mechanic mistakes why it is hard to rewrite the expressions and the long sentences Interviewer: What are your difficulties in receiving feedback and revising your papers? Interviewee: Sometimes, after receiving my teacher written feedback 235 I still do not know how to rewrite it. In addition, thought I sometime know what those mistakes are, I could not solve them as my teacher only pointed out by circling, underlying, or questioning without suggestions or correction. Interviewer: Do you have any preferences or suggestions on
  • 240 receiving this kind of feedback and on rewriting the papers? Interviewee: Yes, I would like the teacher to give more suggestions or more corrections on the mistakes pointed out; therefore, we could know how to revise the papers. However, they could provide more choices for those corrections and we could decide by ourselves. 245 5.4 Findings from the interview with the student 4 5.4.1 Background of the subject: • Date of interview: April 2nd, 2009 • Interview Duration: 10 minutes • Gender: Female 250 • First mark: 6.5-Second mark: 6 5.4.2 Findings: Interviewer: What do you think about the teacher written feedback in general? Interviewee: I think it is quite effective and thank for teacher written 255 feedback, I could have ability to assess my writing level and skill. Interviewer: Why did you get lower mark in the revised draft as compared to the first marking? Interviewee: Well, this draft, I only corrected the mistakes underlined by the teacher. Moreover, I did not how to correct them, 260 hence I rewrite them following my own thinking. Particularly, I thought that the paper would not be marked again so I did not pay much attention in revising it.
  • Interviewer: Do you have any problems when getting written feedback from the teacher and revising your papers? 265 Interviewee: Yes, of course. I sometimes understand my mistakes but it still difficult for me to rewrite them. Moreover, when trying to express in another ways, I still get more mistakes. Lacking of time to revise and to let my papers checked by the others is occasionally my 270 problem. In general, I feel reluctant and find it hard to ask the teacher for help. Each time, I only ask for few mistakes as my teacher has to spend time for the others. Interviewer: Do you have any preferences or suggestions on receiving teacher written feedback and rewriting your papers? 275 Interviewee: Sure, I would like the teacher to introduce ways to correct the mistakes or suggest more ideas and expressions. For the students, if they do not understand the feedback, they should ask the teacher directly, and I will try to do so.