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The Effectiveness Of Peer Written Feedback On First Year Students’ Writing Skill  Kim Ngan
 

The Effectiveness Of Peer Written Feedback On First Year Students’ Writing Skill Kim Ngan

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    The Effectiveness Of Peer Written Feedback On First Year Students’ Writing Skill  Kim Ngan The Effectiveness Of Peer Written Feedback On First Year Students’ Writing Skill Kim Ngan Document Transcript

    • ACCEPTANCE I hereby state that I: Bui Thi Kim Ngan, 051E10, 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 Bui Thi Kim Ngan May 4th, 2009
    • ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS On completing the graduation paper, I owe profound indebtedness to so many people, without whose contribution and spiritual support I would not have accomplished it. First of all, I would love to express my deepest gratitude to my supervisor, Ms. Pham Minh Tam, for her scholarly instruction, critical comments, great encouragement and valuable materials, without which the thesis would not have been completed. I would like to send my heartfelt gratitude to the teachers at the English Department, University of Languages and International Studies, Vietnam National University, Hanoi who have supported me by giving useful advice and providing me with their useful teaching materials. My sincere thanks also go to the students in groups of 05E4, 05E10, 05E14 and 05E16 for their patience and willingness to do my survey questionnaires and two students from 05E7 for their participation in the pilot stage. Moreover, I would like to send my gratitude to my family, my classmates and my friends for encouraging me and supporting me during the time undertook my study. Without them, I would not have been able to complete this thesis.
    • ABSTRACT Since the process approach to writing was adopted in teaching writing at the English Department, University of Languages and International Studies, Vietnam National University, Hanoi, peer written feedback – a technique in which students comment on and offer suggestions for improvement of their friends’ writings has been widely used and in the first- year writing classes. This study is conducted in an attempt to investigate the current situation of peer written feedback in the first-year writing classes, students’ perceptions of their peers’ written feedback as well as the effectiveness of peer feedback on students’ revision and writing ability. In order to achieve the desired aims, the researcher has conducted a survey research using survey questionnaire and an exploratory research in which student writing analysis is utilized. The findings from the questionnaire and student writing analysis provide the researcher with a comprehensive understanding of the current situation of peer written feedback at the ED. Generally, first-year students have a rather positive attitude towards this activity and highly appreciate the importance of peer feedback in improving their writing ability in general. Generally, they also use various types and forms of feedback when giving comments on writings. Moreover, students tend to give helpful comments especially on grammar and mechanics to help their friends’ revision. However, first-year students seem to give rather general feedback on their friends’ writing and have many difficulties in making suggestions to improve the content of their peers’ writings, which limits the effectiveness
    • of this technique in helping students revise their writings. Some implications are then drawn up based on the findings for the betterment of the current practice. With careful and detailed investigations, hopefully this study will serve as a useful source of reference for teachers, students and those who concern about this subject matter.
    • TABLE OF CONTENTS Acknowledgements………………………………………………………i Abstract…………………………………………………………………..ii List of abbreviations……………………………………………………..ix List of tables and figures…………………………………………………x CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION.................................................................XII 1.1 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM AND RATIONALE FOR THE STUDY ........................................................................................................xii 1.2 AIMS OF THE STUDY........................................................................xiv 1.3 SCOPE OF THE STUDY.......................................................................xv 1.4 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY........................................................xv 1.5 ORGANIZATION OF THE STUDY....................................................xvi CHAPTER 2: LITERATURE REVIEW....................................................XVII 2.1 AN OVERVIEW OF WRITING TEACHING ....................................xvii 2.1.1 Conceptions of Writing...............................................................................................................xvii 2.1.2 Approaches to Teaching Writing................................................................................................xviii 2.1.2.1 Product Approach to Teaching Writing.............................................................................xviii 2.1.2.2 Process Approach to Teaching Writing...........................................................................xviii 2.1.3 Stages in a Writing Process...............................................................................................................xx 2.2 AN OVERVIEW OF PEER WRITTEN FEEDBACK ON WRITING ...................................................................................................................xxiii 2.2.1 Definitions of Peer Feedback.........................................................................................................xxiii 2.2.2 Peer Feedback in Process Writing..................................................................................................xxiv
    • 2.2.3 Major Issues of Peer Written Feedback.........................................................................................xxiv 2.2.3.1 Types of Peer Written Feedback............................................................................................xxiv 2.2.3.1.1 Tone of Feedback..............................................................................................................xxv 2.2.3.1.2 Specificity of Feedback....................................................................................................xxvi 2.2.3.1.3 Position of Feedback......................................................................................................xxvii 2.2.3.2 Amount of Peer Written Feedback........................................................................................xxvii 2.2.3.3 Forms of Peer Written Feedback..........................................................................................xxviii 2.2.3.4 Aspects of Peer Written Feedback..........................................................................................xxix 2.2.4 Advantages of Using Peer Written Feedback on Writing..............................................................xxxi 2.2.5 Features of a Good Peer Written Feedback.................................................................................xxxiii 2.2.6 Effects of Peer Written Feedback on Students’ Writing Revision................................................xxxiv 2.3 CONCLUSIVE REMARKS..............................................................xxxvi CHAPTER 3: METHODOLOGY.......................................................XXXVIII 3.1 RESEARCH QUESTIONS.............................................................xxxviii 3.2 RESEARCH APPROACH................................................................xxxix 3.3 PARTICIPANTS.....................................................................................xl 3.2.1 Population..........................................................................................................................................xl 3.2.2 Sampling Method...............................................................................................................................xl 3.2.3 Description of the participants.........................................................................................................xli 3.3 DATA COLLECTION INSTRUMENTS.............................................xlii 3.3.1 Survey Questionnaire .......................................................................................................................xlii 3.3.1.1 Reasons for choosing survey questionnaire.............................................................................xlii 3.3.1.2 Instrumental Development.....................................................................................................xliii 3.3.1.2 The contents of the questionnaire ........................................................................................xliv 3.3.2 Student writing assignments..........................................................................................................xlvi 3.3.2.1 Reasons for choosing student writing assignments...............................................................xlvi 3.3.2.2 Selection of student writing assignments..............................................................................xlvi 3.3.2.3 Description of student writing assignments...........................................................................xlvii 3.4 DATA COLLECTION PROCEDURE...............................................xlvii 3.5 DATA ANALYSIS PROCEDURE......................................................xlix CHAPTER 4: RESULTS AND DISCUSSION................................................LI
    • 4.1 FINDINGS AND INTERPRETATIONS FROM SURVEY QUESTIONNAIRE........................................................................................li 4.1.1 Current situation of peer written feedback........................................................................................li 4.1.1.1Frequency of using different types of peer written feedback.....................................................li 4.1.1.1.1 Positive feedback versus negative feedback ......................................................................li 4.1.1.1.2 Text-specific feedback versus generic feedback ......................................................lii 4.1.1.1.3 Marginal feedback versus end feedback .................................................................liii 4.1.1.2 Amount of peer written feedback..............................................................................................lv 4.1.1.3 Forms of peer written feedback...............................................................................................lvii 4.1.1.4 Aspects of peer written feedback ..........................................................................................lviii 4.1.2 Students’ perception of peer written feedback................................................................................lx 4.2 FINDINGS AND INTERPRETATIONS FROM STUDENT WRITING ASSIGNMENTS..........................................................................................lxv 4.2.1 Between-draft changes made by students of different writing proficiency levels........................lxvi 4.2.2 Amount of peer written feedback regarding different aspects of writing......................................lxx 4.2.3 Students’ revision based on peer written feedback......................................................................lxxvi CHAPTER 5: PEDAGOGICAL IMPLICATIONS...................................LXXIX 5.1 TEACHING IMPLICATIONS FOR TEACHERS............................lxxix 5.1.1 Pre-training activity .......................................................................................................................lxxix 5.1.1.1 Pre-training students to evaluate a written work.................................................................lxxix 5.1.1.2 Pre-training students to give and utilize peer feedback effectively.......................................lxxx 5.1.1.2.1 Raising students’ awareness of peer editing...................................................................lxxx 5.1.1.2.2 Providing students with guidance on how to give and utilize peer feedback...............lxxxi 5.1.2 Intervention activity......................................................................................................................lxxxii 5.1.3 Communicative discussion after peer response activity............................................................lxxxii 5.1.4 Assessment of peer response process........................................................................................lxxxiii 5.2 IMPLICATIONS FOR STUDENTS................................................lxxxiii 5.2.1 Fairly specific peer feedback.......................................................................................................lxxxiii 5.2.2 Equal comments on different writing aspects............................................................................lxxxiv 5.2.5 Balanced use of marginal and end peer written feedback...........................................................lxxxv 5.2.6 Appropriate tone of peer written feedback..................................................................................lxxxv CHAPTER 6: CONCLUSION...........................................................LXXXVII 6.1 SUMMARY ....................................................................................lxxxvii 6.1.1 Summary of the findings.............................................................................................................lxxxvii
    • 6.1.1.2 What are these students’ perceptions of their peers’ written feedback?........................lxxxviii 6.1.1.3 To what extent does peer written feedback affect first-year students’ writing ability?...lxxxviii 6.1.2 Summary of the implications........................................................................................................lxxxix 6.1.2.1 Pedagogical Implications for teachers.................................................................................lxxxix 6.1.2.1 Pedagogical Implications for students......................................................................................xc 6.2 LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY..........................................................xc 6.3 SUGGESTIONS FOR FURTHER STUDIES.......................................xci REFERENCES.......................................................................................XCII
    • LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS ED: English Department ULIS: University of Languages and International Studies CLT: Communicative Language Teaching ESL: English as a Second Language EFL: English as a Foreign Language VNU: Vietnam National University, Hanoi
    • LIST OF TABLES AND FIGURES Diagram: Stages of writing process……………………………………11 Table 1: Background of the target population…………………………29 Figure 1: Factors to consider when writing……………………………18 Figure 2: Frequency of using positive and negative feedback…………40 Figure 3: Frequency of using text-specific and generic feedback……..41 Figure 4: Frequency of using marginal and end feedback……………….41 Figure 5: The amount of peer written feedback………………………….43 Figure 6: Forms of peer written feedback………………………………..44 Figure 7: Aspects of peer written feedback……………………………46 Figure 8: Students’ evaluation of peer written feedback………………47 Figure 9: Reason (s) why students think peer written feedback is helpful…………………………………………………………………….48 Figure 10: Reason (s) why students think peer written feedback is unhelpful……………………………………………………………….50 Figure 11: Between-draft mistakes made by students of low writing proficiency………………………………………………………………52 Figure 12: Between-draft mistakes made by students of medium writing proficiency………………………………………………………………53
    • Figure 13: Between-draft mistakes made by students of high writing proficiency…………………………………………………………………54 Figure 14: Mistakes pointed out over mistakes made by students………55 Figure 15: Mistakes corrected/suggested over mistakes pointed out……57 Figure 16: Mistakes corrected/revised based on peer written feedback…60
    • CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION 1.1 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM AND RATIONALE FOR THE STUDY In the light of Communicative Language Teaching (CLT), process approach to teaching writing, in which peer feedback serves as a very important part, can be regarded as one of the most significant applications. Feedback plays a very crucial role in motivating further learning as it informs learners about the degree of their learning or their needs for improvement. Brown (1994) considers feedback as one of the keys to successful learning and Gipps (1994) regards feedback as a critical feature of teaching and learning process. Many researchers such as Chiu (2008), Zhang (2008), Min (2006) or Paulus (1999) have proved that feedback which is employed in both forms of verbal and written commentary constitutes an important aspect of fostering the improvement of writing. Apart from traditional feedback, known as teacher feedback on students’ writing, peer feedback , especially peer written feedback – a technique in which students comment on and offer suggestions for improvement of their peer’s compositions, has been a widely used teaching strategy in many writing classrooms including those at the English Department, ULIS, VNU. Paulus (1999) has found that peer feedback (also known as “peer review”, “peer response”, “peer revision”) helps students discover whether they communicate their ideas successfully or not and encourages them to revise and improve their texts they produce. Moreover, peer feedback is also regarded as a powerful way in improving students’
    • critical thinking of writing and evaluation than the traditional teacher responses (Berg, 1999, Hyland, 2003, Topping, 1998, cited in Chiu, 2008). The process writing approach places revision which refers to changes produced on a piece of writing (Wallace & Hayes, 1991) at the heart of writing and the task of revising can be facilitated by giving students opportunities to exchange papers with peers to receive and provide feedback. However, despite the important role of peer written feedback especially its great effect on students’ writing revision, the number of studies on peer written feedback is still limited and outnumbered by studies on teacher written feedback. Moreover, there have been few researches including those in Vietnam in general and at the English Department (ED), University of Languages and International Studies (ULIS), Vietnam National University, Hanoi (VNU) in particular which lend insight into the impact of peer written feedback on students’ revision. In fact, in spite of the fact that peer written feedback has widely applied among 1st-year students at the ED, there have been only some studies mentioning peer written feedback at the ED, ULIS such as “ An investigation into the use of peer written feedback in the first- year writing classes at the ED, CFL, VNU, Hanoi” (Tran, 2007) or “ Peer written feedback in writing portfolios by third year students in the English department, CFL, VNU” (Phan, 2007). These studies only present the current situation of using peer written feedback, students’ attitudes, reactions as well as their expectations of peer written feedback but include no discussion about the way their writing has been affected by peer written feedback and whether this kind of feedback improves students’ writing revision as well as their writing skill or not.
    • For all the above-mentioned reasons and be motivated by previous studies, the researcher wishes to conduct a study entitled: “The Impact of Peer Written Feedback on the First-year Students’ Writing Skill at English Department, ULIS, VNU”. In conducting this study, the researcher hopes to gain more insight into the current situation of using peer written feedback in 1st-year writing classes at the ED, ULIS, VNU in general and its impact on students’ writing skill in particular as well as proposing some suggestions for the betterment of the current practice. This study with its results is hoped to be served as an invaluable source of reference for those who concern about this subject. 1.2 AIMS OF THE STUDY First of all, the research paper is expected to find out the current situation of using peer written feedback among first-year students at the ED, ULIS, VNU; students’ perceptions of written feedback provided by their peers on their writing assignments and investigate the impact of peer written feedback on students’ writing revision. Based on the results of the study, the researcher plans to propose some suggestions in the hope of enhancing the effectiveness of peer written feedback in particular and the teaching of writing at the ED in general. In brief, the research paper seeks the answers to the following research questions: 1. What is the current situation of using peer written feedback by the 1st- year students at the ED, ULIS, VNU? 2. What are these students’ perceptions of their peers’ written feedback?
    • 3. To what extent does peer written feedback affect the first-year students’ writing ability? 1.3 SCOPE OF THE STUDY In practice, students can provide peer feedback in both oral and written forms on their friends’ writing assignments. However, within the framework of a graduation paper, the researcher has no ambition to cover all aspects associated with the big area “peer feedback” but only focus on the peer written feedback because this form of feedback seems to be more popular in the real situation at the English Department and easier to be examined in the scope of a graduation paper. Moreover, with the limit of this paper, the subjects selected for this study are not all first-year English students including both teacher trainees and translator/interpreter trainees in the fast track and mainstream classes as well as the ethnic groups who are being taught in ED, ULIS, VNU but only first- year teacher trainees studying in mainstream classes whose participation would be of great contribution to the accomplishment of the study. 1.4 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY As mentioned above, there have been few researches regarding peer written feedback on writing especially the impact of peer written feedback on students writing revision at the Department. Therefore, the researcher hopes that the thesis can serve as a report on the current practice of peer written feedback by first-year students, their evaluation and reactions to their peers’ written feedback as well as the effects of this kind of feedback on their writing revision and writing skill. Moreover, the recommendations and suggestions can partly contribute to enhancing the efficiency of using peer written feedback in first-year writing classes.
    • 1.5 ORGANIZATION OF THE STUDY The paper consists of 6 chapters. Chapter 1 provides a brief introduction to the subject and an overview of the paper. Chapter 2 reviews relevant literature including an overview of writing teaching and an overview of peer written feedback, which can serve as the background for the whole research. Chapter 3 describes the methods utilized in this study. Chapter 4 presents and analyzes the collected data from both questionnaires and students’ writing analysis as well as the discussion based on the findings. Chapter 5 offers some implications for better practice of peer written feedback on students’ writing at the ED, ULIS, VNU. Lastly, Chapter 6 summarizes some main issues mentioned in the research, offers the limitations of the study and suggestions for further research. Following the chapters are the references and appendices.
    • CHAPTER 2: LITERATURE REVIEW 2.1 AN OVERVIEW OF WRITING TEACHING 2.1.1 Conceptions of Writing There have been numerous definitions of writing by many researchers. According to Byrne (1988), writing is defined as “the act of forming graphic symbols, which are arranged according to certain conventions to form words and words have to be arranged to form sentences”(p.1). From a different point of view, Lannon (1989) defines writing as “the process of transforming the material discovered by research inspiration, accident, trial and error, or whatever into a message with a definite meaning- writing is a process of deliberate decision” (p.9). In other words, according to Lannon (1989), writing is a process which conveys a meaningful message and has a definite purpose, which makes this definition more adequate than the one given by Byrne (1988) because Lannon asserts that writing is not a simple act but a hard work of decision making. In language teaching and learning, according to Tribble (1996), writing is defined as a “language skill” that involves “not just a graphic representation of speech, but the development and presentation of thoughts in a structured way” (p.3). Tribble also states that writers not only need to have ideas in their minds but also know how to put their ideas in a logical and structured order. Among all definitions mentioned above, this definition is considered the most thorough one because it nearly covers all aspects of writing as a skill especially emphasizing the aims of writing as well as the organization of writing. This is also the definition applied in this study by the researcher.
    • 2.1.2 Approaches to Teaching Writing There have been many conflicting views of the best approach to teaching writing in the classroom. However, the researcher would present the nature of two most major approaches to teaching writing: product approach and process approach. 2.1.2.1 Product Approach to Teaching Writing In the light of product approach, the final outcome of a writing process is emphasized. Writing is conceptualized as a sequential completion of separate tasks (Reid, 1982, p.84). According to Sommers (1982), writing focuses on a composition made up of a series of parts which are words, sentences, paragraphs – but not the whole discourse with meanings and ideas. In other words, in product approach, language proficiency becomes the most important factor deciding the skill of composing. This approach has received many criticisms because it neglects the actual processes experienced by students when they produce a piece of writing and then leads to the restriction of creativity (Clenton, 2006). Pincas (1962) summarizes the shortcomings of the product approach: “the learner is not allowed to ‘create’ in the target language at all; the use of language is the manipulation of fixed patterns; these patterns are learned by imitation” (p.185). However, it cannot be denied that this approach can help students tend to see errors as something that they have a professional obligation to correct and, where possible, eliminate (Tribble, 1996, p.37). 2.1.2.2 Process Approach to Teaching Writing This section presents the nature of the most prevalent approach to teaching writing in the light of CLT, process approach in which peer reviewing, the focus of this research, is regarded as an important stage.
    • In the mid-1970s, process approach began to replace product approach and many researchers have introduced different definitions of this approach to teaching writing. In process-oriented approach, writing is considered as a multi-stage process and evaluated according to how well it can fulfill the writer’s intentions (Reid, 1993, p.55). According to Stewart (1988, as cited in Joe, 2006), the purpose of writing is a written communication with the writer himself/herself, with his/her fellow learners, with his/her teacher and with his/her intended readers. Therefore, writing is not the form but the idea that can be seen as the determining factor. In process approach, the text-the final product is only “a secondary, derivative concern, whose form is a function of its content and purpose” (Silva, 1990, p.16). In process approach, writing is no longer regarded as a “linear and fragmented procedure” (Hairston, 1982, p.78) with the ultimate aim which is an error free product. It is, in stead, “a cyclical process during which writers can move back and forth on a continuum, discovering, analyzing and synthesizing ideas” (Hughey, et al., 1983 as cited in Joe, 2006, p.48) The focus on a series of drafts on the same topic can contribute to helping students know the way to express their ideas in an appropriate way thanks to writing revision. Furthermore, process approach enables students to make clearer decisions about the direction of their writing “ by means of discussion, tasks, drafting, feedback and informed choices[thereby] encouraging students to be responsible for making improvements themselves” (Jordan, 1997, p.168).
    • In conclusion, considering both the strengths and weaknesses of product and process approach, it is ideal if both of these approaches are integrated to make up the most satisfactory means to teaching writing 2.1.3 Stages in a Writing Process As mentioned above, in process approach, writing is a multi-stage process and peer response is one of the most important stages so the researcher would like to introduce only some ways to classify stages in a writing process in the light of process approach. In reality, there are a great number of ways to divide writing into stages. However, in this review, the researcher mentions two ways of dividing a writing process in writing teaching by Tribble and Reid. According to Tribble (1996), the process approach includes four stages in writing: (1) prewriting, (2) composing/drafting, (3) revising, (4) editing.  Prewriting: Prewriting includes anything done by the writer before he writes a draft: deciding a topic, brainstorming ideas, outlining, gathering information, etc.  Composing/drafting: In this stage, the writers do actual writing and refining of their sentences and paragraphs.  Revising: In this stage, the writers deal with the content of the writing; i.e. refining text organization, structure, idea connections or other addition and connection.  Editing: In this stage, the writers work on the mechanics of writing such as spelling and punctuation.
    • It can be easily seen that in this viewpoint, the readers’ role is not mentioned and paid attention to. Reid (1993) introduces a more detailed and thorough description of the writing process with four basic stages: planning, drafting, revising, and editing and three more other stages which are responding, evaluating and post-writing. The four first stages introduced by Reid (1993) are generally the same as those stated by Tribble(1996). However, what makes Reid’s viewpoint more thorough than Tribble’s is the addition of three more stages into the writing process:  Responding: Responding plays a central role in the successful implementation of a writing process. It is a kind of oral or written intervention by teachers or peers or other possible readers. Peer feedbacks are provided during this phase, in which peers share opinions and experience. This stage is aimed at providing students with useful information tom improve the content of their writing.  Evaluating: In this stage, the writing teachers assign scores which may be analytical ( based on specific aspects of writing ability) or holistic (based on a global interpretation of the effectiveness of that writing)  Post-writing: Post writing consists of any activities, ideally free ones that the teacher and the students can do to create an outcome such as publishing, reading aloud and role-playing. In short, Reid (1993) can be illustrated by this diagram: Prewriting
    • Composing/Drafting Responding Revising Editing Evaluating Post-writing By mentioning the important role of responding and evaluating in writing process, Reid (1993) has asserted the indispensible part of feedback including peer feedback in writing teaching and learning. So far, some fundamental issues such as the concept of writing, two major approaches to writing teaching and stages in a writing process have been discussed and the fundamental role of feedback has been mentioned, which in turn serves as a supportive background for the research.
    • 2.2 AN OVERVIEW OF PEER WRITTEN FEEDBACK ON WRITING Feedback itself is always viewed as an important part in writing teaching and learning and in recent years, the use of peer written feedback in ESL (English Second Language) classrooms has been generally supported due to its social, cognitive, affective, and methodological benefits (Rollinson, 2005). As being the main focus of this research, all aspects of peer written feedback will be thoroughly discussed in this section. 2.2.1 Definitions of Peer Feedback Peer feedback (also known as peer response or peer review) is known as the process by which students exchange constructive criticism on their critical reading, writing, and speaking skills. Bartels (2003) says : “ …peer response, in which students read each other’s papers and provide feedback to the writer, usually answering specific questions the teacher has provided”(p.36). However, the most comprehensive definition of peer feedback is Liu and Hansen (2002)’s which considers peer response “the use of learners as sources of information and interactants for each in such a way that learners assume roles and responsibilities normally taken on by formally trained teacher, tutor, or editor in commenting on and critiquing each other’s drafts in both written and oral formats in the process in the process of writing” (p.75). Simply stated, peer feedback in writing involves sharing one’s writing with a group of peer readers who offer feedback and suggestions for improvement. Due to the great effect of peer feedback on students’ revision in particular and on students’ writing skill in general, teachers have
    • increasingly required their students’ responsibility for not only their own writings but also for those of their peers. 2.2.2 Peer Feedback in Process Writing Besides the teacher, peers become the indispensible respondents in a process writing class. Peers who serve as real and immediate audience are believed to be of help in establishing students’ revision strategies (Zamel, 1987). In other words, students and their peers play roles as writers and readers as well as givers and receivers feedback. Instead of focusing on the surface-level mechanics and grammatical correctness in product-oriented approach, writing is viewed as “a complex development task” in the light of process approach and according to Li (1999), how a discourse is created is paid more attention through the negotiation and discovery of meaning than to the production of free error sentences. Therefore, process – oriented feedback should focus on both meaning and form. 2.2.3 Major Issues of Peer Written Feedback 2.2.3.1 Types of Peer Written Feedback In fact, there are many ways to classify peer written feedback based on different criteria. However, in this section, the researcher would like to introduce some major and common types of peer written feedback: positive feedback versus negative feedback, generic feedback versus text-specific feedback and marginal feedback versus end feedback. These types of feedback are discussed and compared in pairs so that their advantages and shortcomings are clearly shown.
    • 2.2.3.1.1 Tone of Feedback Based on the tone of feedback, feedback can be classified into two main types: positive feedback and negative feedback. According to Hyland (1998), positive feedback refers to comments on only strong points and praise on students’ writing while negative feedback refers to comments on only weak points and even criticism. Many studies on the effects of positive and negative feedback on students’ writing revision have been carried out. Walk (1996) shows that positive comments in fact are beneficial to students in their writing in most cases. He further states: “students need to know what works in their writing if they are to repeat successful strategies and make them a permanent part of their repertoire as writers…They are also more likely to work hard to improve when given some positive feedback.” Receiving good comments can also bring students more inspiration and confidence which helps them write more and better afterwards. In general, positive feedback often helps students not only understand their problems with a specific text but also develops strategies and a critical approach used in future writing situations. However, too much positive comment can make students feel over-confident and stop revising their writings as they suppose that their papers are good enough. However, only positive comments are not sufficient enough to help students improve their writings. According to Hyland (1998), “students may distrust praise if it is not frequently given in their own culture (p.208). Hyland and Hyland (2001) further suggest that peers should use positive comments with care, “rather than just to make critical comments more palatable” (p.202). Instead, negative comment guides the writer to correcting something in their paper (Mosher, 1998). Moreover, it is indicated that
    • negative comments are more useful for many students who want their problems to be highlighted (Hyland and Hyland, 2001). In this way, writers can identify the weaknesses of their papers and work harder to make improvement. However, too much negative feedback may adversely affect students’ writing while making them feel discouraged and stop trying to correct their mistakes and make changes. All things considered, it is advisable that commentators including peers should balance between positive and negative feedback to yield the best results in students’ writing. 2.2.3.1.2 Specificity of Feedback Feedback can be classified into two main types: generic feedback and text - specific feedback on the basis of the specificity of feedback. According to Ferris (1977), text-specific feedback is defined as comment which is written on the particular paragraph or essay and can “only apply to that writer’s text at that place within the text” (p133). In other words, this type of feedback cannot be generalized to other writing assignments of tasks (Leki, 1990). In contrast, generic feedback is a comment which can appear on any student paper and can be completely generalized for later use to other writing assignments or tasks. According to Seow (2002), “text-specific response, rather than rubber-stamped comments that will help students rediscover meanings and facilitate the revision of initial drafts” (p.317). Therefore, feedback should be “detailed enough to allow students to act, to commit to change their writings (Reid, 1993, p.218). Due to the great benefits of specific comments, Fathman & Whalley (1990), Zamel (1985) consider that generic feedback (also known as vague and general comments) should be replaced with text-specific comments. However, a combination of
    • these two types of feedback should be encouraged because general comments can help students have a general view of their writings. 2.2.3.1.3 Position of Feedback Feedback can be classified into two main types: marginal and end feedback based on the location of feedback. Marginal feedback refers to a kind of feedback which is written in the margin or between sentence lines of students’ papers while end feedback refers to the summary feedback at the end of the paper. According to Ferris and Hedgecock (1998), there is no evidence which shows that either marginal or end comments are preferable or more beneficial. In fact, while marginal are more suitable for specific sections of the text, end comments are more suitable for global concerns affecting the whole composition. 2.2.3.2 Amount of Peer Written Feedback According to Bartram and Walton (1991), like teacher written feedback, the amount of peer feedback on students’ writing is worth discussing. Students can overcorrect their friends’ writing by pointing out and correct all errors appearing in their writings. Many researchers have proved that this way of giving feedback on writing can distract students from other important concerns in the process to improve their revision and lead them to the surface-level mistakes which are easier to correct. As opposed to “overcorrection” is non-correction which refers to pointing out and correcting no mistakes, just giving general comments on their friends’ writing. It can be easily seen that this way of giving feedback can be of little assistance to students in revising their writings. Moreover, this can result in students’ underestimation of their peers’ responsibility and ability. In order to get the best results, students should take the amount of feedback into great
    • consideration and decide that whether or not they should correct all mistakes, correct some typical and serious mistakes or just give general comments during the process of giving feedback (Ur, 1996) 2.2.3.3 Forms of Peer Written Feedback According to Ferris (1997, 1998, 2002), certain comment forms can lead to more effective revisions than the others. The three main forms of feedback, i.e. questions (e.g. what do you mean?), statements (e.g. it is not clear), and imperatives (e.g. give a specific example) present three main functions of content feedback: (1) providing details to explain the problem or solution, (2) describing why the problem is serious, and (3) adding new ideas or more specific support. According to Sommers (1982) and Zamel (1985), commentators are encouraged to provide feedback in question form because it can stimulate their friends’ thinking process and avoid appropriating students’ texts. However, sometimes this form of feedback can create confuse when students cannot understand what their peers are referring to. On the other hand, according to Sugita (2006) “comments in the imperative form were more influential on revisions than questions …and appeared to help students to make substantial, effective revisions”(p.34). However, this form of feedback can make students feel that they are impelled to do something by the commentators. In reality, statement proves much revision-oriented than question because it clearly states what peers expect from their friends’ writings. Moreover, statement seems to be more reader-friendly than imperative in which it does not convey a sense of authority as imperative does.
    • 2.2.3.4 Aspects of Peer Written Feedback In fact, to create a good writing, the writers have to consider many factors in the writing process. The factors to consider are also the aspects which need to be addressed when evaluating a writing and give feedback on it. According to Raimes (1983), when it comes to writing, writers have to consider a wide range of language aspects not only to ensure accurate text but also clear and fluent communication of ideas to readers. Raimes mentions 9 aspects to consider, namely, syntax (sentence structure, etc); content (ideas, clarity, logic, etc); grammar (rules for verbs, nouns, sentences, etc);mechanics (handwriting, spelling, punctuation, etc); organization (paragraphs, topic and supporting sentence, unity and cohesion, etc), word choice (vocabulary, idiom, tone, etc); purpose (the reasons for writing), audience (the readers) and the writer’s process (getting ideas, getting started, writing drafts, revising). Figure 1: Factors to consider when writing
    • CONTENT GRAMMAR WORD CHOICE ASPECTS OF WRITING MECHANICS ORGANIZATION
    • However, 5 aspects including grammar, mechanics, organization, word choice and content which are illustrated in figure 1 are the most common ones addressed by students, especially students s learning to write who when giving feedback on their friends’ writing. 2.2.4 Advantages of Using Peer Written Feedback on Writing Many researchers have reported a large number of benefits which peer written feedback brings to students’ revision as well as their writing skill. Among these researchers, Bartels (2003) is one of those who mentioned the benefits of using peer written feedback in writing classrooms most thoroughly. According to him, peer feedback can help create the feeling of being an audience for both the writers and the peer readers. Unlike oral feedback, peer feedback can bring students many chances for “communicative writing”. In other words, by giving and receiving peer written feedback, the reviewers can express their desire to provide useful comments and the receivers can show their aspire to create better writing versions next time. Besides, Bartels (2003) further states that students can have many opportunities for “instant feedback and negotiation of meaning”, thanks to peer written feedback. They can request clarification, ask questions and even argue about their peers’ comments which can lead to more language learning. In terms of response and revision, it has been shown that peer writers can revise effectively on the basis of comments from peer readers (Rollinson, 2005). Besides, becoming a critical reader of others’ writing may make students more critical readers and revisers of their own writing (Rollinson, 2005).
    • Moreover, Caulk (1994, as cited in Rollinson, 2005) also states that peer feedback is of different kind from that of the teacher. He says that teacher feedback is rather general whereas student responses are more specific. In the same line, Rollinson (2005) lists out some advantages of peer feedback over teacher feedback: Peer response operates on a more informal level than teacher response. This may encourage or motivate writers, or at least provide a change from (and a complement to) the more one-way interaction between the teacher and the student, where student may end up making revisions without necessarily agreeing with or even understanding the teacher’s authoritative comments. The writer receiving comments from peers retains the right to reject comments, and is thus more able to maintain the possession of her own texts. (p.25) Rollinson (2005) also adds that peers can have much more time providing feedback on their friends’ writing than their teachers. Also, in large classes, teachers often do not have enough time to provide their students with thorough comments on each paper while peer respondents can provide their friends with thorough ones by reviewing writings in many different aspects (Caulk, 1994, cited in Bartels, 2003). In addition, peer audience tends to be more sympathetic than the more ‘distant and possibly more judgmental” teacher audience. In terms of students’ attitudes, students themselves find the peer response experience ‘beneficial’ because they can avoid some certain mistakes next time and learn many things based on the way their peers correct their writings (Mendonca and Johnson, 1994, cited in Rollinson, 2005). Furthermore, they also realize that its social dimension can also enhance the participants’ attitudes towards writing and their confidence in writing as well. (Chaudron,1984, cited in Rollinson, 2005). Last but not
    • least, in comparison with peer oral feedback, it is easier to assess students’ writing with written feedback and it is also for teachers to see how well their students were able to respond to and incorporate feedback and suggestions from their peers, something that would not even be possible with oral response (Bartels, 2003). Despite many advantages, peer written feedback has its own shortcomings because it is a very complex process that requires training and structure in order to be effective, both in L1 and L2 classrooms (Villamil & de Guerrero, 1996). Besides, it cannot be denied that peer review procedures also take up much of the classroom time. Therefore, a combination of various kinds of feedback is encouraged by many researchers to ensure the best results. 2.2.5 Features of a Good Peer Written Feedback What constitutes good peer written feedback is a complicated issue and there is, in reality, little consensus among researchers over this matter. In this section, the researcher would like to introduce some different sets of criteria for the readers to have a general view on the whole matter. According to Coffin et al. (2003, p.101), good feedback must have three vital elements, namely, ‘positive comment’, ‘criticism’ and ‘suggestions for improvements’. While positive and negative comments can help students know both of their strengths and weaknesses, a suggestion is also regarded as a guideline for them to make a revision. This set of criteria seems to be not enough while a good peer written feedback should contain a large number of other criteria.
    • Hirsh (1977, p.161) states that effective feedback is non-judgmental and provides students criteria by which to measure their skills, knowledge, and attitudes and also provides the students with information to validate their own feelings and impressions about how well or poorly they performed. Michaelsen and Schultheiss (1998) give a detailed list of seven criteria for high-quality feedback. In their opinion, feedback should be (1) descriptive, not evaluative and is “owned” by the sender, (2) specific, not general, (3) honest and sincere, (4) expressed in terms relevant to the self – perceived needs of the receiver, (5) timely and in context, (6) desired by the receiver, not imposed on him or her, (70 usable, concerned with behavior over which the receiver has control. Mosher (1998) adds that good feedback should not contain complicated abbreviations and codes; contradictory assessments or directions and too much or too little commentary. 2.2.6 Effects of Peer Written Feedback on Students’ Writing Revision Many researches have been carried out to find out whether peer feedback has influence on students’ writing revision and there have also been many different results. Each researcher has given their evidence to support their arguments about this matter. The literature suggests that the effects of peer comments on revision is not a simple cause and effect matter, but rather a complex one, dependent upon the interrelationship of multiple factors within the evolving social environment. While some of the students appear to benefit from the comments of their peers, some others in writing classrooms do not. In some
    • cases, some students are unable, unwilling, or even ill-advised to follow peer reactions in revising what they have written. Besides, different types of feedback can have various kinds of influence on writing and revision and the success the students have in revising their work sometimes depends on their ability to form effective collaborative relationships with their peers. Tsui & Ng (2000) have found that too general and vague peer feedback or feedback with too many correction codes or new words can lead to little or no improvement in students’ revision when they cannot understand what their peers imply and suggest through their feedback. Moreover, Chiu (2008) also find that many students devaluate peer written feedback on their writings because they think their friends are not competent and professional enough to provide them with helpful comments. This way of thinking also can lead to negative attitudes towards this type of feedback on writing, which can result in little improvement in their revision later. Last but not least, students who receive too negative comments or comments which completely contradict their own ideas also find it hard to revise effectively on the basis of peer written feedback. (Tang & Tithecott, 1999) Ziv (1983) found that in the early semester, the writers did not always revise accordingly to the reactions of their peers, and sometimes resented the criticisms. However, later in the semester, advice from peers was more likely to be heeded because rather than more general criticisms, the students offered each other concrete suggestions for revision. According to Nelson and Murphy (1993, cited in Paulus, 1999), many students incorporate peer comments in their drafts and it is stated that peer comments facilitate 53% of revisions in students’ essays, which is quite a convincing proof of the effectiveness of peer comments. Paulus (1999) has also found that peer
    • response comments can lead to meaningful revisions, and that compared with teacher feedback, revisions based on peer comments can be better in vocabulary, organization and content. Following this line of argument, Chaudron (1984) concludes that students’ scoring on the final draft after receiving peer comments is relatively higher. Chiu (2008) has carried out a study to investigate the effectiveness of peer evaluation on EFL college students’ writing and his study indicates some findings which clearly show the positive effects of peer feedback on students’ revision in particular and on their writing skill in general. (1) students improved significantly after peer evaluation comparing their first and final versions of the first topic, (2) students also improved significantly when they wrote another new topic; (3) students showed satisfactory ability to evaluate their peers’ writing in the area of content, organization, and mechanics, but they were less competent in the evaluation of grammar and diction; (4) students generally showed positive attitudes towards peer evaluation (Chiu, 2008, p.1) Together with teacher written feedback on writing, students can benefit from peer feedback because “both peer and teacher feedback contributed to the revision process, with teacher feedback influencing more changes and being prioritized by students” (Paulus, 1999). In conclusion, based on the results of many researches, it can be seen that peer feedback could be an alternative technique in writing classrooms to improve students’ revision as well as their writing performance. 2.3 CONCLUSIVE REMARKS This chapter deals with the literature review of the study, which helps the researcher a comprehensive understanding of some issues regarding the focus of this study. The chapter has discussed about writing teaching, some
    • major issues of peer written feedback as well as the effects of peer written feedback on students’ revision. Views and results of previous studies in this chapter will serve as the basis for the researcher to carry out her research and draw some implications to improve the overall situation of using peer written feedback among first-year students at ED, ULIS, VNU. Moreover, this chapter also presents the research context which helps the researcher further understand the setting of the study. The following chapter will display the study’s methodology and findings under the light of the above – mentioned theories.
    • CHAPTER 3: METHODOLOGY This chapter covers the research questions, research approach, the participants of the research, the data collection instruments, the procedures of data collection and analysis. 3.1 RESEARCH QUESTIONS The current study was set in the first-year writing classes in Division 1 at the ED, ULIS, VNU where writing - one of the four important English skills is being taught in 3 periods per week. In the first semester, students are taught how to write an informal and formal letter and how to write a descriptive paragraph in the second semester. Also in these two semesters, peer written feedback is introduced to first-year students and widely used among all writing classes by teachers in Division 1. In the first week of semester 1, students are presented the procedure in which their writings would be commented and rewritten. They were also provided with a list of correction symbols (as in the course book) and a checklist (at the end of each unit in the course book) to reflect on their writing, and some other guidelines from teachers. The impetus for the current study arose from the importance of writing skill in mastering English as well as the great role of peer checking as an important stage in student writing process in first-year classes at the ED, ULIS, VNU. Indeed, there are so few studies which focus on the effects of peer written feedback on students’ revision as well as their writing skill. Moreover, during informal discussions with some first-year students, the researcher found out that many of them doubted the importance of peer written feedback in helping them improve their writing drafts in particular
    • and writing skill in general. All things mentioned above urged the researcher to carry out this study to further understand the current situation of using peer written feedback among first-year students and more importantly, to find out whether or not peer checking could affect students’ revision and writing skill. The following research questions are addressed in the study. 1. What is the current situation of using peer written feedback by the 1st-year students at the ED, ULIS, VNU? 2. What are these students’ perceptions of their peers’ written feedback? 3. To what extent does peer written feedback affect the first-year students’ writing ability? 3.2 RESEARCH APPROACH This research included two stages: a survey research and an exploratory research. A survey research is popularly known as a research approach involving the use of interviews or questionnaires which help gather demographic and background information data about people and their thoughts as well as their behavior. Due to its advantages, at the first stage, the researcher conducted a survey questionnaire research to gather and describe the current situation of using peer written feedback among the first- year students in their writing classes and their perceptions of their peers’ written feedback. An exploratory research is a study which “in one way or another examines correlations among variables (Brown, 2004). To obtain the study objectives, at the second stage, the researcher conducted an exploratory research to examine the correlation between peer written
    • feedback and students’ writing ability with the help of student writing analysis. 3.3 PARTICIPANTS 3.2.1 Population The study was conducted at the English Department, ULIS, VNU where process approach was adopted to teach writing by all the writing teachers. However, the target population of this study was first-year teacher trainees only because ED provides courses for translator trainees and the ethnic minority groups as well. With about 16 classes of 25 students on average, which made out for about 400 students in total, the number of students joining the survey was about 100 informants which come from 4 first-year classes. Because this was a small-scale study, this number of subjects seemed to be reasonable and manageable. All of them passed an entrance examination to University of Languages and International Studies, Vietnam National University in July, 2008 and now they are in the second semester of the academic year 2008/2009 at this college. Most of these informants’ level of English proficiency is pre – intermediate though in reality, some students have a lower or higher one. Moreover, the target population also belongs to two genders and different levels of writing skill, which contributed to cover various kinds of first- year students as informants. 3.2.2 Sampling Method In order to guarantee the reliability as well as the validity of the samples, this study chose cluster sampling – one of five sampling strategies of probability – based sampling stated by Henry (1990). Cluster sampling is
    • widely used with naturally occurring groups of individuals based on a listing of clusters. This approach was very useful when a full listing of individuals in the population was not available but a listing of clusters was. In this study, the researchers could easily obtain a list of all main stream classes in which teacher trainee students studied. After that, the researcher selected a simple random sample of classes by assigning a number to all 16 first-year classes of teacher trainee students from 1 to 16, writing 16 numbers in 16 pieces of paper, putting all the numbers in a box and pulling them out at random. As clearly stated, only about 100 students were chosen to join this study so only 4 classes with a number assigned were randomly selected. Lastly, 4 pieces of paper with 4 numbers: 4, 10, 14 and 16 were selected. In other words, 4 classes including 08E4, 08E10, 08E14 and 08E16 with about 25 students each class were chosen as informants for the research. 3.2.3 Description of the participants No of students Average years of Average mark in two genders learning English in writing last Group Group semester name size Male Female 0-2 2-4 4-8 8-12 ≤6 =7 ≥8 08E4 27 2 25 2 4 13 8 11 9 7 08E10 28 3 25 0 14 13 1 12 14 2 08E14 24 0 24 1 2 15 6 6 13 5 08E16 26 1 25 3 7 13 3 7 14 5 Table 1: Background of the target population
    • In total, 105 students from all these 4 classes joined in this study and did the survey questionnaire. Some information about the respondents including their group name, group size, their gender, their years of learning English and their average mark of writing skill got from the questionnaire and directly from the respondents from 4 classes also made their great contribution to the maximization of the diversity of the sampling population. The wide diversity of the target population could be illustrated in this table is described in details in Table 1 above. As can be seen from the table, the questionnaire respondents were of different writing proficiency level and had different periods of time learning English. This enabled the researcher top generalize the results and the interpretations to the other 1st-year students at the English Department. 3.3 DATA COLLECTION INSTRUMENTS To collect sufficient, reliable and valid data for the study, a questionnaire on peer written feedback and student writing assignments were fully employed. 3.3.1 Survey Questionnaire 3.3.1.1 Reasons for choosing survey questionnaire Survey questionnaire was used in data collection of the study due to its unprecedented efficiency in terms of (a) researcher time, (b) researcher effort and (c) financial resources according to Jo and Steve (1997, cited in Nunan, 1998). Thanks to a questionnaire, the researcher could collect a huge amount of information in a short period of time and “if the questionnaire is well – constructed, processing the data can also be fast and relatively straightforward” (Gillham, 2000). Moreover, three types of data including
    • “behavioral”, “factual” and “attitudinal” which can be easily yielded through using questionnaire can provide the researcher with the information to answer the two first research questions about the current situation of using peer written feedback among freshmen and their evaluation of this kind of peer feedback. In brief, due to its great effectiveness, the researcher chose survey questionnaire as an effective instrument of data collecting in this study. 3.3.1.2 Instrumental Development All the items of the survey questionnaire for students were constructed and categorized from a careful review of related literature and the research context in Division1, ED, ULIS, VNU. In the initial survey questionnaire, 12 items were written in English and in clear, simple and natural language with definitions of important and uncommon terms to avoid ambiguity and misunderstanding. However, with a desire to design a survey questionnaire as an effective instrument of data collection, the researcher piloted the questionnaire at various stages of its development on not only a number of people who are similar to the target sample the instrument was designed for but also some teachers of English at this college to have a thorough view and make alterations and fine-tune the final version of the questionnaire. Firstly, the researcher piloted the initial survey questionnaire with the supervisor who suggested to omit 3 unnecessary items, edited the overall format and organization of the survey questionnaire with 5 important components including the title, instructions, questionnaire items, additional information and final “thank you” (Dornyei, 2003).
    • Secondly, the survey questionnaire continued to be piloted with the two first-year students from 08E7 who were in every way similar to the target population volunteered to participate in the piloting stage. Thanks to observing two students’ reactions when doing the first version of the survey questionnaire and their answers and based on their direct suggestions for the survey improvement, the researcher added the definitions as well as some explanation besides some important or uncommon terms for the first-year respondents to avoid misunderstanding. Moreover, the researcher also piloted the survey questionnaire with a teacher in charge of teaching writing in Division 1. This teacher who knew the target population very well helped the researcher changed some words which were supposed to be ambiguous and confusing to students and arrange the question items in a more reader- friendly way for first – year students. After piloting of the item pool, the researcher created the final version of the survey questionnaire with 9 meaningful items for data collection (the final version of survey questionnaire is included in Appendix). The result of the pilot was an official set of questions which will be described in details in the next part. 3.3.1.2 The contents of the questionnaire The survey questionnaire was written in English and included 3 sections • Section 1: Introduction  The title and a general introduction on the research topic and the researcher  Some general instructions to promise the confidentiality and to emphasize there are no right or wrong answers
    •  Saying “thank you” • Section 2: Main content including peer written feedback and students’ perception of peer written feedback accompanied with specific instructions put next to each item or item groups  Current situation of peer written feedback on writing including 6 items written in multiple choice and rank order form seeking information on different types of peer feedback, forms of peer feedback, amount of peer feedback, aspects of peer feedback.  Students’ perception of peer written feedback on writing including 3 items written in multiple choice form seeking information on the first-year students’ evaluation of their peers’ written feedback as well as their reasons for the helpfulness/unhelpfulness of peer written feedback. • Section 3: Some additional information  The respondents’ background information including their years of learning English and their average mark of writing in the last semester  The researcher’s contact information  A promise to send the respondent a summary of the findings if they are interested  Final “thank-you”
    • 3.3.2 Student writing assignments 3.3.2.1 Reasons for choosing student writing assignments Student writing assignments were chosen and employed because it could help the researcher get in-depth information to investigate the effectiveness of peer written feedback on students’ writing ability based on analyzing three versions of each assignment. The results, therefore, would be of validity and reliability so that the recommendations would be built suitably and firmly on the basis. 3.3.2.2 Selection of student writing assignments To select student writing assignments for observation and analysis, the research once again chose cluster sampling method in which, as stated above, the entire population of interest was divided into groups, or clusters, and a random sample of these clusters as selected. 36 papers (including 12 student writing assignments with three versions) were selected from 12 students from 4 classes responding to the survey questionnaire: 08E4, 08E10, 08E14, 08E16. With the help of four teachers of writing in these 4 groups, the researcher borrowed 12 writing assignments from their students belonging to different levels of writing skill. In other words, three students from each group were selected with the help of four teachers by randomly choosing each student from three levels classified by their average mark in writing in semester 1 (≤ 6, =7 and ≥ 8). In this way, the researcher could find it easier to have a general overview and draw some conclusions based on analyzing the writing versions by students of different writing proficiency. Since in an exploratory research, the recommended sample size of observations was about 30 (Mertens, 2005), 36 papers seemed to be a reasonable number of samples in this study.
    • 3.3.2.3 Description of student writing assignments Each writing assignment included 3 versions and 2 peer feedbacks on two first versions there was no peer written feedback on the third one but teacher written feedback or marks on some papers. In total, the researcher borrowed and analyzed 36 writing papers with 24 peer feedbacks. The topics of paragraphs in student writing assignments collected for analysis were as followed: • Write a CV and a letter of application • Write a letter of invitation to your birthday party • Write a summary of an article • Writing a letter to a friend • Writing a letter of complaint • Writing a letter about yourself to a penpal 3.4 DATA COLLECTION PROCEDURE The study took place in week 9 of the second term of the 2008-2009 academic years and consisted 2 main phases as mentioned below. Phase 1: Preparing for questionnaire administration and making contact with teachers After finishing developing the final version of the survey questionnaire, the researcher prepared for the official questionnaire administration session and made contact with teachers. According to Dornyei (2003), a well – designed questionnaire and a well-prepared administration situation in advance can help the researcher achieve good
    • results. To increase the presence and the willingness of all the subjects chosen for the study, the researcher came to four groups: 08E4, 08E10, 08E14, 08E16 one week before the official day to deliver the survey questionnaire to give advance notice about the purpose of the study and the nature of the forthcoming questionnaire as well as the specific time of delivering the survey, which contributed to creating a favorable climate for the survey. This was supposed an effective method of generating a positive climate for the administration and it also reduced the anxiety caused by the unexpected and unknown (Dornyei, 2003). At the same time, the researcher contacted four teachers of writing in these four classes beforehand through telephone and emails to ask them to help borrowing student writing assignments from their students belonging to different level of writing skill and made an appointment to meet them at the teaching staff room. Phase 2: Administering the questionnaire and borrowing student writing assignments The researcher had a direct interaction with the respondents and delivered 104 survey questionnaires each class separately and respectively by hand during break time in four days. Therefore, the chances for the questionnaires to be returned were significantly better and more convenient than administration by mail or one-to-one administration. Before asking the students to do the survey questionnaire, the researcher briefly explained the format, the length and told them that their questions would be thoroughly answered to clarify any misunderstanding about the survey questions while completing the items, emphasized confidentiality and most importantly emphasized the significance of the results.
    • Besides the written instructions on the handout, oral Vietnamese instructions and explanations were presented to help respondents avoid any misunderstanding and ambiguity. With the researcher at present when respondents giving answers, the number of handout returned could be guaranteed and any questions related to how to do the survey were properly answered. After about 20 minutes, the respondents finished completing all questionnaires. The questionnaire return rate was 105 papers, which means that all students from 4 classes participated in the survey questionnaire. Finally, the researcher thanked the respondents for their help and promised to send them the study results through their emails or addresses included in the survey. After that, the researcher also had a face-to-face interaction as with four teachers of writing in these four classes at the teaching staff room and borrowed four writing assignments from each teacher as well as thanked them for their help and support. 3.5 DATA ANALYSIS PROCEDURE Initially, the collected data were examined and classified so as to find out the appropriate answers and classified according to three research questions. That is, all of the data gathered from the survey questionnaire was to answer the first and second research questions whereas data got from the student writing assignments would reply to the third research question. Descriptive statistics method was used to process the data got from the survey questionnaire. Students’ choice for each letter (A, B, etc) was mechanically counted and calculated percentage. After that, all the data were presented in bar charts and pie charts for better illustration and explanations
    • in a reader – friendly way to easily compare different variables in the same category. Qualitative method was used to process the data gathered from student writing analysis. Firstly, the researcher gave codes to the first set of field notes drawn from observation, and then personal reflections and comments were put in the margin. After that, the researcher sorted and sifted through the materials to find out the relationship between the number of mistakes treated by peers and the ones revised by writers. Three writing versions of each assignment were analyzed to see the differences by counting the mistakes made, mistakes pointed out and mistakes corrected in terms of five main aspects including grammar, content, organization, mechanics. After that, all the findings were presented in tables and also in graphs and charts to easily comparing between each aspect as well as student’s ways to revise their writing based on those peer written feedback.
    • CHAPTER 4: RESULTS AND DISCUSSION Chapter 4 plays a very important part in the study. It serves two functions (1) giving a presentation on the data collected by means of survey questionnaire and student writing analysis and (2) making and interpretation based on the data. The researcher reports the findings from the survey questionnaire before presenting the findings from student writing analysis. 4.1 FINDINGS AND INTERPRETATIONS FROM SURVEY QUESTIONNAIRE As mentioned above, the questionnaire aims to answer two first research questions. Hence, based on the research questions, the findings are also divided into two main parts including the current situation of peer written feedback and students’ evaluation of peer written feedback. 4.1.1 Current situation of peer written feedback 4.1.1.1Frequency of using different types of peer written feedback 4.1.1.1.1 Positive feedback versus negative feedback As can be seen from Figure 2, among 105 first – year students participating in the survey questionnaire, 49% stated that their peers used more negative feedback to comment on their writing assignments while the number of students supposed that their friends tended to use positive comments more frequently. It can be drawn from the survey questionnaire that although first-year students preferred giving feedback in an encouraging tone to negative one, there were no significant differences in the frequency of using these two peer written feedback on writing assignments. This finding indicates that many students highly and equally evaluated the importance of giving feedback on writing in both positive and negative tone.
    • Figure 2: Frequency of using positive and negative feedback 49% Positive Feedback Negative Feedback 53% This seems to be an appropriate way of giving feedback because too much criticism without any praise may offend other students and too much praise without mentioning the weaknesses may make other students feel over confident and find it more difficult to revise their writing versions. 4.1.1.1.2 Text-specific feedback versus generic feedback Regarding the specificity of peer written feedback, as can be seen from Figure 3, 66% of students received more generic feedback on their writing assignments while about 34% of them got more text-specific ones from their peers. It can be inferred that a wide number of first-year students chose to give generic comments which could only be applied to one writing task. In many cases, this might be a right choice which could help their friends generalize the comments for later use to other writing tasks.
    • Figure 3: Frequency of using text-specific and generic feedback 34% 66% Text - specific feedback Generic Feedback Though the percentage of using generic feedback was not much higher than that of using text-specific feedback, it can be inferred that students tended to help their friends have a general overview of their writing more than spending a great amount of time giving a long and detailed comment on writings. 4.1.1.1.3 Marginal feedback versus end feedback In terms of the position of peer written feedback, there is not much difference between the frequencies of using two types of feedback among first-year students.
    • Figure 4: Frequency of using marginal and end feedback 41% Marginal Feedback 59% End Feedback
    • According to Figure 4, 59% of the respondents stated that they received more end feedback than marginal ones. It can be inferred from the chart that many students only wanted to fill their comments in the blank available in each writing assignment rather than leaving comments in the margin or between the lines for their friends to see their problems more clearly. However, 41% of students indicated that their peers used marginal comments more frequently. In general, although both of these types of feedback were utilized by students, end feedback seemed to be always a more frequent and preferable choice of all the commentators when giving comments. In conclusion, in reality, although all types of feedback were used by first – year students, some types including positive feedback, generic feedback as well as end feedback were used more frequently than other types of feedback among first- year students at the English Department, ULIS, VNU. 4.1.1.2 Amount of peer written feedback The amount of peer written feedback was one point that the researcher paid attention to. Answering the forth question in the survey questionnaire, the respondents gave their different ideas on the amount of their friends’ peer written feedback as can be clearly presented in Figure 5. According to Figure 5, 47% - nearly a half of the respondents stated that their friends often pointed out all mistakes in their writings and corrected some serious ones. It can be predicted that a large number of students were aware of the importance of the appropriate amount of correction when giving comments on their friends’ writing assignments.
    • Figure 5: The amount of peer written feedback 47% 50% 40% 28% 30% 17% 20% 8% 10% 0% A B C D A: Point out and correct all mistakes B: Point out all mistakes and correct some serious ones C: Point out some and correct some serious mistakes D: Point out and correct no mistakes, just give general comments They helped point out all the mistakes their friends had made, let them self-correct the majority of mistakes and made suggestions for only some serious or typical ones. However, more than one – forth (28%) of the respondents supposed that their peers often helped them point out all the mistakes they had made and corrected all of them. As a fact, this way of giving feedback on writing can distract students from other important concerns in the process to improve their revision and lead them to the surface-level mistakes which are easier to correct. Besides, only 17% of the students stated that their peers only pointed and corrected some serious ones. In reality, to some students who were good at writing, this way of giving feedback seemed to be a good one because it could not only help them self revise their writings based on their friends’ correction but also let them do self-correction with some surface-level mistakes. Lastly, only 8% of students
    • supposed that their friends often corrected no mistakes and just gave them general comments on their writing assignments. Obviously, this did not seem to be a good way of giving feedback because in most cases, it could be of little assistance to students in revising their writings. Moreover, this could result in students’ underestimation of their peers’ responsibility and ability to correct their writings. 4.1.1.3 Forms of peer written feedback Figure 6: Forms of peer written feedback 60% 52% 51% 50% 45% 40% 27% 29% 28% 30% 26% 20% 22% most frequently used 20% second frequently used 10% least frequently used 0% As can be seen from Figure 6, 52% of the respondents stated that statement was the form of feedback their peers used most frequently while the rest of them supposed that their peers used statement less than question and imperative. In contrast, only 26% of the students affirmed that question was the form of feedback which seemed to be used most frequently while nearly a half of them considered that question was the second frequently-used form
    • of feedback. The rest of the respondents recommended that question was not used as commonly as statement and imperative. Regarding using imperative as a form of peer written feedback, only 22% stated that their peers often used imperative as a form of peer feedback most frequently and 27% of respondents considered that imperative was used second frequently by their peer commentators. Most significantly, more than a half of the respondents stated that their peers used imperative less commonly than the other two forms of feedback. In conclusion, based on the rankings of all the respondents, statement seemed to be the most frequent and favorable form of feedback used by first-year students. It can be inferred that statement is more direct and revision-oriented, thereby helping avoid misunderstanding. The second common form of peer feedback was question. This form of feedback, to some extent, was very effective in stimulating students’ thinking process and this might be the reason why many students chose it as their second favorite form of feedback, just after statement, while giving comments on other students’ writings. Based on the results, imperative seemed to be used least frequently by first-year students. This can be explained because imperative seemed to be more severe and authoritative than statement and question. 4.1.1.4 Aspects of peer written feedback The aspects addressed by the commentators while giving feedback on their friends’ writing assignments was also a point worth in-depth finding and discussion.
    • Figure 7: Aspects of peer written feedback 88% 90% 80% 70% 55% 48% 43% 60% 50% 40% 17% 30% 20% 10% 0% As can be seen from Figure 7, both global matters, i.e. content and organization, and local matters, i.e grammar and mechanics were addressed by the commentators as perceived by the respondents. Among all aspects, grammar was most focused when students gave feedback on their friends’ writing assignments because a large number of the respondents (88%) stated that grammar was a very popular item in peer feedback they received. This was easily understood because mistakes related to this issue seemed to be easy to be recognized and corrected. More than a half of the survey participants considered that word choice was also an aspect which was usually addressed by their peers. The content and mechanics were also regarded as common aspects mentioned in peer feedback they received from their friends by 48% and 43% of the respondents respectively. Organization, on the other hand, seemed to be of less concern than other aspects while giving feedback, as stated by only 17% of the respondents. This figure indicates that students were not aware of the importance of the organization to the quality of
    • writing or this aspect was more difficult for them to comment on. Moreover, as stated in the research context, first – year students were encouraged to practice forming and organizing ideas rather than the format or organization so the low percentage of students who mentioned the organization as a common aspect addressed by peers was understandable. However, this is also a shortcoming of current peer written feedback since organization can be seen as one of the most essential aspects that feedback should focus on (Fulwiler, 1986) 4.1.2 Students’ perception of peer written feedback Concerning students’ evaluation of peer written feedback, the researcher concentrated on the investigation into their opinions about the helpfulness of peer written response. Figure 8: Students' evaluation of peer written feedback 11% Helpful Unhelpful 89% Students’ answers were quite positive with 89% of the respondents stating that written feedback given by their peers was helpful to their writing. However, there were still 11% stating that peer response was not of great assistance in their writing revision. These two groups of respondents were then required to answer a further question to clarify the reasons why
    • they found that peer written feedback was helpful or unhelpful to them. Their explanations are illustrated in Figure 9 and 10. Figure 9: Reason(s) why students think peer written feedback is helpful 64% 70% 57% 54% 60% 48% 50% 40% 30% 20% 5% 10% 0% A B C D E A: I can revise my writings effectively based on my friends’ correction and suggestion B: I can avoid all the corrected mistakes next time C: I can enhance my confidence in writing thanks to my friends’ encouraging feedback D: I can learn how to comment from the way my friends correct my writing E: I can improve my writing skill in general thanks to my friends’ peer feedback
    • According to Figure 9, the students who said that peer written feedback was helpful were also asked to clarify their answers. Of the 105 students, 61 students (57%) claimed that thanks to their friends’ correction and suggestion, they could revise their writings more easily. Meanwhile, about 54% of the respondents stated that they could benefit from peer written feedback by avoiding all the corrected mistakes next time. This means that peer written feedback could be generalized for later use to other writing assignments. Besides, only 5% considered that peer feedback could help them feel more confident in their writing skill. It can be implied that although positive feedback was still utilized besides negative one, encouraging comments and even praise were not enough to develop students’ confidence in their writing ability. In addition, nearly a half of the respondents claimed that thanks to observing the peer written feedback they received from their friends, they could learn the way to give comments more effectively. Most significantly, 64% - the highest percentage of students considered that peer written feedback, in general, improved their writing skill. It can be inferred that in first-year students’ opinion, peer written feedback played a very important role in helping them improve their writing ability. In contrast, there were only 12 students responding to the last question in the survey questionnaire to clarify why they thought that peer written feedback was unhelpful. This small number of students proved that the majority of the survey respondents agreed that peer written feedback was really effective. Their explanations for their choice are presented in Figure 10.
    • As can be seen from this figure, a high percentage of 12 respondents (83%) stated that peer written feedback was unhelpful because it was too general. In this case, too general comments could lead to lack of understanding or even misunderstanding between the commentators and the comment receivers. Within the researcher’ prediction, this finding showed that general feedback seemed to be much easier and more convenient to compose than a detailed one.
    • Figure 10: Reason (s) why students think peer written feedback is unhelpful 100% 83% 80% 66% 60% 40% 58% 12% 51% 42% 20% 8% 0% A B C D E F G A: My friends’ feedback is too general B: My friends’ feedback is too vague and difficult to understand C: My friends’ feedback contradicts my ideas D: My friends’ feedback is not reliable E: My friends’ feedback is too negative, so discourages me. F: My friends’ feedback includes too many new words and structures G: My friends’ feedback includes too many correction codes which are hard to understand Too negative feedback was the second most common reason for students’ undervaluing peer written feedback (7 out of 12 respondents (58%)). As mentioned in the previous part, too negative comments or even criticism may discourage the writers and make them think that those are not helpful comments which ensure the best results. Vague feedback was also mentioned by 58% of 12 respondents as a cause of students’ devaluating peer written feedback. This was easily understood because vague feedback
    • could lead to misunderstanding and hence could not help the writers find it easy to revise their writings. In addition, feedback which contradicted the writers’ ideas and unreliable comments were also mentioned by 42% and 51% respectively as two causes of students’ underestimation of peer written feedback. To some feedback contradicting the writers’ ideas, there should be a face-to-face interaction between the writers and the commentators to solve this problem. The fact that some students did not rely on their friends’ peer comments can be explained by the different levels of writing proficiency in each class. In other words, in fact some students were better at writing than others and they did not highly appreciate peer comments from those friends. Lastly, feedback including many new words and structures as well as correction codes was also regarded as a cause of students’ negative attitude towards peer written feedback. However, not many students (only 2 and 1 respectively out of 12 students) chose these reasons for their explanation although it could not be denied that new words and structures as well as correction codes were still a hindrance for first-year students. 4.2 FINDINGS AND INTERPRETATIONS FROM STUDENT WRITING ASSIGNMENTS In order to answer the third research questions by assessing the effectiveness of peer written feedback on students’ revision, sample analysis was employed to see the changes between three writing versions. Analyzing peer feedbacks is a time-consuming task; therefore only 36 papers (including 12 writing assignments with 3 versions on each) were borrowed, observed and analyzed.
    • 4.2.1 Between-draft changes made by students of different writing proficiency levels Three versions written by students belonging to different degrees of writing proficiency were analyzed to see the changes after students received peer written feedback. The number of mistakes regarding 5 main aspects of writing in each version were counted and categorized according to different levels of writing ability including low, medium and high proficiency. Figure 11: Between-draft mistakes made by students of low writing proficiency 100 81 80 58 60 41 40 20 0 Version 1 Version 2 Version 3 Mistakes made by students As can be seen from Figure 11, the number of mistakes regarding 5 main aspects in 4 assignments written by low-proficient students decreased from 81 mistakes in version 1 to 58 mistakes in version 2 and 41 mistakes in version 3 – which counted for about 50% of the number of errors in the first version. It can be easily seen that peer written feedback could significantly contribute to make good between-draft changes. Moreover, it cannot be denied that the drafts produced by the low-proficient students had more
    • room for improvement than those by their high-proficient counterparts. Hence, many students found it easier to identify mistakes especially some surface-level ones such as spelling or grammatical mistakes commonly made by low-proficient students. In brief, there was a great change between three versions after low-proficient students received their peers’ comments.
    • Figure 12: Between-draft mistakes made by students of medium writing proficiency 60 55 50 40 40 28 30 20 10 0 Version 1 Version 2 Version 3 Mistakes made by students Figure 12 illustrates the number of mistakes made students of medium writing ability through their revisions. 55 was the number of mistakes made by students in the first version and this number decreased by 12% after these students got feedback from their peers. The number of mistakes was only 28 – which counted for about 70% of the number of errors made by students in the second version. It can be drawn from the line chart that peer feedback was also effective in helping students revise their writings although the changes among three versions were not as significant as those among writing drafts made by students of lower writing proficiency.
    • Figure 13 shows Between-draft made through by high-proficient Figure 13: the changes mistakes made the students of high writing proficiency students’ revisions. It can be easily seen from that chart that there was not a 38 40 substantial change between three versions based on the number of mistakes 27 30 made by students especially between version 2 and version 3 after students 22 20 received two peer written feedbacks on their writings. This could be 10 explained by higher writing ability of these students. These students with 0 their great writing proficiency made fewer mistakes especially mistakes Version 1 Version 2 Version 3 which were easy to identify and correct so their peers found it more difficult Mistakes made by students to correct and suggest for improvement. To conclude, with the impact of peer written feedback, students of different levels of writing proficiency made different changes in their writing versions. It can be concluded that students with lower writing ability benefited more from peer feedback than those with higher one. Within the researcher’s prediction, low-proficient students made more mistakes which were easy to point out and rectify or make suggestions for revision. In brief, although peer feedback was not the only factor causing the between-draft changes made by students, it could not be denied that it was one of the most important and effective components which helped students find it easier to revise their writings and feel more confident to submit their papers to the teachers. 4.2.2 Amount of peer written feedback regarding different aspects of writing To have a deeper understanding of the effects of peer feedback on students’ revision, as mentioned in the previous part, only two first versions were commented by peers so the researcher observed only 24 papers in total
    • more closely to have a deeper understanding of the amount of peer written feedback in different aspects of writing. The number of mistakes made by students, the number of mistakes pointed out and the number of mistakes corrected or suggested for improvement by their commentators in version 1 and 2 are illustrated in Figure 14 and Figure 15 to help the researcher make a comparison between different aspects more easily and clearly. Figure 14: Mistakes pointed out over mistakes made by students 100 81 79 80 65 69 67 60 48 39 40 23 23 20 14 0 Grammar Content Organization Mechanics Word choice Mistakes made by writers Mistakes pointed out by peers
    • Figure 14 shows the ratios of mistakes pointed out by commentators over mistakes made by students in two first versions. As can be seen from the chart, first-year students made more grammatical and mechanical mistakes than other kinds of writing mistakes. These two aspects of writing were also two areas which students found it easier to recognize and point out in their friends’ writings. In terms of grammar and mechanics, students could point out more than 80% of the overall mistakes regarding these two areas made by writers. This was a high percentage which showed that grammar and mechanics seemed to be paid more attention by the commentators than other aspects in peer written correction. In addition, organization was an aspect which was also of high level of attention because the number of mistakes pointed out by peers counted for 61% of the overall mistakes regarding the organization. In contrast, the number of mistakes pointed out by peers in terms of word choice and content counted for only 47% and 57% respectively of the number of mistakes made. It can be explained that mistakes regarding the meaning and the ways of expression seemed to be more difficult to recognize than surface-level ones. Moreover, the same level of writing ability of both writers and commentators could lead to students’ difficulty in pointing out their friends’ writing problems regarding content and word choice. In brief, first-year students paid great attention to different aspects while commenting on their friends’ writing papers although their ability to recognize various kinds of mistakes varied.
    • Figure 15 shows the ratio of mistakes corrected or suggested for improvement over mistakes pointed out by peers on students’ writing assignments. Grammatical mistakes were not only the ones which students pointed out most frequently but also the ones which the largest number of students helped the writers correct. Figure 15: Mistakes corrected/suggested for improvement over mistakes pointed out 80 67 65 60 41 39 40 31 23 20 14 14 8 12 0 Grammar Content Organization Mechanics Word choice Mistakes pointed out Mistakes corrected/suggested for improvement The number of corrected grammatical mistakes counted for 63% of the overall mistakes pointed out by peers. The reason for this result could lie in the fact that grammar errors could generally be corrected quickly and easily. These examples given below illustrate the way students corrected their friends’ grammatical mistakes. Original text: It makes animals becomes rare.  Peer correction: It makes animals become rare.
    • Original text: I am writing to complain about some problems I have found last week.  Peer correction: I am writing to complain about some problems I found last week Surprisingly, word choice which was less pointed out than other aspects of writing was second commonly corrected or suggested for later revision by many commentators. This finding seemed to be similar to the result drawn from the survey questionnaire as perceived by the survey respondents who stated that word choice was one of two aspects mostly addressed by their peers. This example illustrates peer correction of word choice mistakes. Original sentence: My party is going to be given at 8 p.m on Saturday.  Peer correction: My party is going to be held at 8 p.m on Saturday. In addition, the number of mechanical mistakes and problems regarding the organization which were corrected or suggested for improvement counted for only 46% and 42% respectively of the number of mistakes pointed out. The percentage of corrected mistakes of these two aspects seemed to be lower than those regarding word choice and grammar. This can be predicted that students had little hesitation in writing a long comment to suggest for improvement of the organization and mechanical mistakes were too easy to be corrected so there was no need to help their friends make corrections. These examples below serve as illustrations of peer correction and suggestion for problems regarding the organization and mechanics. The commentator wrote: “You should divide your letter into two
    • separate parts: the first part is about the things you have been doing and the second part is about how your friend is and what she is doing now” when giving comments on the writer’s way of organizing a letter to a friend. Other commentators corrected the writers’ mechanical mistakes by rewriting the right words next to the errors, for example “dormitory” for “domitory” or “properly” for “propperly”. Obviously, the number of corrected mistakes regarding the content counted for only 36% of the mistakes pointed out. As a matter of fact, students usually found it hard to help their friends improve the content of their writings although they realized that their friends’ writings still needed improvement. This is an example of suggestion for improving the content of writing: “You should add the disadvantages of the changes in American families because everything has its two sides”. In brief, students paid attention to nearly all aspects of writing while commenting on their friends’ writings although the degree of attention varied among different aspects. While grammatical mistakes was both pointed out and corrected by the largest number of commentators, word choice was the aspect which was pointed out the least and the content was the aspect which students found it harder to correct and suggest for revision compared with all other areas. As can be drawn from the findings, the number of mistakes corrected or suggested for improvement did not account for a large percentage of the overall number of mistakes pointed out. This can be predicted that the commentators could not recommend a way of correcting or improving the quality of their friends’ writings or they wanted to give the writers the chances to revise their writings themselves.
    • 4.2.3 Students’ revision based on peer written feedback Figure 16: Mistakes corrected/revised based on peer written feedback 80 67 70 65 60 50 42 41 39 40 33 31 30 23 20 14 14 12 8 10 5 4 5 0 Grammar Content Organization Mechanics Word choice Mistakes pointed out by peers Mistakes corrected/suggested for improvement by peers Mistakes corrected/revised by writers based on peer feedback After receiving peer written feedback, many students revised their writings by incorporating their peers’ corrections and suggestions into their later versions while others ignored and made no changes or revised their writings in their own ways. The researcher analyzed the copies of the second and the third versions more closely to see whether students created their second and third drafts based on peer written feedback provided in the first and second ones. Figure 16 above shows the number of mistakes which were corrected or revised based on peer feedback by the writers over the mistakes the commentators pointed out or even corrected and suggested for improvement.
    • As can be seen from Figure 16, students mostly corrected their mechanical mistakes based on peer feedback. The number of mechanical mistakes corrected by the writers was even higher than the number of mistakes corrected by peers. This could be easily understood because mechanical mistakes especially spelling ones were once pointed out; the writers found it easy to admit their mistakes and had no difficulty in correcting themselves. Moreover, students second mostly corrected their grammatical mistakes based on peer feedback. The number of mistakes revised by the writer accounted for about 80% the ones corrected by their peers. This could be easily explained by fixed grammar rules in English so students found it easier to follow their friend’s advice and decided to incorporate peer feedback in their later revisions. In contrast, the content seemed to be the aspect which the writers found it hardest to incorporate their friends’ suggestions into their second and third drafts. The number of mistakes corrected/revised by writers only accounted for 12% of the number of pointed out mistakes and 35% of the number of mistakes corrected by peers. As mentioned above, the content is always one of the most controversial issues in writing because there is no fixed answer and one topic can be addressed and discussed in different ways. Some students stated their own opinion or just some words like “Why not?”, “I don’t think so” or “I think they are acceptable” next to their peers’ comments on the content to express their disagreement. In conclusion, while the findings the survey questionnaire showed the current situation of using peer written feedback and students’ positive attitudes towards using this method in their writing classes, the results from student writing analysis helped the researcher have a deeper understanding
    • about the amount of peer feedback and to what extent peer feedback affected students’ writing ability through the changes they made through three versions. It can be concluded that peer written feedback affected students’ writing ability through changes of different levels in their writing drafts. The findings and interpretations in this chapter would be a fundamental source for the researcher to draw up some implications which will be presented in the following chapter.
    • CHAPTER 5: PEDAGOGICAL IMPLICATIONS As clearly stated at the beginning of the study, one of the main objectives of this research is to give the recommendations on how to improve the current situation of using peer written feedback among first- year students at the ED, ULIS, VNU. The findings of the research show that peer written feedback plays a very important role in helping first-year students revise more effectively and improve their writing ability in general. Hence, basing on the theoretical and practical practice, the researcher would like to give some implications for using peer written feedback more effectively. Making peer response activities more efficient requires not only students’ efforts but also the involvement of teachers in helping students utilize peer written feedback on writing. This chapter is divided into two main parts including some teaching implications for teachers and some suggestions for students in their process of practicing peer written feedback. 5.1 TEACHING IMPLICATIONS FOR TEACHERS 5.1.1 Pre-training activity One of the most important preparations for students’ use of peer written feedback is pre-training them how to evaluate a written work and how to give and utilize peer written feedback effectively at the beginning of the semester and also in the students’ process of practicing peer feedback during the semester. 5.1.1.1 Pre-training students to evaluate a written work First and foremost, teachers should train their students to the way to evaluate a written work. Teachers can introduce some basic criteria to evaluate a piece of writing. An example of a paragraph checklist is included
    • in Appendix 3. Thanks to this set of criteria of a good writing, students can decide whether a writing assignment is effective or not. While introducing those criteria, teachers should explain each criterion specifically and clearly to avoid misunderstanding and ambiguity. For example, teachers can provide students with some examples or some small tasks and then ask them to work individually, in pairs or groups to decide whether they are good paragraphs or not. In this way, students not only know what they should focus when giving comments on others’ writings but also know which aspects they should pay attention to when creating a paragraph. 5.1.1.2 Pre-training students to give and utilize peer feedback effectively After training students what to focus on when checking their own writings and their peers’ work, teachers should provide them with initial guidance of efficient peer response. 5.1.1.2.1 Raising students’ awareness of peer editing Teachers should raise students’ awareness of the importance of peer written feedback to their writing and ask them not only to revise their own work but also give their friends comments with greater responsibility. Firstly, teachers should show that they themselves highly appreciate the work of giving peer feedback and revision by promising to give critical responders some bonus marks apart from praise. Secondly, teachers should also emphasize that students at the same level can give helpful comments on their peers’ writings. This emphasis is very important because the finding from the study shows that many students devaluate peer written feedback because they think this type of feedback is not as reliable and helpful as teacher comments. Besides, teachers also had better create some class
    • discussion of the purpose of peer response, the role of peer responder as a collaborator rather than a corrector. 5.1.1.2.2 Providing students with guidance on how to give and utilize peer feedback  Teachers can guide students to focus on some important aspects, namely the content, the organization or grammar which should be equally addressed in peer feedback and various types or forms of feedback which can be effectively utilized in giving comments.  Teachers should give clear instructions and familiarize students with the error correction code system from the start. If possible, teachers can check students’ ability to use some gap-filling exercises with symbol and the meaning of symbols.  Teachers also model the peer response process by giving some illustrative paragraphs, identifying writing mistakes or problems, discussing possible improvements as well as how these suggestions might be expressed clearly and supportively together with students.  Together with modeling ways of pointing out some writing problems, teachers should also model some ways of revision based on peer feedback.
    • 5.1.2 Intervention activity Pre-training activities at the beginning of the semester play a very important part in guiding students to use peer written feedback. However, this should be an on-going process which means teachers have a great responsibility for maintaining a close contact with students and intervene in their process of practicing peer feedback in time because although students can provide their friends helpful feedback, they still face many problems which need to be solved with the help of teachers. As stated in the previous chapter, students have many difficulties in giving comments and suggestions or self-revising the content of writing, so teachers should. In other words, the teacher is in a position to suggest measures for improving the readers’ commenting and the writer’s revisions. They can move around or sit beside students to provide support and sometimes can express their own opinion of students’ work or students’ ways of commenting. In this way, both teachers and students can benefit from this on-going process because students can have a chance to ask the teachers to resolve some uncertainties about responses as well as revisions and teachers can have an overall picture of the activities of each peer response group. 5.1.3 Communicative discussion after peer response activity Organizing a discussion after peer response activity might be very valuable to further demonstrate the process of revising more effectively. In this way, teachers can pick out some typical writing mistakes and problems and give students chances to give comments and make correction or suggestions on such mistakes. Teachers also give the writers time to raise questions about their uncertainties about peer feedback and the reviewers chance to give full explanation for their comments because the study
    • findings also indicate that many students think their friends’ feedback is too vague or difficult to understand or contradicts their own ideas. Thanks to a communicative and open discussion, teachers can give students a good chance to learn and understand more about each other. 5.1.4 Assessment of peer response process Teachers can require their students to submit all of their drafts with peer feedback apart from the final version. In this way, teachers can review all the comments to investigate how students read and evaluate their friends’ writings in order to encourage the ones who give critical and constructive feedback. Moreover, teachers can grade students’ writings by assessing their effort and improvement through versions during the whole writing process rather than evaluating the quality of the final one alone. 5.2 IMPLICATIONS FOR STUDENTS Basing on some findings from the study findings, the researcher also would like to provide some suggestions for students to enhance the effectiveness of peer written feedback on writing. 5.2.1 Fairly specific peer feedback Basing on the overall judgment of a high percentage of first-year students participating in the survey and the observation of peer feedback in student writing assignments, peer feedback provided by students seems to be not specific enough, which makes students find it hard to revise their writings. Hence, within the researcher’s opinion, peer feedback should be specific enough to help students realize what difficulties they are having with the text and which way they can improve their writings. This does not mean that peer feedback should be too detailed because some generic
    • comments which help students have general view of their papers should be incorporated with a fairly specific one. 5.2.2 Equal comments on different writing aspects The study finding reveals that when giving comments on other friends’ writings, students tend to focus on grammar and mechanics rather than other important writing aspects. However, idea organization and the content of writing are also two in-depth aspects which should be paid great attention right after the writers create the first version and grammar, mechanics or word choice can be addressed after students’ ideas have been solidified. Hence, in general, students should try their best to be a critical reader and reviewer to address almost aspects when giving comments to help the writers make substantial changes based on their feedback. 5.2.3 Moderate amount of peer written feedback As can be drawn from the findings, students tend to be moderate in the amount of feedback given to their friends. However, regarding the content of writing, they seem to hesitate to make some suggestions for the writers’ later revision. In this way, in order to give friends the most moderate amount of feedback, students should ask the teachers and other students for help when they want to point out some writing problems and making some suggestions especially the ones regarding the content of writing. In this way, students can provide an appropriate amount of peer feedback regarding different writing aspects. 5.2.4 Appropriate forms of peer feedback The findings from the survey questionnaire prove that statement seems to be the most favorite form of feedback used by first-year students.
    • This is understandable due to the clearness and usefulness of this form in helping students clarify their comments. However, using only one feedback form can cause boredom to the readers so it is recommended that students should use various feedback forms, i.e. question or imperative as well because different forms can convey different kinds of messages and yield different effects on students. 5.2.5 Balanced use of marginal and end peer written feedback As perceived by students participating in the survey, end feedback tends to be favored by most of the peer commentators. In the researcher’s opinion, a balance should be maintained between the use of both marginal and end feedback because feedback put in the margin and between the lines can be effectively used to directly point out different types of mistakes and feedback put at the end of the paper can be efficiently used to give general comments. 5.2.6 Appropriate tone of peer written feedback As drawn from the survey questionnaire, although first-year students tend to balance the use of positive and negative feedback when giving comments, they also state that receiving too negative comments seems to be a big reason for their devaluation of the helpfulness of peer feedback. Hence, it is recommended that students should try to utilize more positive feedback apart from negative one by balancing the amount of the strengths and weaknesses mentioned in peer feedback since the combination of both praise and criticism will bring about “the best results” (Ferris & Hedgcock, 1998, p.128)
    • To conclude, peer written feedback has proved itself to have a positive impact on students’ revision in particular and their writing ability in general. In order to enhance the betterment of peer feedback, both teachers and students should take those recommendations and suggestions into consideration and put them into practice.
    • CHAPTER 6: CONCLUSION With a view to concluding the thesis, this chapter includes a brief summary and some limitations of the study as well as some suggestions for further studies on related fields. 6.1 SUMMARY 6.1.1 Summary of the findings Supported by the data collected from a combination of the two data collection instruments including survey questionnaire and student writing assignments, the study has thoroughly answered three research questions. 6.1.1.1 What is the current situation of using peer written feedback by 1st-year students at the ED, ULIS, VNU? In general, the current situation of using peer written feedback among first-year students at the ED, ULIS, VNU has been quite positive. Regarding types of peer feedback, students seem to balance all kinds in giving comments on their friends’ writings although as perceived by these students, positive feedback as well as generic feedback and end feedback tend to be used more frequently among them. In terms of the amount of feedback, a medium percentage of students seem to know how to give effective feedback by pointing out and correcting a fair number of writing mistakes and problems in their peers’ assignments. Regarding forms of feedback, statement seems to be favored by students than question and imperative as a feedback form due to the clearness and usefulness of this form in helping students clarify their comments. Moreover, the students tend to take all writing aspects into consideration when addressing other friends’ writing although the levels of attention vary across different items. Based on the
    • findings from both the survey questionnaire and student writing assignments, grammar always seems to be the aspect which costs much concern by first-year students while the content or organization tends to get less attention of even be ignored. 6.1.1.2 What are these students’ perceptions of their peers’ written feedback? Concerning students’ perceptions of their peers’ written feedback, the findings reveal their positive attitudes and high evaluation of peer feedback they have received from their friends. A high percentage of students state that they can generally improve their writing ability thanks to peer feedback on writing. Moreover, most of them also assume that peer feedback can help them revise more effectively and avoid mistakes next time they create a piece of writing. However, there still exist some students who devaluate the importance of peer feedback since most of them suppose that their peer’s feedback seems to be too general, too negative or too vague. 6.1.1.3 To what extent does peer written feedback affect first-year students’ writing ability? The findings show that peer feedback can have a good impact on students’ writing ability, which can be revealed by their improvement through three versions. Although peer feedback is not the only factor affecting students’ changes in writing versions, it cannot be denied that nearly all students belonging to different levels of proficiency tend to benefit from peer feedback although levels of effectiveness varies. The results also indicate that peer reviewers can make good suggestions for grammar and mechanics while they have many difficulties in helping their friends improve the content of writing. This can be explained
    • by the fact that the content is always one of the most controversial issues in writing as there is no fixed answer and one topic can be addressed and discussed in different ways. 6.1.2 Summary of the implications 6.1.2.1 Pedagogical Implications for teachers To help students utilize peer written feedback more effectively, teachers should carry out some activities including pre-training activity, intervention activity and create some communicative discussion after peer written feedback. Regarding per-training activity, teachers should pre-train their students to evaluate a written work as well as how to give and utilize peer feedback on writing effectively. To achieve these objectives, teachers had better raise students’ awareness of peer editing before providing them with some advice on using peer written feedback efficiently. Moreover, regarding intervention activity, teachers can support students during writing periods or break-time by helping them find the solution to some problems they cope with while practicing peer feedback. In addition, organizing some communicative discussions after peer response activity is also a necessity to give students chances to share their experiences and understand more about each other. Last but not least, teachers should choose an effective method of assessment during peer response process. Through this type of feedback, they can evaluate both the writers through their improvement revealed in the between-draft changes and the reviewers through their critical comments on writing.
    • 6.1.2.1 Pedagogical Implications for students In addition to some teaching implications for teachers, the researcher provides students some advice on giving more effective peer written feedback. Students should address different aspects when giving comments on writing. Moreover, they had better give feedback with a fair specificity, a moderate amount and more appropriate forms. In addition, they should also balance the use of different types of peer feedback such as marginal versus end feedback and positive versus negative comments to enhance the effectiveness of peer written feedback. 6.2 LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY Although the research questions were addressed and the study objectives were achieved, in this study there still exist some unavoidable limitations. Firstly, this study is relatively small scale one with the involvement of 105 questionnaire respondents and only 36 writing papers. This may be a hindrance which prevents the researcher from getting more precious findings related to peer feedback. Secondly, this study only covers peer written feedback instead of oral feedback. Although peer written feedback seems appropriate and more common in the research context, group discussion in which peers exchange their ideas and share experience by speaking out their comments is quite useful in cooperative writing. Thirdly, this research only focuses on the first-year students’ perceptions of the current situation of using peer written feedback and their
    • evaluation of this type of feedback but it provides no discussion on the teachers’ perception and attitudes towards this technique. Last but not least, limitation lies in the investigation of the changes between different writing versions made by students. Although many students make changes in their next version based on peer feedback, some other students revise their writings themselves with the help from teachers, friends or other reference sources. In this way, the decrease in the number of between-draft mistakes can be caused by many relevant factors. In this way, this limitation, to some extent, affect the validity of the study. 6.3 SUGGESTIONS FOR FURTHER STUDIES It is highly recommended that future studies will be conducted with a broader target population and the addition of another supplemental method. Furthermore, other researchers who are interested in peer feedback can broaden the scale of the study to cover another kind of feedback, that is, peer oral feedback. In addition, a thorough investigation into peer written feedback would make a good study so other researchers can carry out studies to explore the impact of different types of feedback or forms of feedback on students’ revision as well. Last but not least, further studies can focus on the teachers’ perception of peer written feedback on their students’ writing and their support activities to enhance the current situation.
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    • APPENDIX A SURVEY QUESTIONAIRE ON THE EFFECTIVENESS OF PEER WRITTEN FEEDBACK ON FIRST-YEAR STUDENTS’ WRITING SKILL My name is Bui Thi Kim Ngan from class K39E10. I am currently taking the degree of Bachelor of Arts offered by the English Department, University of Languages and International Studies, Vietnam National University, Hanoi. My graduation paper is titled ““The Effectiveness of Peer Written Feedback on First- year Students’ Writing Skill at the English Department, ULIS, VNU”. I am conducting this study in order to develop further understanding about the current situation of using peer written feedback in first-year writing classes and its effectiveness on students’ writing revision. This is not a test so there are no “right” or “wrong” answers and you do not have to write your name on it. We are interested in your personal opinion. When you take part in this study, your confidentiality is assured in any circumstances. Please give your answers sincerely as only this will guarantee the success of the investigation. Thank you very much for your help. PART I: PEER WRITTEN FEEDBACK ON WRITING In completing questions 1-4, please choose the answer by circling the letters next to your choice. Please circle ONE letter in front of each statement. Thanks. 1. In terms of the tone, my friends tend to use…………….more frequently. A. Positive feedback (comments on strong points and praise) B. Negative feedback (comments on weak points and even criticism)
    • 2. In these two types of feedback classified based on the specificity, my friends tend to use…………….more frequently. A. Text- specific feedback (detailed comments which can only be applied to one writing task) B. Generic feedback (comments which can be generalized for later use to other writing tasks) 3. In these two types of feedback classified based on the position, my friends tend to use…………….more frequently. A. Marginal feedback (feedback put in the margin or between the lines) B. End feedback (feedback put at the end of the paper) 4. In terms of the amount of feedback, my friends often ……………………..when giving written feedback on my writing assignments. A. Point out and correct all mistakes B. Point out all mistakes and correct some serious ones C. Point out some and correct some serious mistakes D. Point out and correct no mistakes, just give general comments For question 5, please rank the following from 1 to 3 in order of frequency by writing the numbers in front of each choice. Please write ONLY ONE number and don’t leave out any of them. Thanks. 5. Myfriends tend to give written feedback in the form of ………………… on my writing assignments. …..Statement (Eg: I do not understand this) …..Question (Eg: What do you mean?) …..Imperative (Eg: Make this clearer!) For question 6, you can choose more than one answer by circling ONE (or MORE THAN ONE) letter(s) next to each choice. Thanks. 6. My friends often address these/this aspect(s) when giving feedback on my writing assignments. A. Content (ideas, logic, clarity, etc)
    • B. Organization (topic and supporting sentences, unity, cohesion, etc) C. Grammar (rules for verbs, nouns, sentence, etc) D. Word choice (vocabulary, tone, idiom) E. Mechanics (Punctuation, spelling, capitalization, handwriting, etc) PART II: MY PERCEPTION OF PEER WRITTEN FEEDBACK In completing question 1, please choose the answer by circling ONE letter next to your choice. Thanks 1. I think my friends’ written feedback is ………………………………… A. Helpful (please go to question 2) B. Unhelpful (please go to question 3) For question 2 & 3, you can choose MORE THAN ONE answer by circling one (or more than one) letter(s) next to each choice or you can express your own ideas in the blanks. Thanks. 2. I think my friends’ written feedback is helpful because……………................... A. I can revise my writings effectively based on my friends’ correction and suggestion B. I can avoid all the corrected mistakes next time C. I can enhance my confidence in writing thanks to my friends’ encouraging feedback D. I can learn how to comment from the way my friends correct my writing E. I can improve my writing skill in general thanks to my friends’ peer feedback F. Others (please specify)………………………….. 3. I think my friends’ written feedback is unhelpful because ……………………. A. My friends’ feedback is too general B. My friends’ feedback is too vague and difficult to understand
    • C. My friends’ feedback contradicts my ideas D. My friends’ feedback is not reliable E. My friends’ feedback is too negative, so discourages me. F. My friends’ feedback includes too many new words and structures G. My friends’ feedback includes too many correction codes which are hard to understand. H. Others (please specify)………………………..
    • Please fill in the information and tick where appropriate: My gender is: Male Female My years of learning English are: 0-2 years 4-8 years 2-4 years 8-12 years My average mark in writing last semester: ≤6 =7 ≥ 8 If you are interested in the report of this research, and would like to receive it, would you please leave me your address so I can contact you later: Your name Your address: Your email: And if you have any questions, you are welcome. Please do not hesitate to contact me on 0975311579 or through my email address: kimngan87@gmail.com. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR COOPERATION!