Abstract The biggest question that remained for argument

Abstract

                             The biggest
question that remained for argument and debate is giving feedback to learners
on their writings. Some researchers believe that giving written corrective feedback
is effective and some claim that it is not. Many experiments have been done to find
out the effects of giving different types of feedback to the second language learners.
The effectiveness of different types of written corrective feedback has been
discussed and studied to find out the best suitable way but yet based on various
studies, there is no concrete and exact way and method. The level to which ESL
learners benefit from written corrective feedback was debated since Truscott
(1996) presented a situation for its closure. Ten years after Truscott idea,
the debate continues, not only because low information was given on trying
efficacy during time but also because studies that have invested the issue have
not always been well designed and have produced conflicting results (ferries,
2004, 2006)(Bitchener 2008). Many studies and researches have been done to verify
the best way of giving feedback to students’ writing. The studies claim the
different ways and methods of giving feedback and its effect on second language
learners. The aim of this article is to present the findings that investigated
the degree to which written corrective feedback could help student proficiency
in L2 writing and the extent to which there may be a different effect for
different types of written corrective feedback on students’ writings.

 

 

 

 

Introduction

                             Should second
language teachers put some of their valuable time to correct written works of ESL
students? How teachers correct second language students’ writing? Which type of
correction feedback is suitable for students? How written corrective feedback
can help students to increase their accuracy in further writing? These are the
common and fundamental questions for almost all second language teachers who
try to be the best and most effective writing teachers to help their students
to improve in their second language writing skill. Guentte (2007) pointed out
that one of the reasons for the doubt in the failure to plan written corrective
feedback studies that analytically investigate different types of written
corrective feedback and control for external variables that impact on how
effective the corrective feedback is. One way forward, then, might be for
researches and teachers to systematically identify the various options
available for correcting students’ writing as a basis for both designing future
studies and for pedagogical decision making. (Ellis 2008). The main purpose of
this article is to discuss the importance and effects of written corrective
feedback in writing of second language learners through presenting different
types of written feedback in second language students’ writing production.

 

 

 

 

 

 The
effectiveness of written corrective feedback on L2 learners’ writings

A number of studies determine that written corrective
feedback is effective in helping second language learners to improve their
writing correctness while some studies claim that written corrective feedback
is not effective. Seven studies, however, have compared groups of students who
received written corrective feedback and those who did not. Five of these
studies (Ashwell, 2000; Bitchener, 2008; Fathman & Whalley, 1990; Ferries
& Roberst, 2001; Sheen, 2006) report that written corrective feedback had a
positive effects on accuracy. Other studies (Chandler, 2000; Ferries, 1995,
1997, 2006; Ferries & Halt, 2000; Ferries ed al., 2000; Lalande,
1982) that have not included a control group are unable to claim that it was
written corrective feedback alone that facilitated improvements in writing accuracy.
At best, they can be read as suggestive of the possible that written corrective
feedback might have for helping learners improve the accuracy of their writing.
(Bitchener & Knoch, 2009)

Truscott (1996)  argued that
no single form of written correction feedback can be expected to assist
learners obtain knowledge of all linguistic structures because the acquisition,
like syntax, morphology, and lexis needs an understanding the language system
rather than only form. Referring to syntactic knowledge, for instance, Truscott
(1996) argues that written corrective feedback cannot be expected to
facilitate the learning of such linguistic knowledge because it contains more
than a collection of unnoticeable items. For instance, studies by Mackey and Oliver (2002), Mackey and Philp (1998), and Mackey, Philp, Egi, Fujii, and Tatsumi (2002) on syntactic structures like
question forms and one study by McDonough (2006) on the use of dative constructions
have revealed positive effects when oral corrective feedback is provided. If
the hypothesized advantages of written corrective feedback over some forms of
oral corrective feedback prove to be true (see Sheen, 2010, for a discussion of differences between the two modalities),
it may be that written CF is able to target complex forms and structures (e.g.
syntax) as well as, and maybe better than, oral CF. (Bitchener & Knoch,
2010)

Different studies performed to confirm the
effectiveness of giving written corrective feedback on students’ writings. Many
researchers claimed based on their studies that written corrective feedback is
useful and effective. Truscott and Hsu (2008) mentioned that written corrective
feedback help students reduce their errors on writing on which they receive the
corrections, and that the effect is considerable. But their research findings
showed that the benefits of error correction found on the revision task did not
spread to a new writing task performed a week later. The students they chose
for their study who received correction of their first essay (Narrative 1) (Appendix
1, 2, 3) and then were more successful in reducing their error during revision
did not differ from the students who did not receive any correction. Both
groups repeated almost similar mistakes on their second essay. Truscott and Hsu
(2008) claimed in their research they could not find any connection between
success on the revision task and the new techniques to avoid them in further
writings.

But another research by Bitchener & Knoch (2008)
proves that written corrective feedback can help students to avoid errors in
further writing. Their study found that those students who received written
corrective feedback improved their accuracy and that they remembered this level
of accuracy when writing a new text weeks later. Bitchener & Knoch (2008)
claimed that the findings of their studies support those of several earlier
studies (Ashwell, 2000; Bitchener, 2008; Bitchener et al., 2005; Fathman & Whalley, 1990; Ferris & Roberts,
2001, Sheen, 2006) and consequently offer additional evidence for a rejection
of Truscott’s (1996) statement that error written correction is ineffective.
They show that a single written corrective feedback can be effective and useful
in assisting L2 learners to improve their accuracy of their writing and that
the benefits added from this input are not only retained over time but also
proof in new pieces of writing.  But the
problem of Bitchener & Knoch (2008) study was that they only focus on L2
writers with high level of proficiency and they did not focus on low
proficiency writers which Bitchener & Knoch (2010) did a study on low
proficiency writers to examine the result of written corrective feedback on
students writing. The result of their study showed that low level writers of L2
can improve their accuracy through receiving written corrective feedback but it
is require to use different type of written corrective feedback.

Can written corrective feedback have negative effects
on learners’ ability? Tuscott (2007) claimed on his research that written
corrective feedback could have negative effects on learners’ ability. He mentioned
that based on the experiments the written corrective feedback has a minor
harmful effect on students’ ability to write correctly and we can be 95% assured
that if it is has any benefits, they are very small. He mentioned that on his
research he looked for realistic ways to observe correction effects on
learners’ ability in writing. He looked at studies that measured changes in
this ability following a period of correction. Those that looked only at learners’
performance on false grammar tests are essentially excluded because they do not
address the question, as are revision studies, for the same reason.

 

 

 

 

 

The effectiveness of different types of writing
corrective feedback

A series of studies has investigated the degree to
which different types of written corrective feedback may have an effect on
helping L2 writers improve the accuracy of their writing. Most of the studies
have characterized written corrective feedback on L2 learners writing as either
direct (explicit) or indirect (implicit) which in this paper the two types of
direct and indirect written correction feedback and the metalinguistic
corrective feedback and the focus of the feedback are discussed.

Direct feedback has been defined as that offers students
with the correct form. Ferries (2001) claims, “This can take a number of
different forms like, crossing-out unnecessary word, phrase, or morpheme,
inserting a missing word or morpheme, and wiring the correct form above or near
to the mistaken part. Direct corrective feedback has the advantage that it
provides L2 learners with explicit guidance about how to correct their errors.
This is obviously desirable if learners do not know what the correct is”.
Ferries and Roberts (2001) propose that direct written corrective feedback is perhaps
greater to indirect written corrective feedback to student with low level of writers’
knowledge.

On the other hand, indirect corrective feedback is indicating
an errors that students made without actually correcting it. Usually teachers
use different ways to indicate it; it could be done through underlining the
error, recording in the margin the number of errors in a given line, using
cursors to show omission in the student’s text or using a code to show where
the error has occurred and what type of error it is (Ferris & Robberts,
2001; Robb, Ross & Shortreed, 1986).

Written indirect corrective feedback is often chosen
to direct feedback in the favor that it provides to ‘guided learning and
problem solving’ (Lalande, 1982) and encourage students to reflect about
linguistic forms. For these reasons, it is considered more to lead to long-term
learning (Ferris and Robberts, 2001). 
The consequence of studies that investigated this claim, though, are
very mixed. Some studies like Lalande 1982, propose that indirect corrective
feedback is certainly more effective in allowing students to correct their
errors but others studies like Ferris and Robberts 2001, found no difference
between direct and indirect corrective feedback.

Based on Ferries and Roberts’s argument, it can be appealed
that indirect written corrective feedback where the exact location of errors is
not exposed could be more effective than indirect feedback where the location
of the errors is exposed. Roberts (2001) investigated four types of feedback
including direct feedback and indirect feedback. They reported no significant
difference. Lee (1997), however, specifically compared the two types of
indirect written correction and found that learners were better able to correct
errors that if the feedback is indicated and located than errors that were just
indicated by a check in the margin.

Before discussing about the two types of direct and
indirect written corrective feedback, the metalinguistic corrective feedback
and the focused and unfocused corrective feedback are explained below.

Metalinguistic corrective feedback involves providing
learners with some form of explicit remark about the nature of the errors. The
explicit remark can take two forms. By far the most common is the use of error
codes. These contain of abbreviated labels for different kinds of errors. The
labels can be located over the location of the error in the text or in the
margin. In the latter case, the exact position of the error may or may not be
shown. A major issue in the error codes is how gentle the categories should be.
For example should there be a single category for ‘articles’ or should there be
separate categories for ‘definite’ and ‘indefinite’ articles? Most of the error
codes used in research and language pedagogy employ relatively broad categories
(Ellis, 2009).

A number of studies have compared using error codes
with other types of written corrective feedback on L2 leaners writing. Lalande
(1982) reported that a group of learners of L2 German who received correction
using error codes improved in correctness in following writing. Robb (2001)
reported an error codes treatment in their study but found it no more effective
than any of the other three types of corrective feedback they investigated
(i.e. direct feedback and two other kinds of indirect feedback). Ferris (2001)
reported that error codes help students to improve their accuracy over time in only
two of the four categories of error she investigated. Ferris and Roberts (2001)
found that error codes did assist the students to self-edit their writing but
no more so than indirect feedback. Overall, then, there is very limited
evidence to show that error codes help writers to achieve greater accuracy over
time and it would also seem that they are no more effective than other types of
written corrective feedback in assisting self-editing.

The second method of metalinguistic corrective
feedback contains of providing students with metalinguistic explanations of errors.
This is not too common, maybe because it takes time than using error codes and
also because it requires teachers to hold adequate metalinguistic knowledge to
be able to write rich and perfect clarifications for a diversity of error.

Teachers can select to correct all of the students’
errors, in which case the corrective feedback is unfocused. Otherwise they can
select some error types for correction. Processing correction is possible to be
difficult in unfocused written corrective feedback as the learner is should
follow up with a big range of errors. In this case, focused written corrective
feedback may prove more effective as the writers are able to examine several
corrections of a single error and consequently obtain the rich signal they need
to understand their mistake and learn the correct form of writing it. Focused
metalinguistic corrective feedback could be helpful in case it promotes not
just consideration but also understanding of the nature of the error. However, unfocused
corrective feedback has the advantage of addressing a variety of errors, so
while it might not be as effective in assisting learners to acquire specific
features as focused corrective feedback in the short term, it may prove
superior in the long run.

The question then stand up that which type of written
corrective feedback is more useful for accuracy improvement L2 writers. For
many years, argument have been innovative for both direct and indirect written
corrective feedback in L2 learners writing. A range of studies have
investigated if certain types of written corrective feedback or combination of
different types are more effective than others. These studies often categorized
feedback as either direct (explicit) or indirect (implicit). Theoretical
argument have been advanced for both the direct and indirect types. Those
supporting indirect feedback suggest that this type is best because it offers
L2 writers to involve in conducted learning and problem solving and promotes
the type of reflection on existing knowledge that stand-in long-term learning
and written accuracy. Those more in favor of direct feedback suggest that it is
more helpful to writers because it (1) reduce the confusion that they may
experience if students did not understand or remember the feedback they received;
(2) it also offers students with information to help them solve more complex
errors; (3) offers more explicit feedback on hypothesis that may have been
made; (4) is more immediate. It could be the situation that what is most
effective is determined by the goals and proficiency level of the L2 writers. Ferris
(2010) noted, the goals of the L2 writers in writing classes could be diverse
from those in language learning classes and this alteration may be a factor in assigning
which type of feedback is more appropriate and effective for them. In writing
classes L2 writers are encouraged to manage and review their texts, indirect
feedback is preferred because it offers writers to focus on their linguistic
knowledge when trying to correct the recognized errors. For lower proficiency
writers in language learning classes, indirect feedback tends to be less
preferred because they have a more limited linguistic repertoire to draw on.

Two studies (Lalande, 1982; Ferris & Helt, 2000)
report an benefit for indirect feedback, two other studies (Robb, Ross &
Shortreed, 1986; Semke, 1984) report no difference between the two approaches,
and one study (Chandler, 2003) reports positive findings for direct feedback.
Given these results, further evidence is required before any firm conclusion
can be reached.

In addition to these direct-indirect contrasts,
several other studies (Ferris & Roberts, 2001; Ferris et al., 1986) have examined the comparative effectiveness of different
types of indirect feedback (coded and uncoded). None found any difference
between the two options. Even less attention has been given to a comparison of
different direct feedback options.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Conclusion

There is an apparent need for carefully planned
studies to additional investigation the results and usefulness of written
corrective feedback in L2 learners’ writing. Written corrective feedback is one
of the numerous factors that impact the effectiveness of written corrective
feedback and its achievement or failure which it could relays on other factors
like classroom context, the type of errors students make, their proficiency
level, the types of writing they are asked to do and so on. As Guenette (2007)
suggests, it is important and great to use written corrective feedback but
teachers must be aware that there is no “corrective feedback recipe.” A teacher
supposed to offer students with appropriate written feedback at the right time
and in the proper context of their writing works. Teachers have to notice the
feedback and be given plenty opportunities to apply the corrections because if
students are not welling to improve their writing skills, they will not
improve, no matter what type of corrective feedback is provided.