The effectiveness of providing second language (L2) writers with on-line written corrective feedback
This pilot project investigated the effectiveness of providing advanced second language (L2) learners with written corrective feedback. This paper reports the key findings of the study and includes recommendations for classroom application and further research.
- Professor John Bitchener, AUT University
- Dr Martin East, University of Auckland
- Helen Cartner, AUT University
Date - April 2010
The value of written corrective feedback for second language development is controversial (Ferris, 1999; Truscott 1996, 1999). The only way to determine whether or not it is effective is to empirically investigate its effect when learners write new texts over time.
In recent years, a growing number of studies have investigated the effectiveness of providing learners with targeted feedback on certain linguistic error categories (e.g. past tense, article use) and with different types of direct and indirect feedback. While positive findings have emerged for the tested error categories, additional research is required to examine the extent to which feedback can help learners improve the accuracy with which they use other linguistic categories.
The available research on the effectiveness of different types of feedback has been inconclusive for a variety of reasons including poor research design and analysis. This pilot project investigated the effectiveness of providing advanced learners with feedback on their two most frequent error categories (singular and plural nouns and subject-verb agreement). Some students received direct error correction while others received indirect coded meta-linguistic feedback. This paper reports the key findings of the study and includes recommendations for classroom application and further research.
Professor John Bitchener
Conclusions of the study
- From the results of this study it would seem that written corrective feedback is effective in helping advanced L2 learners/writers improve the accuracy with which they use two relatively simple, partially acquired linguistic forms/structures - singular/plural nouns and subject-verb agreement. However, it needs to be realised that the small sample size of this pilot investigation may be considered a limitation. A larger sample may reveal additional findings of significance.
- The study also shows that these benefits are maintained over time – in this case, over a 6 week period.
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