Disciplinary Writing Feedback Practices: Comparing Preference, Expectations, and Practices
AdvisorTardy, Christine M.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction, presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThe field of second language writing is emerging from a 20-year debate on written corrective feedback between Ferris (1999; 2004) and Truscott (2004; 2007; 2009) that focused primarily on the efficacy of grammatical error correction for L2 writers. In the wake of these debates a flood of research explored feedback practice and efficacy to develop writers (Bitchener & Knoch, 2008; 2009; 2010; Bitchener, Young, & Cameron, 2005). However, the bulk of this research focuses on developmental writing, first-year composition, and a handful of disciplinary courses in writing pedagogy-focused fields (e.g. English, Sociolinguistics). As the field begins to explore other areas, disciplinary writing feedback provides a clear area for exploration. Once writers leave the capable instruction of writing pedagogues, how do they develop their disciplinary writing skills? Expanding from the research of Hyland (2013), Leki (2006), and Prior (1998), this study explores feedback practice, preference, and perception at a small liberal arts university. This study asked three main questions: Research Question 1: What are the writing feedback practices and perceptions of disciplinary instructors? Do disciplinary instructors’ writing feedback practices and perceptions differ for L2 writers compared to L1 writers? Research Question 2: What are the writing feedback preferences, perceptions, and strategies of students in their disciplinary courses? Do students’ writing feedback preferences, perceptions, and strategies in disciplinary courses differ for L2 writers compared to L1 writers? Research Question 3: Do feedback practices, perceptions, and preferences differ between students and instructors? Does the degree of the difference and similarity between instructors and students change depending on the L1 or L2 status of the student? Through a student survey (N = 99), instructor survey (N = 33), and follow-up interviews (N = 13), this research project compared student preferences and perceptions to the reported instructor preferences, perceptions, and practices. After statistical analysis of the surveys and an emergent theme analysis of the interviews, the study yielded a clear difference between L1 and L2 undergraduates in perception of instructor value of error types, a difference between undergraduate L2 and graduate L2 understanding of instructor value of error types, a wide gap between where instructors presume students find help with their writing and where students report going for help, and some misperceptions of L2 student needs. These findings are implicated in setting student feedback expectations, educating students about what to do with feedback and where to seek writing help, university-wide discourse about writing genre and feedback practice, and faculty development focused on understanding L2 students and their unique writing needs. Although the study is framed as exploratory in a new area of research, many of the implications are immediately useful to help students and instructors better understand the writing feedback needs and development of disciplinary writers. The research yielded several areas for future study and potential for development of best practices at the research site that are likely applicable to similarly-sized universities with a writing initiative and desire to improve writing across the university.
Degree ProgramGraduate College
Second Language Acquisition & Teaching