The impact of peer written feedback on the writing skill of first-year students at english department, school of education, can tho university

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CAN THO UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF EDUCATION ENGLISH DEPARTMENT *** THE IMPACT OF PEER WRITTEN FEEDBACK ON THE WRITING SKILL OF FIRST-YEAR STUDENTS AT ENGLISH DEPARTMENT, SCHOOL OF EDUCATION, CAN THO UNIVERSITY B.A. Thesis Supervisor: Phan Thị Mỹ Khánh , M.A Researcher: Cao Lê Phước Ngọc Student’s Code: 7062953 Class: NN0652A2 Course: 32 Can Tho, May 2010 CONTENTS Contents ...................................................................................................................... i Acknowledgements .................................................................................................... ii Abstract (English version)......................................................................................... iii Abstract (Vietnamese version) .................................................................................. iv List of Tables and Figures .......................................................................................... v Chapter 1: Introduction........................................................................................... 1 1.1. Rationale........................................................................................................ 1 1.2. Research aims ................................................................................................ 2 1.3. Research questions ........................................................................................ 2 1.4. Hypotheses .................................................................................................... 2 1.5. Organization of the study ............................................................................... 2 Chapter 2: Literature Review.................................................................................. 4 2.1. An overview of writing teaching .................................................................... 4 2.2. An overview of peer written feedback on writing ........................................... 5 2.3. Related studies ........................ 9 2.4. Conclusive remarks...................................................................................... 11 Chapter 3: Research Methodology........................................................................ 12 3.1. Research design ........................................................................................... 12 3.2. Participants .................................................................................................. 12 3.3. Research instruments ................................................................................... 12 3.4. Procedure..................................................................................................... 14 Chapter 4: Results.................................................................................................. 16 4.1. General questionnaire analysis and writing assignments analysis ................. 16 4.2 The current situation of using peer written feedback among first-year students at the English Education, School of Education, Can Tho University......................... 16 4.3. Students’ perceptions of their peers’ written feedback.................................. 17 4.4. The impact of peer written feedback on students’ writing revision ............... 19 4.5. The correlation between students’ writing ability and their perceptions of using peer written feedback on writing..................................................................... 20 Chapter 5: Discussions, implications, limitations, suggestions for further research ................................................................................................................. 21 5.1 Discussions ................................................................................................... 21 5.2. Pedagogical implications and suggestions for further research ..................... 23 5.3. Limitations .................................................................................................. 27 5.4. Conclusion ................................................................................................... 27 References................................................................................................................ 29 Appendices .............................................................................................................. 32 i 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 and foremost, my thesis hardly finished without valuable encouragement, advice, comment from my supervisor, Mrs. Phan Thi My Khanh. I could not forget her enthusiasm to help me correct every part of the thesis and her care about my practice time at high school. Second, my regards are respectively sent to all teachers of the English Department for their encouragement, guidance, especially Ms. Le Xuan Mai, who helped me much in conducting this study from collecting data to marking writing assignments as well as giving me some suggestions in the teacher’s interview. And I would like to acknowledge Mrs. Ngo Thi Trang Thao who gave me useful instructions to analyze the data using SPSS program. Moreover, I would like to send my heartfelt gratefulness Mrs. Truong Nguyen Quynh Nhu who read my study critically and gave me some worthwhile suggestions to enhance my study. Also, my sincere gratitude is sent to Mr. Le Cong Tuan, Ms. Tran Mai Hien, and Mrs. Tran Thi Phuong Thao during the time I interviewed to be given some useful suggestions for the pedagogical implications in my study. My sincere thanks also go to 90 English Language Teaching students, course 35 at Can Tho University for their patience and willingness to do my survey questionnaires as well as their writing assignments. Moreover, I would like to send my gratitude to my family, my classmates and my best friend, Mr Nguyen Khanh Duy, for encouraging me and supporting me during the time undertook my study. Without them, I would not have been able to complete this thesis. ii ABSTRACT As well as teachers’ feedback, peer written feedback has been used as one of the common methods to improve English majors’ writing ability at Can Tho University. This study is conducted in an attempt to investigate the current situation of peer written feedback in the writing classes for first-year students, students’ perceptions of their peers’ written feedback, the effectiveness of peer feedback on students’ revision and writing ability as well as the correlation between students’ perceptions and their writing ability. In order to achieve the desired aims, thanks to the help of 47 first-year English students as well as six teachers, the researcher has conducted a research using one survey questionnaire for first-year students, interview for teachers, and three writing assignments (final versions) are analyzed. The findings from students’ questionnaires will provide the researcher with a comprehensive understanding of the current situation of peer written feedback at Can Tho University and students’ perceptions about their friends’ written feedback. 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. Thanks to the findings from analyzing three writing assignments the researcher can state that using peer written feedback have a good impact on first-year students. Moreover, together with the findings from questionnaires, the findings from three writing assignments also support the researcher to find out the correlation between students’ insights and their writing ability. Although there is no correlation between students’ insights and their writing ability, both good and bad students highly evaluate using peer written feedback to revise their writings. Based on the findings from teachers’ interview, some pedagogical 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. iii TÓM LƯỢC Đồng hành với cách giáo viên sửa bài viết cho sinh viên, sinh viên sửa lỗi bài viết của nhau bằng hình thức viết là một trong những phương pháp phổ biến nhằm cải thiện kĩ năng viết của sinh viên chuyên Anh văn trường Đại học Cần Thơ. Bài nghiên cứu này được tiến hành với bốn mục đích. Một là, tìm hiểu kỹ hơn về việc sử dụng phương pháp sửa lỗi cho nhau nhằm hoàn thiện bài viết của sinh viên chuyên Anh văn năm nhất trường Đại học Cần Thơ. Hai là, tìm hiểu quan điểm của sinh viên về việc sử dụng phương pháp này. Ba là, tính hiệu quả của việc sử dụng phương pháp này trong việc giúp sinh viên kiểm tra bài đã học đồng thời cải thiện kĩ năng viết của sinh viên. Bốn là, tìm ra sự tương quan trong quan điểm của sinh viên đối với phương pháp sửa bài này và khả năng viết của từng đối tượng. Trong quá trình nghiên cứu, được sự giúp đỡ tích cực của 47 sinh viên tiếng Anh năm nhất và sáu giáo viên, người nghiên cứu đã sử dụng một bảng câu hỏi cho sinh viên, một số cuộc phỏng vấn giáo viên, và kết quả tổng hợp từ ba phiên bản cuối cùng từ ba bài viết của sinh viên để phân tích. Từ bảng câu hỏi dành cho sinh viên, người nghiên cứu tìm ra một cách hiểu toàn diện hơn về tình hình sinh viên sửa bài viết cho nhau ở thời điểm hiện tại, cũng như quan điểm của họ về việc này. Nhìn chung, sinh viên có thái độ tích cực đối với hoạt động giảng dạy này và họ cũng đánh giá rất cao vai trò của việc sinh viên sửa bài viết cho nhau và cách này đã góp phần làm cho sinh viên tiến bộ hơn. Bên cạnh đó, người nghiên cứu cũng khẳng định rằng phương pháp này có tác động đến sự tiến bộ của sinh viên qua việc phân tích kết quả từ ba bài viết. Cuối cùng, với việc phân tích kết hợp bảng câu hỏi và ba bài viết giúp cho người nghiên cứu có một cái nhìn sâu sắc hơn về mối quan hệ giữa khả năng viết của sinh viên và quan điểm của họ về việc sử dụng hoạt động này. Mặc dù không có mối quan hệ nào, người nghiên cứu kết luận rằng sinh viên ở mọi trình độ đều đánh giá cao phương pháp này. Ngoài ra, thông qua một số ý kiến từ các cuộc phỏng vấn giáo viên, các kết luận sư phạm được đưa ra nhằm giúp cho việc dạy và học kỹ năng viết tốt hơn. Với sự nghiên cứu cẩn trọng, tỉ mỉ hy vọng bài nghiên cứu này sẽ là một tài liệu tham khảo cho những giáo viên, sinh viên và những ai quan tâm đến vấn đề này. iv LIST OF TABLES AND FIGURES Table/Figure Page Table 3.3.1: Factors of the questionnaire items......................................................... 13 Table 3.4.3: Syllabus for practicing to write argumentative paragraph...................... 15 Table 4.2 Descriptive statistics of the current situation of using peer written feedback by the 1st- year students ........................................................................................... 17 Figure 4.2: The mean scores of the current situation of using peer written feedback among first-year students at Can Tho University ...................................................... 17 Table 4.3 Descriptive statistics of the student’s perceptions of using peer written feedback by the first- year students........................................................................... 18 Figure 4.4: The mean scores of three writing assignments........................................ 19 Table 4.4: Table of Compare means-Paired-Samples T-Test .................................... 19 v CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION In this chapter, the rationale, the research aims, research questions, as well as hypothesis of doing this research are introduced. The organization of the thesis is also included afterwards. 1.1 Rationale In the light of Communicative Language Teaching, process approach to teaching writing, peer feedback can be regarded as one of the most significant applications in improving students’ writing ability. In fact, 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. Many researchers such as Chiu (2008), Zhang (2008), Min (2006), and 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. There are two kinds of peer feedback: oral and written peer feedback in which students can correct their friends’ writings. Although group discussion in which peers exchange their ideas and giving their comments by speaking out is quite useful in cooperative writing, the researcher wants to investigate peer written feedback because the researcher can collect the data from the paper feedback more easily than oral feedback. Apart from teachers’ feedback on students’ writing, peer feedback, especially peer written feedback has been used as a teaching strategy in many writing classrooms in Can Tho University. Paulus (1999) has found that peer feedback helps students discover whether they communicate their ideas successfully or not and encourages them to revise and improve their texts they produce. Moreover, compared with the traditional feedback known as teacher responses, peer feedback is also regarded as a powerful way in improving students’ critical thinking of writing and evaluation (Berg, 1999, Hyland, 2003, Topping, 1998, cited in Chiu, 2008). However, despite the great effect of peer written feedback on students’ writing revision, the number of studies on peer written feedback is still limited and outnumbered by studies on teacher written feedback. Along with all the above-mentioned reasons, the researcher wishes to conduct a study entitled: “The Impact of Peer Written Feedback on the First-year Students’ Writing Skill at English Department, School of Education, Can Tho University”. In this study, first-year students at Can Tho University are examined because their levels are not proficient enough to write a composition without any mistakes. Moreover, first-year is the first stage to train students’ evaluation on their friends’ writings as well as their writings. In conducting this study, the researcher hopes to gain more insights into the current situation of using peer written feedback in the 1 writing classes for first- year students at English Department, School of education, Can Tho University in general and its impact on students’ writing skill in particular. Finally, the researcher will propose some suggestions for the betterment of the current practice. 1.2 Aims of the study In this research, the researcher wants to: 1. Investigate the current situation of using peer written feedback among first-year students at the English Department, School of Education, Can Tho University. 2. Investigate students’ perceptions of written feedback provided by their peers on their writing assignments. 3. Investigate the impact of peer written feedback on students’ writing revision 4. Investigate the correlation between students’ writing ability and their perceptions of using peer written feedback on writing. 1.3 Research questions Basing on the research aims, the researcher has four research questions: 1. How is the current situation of using peer written feedback by the first- year students at the English Department, School of Education, Can Tho University? 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? 4. Is there any correlation between students’ writing ability and their perceptions of using peer written feedback on writing? 1.4 Hypotheses Basing on the research questions, the researcher has four hypotheses: 1. The current situation of using peer written feedback by the first-year students at the English Department, School of Education, Can Tho University is positive. 2. Students reveal high evaluation of peer written feedback. 3. Peer written feedback can have a good impact on students’ writing ability. 4. There is a high correlation between students’ writing ability and their perceptions of using peer written feedback on writing. 1.5 Organization of the study Chapter I – Introduction: The rationale, the aims as well as the organization of the thesis are introduced in this section. Chapter II – Literature review: A report of other researchers’ ideas and statements relating to the thesis will be mentioned in this part. Chapter III – Research methodology: five relevant parts included in this chapter will be presented one by one. They are research questions, research design, participants, instruments, and procedure of the study. 2 Chapter IV– Results: In this chapter, data collected from the instruments (a questionnaire for students; the marks of three writing assignments, and some interviews) will be analyzed and synthesized, and then some conclusions will be withdrawn from those data. Chapter V – Discussions, Implication, Limitations, and Suggestions for writing course and further research. The last chapter will mention discussions about the results, limitations of the research as well as suggestions for writing courses and for further research. 3 CHAPTER 2: LITERATURE REVIEW In this chapter, an overview of writing teaching accompanied with an overview of peer written feedback on writing through the researches relating to this thesis are stated. 2.1 AN OVERVIEW OF WRITING TEACHING 2.1.1 Conceptions of Writing 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 definite meaning- writing is a process of deliberate decision”(p.9). 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 the definitions mentioned above, this definition is considered the most thorough one because it nearly covers all aspects of writing including contents, grammar, and organization; 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 In the approaches to teaching writing, the researcher would present the nature of two most major approaches: 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. Pincas (1962) summarizes the shortcomings of this 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). 2.1.2.2 Process Approach to Teaching Writing In the mid-1970s, process approach began to replace product approach. Process approach enables students to make clearer decisions about the direction of their writing “ by means of discussion, tasks, drafting, feedback and informed choices encouraging students to be responsible for making improvements themselves” (Jordan, 1997, p.168). In conclusion, it will be ideal if both of these approaches are integrated to make up the most satisfactory means to teaching writing. Writing teacher should encourage students not only to create but also to imitate. This means that students can both imitate 4 the good points of the target language and create new good points based on discussion, giving feedback. 2.1.3 Stages in a Writing Process In this section, the researcher would like to introduce two ways of dividing a writing process in writing teaching by Tribble (1996) and Reid (1993). According to Tribble (1996), the process approach includes four stages in writing: prewriting, composing/drafting, revising, and editing. 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 which are generally the same as those stated by Tribble (1996) and three more other stages which are responding, evaluating and post-writing. Especially, in responding stage, a kind of oral or written intervention by teachers or peers or other possible readers is emphasized. By mentioning the important role of responding in writing process, Reid (1993) has asserted the indispensable part of feedback including peer feedback in teaching and learning writing. So far, the concept of writing, two major approaches to teaching writing, stages in a writing process, and the fundamental role of feedback which has been discussed serve as a supportive background for the research. 2.2 AN OVERVIEW OF PEER WRITTEN FEEDBACK ON WRITING 2.2.1. Definitions of Peer Feedback The most comprehensive definition of peer feedback is Liu & Hansen (2002) “the use of learners as sources of information and interact 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 of writing” (p.175). 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’ writing skill, teachers have increasingly required their students’ responsibility for not only their own writings but also for those of their peers. 2.2.2 Major Issues of Peer Written Feedback 2.2.2.1 Types of Peer Written Feedback 2.2.2.1.1 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 praises on students’ writing while negative feedback refers to comments on only weak points and even criticism. 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 5 are also more likely to work hard to improve when given some positive feedback.” 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, negative comment guides the writer to correct 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 & 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 as it makes them feel discouraged and stop trying to correct their mistakes. It is advisable that the balance between positive and negative feedback should be considered carefully to yield the best results in students’ writing. 2.2.2.1.2 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 et al. (1997), “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” (p.133). 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. Therefore, feedback should be “detailed enough to allow students to act, to commit to change their writings” (Reid, 1993, p.218). The researcher thinks that a combination of these two types of feedback should be encouraged because general comments can help students have a general view of their writings. 2.2.2.1.3 Position of Feedback Feedback can be classified into two main types: marginal and end feedback based on the location of feedback. According to Ferris & Hedgecock (1998), 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. 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. 2.2.2.2 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. It may distract students to improve their writing. As opposed to “overcorrection” is noncorrection which refers to pointing out and correcting no mistakes, just giving general comments on their friends’ writing. This way of giving feedback can supply little assistance to students in revising their writings. In order to get the best results, students 6 should take the amount of feedback into great consideration and decide 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). 2.2.2.3 Aspects of Peer Written Feedback In fact, to create a good writing, the writers have to consider many factors in the writing process which need to be addressed when evaluating a writing and give feedback on it. According to Raimes (1983), nine aspects are mentioned to consider in a writing process, 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). However, five aspects including grammar, mechanics, organization, word choice and content are the most common ones addressed by students, especially when they give feedback on their friends’ writing. 2.2.3 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 skills. Among these researchers, Bartels (2003) is the one 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 written feedback can bring students many chances for “communicative writing”. Moreover, 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. Moreover, Caulk (1994) also states 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. Rollinson (2005:25) 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 7 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 (Mendonca & Johnson, 1994, cited in Rollinson, 2005). Last but not least, in comparison with peer oral feedback, it is easier to assess students’ writing with written feedback; 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 first language and second language classrooms (Villamil & de Guerrero, 1996). Besides, 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. 2.2.4 Features of a Good Peer Written Feedback 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. (2003:101), good feedback must have three vital elements, namely, ‘positive comment’, ‘criticism’ and ‘suggestions for improvements’. Hirsh (1977,p.161) states that effective feedback is non-judgmental and provides students with 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. However, these sets of criteria are not clear enough to give a good feedback. Michaelsen & Schultheiss (1998), 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, (7) 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. So far, the researcher suggests some criteria of good peer written feedback. Firstly, the written feedback should be specific, descriptive and honest. Secondly, the written feedback should be included positive comment, criticism, and suggestions for improvements. 2.2.5 Effects of Peer Written Feedback on Students’ Writing Revision Many researches has been carried out to find out whether peer feedback has influence on students’ writing revision and there have also been many different results. Tsui & Ng. M (2000) have found that too general and vague peer feedback or feedback with too many 8 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. 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, 1990), 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 & 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 writing skill. (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). In conclusion, peer feedback could be an alternative technique in writing classrooms to improve students’ revision as well as their writing performance. 2.3. RELATED STUDIES As confessed in the rationale, a modest number of research on the same topic have been conducted to the best of the researcher’s knowledge, or at least, is accessible to the researcher. Rather, more studies on teacher feedback are available. In an effort to seek reliable foundation, the researcher came across an interesting paper on a similar area titled “The Effectiveness of Peer Written Feedback on First Year Students’ Writing Skill” by Bui (2009). In this study, 100 first-year students were taught English in which students gave written feedback to together. A survey questionnaire and 36 papers (including 12 students’ writing assignments writing with three versions) were analyzed. The conclusion was that first-year students had a rather positive attitude towards this activity and highly 9 appreciate the importance of peer feedback in improving their writing ability in general. They also used various types and forms of feedback when giving comments on writings. Moreover, students tended to give helpful comments especially on grammar and mechanics to help their friends’ revision. However, first-year students seemed to give rather general feedback on their friends’ writings 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. In order to conclude, the researcher also suggested some implication for both teachers and students. The teachers should design pre-training activities, intervention activities, and discussion in the whole class. For the students, they had better balance and appropriate all kinds of written feedback. Another study titled “Peers correction vs. teachers' correction of writing” by Pierson (1967) had something in common with this present research. In his case study a review of a few pertinent studies indicates that peer-correction is at least as effective as teachercorrection. The study was conducted in seven months to compare the writing growth of ninth-graders taught by either the teacher- or peer-method of correction. They demonstrated that using the teacher-method required eight times as many hours after school as the peer-method did. Thus, the peer-method appeared to be more efficient, if not more effective, its use implies the following steps (1) preliminary training of students in editing, (2) the teaching of a short unit on composition before each new projectincluding initiatory activities, writing, correcting, and revision, and (3) the production of check lists or guide sheets to show students what to seek and to say in correcting the compositions of their peers. “Using wiki-based peer-correction to develop writing skills of Brazilian EFL learners” by Franco (2008) is another study sharing some similarities with this paper. In his study, students gave written feedback to their friend on the Internet. The data were collected and analyzed by means of qualitative and quantitative methods. Findings show that students highly appreciate using peer written feedback to revise their writing assignments. Apart from maximizing opportunities related to writing, learners accurately developed their social skills in the sense that they cooperated instead of competing. The results also suggest that peer written feedback on the Internet provide learners with many benefits in developing their writing skills. “Some suggestions on improving the correction of English written work” by Tran (2004) is another study sharing some suggestion with this paper. This paper is first aimed at finding out the problems that both students and teachers are likely to face when the responsibility of correcting English written work is totally placed in the teachers’ hands. Then, it will recommend some correction procedures in which the students are actively involved in the process of editing a piece of written work for themselves (self correction and peer correction) with some necessary help and strict supervision from the teachers of 10 writing. The teachers should know every student’s writing ability to assign students for group work’s correction or pair work’s correction. Pre-training activity for giving written feedback including introducing and teaching students how to use the checklist at the beginning of the semester needs participating in class. “The effects of peer feedback on the writing anxiety of prospective Turkish teachers of EFL” by Kurt & Atay (2007) is showing the effects of peer feedback on the writing anxiety of Turkish prospective teachers of English (PTs). A total of 86 PTs of English were divided into two groups: experimental group and control group participated in this study during eight weeks. Data were collected by means of the Second Language Writing Anxiety Inventory (SLWAI) given at the beginning and end of the study and by means of interviews carried out with 20 experimental group PTs at the end of the term. Results of the quantitative data showed that the peer feedback group experienced significantly less writing anxiety than the teacher feedback group at the end of the study. The interview results revealed that the PTs benefited from the peer feedback process as with the feedback of their friends they became aware of their mistakes. Moreover, during the process they received opinions from their friends to elaborate on, and this collaboration helped them look at their essays from a different perspective. Briefly, a look at five related studies brings to light the fact that feedback has always been traditionally investigated. However, the previous researchers concerned much with peer oral feedback, peers written feedback on the Internet, peer written feedback versus teacher feedback, the students’ attitude toward peer written feedback, and making suggestions for correcting English written work. Moreover, there were few studies carried out to have a thorough observation about the impact of peer written feedback on first-year students. In the present study, the researcher would like to investigate the comprehensive impact of peer written feedback on first-year students. 2.4 CONCLUSIVE REMARKS In this chapter, the researcher gets a comprehensive understanding of some issues regarding the focus of this study. The chapter has discussed teaching writing, 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 English Department, School of Education, Can Tho University. Moreover, this chapter presents the research context which helps the researcher further understand the setting of the study. 11 CHAPTER 3: RESEARCH METHODOLOGY In this chapter, (1) the research design, (2) participants, (3) instruments, and the procedure of the research will be presented. 3.1. Research design This research follows a descriptive design involving the use of interviews, questionnaires and three writing assignments. The use of interviews and questionnaires are analyzed to survey the current situation of using peer written feedback by the first-year students, and their perceptions of their peers’ written feedback. The final marks of three writing assignments are considered to find out the impact of peer written feedback on students’ writing revision. Moreover, to answer the fourth research question, the use of questionnaires and final marks of three writing assignments follows correlation coefficients to examine correlations between students’ perceptions of using peer written feedback and students’ writing ability. 3.2. Participants 3.2.1 Student participants 47 English majors course 35 at Can Tho University were randomly invited to participate in this research. They consist of 38 females and 9 males from an education class. Their ages are not much different, commonly from 18 to 20. The first- year students were chosen because they are at pre-intermediate level. 3.2.2 Teacher participants In order to conduct this research, the researcher also invited the teacher who taught these students course 35 at Can Tho University. She instructed and asked these students to use peers’ written feedback when they revised their friends’ writing (see table 3.4.3 for syllabus for practicing to write argumentative paragraph). Moreover, in order to have more insights into the impact of peer written feedback on first-year students, the researcher interviewed four other teachers who have experience in teaching writing at Can Tho University. 3.3. Research instruments 3.3.1 Questionnaire: In order to investigate the current situation of using peer written feedback at Can Tho University, the students’ perceptions of their friends written feedback as well as the correlation between students’ writing ability and their perceptions of using peer written feedback on writing, the questionnaire (see Appendix 1 for the adapted version) was designed according to Hyland (1998), Ferris et al. (1997), Ferris & Hedgecock (1998), (Ur, 1996), Raimes (1983), and Coffin et al. (2003) on the literature review (see Appendix 3 for questionnaire’s adaptation) and some were 12 adapted to suit her research (question 10, supplemental question 1 and 2 in Appendix 1). The researcher piloted it in 42 students of course 35 at Can Tho University to guarantee reliability of the questionnaire. She conducted the questionnaire after deleting some items which made this questionnaire not reach the reasonable reliability. Moreover, the researcher also designed the Vietnamese version of the questionnaire (see Appendix 2) so that first-year students could understand the questionnaire thoroughly. After being piloted, the reliability of the questionnaire was at an acceptable value (α = .757) In the questionnaire, there are 11 items that were arranged in random order. A five-point scale (1 - strongly disagree, 2 - disagree, 3 - neutral, 4 - agree and 5 strongly agree) was used to survey the effectiveness of peer written feedback on students’ writing. Table 3.3.1 shows the factors of the questionnaire items. Table 3.3.1: Factors of the questionnaire items Issue The current situation of using peer written feedback by the 1styear students Students’ perceptions of their peers’ written feedback Factor Statements Factor loading Tone of feedback 1 Using positive feedback Specificity of feedback 2 Generic feedback Position of feedback 3 Marginal feedback Amount of peer written feedback 4 Pointing out all mistakes and correcting some serious ones Aspects of peer written feedback 5, 6,7,8, and 9 Features of a Good Peer Written Feedback 11 10 Content, grammar, mechanics, organization, word choice. Positive comment, criticism and suggestions for improvements are three vital factors of a feedback. The helpfulness of peer written feedback. Furthermore, the researcher added two supplemental questions for students to complete in order to investigate some reasons to support their perceptions of their peer written feedback and other suggestions to improve the current situation of using peer written feedback at Can Tho University. 3.3.2 Interview The open questions in the teachers’ interview (see Appendix 4 for adapted questionnaires for interviewing teachers) were designed according to Tran (2004) and Raimes (1983) on the literature review (see Appendix 5 for the adaptation of questions for interviewing teachers) and some were adapted to suit her research (see question 5,6 and a supplemental question in Appendix 4). The researcher designed seven questions, and the aims of her research in order to know more the insights on the impact of peer written feedback. Thanks to the teacher’s experience, the researcher 13 collected some suggestions to improve the current situation of using peer written feedback at Can Tho University. 3.3.3. Writing assignments Three students’ writing assignments were chosen and employed because they could help the researcher get in-depth information to investigate the effectiveness of peer written feedback on students’ writing ability based on analyzing three final versions. Each final version was the result of two peer-written feedbacks of the two first versions, and only teacher marked on the final one. The three topics of argumentative paragraphs in students writing’s assignments (from control to less control) collected for analysis were as followed:  Free topics  Write an argumentative paragraph about a hot issue in Can Tho University.  According to you, what are the best methods of improving your writing’s ability among peer written’s feedback, teacher feedback, or combination both of them? Write an argumentative paragraph about this issue. There were six criteria for the teacher to mark their final versions with the maximum mark for each piece of writing was 100. They are including:  Format (10/100)  Topic sentence and concluding sentence ( 10/100)  Content/ ideas ( 40/100)  Linking words ( 10/100)  Grammar ( 20/100)  Vocabulary and spelling ( 10/100) 3.4. Procedure 3.4.1. Administering the questionnaire After the students had used peer written feedback to correct their friends’ writing in eight weeks, the Vietnamese versions of the questionnaire were administered to 47 students in English Language Teaching classes of the English Department in the eighth week. Before the students started, the researcher gave them a clear instruction to make sure they understood what to do. After checking, the researcher had them begin completing the questionnaires in 15 minutes. Finally, 47 questionnaires were fully collected. 3.4.2. Administering the interviews At the end of the week eight, the researcher administered five interviews to Ms. Le, who taught these students and four other teachers at English Department, Can Tho University. All the teachers’ ideas and teachers’ suggestions were taken note carefully. 3.4.3. Administering the writing assignments 14
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