Accuracy Gains from Unfocused Feedback: Dynamic Written Corrective Feedback as Meaningful Pedagogy
Background. A primary question among L2 writing instructors is how to best deliver written corrective feedback (WCF) to support student learning. One promising WCF method is Dynamic Written Corrective Feedback, in which instructors provide unfocused/comprehensive feedback using a coding system coupled with regular rounds of editing on short, in-class student-written paragraphs.
Purpose. In this study, I explored the impact on student accuracy of unfocused DWCF on brief student-produced texts in intermediate and advanced developmental ESL writing classes. This study was motivated by the desire to evaluate this pedagogical intervention and determine if it should continue to be implemented in our developmental writing program.
Methods. Utilizing a quasi-experimental research design using t-test analyses, I coded, tallied, and contrasted the errors in term-final paragraphs of 130 students who participated in classes that used DWCF with 79 students in control sections that did not include DWCF.
Results. I found statistically significant improvements in the treatment sections at both levels for nearly all error types (including but not limited to verb form/tense, sentence structure, work order, work choice, determiner, noun form, and punctuation errors; the only error type that did not return significance differences was prepositions at the intermediate level). These results suggest that unfocused written corrective feedback may be effectively used in multilingual writing classrooms, at least given certain parameters to help ensure that feedback is manageable and specific, per the DWCF process.
Conclusion. This study complicates the so-called best practices stemming from WCF research in which many researchers have advocated for WCF that addresses only a small number of error types. Rather, providing that feedback practices are kept manageable and accessible for the students, multilingual students may effectively process and apply unfocused feedback to their own writing.
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