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FEEDBACK


Table of Contents:

I. What is feedback?
II. Why is feedback beneficial?
III. How often and when should you use feedback?
IV. What are the teachers' and the students' roles?
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* B. Students role
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V. What are some Ground rules and tips for giving feedback?
VI. Bibliography and Additional readings
VII. Related links


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I. What is feedback?

  • A. According to Merriam-Webster, feedback is:
    • 1 : "the partial reversion of the effects of a process to its source or to a preceding stage"
    • 2 : "the transmission of evaluative or corrective information about an action, event, or process to the original or controlling source" (http://www.m-w.org/dictionary/feedback)

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  • B. Typology
    • 1. Recast.
      • a. Definition:
        • A recast is an instructor's rephrasing student's utterance, so that the utterance is correcin its grammatical form and-or its meaning.
      • b. Example:
        • S: "Yesterday I am sick, and I stay home."
        • T: "Yesterday I WAS sick, and I STAYED home."
    • 2. Error correction.
      • a. Definition:
        • Error correction refers to the assistance provided by either expert, peer, or self, with reference to any shortcomings on the part of a second language student in the target language. It can be oral, written, or non-verbal.
      • b. Example:
        • S: "Yesterday I am sick, and I stay home."
        • T: "Yesterday I WAS sick, and I STAYED home. Remember, we're trying to create sentences in the past tense, not the present."
    • 3. Self correction.
      • a. Definition:
        • Self correction is the correction or compensation of the mistakes/errors made by oneself.
      • b. Example:
        • One example of self correction may be a student figuring out on his own which errors necessitate correction based on input/hints provided by an instructor, without that instructor actually doing the correcting. It appears to be scaffolding within the realm of learning how to recognize and remedy one's own errors through expert assistance. One article covering self correction is by Taka-Yoshi Makino (1993).
    • 4. Positive feedback.
      • a. Definition:
        • Positive feedback encourages a student to repeat and/or expand upon a given contribution in the target language. It is very similar to what psychologists would refer to as a positive reinforcer.
      • b. Example:
        • T: "What is today's date?"
        • S: "Today is Tuesday, October 31."
        • T: "Very good! And which year?"
        • S: "2006."
        • T: "Great job!"
    • 5. Negative feedback.
      • a. Definition:
        • Negative feedback, according to Merriam Webster, is "feedback that tends to dampen a process by applying the output against the initial conditions."
      • b. Example:
        • S: "Last weekend I go to movies and write paper for class."
        • T: "No, that's not exactly how we would say that. Listen, Last weekend I went to the movies, and I also wrote a paper for class."
        • The Teacher might follow this recasting with an explanation of past tense verbs as well as definite and indefinite articles if the student's language doesn't have them, as this example suggests.
    • 6. Informational and/or motivational feedback.
      • a. Definition:
        • “Informational feedback corrects errors that the learner commits. Motivational feedback motivates the learner to try harder. Informational feedback should always be motivating, but motivational feedback does not always provide information.”
      • b. Example:
        • A smile or a word of encouragement.

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II. Why is feedback beneficial?

  • A. For teachers.
    • Teachers benefit from feedback because it (hopefully) motivates their students to continue learning and acquire more and more language skills, based on the responses from the instructor. As a result, teachers may feel more satisfaction in their task of instructing less experienced language learners and users.
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  • B. For students.
    • Feedback allows students to progress from one plane to another in their language learning. Without feedback, students may not have a sufficient understanding of what they are achieving successfully and which areas still require more attention.

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III. How often and when should you use feedback?


  • A. Frequency.
    • Frequency means how often a teacher should correct a student, and if a teacher should correct every single mistake or only the most important errors? To answer this, we make a difference between beginner and advanced learners.
      • 1. For beginners: Students in the beginner level make normally a lot of errors, a lot of major errors (e.g. sentence structure), but also a lot of minor (e.g. spelling errors). If a teacher correct every single mistake from a student, regardless if this happens in a written (e.g. an assignment from a student) or an oral form (e.g. an oral presentation from a student), the student will be overwhelmed of the amount of information. As a result, the student will not really learn something from these corrections. Our advice is only to correct the major errors and maybe some of the minor errors (if this will be not too much), especially after spoken errors. Through this method the student is able to concentrate on his/her most severe errors and reduce or even delete them.
      • Example (positive):
        • Student wrote/said: “Yesterdai i am sikk and i stay hom.”
        • Teacher corrected: “Yesterdai i was sikk, and i stayed hom.” Concentration on the grammar.
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*** 2. For advanced: For advanced students it is different. Normally they should know how to use the grammar and also have a large grasp on vocabulary. In other words, only a few minor mistakes should be treated as acceptable. In this case, a teacher should correct all mistakes, because the goal of these students is not only to reduce their errors, but to become nearly error free. In addition, since an advanced student should have very few errors, and therefore not a lot of teacher correction, the student should not be overwhelmed from any given feedback.
      • Example
        • Student wrote: “Yesderday I was sick, and I staied home.”
        • Teacher corrected: “Yesterday I was sick, and I stayed home.”
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  • B. When to use or not use a feedback.
    • One can claim that it is always a good time to give feedback to a student, especially on a written assignment. Nevertheless, there exist two possible situations in which a teacher should not always give feedback or make error corrections.
      • 1. First, a teacher should not give feedback/ error-correction (or should only produce reduced feedback) when a student has too many errors, because the extensive feedback would likely only overwhelm the student (see also III. A. Frequency).
      • 2. Second, a teacher should not always provide error-correction (or should only produce reduced feedback) when a student makes an oral contribution. In this situation any interruption, even for giving feedback, could potentially destroy the flow of the student's response/oral contribution.
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  • C. To what extent we should correct.
    • 1. Explicit/implicit (Direct/indirect): According to the article: "The effect of different types of corrective feedback on ESL student writing" by Bitchener, J., Young, S., & Cameron, D. (2005), "Direct or explicit feedback occurs when the teacher identifies an error and provides the correct form, while indirect strategies refer to situations when the teacher indicates that an error has been made but does not provide a correction, thereby leaving the student to diagnose and correct it." "We would suggest that teachers discuss with their learners which linguistic errors should be focused on. because current research indicates that indirect feedback options have a greater effect than direct feedback on accuracy performance."
    • 2. Un-/coded: According to the article: "The effect of different types of corrective feedback on ESL student writing" by Bitchener, J., Young, S., & Cameron, D. (2005), "Coded feedback points to the exact location of an error, and the type of error involved is indicated with a code (for example, PS means an error in the use or form of the past simple tense). Uncoded feedback refers to instances when the teacher underlines an error, circles an error, or places an error tally in the margin, but, in each case, leaves the student to diagnose and correct the error."

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IV. What are the teachers' and the students' roles?

  • A. Teachers’ roles.
    • 1. Tell students why and how they correct. Teachers need to be clear about why and how they give feedback. For example, the teacher gives a composition exam and a student makes a mistake like this one:
      • "I goes to school."
      • The teacher does not need to correct all the mistakes students made; instead, the teacher can give feedback by drawing attention to the error without correcting it, like this:
      • "I goes to school (conjugation)."
      • The teacher has to explain “why” he does not correct entirely: by correcting mistakes by themselves, students can learn more. That is why the teacher gives just a hint, and lets students correct their own mistakes. In order to tell students “how” the teacher corrects, the teacher explains in the class: If you see “conjugation”, it means the subject does not correspond to the verb.
    • 2. Specify students’ role: It is important that students respond to the feedback. In order to get the response, the teacher must assign something that can make students respond. For example, the student that made the mistake above has to rewrite the sentence using the hint that the teacher gave. Therefore, the teacher asks students to rewrite and turn in the composition again. When the teacher grades the composition, the teacher should give the grade of both compositions: the one they turned in first and the rewrite. By grading the rewrite, students can be motivated to correct their mistakes according to the teacher feedback.
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  • B. Students’ roles.
    • Recognize and learn from errors.
      • a. Reception: Students have ultimately to take first, the feedback provided to them. Only then, they can be proactive to this correction.
      • b. Proaction: The proaction confers students the good attitude of looking only for comprehensions (of both the error they make and the feedback provided) and make them avoid some negative reactions such as arguing with the teacher to show at all costs that they are right.
      • c. Written: When students get back a written assignment or a written test, then they should not only read their grade, but also read what the teacher corrected and what for notes the teacher wrote about the errors.
      • d. Oral: When a student gives a wrong pronunciation, the teacher gives the correct pronunciation and the student imitates it. Students’ roles are to repeat the right pronunciation as many times as possible. When students have an oral exam, teachers should give feedback, but the oral proficiency is not something students can improve on in a day. Students’ roles are to take the time and speak the language as regularly as possible, and they usually have to wait a minimum of a couple of months until they take the next oral exam and can show their improvement.

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V. What are some Ground rules and tips for giving feedback?

  • A. Ground rules.
    • 1. Establish and maintain rapport with learners.
    • 2. Cover the major strengths and weaknesses. Try to be specific; give examples if possible.
    • 3. Avoid trying to discuss everything. A few well – made points may be more beneficial than numerous, but inadequately developed points.
    • 4. Try to avoid comments with “never” or “always”; most rules have exceptions. Your feedback may be incorrect or inappropriate for certain situations.
    • 5. Do not criticize something that cannot be corrected.
    • 6. Do not criticize when you cannot suggest an improvement.
    • 7. Avoid being maneuvered into the unpleasant position of defending feedback. If the feedback is honest, objective, constructive, and supported, no defense should be necessary.
    • 8. If part of the feedback is written, it should be consistent with the oral feedback.
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  • B. Tips.
    • 1. Reinforce correct performance by letting learners know what they are doing well. Your encouragement and support will mean a great deal to your learners.
    • 2. Make sure to base your feedback on the evaluation criteria.
    • 3. When you see someone doing something differently than you would ordinarily do it, consider whether it matters. Ask yourself questions such as:
      • a. Will it work the way he/she, they are doing it?
      • b. Is this a better way?
      • c. Will it cause problems for them later?
      • d. Is it safe?
    • 4. Allow for individual variations. Consider the learner’s openness to suggestions before recommending changes that are not based on the criteria.
    • 5. Identify incorrect performance as early as possible. Give feedback as soon as you see the incorrect performance.
    • 6. Try to provide feedback in the most constructive way possible. Help learners understand how to do a task correctly – do not just tell them what they are doing wrong.
    • 7. Be aware of the learners’ sensitivity to correction, especially in front of other people (generally avoided whenever possible). Keep your voice down when providing individual feedback. Avoid the temptation to point out one person’s mistake to the whole group as an example.
    • 8. Give feedback less often as learner’s progress.” (http://www.rotc.monroe.army.mil/jrotc/documents/Curriculum/Unit_3/u3c5l6.pdf)

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  • VI. Bibliography and Additional readings

    1. Bitchener, J., Young, S., & Cameron, D. (2005). The effect of different types of corrective feedback on ESL student writing. Journal of Second Language Writing, 14: 191-205.
    2. Dekeyser, Robert M. (1993). The Effect of Error Correction on L2 Grammar Knowledge and Oral Proficiency. Modern Language Journal 77(4): 501-514.
    3. Hendrickson, James M. (1978). Error Correction in Foreign Language Teaching: Recent Theory, Research, and Practice. Modern Language Journal, 62(8): 387-398.
    4. Leki, Ilona. (1991). The preference of ESL students for error correction in college-level writing classes. Foreign Language Annals, 24(3): 203-218.
    5. Lyster, Roy. (2001). Negotiation of Form, Recasts, and Explicit Correction in Relation to Error Types and Learner Repair in Immersion Classrooms. Language Learning 51 [supplement 1]: 265-301.
    6. Makino, Taka-Yoshi. (1993). Learner Self-Correction in EFL Written Compositions. ELT Journal, 47(4): 337-341.
    7. Nicholas, Howard, Lightbown, Patsy M. and Spada, Nina. (2001). Recasts as Feedback to Language Learners. Language Learning, 51: 719-758.
    8. Schulz, Renate A. (1996). Focus on Form in the Foreign Language Classroom: Students' and Teachers' Views on Error Correction and the Role of Grammar. Foreign Language Annals, 9(3): 343-364.

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