Prepared by the researcher : Dr. Mohammed Agban Bakhit, Mawada Abdalrhman Ahmed Saeed – Assistant Professor , University of Khartoum
Democratic Arab Center
Journal of Afro-Asian Studies : Thirteenth Issue – May 2022
A Periodical International Journal published by the “Democratic Arab Center” Germany – Berlin.
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Writing is one of the four basic skills in English language. Many learners of English as a second or foreign language considered writing as one of the most difficult skills to be mastered. Sudanese EFL students are not an exception. However, there is a real dilemma in the teaching of writing in Sudan, especially at the tertiary level where the large number of students and the restricted timetable constitute a major issue for English language teachers in general, and for compositions and writing instructors’ in particular. As a result, many students suffer from a very poor writing performance.
The writing problems have been investigated thoroughly by various researchers and ELT practitioners worldwide. Different suggestions and recommendations have been made; one of these suggestions was the provision of written corrective feedback. Corrective feedback is defined as a response to a learner’s utterance that contains error (Ellis, et al., 2006). It has also been defined as “any indication to the learners that their use of the target language is incorrect” (Lightbown and Spada 1991:171). Moreover, corrective feedback can be classified into mainly two types: direct and indirect (explicit or implicit). Direct or explicit feedback occurs when the teacher identifies an error and provides the learners with the correct form, while indirect or implicit feedback refers to situations when the teacher indicates that an error has been made but does not provide the learners with the correction (Ellis:2008). However, there is no similar study that has been carried out in a Sudanese context. Hence, the aim of this study is to shed light into the role of providing written corrective feedback in enhancing Khartoum University EFL students’ writing performance.
- Statement of the problem
Sudanese EFL students face serious problems in writing. Many proposals have been carried out to investigate this problem however; no significant change has been made. This might be due to the fact that most of these studies did not offer practical solutions for this issue. None of these studies have considered the role of written corrective feedback in enhancing EFL students’ writing. The practice of written corrective feedback is very limited in Sudanese EFL tertiary contexts. Teachers tend to decrease the practice due to their larger responsibilities, and learners tend to have the least knowledge about the importance of this area.
1.3 Research question
To what extent does the provision of written corrective feedback is considered beneficial to Khartoum University EFL students?
1.4 Research objectives
This study tries to offer a practical solution to the writing problems that face many EFL students. Also, this study tries to raise both teachers and learners’ awareness to the important area of written corrective feedback and how it can be used as an effective tool to improve EFL students’ written performance.
1.5 Literature Review
A number of studies have been carried out to investigate the role that written corrective feedback plays in second language acquisition in general, and in writing skill in particular. Below is a summary for some of them:
Ahmadi, Maftoon and Mehrdad (2012) in a research paper investigated the effect of two types of feedback on EFL students’ writing by analyzing quantitatively the effects of providing two types of feedback on the use of participles and resumptive pronouns on Iranian EFL students. 60 Iranian EFL students, who enrolled in advanced writing classes, were randomly divided into three groups: a control group, a direct-correction experimental group and an un-coded feedback experimental group. The results of the study support the claim that corrective written feedback helps in improving EFL learners’ writing performance. Furthermore, the study also shows that un-coded feedback is more effective than direct correction in responding to students’ errors.
Abadikhah and Ashoori(2012) in a research paper investigated the effect of written corrective feedback on EFL learners’ performance after collaborative output by examining the effect of written corrective feedback on EFL learners’ performance after completing a set of output activities. The study involved two groups of learners (24 male students at intermediate level). The first group, consisting of six pairs, worked on four output activities (text editing, composition, transformation and substitution). The second group received written feedback after completing the same activities. The results revealed that the participants who received written corrective feedback outperformed those who did not receive feedback.
Yang, Badger and Yu (2006) in a study entitled “A comparative Study of Peer and Teacher Feedback in a Chinese EFL Writing Class” examined the effect of teacher and peer feedback on two groups of students at a Chinese University writing essays on the same topic, one receiving feedback from the teacher and one from their peers. Textual and questionnaire data from both groups and video recordings and interviews from 12 individual students revealed that students used teacher and peer feedback to improve their writing but that peer feedback was associated with a greater degree of student autonomy.
Bitchener, Young and Cameron (2005) in a study entitled “The Effect of Different Types of Corrective Feedback on ESL Students’ Writing” investigated whether the type of feedback (direct, explicit feedback and student-researcher 5 minute individual conferences; direct, explicit written feedback only; no corrective feedback) given to 53 adult migrant students on three types of error (prepositions, the past simple tense, and the definite article) resulted in improved accuracy in new pieces of writing over a 12 week period. The study found a significant effect for the combination of written and conference feedback on accuracy levels in the use of the past simple tense and the definite article in new pieces of writing. Nevertheless, there was no significant improvement in the use of prepositions.
Baz, Balcikanli and Cephe (2016) in an article entitled “perceptions of English Instructors and Learners about Corrective Feedback” examined the perceptions of instructors and learners about corrective feedback in learning English as a foreign language (EFL). The findings of the study show that both the instructors and learners seem to have almost similar ideas concerning corrective feedback. However, while the instructors seem to prefer indirect feedback, the learners tend to prefer direct and explicit feedback.
Atmaca (2016) in a research paper entitled “Contrasting Perceptions of Students and Teachers: Written Corrective Feedback” analyzed qualitatively the similarities and differences between students’ and teachers’ perceptions about written corrective feedback in an EFL context. The study finds out that there was no significant difference between the two groups.
Balanga et al (2016) in a research paper entitled “Student Beliefs towards WCF: The Case of Filipino High School Students” identified the beliefs of high school students towards written corrective feedback. A questionnaire regarding students’ beliefs was administered. The results showed that students strongly agree with the statement that ‘written corrective feedback helped improve my grammar’.
Aghajanloo, Mobini and Khosravi (2016) in a research paper entitled “The Effect of Teachers’ Written Corrective Feedback Types on Intermediate EFL Learners’ Writing Performance” studied the effect of four types of written corrective feedback (focused direct WCF, unfocused direct WCF, focused indirect WCF, unfocused indirect WCF) on intermediate EFL learners’ writing performance. 120 intermediate Iranian EFL learners aging from 14-18 were assigned randomly to four homogenous groups. The analytical analysis of the pretest and posttest results indicates that learners outperformed in all of the four groups, validating written corrective feedback as an effective techniques which can be used in EFL classes.
Ellis, Sheen, Murakami and Takashima (2008) using a pre-test ─immediate post-test ─delayed post-test design compared the effects of focused and unfocused written corrective feedback on the accuracy with which Japanese university students used the English definite articles to denote the first and anaphoric reference in written narratives. The focused group received correction of just article errors on three written narratives while the unfocused group received correction of article errors alongside corrections of other errors. The study revealed that both groups gained from pre-test to post-tests on both an error correction test and on a test involving a new piece of narrative writing and also outperformed the control group, which received no correction, on the second post test. The study concluded by that written corrective feedback was equally effective for the focused and unfocused groups.
This study adopts a quantitative method to collect the data for this study.
Twenty- seven students were chosen for the purpose of this study. All of the students were studying English as a foreign language at the Department of English, Faculty of Arts, at Khartoum University. The study focuses mainly on students at the third and fourth levels, since they have completed the writing courses which are needed for this study.
The instrument used to collect the data for this study is a questionnaire that was administered to the third and fourth year students at the Department of English, Faculty of Arts, at Khartoum University. The questionnaire is made up of mainly five questions which seek to investigate students’ views on the role of written corrective feedback in enhancing their written production.
The questionnaire was administered to the third and fourth year students at the Department of English towards the end of the lectures in the classroom under the supervision of the researcher and some of the lecturers at the Department of English, Faculty of Arts, at Khartoum University. After the aim of the study was explained to the students, they were gently asked to spend 15 to 20 minutes to fill the questionnaire.
1.7 Data Analysis and Discussion
Table (1): The frequency distribution of the statements of the research question
|Strongly agree||Agree||Neutral||Disagree||Strongly disagree|
|Assignments should be followed by a feedback.||Count||8||26||17||14||7|
|Language learners usually benefit from receiving a feedback.||Count||21||30||14||6||1|
|Receiving a feedback plays a role in error reduction .||Count||29||24||12||6||1|
|Receiving a feedback from the teacher is important to improve writing skill.||Count||42||17||4||7||2|
|Receiving a feedback from the teacher has little or no value to achievements in English language.||Count||6||9||9||26||22|
Table (1) shows that, (47.2%) of participants agreed or strongly agreed, that assignments should be followed by a feedback, while (29.1%) of them disagreed or strongly disagreed. (70.9%) of the participants agreed or strongly agreed that language learners usually benefit from receiving a feedback, since only (9.7%) of them disagreed or strongly disagreed. (73.6%) of the participants agreed or strongly agreed with receiving a feedback plays a role in error reduction, whereas (9.7%) of them disagreed or strongly disagreed. The majority (81.9%) of participants agreed or strongly agreed with, receiving a feedback from the teacher is important to improve the writing skill, yet (12.5%) of them disagreed or strongly disagreed. But only (20.8%) of the participants agreed or strongly agreed with receiving a feedback from the teacher has little or no value to achievements in English language, while (66.7%) of them disagreed or strongly disagreed.
Figure (1): The frequency distribution of the research question
Figure (1) above show that most (55.6%) of participants agreed that, written corrective feedback is considered beneficial to Khartoum University EFL students, while most (41.7%) of them were neutral, since only (2.8%) of them disagreed or strongly disagreed.
It can be clearly seen from table (1) and figure (1) above that many students (54.2%) believe in the beneficiary role of written corrective feedback, which validates the claim that (written corrective feedback is considered beneficial to Khartoum University EFL students). A similar finding has been obtained from other studies (Abadikhah and Ashoori, 2012; Yang, Banger and Yu, 2006; Balanga et al., 2016). Moreover, this finding supports the growing body of research that proved the efficacy of written corrective feedback in treating students’ errors (Ferris, 2006; Ellis, 2008; Bitchener, 2008). Thus, it validates the theory of written corrective feedback.
The study sheds light into the writing difficulties that face many Sudanese EFL students, and suggests a relevant solution by shifting both teachers and students’ attention to the important area of written corrective feedback. The study raises the major question: To what extent does the provision of written corrective feedback is considered beneficial to Khartoum University EFL students?
The study seeks to answer this question by considering mainly students’ account of written corrective feedback. The findings proved that many students believe in the importance of written corrective feedback and in the facilitative role that feedback plays in improving their written performance. The findings also reveal a common consensus among students concerning the benefits of written corrective feedback (54.2%). This finding supports many of the studies that proved the efficacy of written corrective feedback in treating EFL students’ errors (Ferris, 2006; Ellis, 2008; Bitchener, 2008). Generally speaking, the findings of the study post a strong evidence for the effectiveness of written corrective feedback in enhancing EFL students’ writing.
Based on the study findings, the following recommendations have been made: since written corrective feedback has proved to serve as a good tool for writing improvement, teachers are encouraged to use more of the practice. Moreover, learners must take written corrective feedback very seriously, and try to absorb the role that feedback plays in improving their written performance. Furthermore, written corrective feedback can be used as a means for solving students’ writing problem.
Abadikhah, S. and Ashoori, A., 2012. The effect of written corrective feedback on EFL learners’ performance after collaborative output. Journal of language Teaching and Research, 3(1), pp.118-125.
Aghajanloo, K., Mobini, F. and Khosravi, R., 2016. The effect of teachers’ written corrective feedback (WCF) types on intermediate EFL learners’ writing performance. Advances in Language and Literary Studies, 7(3), pp.28-37.
Ahmadi, D., Maftoon, P. and Mehrdad, A.G., 2012. Investigating the effects of two types of feedback on EFL students’ writing. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 46, pp.2590-2595.
Atmaca, Ç., 2016. Contrasting perceptions of students and teachers: written corrective feedback. Journal of Language and Linguistic Studies, 12(2), pp.166-182.
Balanga, R. A., Fidel, I. V. B., Gumapac, M. V. G. P., Ho, H. T., Tullo, R. M. C., Villaraza, P. M. L., &Vizconde, C. J. 2016. Student beliefs towards Written Corrective Feedback: the case of Filipino high school students. I-Manager’s Journal on English Language Teaching, 6(3), 22.
Baz, E.H., Balçıkanlı, C. and Cephe, P.T., 2016. Perceptions of English instructors and learners about corrective feedback. European Journal of Foreign Language Teaching.
Bitchener, J., Young, S. and Cameron, D., 2005. The effect of different types of corrective feedback on ESL student writing. Journal of second language writing, 14(3), pp.191-205.
Bitchener, J., 2008. Evidence in support of written corrective feedback. Journal of second language writing, 17(2), pp.102-118.
Bitchener, J., 2012. Written corrective feedback for L2 development: Current knowledge and future research. TESOL Quarterly, 46(4), pp.855-860.
Ellis, R., Loewen, S. and Erlam, R., 2006. Implicit and explicit corrective feedback and the acquisition of L2 grammar. Studies in second language acquisition, 28(2), p.339.
Ellis, R., 2008. A typology of written corrective feedback types. ELT journal, 63(2), pp.97-107.
Ellis, R., Sheen, Y., Murakami, M. and Takashima, H., 2008. The effects of focused and unfocused written corrective feedback in an English as a foreign language context. System, 36(3), pp.353-371.
White, L., Spada, N., Lightbown, P.M. and Ranta, L., 1991. Input enhancement and L2 question formation. Applied linguistics, 12(4), pp.416-432.
Yang, M., Badger, R. and Yu, Z., 2006. A comparative study of peer and teacher feedback in a Chinese EFL writing class. Journal of second language writing, 15(3), pp.179-200.
This questionnaire is designed to seek your opinions on the influence of written corrective feedback on Sudanese EFL students writing achievement. You are required to read the statements of the questionnaire carefully, and provide authentic ratings of your opinion on each item as indicated. The information you will provide, shall be treated with utmost confidentiality.
Please indicate the degree to which you agree or disagree with each of the following statements, by ticking in the most appropriate option using the scale below
Level: …………………… Gender: …………………….
|Statements||Strongly agree||Agree||Neutral||Disagree||Strongly disagree|
|1-||Assignments should be followed by a feedback.|
|2-||Language learners usually benefit from receiving a feedback.|
|3-||Receiving a feedback plays a role in error reduction.|
|4-||Receiving a feedback from the teacher is important to improve writing skill.|
|5-||Receiving a feedback from the teacher has little or no value to achievements in English language .|