Written Feedback in Second Language Acquisition: Exploring the Roles of Type of Feedback, Linguistic Targets, Awareness, and Concurrent Verbalization
Suh, Bo Ram
Very few studies have shown that written feedback facilitates L2 learning (although see Bitchener, 2008, Bitchener & Knoch, 2008, and Sheen, 2007), and studies exploring the relative effectiveness of different types of written feedback, in particular direct and indirect feedback, have yielded mixed results. Although the existing studies were premised on attention and awareness, learners' attentional processes have rarely been measured directly. This dissertation investigates the effects of type of written feedback on L2 development in relation to learners' attentional processes. Relationships between feedback type, linguistic structures, awareness, and L2 development are also considered, together with the issue of the potential reactivity of concurrent verbalization.The study used a pretest-immediate posttest-delayed posttest design, with three treatment sessions. Eighty-one Korean university EFL learners, randomly assigned to one of five groups, completed three written story retellings guided by picture prompts. Participants assigned to the experimental groups differed as to: (1) what type of written feedback they received, and (2) whether they were asked to think aloud during the feedback session. Participants in the control group did not receive any feedback. The targeted structures were the past counterfactual conditional and the objective-of-preposition type of relative clauses in English. In addition to tests of target structure recognition/interpretation, written story retelling tasks served as production tests to assess L2 development. Awareness was measured by both concurrent verbalization and a post-exposure questionnaire.Results indicated that type of written feedback impacted participants' development of one of the target structures, the past counterfactual conditional, with those participants who received direct feedback improving significantly immediately and one week after the treatments. Participants who received direct feedback also reported a higher level of awareness than those who received indirect feedback. These higher levels of awareness were associated with development, regardless of the type of linguistic target. Finally, concurrent verbalization had no effect on development in this investigation. These findings have theoretical, methodological, and pedagogical implications.
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