Teacher Feedback and Student Revision: A Study on Written Feedback from a Sociocultural Perspective

Open Access
Al Thowaini, Buthainah M
Area of Honors:
Applied Linguistics
Bachelor of Arts
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Suresh Canagarajah, Thesis Supervisor
  • Joan Kelly Hall, Honors Advisor
  • revision strategies
  • Corrective Feedback
  • Writing instruction
In the last few decades, the area of written feedback in the field of second language writing has attracted the attention of numerous scholars. A significant area of research is the relationship between teacher’s feedback and students’ revision (Truscott, 1996; Ferris, 1995; Chandler, 2003; Hyland & Hyland 2006; Ellis, Sheen, Murakami, & Takashima, 2008; Bitchener & Knoch, 2009). In this area of study, a majority of scholars have considered the type and the source of feedback as predictors of students’ revisions and not focused on other factors, such as students’ individual writing competencies and cultural backgrounds. The present study investigates whether teachers provide different types and amounts of feedback depending on students’ writing competencies. In addressing this question, the study explores the myriad factors that influence teachers’ feedback and students’ response to such feedback. The theoretical framework for this study is Sociocultural Theory. The participants are undergraduate students from Asian, South American, and Middle Eastern backgrounds, enrolled in two different academic writing ESL courses offered at the Pennsylvania State University. Although the study included seven subjects, four of them were treated as focal participants. The instructor selected the students for the researcher, based on her perception of the students’ writing abilities. The data collected include copies of all the writings students did, the teacher’s written feedback on them, audio recordings of writing conferences with the instructor, interviews with the selected students, and one-on-one interviews with the instructor. The findings of the study, however, were counterintuitive. The instructor did not adjust her feedback based on her perception of their writing levels. In addition, the present study revealed that various factors, such as modality of feedback and error type impact the type of feedback provided. Similarly, the revision process of the students is influenced by multiple individual factors, such as comprehension of the feedback and motives in writing. The study concludes by urging teachers and educators to reexamine their institutional goals and feedback practices and investigate learners’ strategies of using feedback for correction and improvement.