The University of Arizona


Yingliang Liu


There has been controversy as to whether error feedback helps L2 students improve the accuracy and overall quality of their writing. Most studies on error correction in L2 writing classes show that students receiving error feedback from teachers improve in accuracy over time. However, it has not been adequately examined how explicit error feedback should be in order to help students selfedit their texts. The paper reports a quasi-experimental classroom study investigating 12 university ESL students’ abilities to self-edit their writing across two feedback conditions: (1) direct correction with the correct form provided by the teacher; (2) indirect correction indicating that an error exists but without providing the correction. The students were randomly divided into two groups: Group A and Group B. Data were collected from the two drafts of the first essay and the first draft of the second essay. Instances of errors were then identified in students’ drafts and classified into three categories: morphological errors, semantic errors, and syntactic errors. Error ratios (the number of errors counted divided by the number of words written) were calculated and compared between drafts and between groups. Results show that both types of feedback helped students selfedit their texts. Although direct feedback reduced students’ errors in the immediate draft, it did not improve students’ accuracy in a different paper. Indirect feedback helped the students reduce more morphological errors than semantic errors. Survey results show that students show a strong preference for underlining and description. Overall results imply that providing corrective feedback on students’ writing is not a sufficient way to improve students’ accuracy in writing. Some mini-lessons or workshops focusing on different types of errors or aspects of grammar are necessary to improve students’ ability to self-edit.

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