To learners and teachers of English as a second or foreign language, the role of feedback in the language learning process is crucial in two aspects – it allows L2 learners to monitor how they are performing in their language classes, and it also informs language teachers how their assessment response is affecting the drive of L2 learners to learn the language. In their study on Written Corrective Feedback (WCF), Douglas and Nanni (2016) sought to explore the type of corrective feedback preferred by teachers and L2 learners of a Thai tertiary institution, and their reasons for such preference. The study focused on Ellis’ (1999, as cited in Douglas & Nanni, 2016) three typologies of corrective feedback i.e., direct where the teacher provides the correct version of the grammatical flaw, indirect where the teacher simply points out the error and leave the correction to the student, and metacognitive which involves writing commentaries to the corrected structure. While there exists a wealth of research literature that have explored the effectiveness of WCF, the researchers argue that it is only recently that attention has been paid to studying the application of WCF in certain situations and contexts such as for instance, consulting teachers and students about their attitudes towards WCF.
Banking on previous studies, the authors centered their research on two hypotheses – (a) first, in determining which corrective feedback is more effective, teachers and students do not share the same preferences and beliefs and (b) second, justifications for such preferences may also significantly vary. Furthermore, the researchers surmised that there is a tendency that this difference in attitudes may clash, and failure to close this gap may lead to student demotivation. To obtain and analyze data, the study employed the mixed method – qualitative and quantitative research methodologies. Two survey-questionnaires were used, each specially designed and prepared for the teacher-participants and student-respondents.
It has to be noted that the survey was done via google forms, which means that the gathering of data was computer-mediated. 361 students participated in the study, but only 262 were able to complete the survey. On the other hand, 21 teachers were involved in the study, all of whom are identified to be native speakers of English.
The findings confirmed the researchers’ two hypotheses. First, the study revealed that of the teachers who were surveyed, a majority preferred providing indirect feedback with metalinguistic comment, whereas a number of student-respondents favor a more direct feedback type, affirming the first hypothesis which claimed that feedback preferences between teachers and students will vary. Second, the study also revealed that teachers and students also differ in their justification of their choice of feedback, affirming the second hypothesis. Studies on corrective feedback is not new; hence, one may deem this study as simply a replication or extension of previous studies. However, this study takes confidence by the fact that it builds on previous studies, correcting their mistakes and enhancing their methods. With more than three hundred participants, the large sample used in this study strengthened the veracity of the study’s data.
Large sample size meant that the results and conclusions of the study can be used to represent a wide scope of the population. Another strength of the study is its comprehensive review of related literature and studies. The researchers took effort to give readers a background of Thailand’s language education system, providing readers a contextualized knowledge about the topic being explored. While the studies cited in the research are clearly defined and explained, their recency seems to be questionable. The research was conducted and published in 2016 but some studies consulted were already a decade old. This is understandable if there really exists a dearth of studies for the topic. However, the topic has already been explored and probed in a number of studies.
There should at least be more recent sources that could have been used and consulted. The research methodology employed was the hybrid method which suits the study as it is both quantitative and qualitative in nature. The survey-questionnaires that were used in the study were distributed through google forms; the use of online mediation was deemed necessary as it helped the researchers ease the laborious task of data transcription. While there may be benefits to be reaped from using online-mediated survey in research such as convenience, there are also downsides to it.
First, it may be difficult to provide clarifications of unclear instructions or vague statements to respondents in the absence of the researcher. Second, the researcher cannot really know if the actual respondents are the ones providing responses to the survey. Generally, with exceptions to a few minor errors, the study was well-executed. Moreover, the effort to consult a plethora of sources and to have large sample size established the study’s credibility and validity.