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Investigating learners’ use and understanding of peer and teacher feedback on writing: A comparative study in a Chinese English writing classroom

Zhao, H (2010) Investigating learners’ use and understanding of peer and teacher feedback on writing: A comparative study in a Chinese English writing classroom. Assessing Writing, 15 (1). pp. 3-17. ISSN 1075-2935

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Abstract

Existing comparative studies between peer and teacher feedback in English writing classes have predominantly used frequency measures of peer and teacher feedback in learners’ revisions to suggest their relative values for developing learners’ writing proficiency. However, learners do not necessarily understand the feedback that is used in their redrafts. This study distinguished learners’ use from their understanding of peer and teacher feedback. Eighteen Chinese university English learners participated in the study for sixteen weeks. Three research methods were adopted: (a) content analyses of learners’ use of feedback, (b) stimulated recall interviews on learners’ understanding of feedback, and (c) interviews on the factors that affected learners’ responses to feedback. The findings suggested that the learners used more teacher than peer feedback in their redrafts. However, interviews with these learners revealed that they used a larger percentage of teacher feedback than peer feedback without understanding its significance or value. Student interviews uncovered learners’ passive acceptance of teacher feedback and the facilitative role of first language use in peer interaction. This study suggests that learners’ understanding of feedback should be taken as at least an equally important factor as learners’ use of feedback in examining the relative value of peer and teacher feedback for developing learners’ writing proficiency.

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