Image courtesy of Jenny Kaczorowski
Welcome to week three of my #444ELT project! If you are interested in reading the summary from the first two weeks, here they are:
For week three, I focused on peer-review/assessment/commenting as my subject of study. I have found the use of a topic each week to be really helpful in comparing what is happening and getting a bigger picture on the subject. I think this week was even more so than in previous weeks. I hope it is helpful. Oh, and since we are on the subject of peer-commenting, feel free to leave your own. 🙂
Article: Rouhi, A. & Azizian, E. (2013). Peer review: Is giving corrective feedback better than receiving it in L2 writing? Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences, 93. 1349-1354. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1877042813034873
Summary: On peer-correction given on writing assignments, Rouhi and Azizian (2013) wanted to find out who benefits the most, the giver or the receiver. By dividing 45 pre-intermediate level English language learners into three groups, students were given a placement test to determine their writing ability and to ensure that the three groups were statistically equal. One group gave peer-feedback, the second group received peer-feedback, and the last group did not get any feedback at all.
The study took place over 11 weeks, with a total of four writing sessions completed. The students giving feedback were given an example of what to look for, only article and past simple tense errors, and were asked to give direct feedback and correction. Those receiving the correction made changes based solely on the peer-feedback with no assistance from the teacher and no oral communication with the peer. The writing was based on a series of pictures and students were asked to write a description in the past tense of what was happening in the images. At the end of the 11 weeks, all students were given an immediate post-test and delayed post-test. The results showed a statistically significant improvement for those who gave peer-feedback versus the remainder of the students, but the students receiving feedback still did better than those who did not receive any feedback at all.
Remarks: Since this was a paper given at a conference, it wasn’t as in-depth as a typical research article. I feel like there are a number of missing pieces in this paper, some of which I will mention in the questions. Overall, my experience with peer-feedback has also been that those giving feedback are able to think through the nuances of the language more than those passively receiving it. It seems logical that when you are required to analyze something, in this case writing, you tend to think more deeply about the subject, actively looking for problems.
The one thing that I feel needs to be done before having students embark on peer-feedback or correction is to give them proper training and guidance to get them started. For many students, cultural differences and expectations play a major part on the quality of feedback since most students fear hurting other the other student’s feelings and also they are worried about a a future backlash if they are too harsh. Obviously, we want them to have the freedom to say what they need to say, but we also need to give them the ability to give constructive criticism rather than harsh comments.
Questions: This article is missing a few critical pieces that help the reader gain a better picture into what actually happened in this study. Here are some that came to mind:
- Where did this take place? I assume it is in Iran, but that may not be true.
- Why was the focus merely on two grammatical pieces and not on writing structure?
- Were the students who received the correction required to implement all of the changes? If so, did this have a negative effect on their marks?
- Would these students have done anything differently if they knew that their peers were also giving them feedback in return? Would they have been less critical? More critical?
- Would the students who received no feedback at all have done even better than the others students if they had received feedback from the teacher? (This brings into the question the quality of peer-feedback)
- Why were the raw scores not presented?
- What was the perception of the students towards peer-correction? It would have been interesting to see if students felt it was a worthwhile exercise and also to see if the students giving the correction felt that they were able to make better connections to their own writing (metacognition).
Article: Zhao, H. (2014). Investigating teacher-supported peer assessment for EFL writing. ELT Journal, 68(2). 155-168. Retrieved from http://eltj.oxfordjournals.org/content/68/2/155.abstract
Summary: In a study involving eighteen students in an English program in China, Zhao (2014) explored the effect of teacher-supported peer assessment on their writing assignments. Involving nine writing tasks over four months, students gave written comments on their peers’ writing assignments which was followed up by a 25 minute discussion between the reviewer and the writer. Once that was completed, the teacher gave both written and spoken feedback on the peer-assessment from which students made their final revisions.
Before starting the process, the teachers trained the students on how to give feedback using writing samples, focusing on grammar and wording. This ongoing training provided help in the five different genres of writing the students were asked to work on. While students were initially able to give more direct feedback, the training adapted to help students to give more indirect feedback in the later assignments. In total, 79 assignments were reviewed with 620 instances of peer-feedback given. Of those, 75% of the feedback involved grammar and wording. Also, 271 of the 620 instances were commented on by the instructor, significantly affecting the level of adoption by the students in their revision. In total, students adopted 52% of the suggestions given by their peers.
Following the study, students were given a questionnaire on the process and many were also interviewed. In total, all students felt that the teacher-supported peer assessment model was beneficial and only one did not prefer this method over the traditional teacher-only feedback model. Students felt that it helped them learn from others’ mistakes and thought that the cultural connection that the students shared helped them understand their writing better. Students also were more comfortable discussing the feedback with a peer since they were of a similar social status.
Remarks: While still only a fairly small sample, this study was really well done and shows a nice model of how teachers should be involved in the peer assessment process. I like how the teacher helped coach the students throughout the process and also how peer assessment can be modelled and practiced while students continue to provide feedback. I’m excited to work out a similar model for my students to see how it might work with a mixed language and culture group. I like the focus on both direct and indirect feedback and also the amount of time spent in discussion as well. More so than in the first article, I feel students learned to become more reflective on their own writing through the process.
Questions: This is a solid research study that doesn’t leave me with very many questions. Here are a few thoughts about where this could be taken later:
- How would this work with a mixed-cultural group?
- How could the training on indirect feedback have been done earlier?
- What was the students’ feelings regarding the comments on their feedback by the teachers? Did some students become more careful? Did some start to become too cautious?
- How much did this add or take away from the time it takes normally for teachers to give feedback?
Article: Jahin, J. H. (2012). The effect of peer reviewing on writing apprehension and essay writing ability of prospective EFL teachers. Australian Journal of Teacher Education, (37)11. 60-84. Retrieved from http://ro.ecu.edu.au/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1802&context=ajte
Summary: In this study, Jahin (2012) studied the effects of peer-reviewing on the writing ability as well as the level of apprehension regarding writing of 40 prospective EFL teachers at a Saudi University. Dividing the students into evenly split control and experimental groups, Jahin used a Second Language Writing Anxiety Inventory (SLWAI) which consisted of 22 Likert-scale questions to determine their level of apprehension in writing. Students were also asked to write three essays on three separate occasions. These essays were then either only reviewed by the teacher (the control group), or were given peer-feedback (experimental group). Students were tested before the start of the course and following the course to determine their level of apprehension regarding writing in English and their writing ability.
The results showed that students who received traditional feedback from teacher alone had no significant change in their level of apprehension towards writing while the group that received peer-feedback had a significant drop in their anxiety level. In regards to the quality of writing, the group that received peer-feedback had a larger gain than that of the control group.
Remarks: It was interesting to note that the researcher hypothesized that the peer-reviewing would not have an impact on the apprehension level nor the writing ability of the students, but the results turned out much differently. I also was a little surprised that peer-reviewing alone was used instead of a peer/teacher combination. I am left wondering if that would have had an even larger affect on the writing ability, but less so on the apprehension. I was interested in the study mostly because it addressed an area that comes up quite often in my classes, that of writing anxiety. I am always looking for ways to help students deal with their apprehension. I think the use of peer-assessment or peer-review is a useful tool to help students deal with that and I am thinking that this is just another valid reason for the use of peer-commenting in my writing classes.
Questions: While there was plenty of information given in the article, there are still a few questions I have about the study and what could be done next:
- Why did the researcher feel this wouldn’t make a difference in either the students’ writing ability or their apprehension? I feel there is a cultural reason at play here.
- What difference would this make with a multi-cultural group?
- What differences would occur with a peer/teacher based feedback approach, much like in the second study?
- How much does vocabulary level play in the writing apprehension?
Article: Kamimura, T. (2006). Effects of peer feedback on EFL student writers at different levels of English proficiency: A Japanese context. TESL Canada Journal, 23(2). 12-39. Retrieved from http://teslcanadajournal.ca/index.php/tesl/article/view/53
Summary: In this study, Kamimura (2006) sought to find out if there were any differences in the use of peer-feedback on higher and lower level university English language students. Students were divided into two twelve-person groups according to their English writing scores. They were compared according to their initial and post testing results, their writing samples along the way, and their response to the peer-comments and comments given to their peer. Each student was given one person to work with throughout the process which gave them a chance to build trust and rapport with that individual. There were five session given throughout the course. The first two sessions had students writing two different argumentative essays. This was followed up with a training session on giving peer-feedback with a focus on global and local writing issues. In the fourth and fifth sessions, students gave oral feedback on two new argumentative essays they had written.
Upon completion of the four essays, raters scored the essays based on the same criteria students were asked to analyze. Also, fluency was scored by the number of words in each essay. The comments given by the peers was categorized and then counted in each group along with the number of accepted and rejected comments given by the students. The results showed that both groups made improvements in their writing as a result of the peer-feedback. For both groups, there was a an extremely high amount of acceptance to the comments given, but the group with the largest growth was the higher level class. Surprisingly, there was basically no change in the amount of words in the fluency check. This may be attributed to the use of more global comments by both groups, but especially the higher level group. Both groups appreciated the use of peer-commenting as an effective way to improve their writing skills.
Remarks: This was well done study showing that planning plays an important part in obtaining valid results. The use of two essays before the training and two essays afterward gave the students an opportunity to demonstrate their level before testing the hypotheses. I also thought the use of the same peer pairings for both peer-reviews was good in building trust and rapport between the students. This lowers the writing apprehension as was mentioned in the previous study.
It must be difficult to remove as many of the subjective barriers in a research project, especially when it comes to writing. In this situation, there were a number of quantitative results along with the qualitative to give a good overview of what was happening in regards to the study. While the sample was small, I think this would translate well to a larger study with likely similar if not the same results.
Questions: The writers posed a number of questions at the end, some of which I am adding here:
- How would this work in a different context such as a mixed cultural group?
- In this situation, students gave their comments in Japanese. How would this change if they were required to give them in English?
- There wasn’t much of a growth in fluency. What may have been the contributing factors to this?
- Would this still work over a longer period of time?
- How could you get students to give more local items instead of so many global comments? What was the reason for students tending to give global comments?