Technology and L2 writing: EFL student perspectives on electronic feedback using online learning logs
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
The use of instructional technology has opened up new avenues in education with broad implications in the foreign or additional language (L2) learning context. One of the research priorities is to explore student perceptions of the use of such modern means in their education which otherwise might not be anticipated. The present study aimed to determine (a) the perceived affordances as well as limitations of the information and communication technology (ICT) pedagogical application in coded corrective feedback (e-feedback) provision on L2 writing, (b) English as a foreign language (EFL) learners’ perspectives on using e-feedback to reduce their local and global mistakes, and (c) the type of self-regulated learning (SRL) behaviours, according to EFL students’ self-reports, electronic feedback and learning logs called forth in cognitive, affective, and metacognitive domains. The participants (n=48) were high-intermediate to advanced EFL learners from four cohorts enrolled on an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) preparation course in a branch of the Institute of Science and Technology in Tehran. Each cohort went through 84 face-to-face tutorial sessions in four months. During this period, they also wrote essays and received e-feedback on 12 IELTS Writing Task 2 prompts with a minimum of drafting work three times for each on an e-learning platform (www.ekbatani.ir) specially designed for this study. The data from all four cohorts were collected over the course of 11 months, using semi-structured interviews, online structured and unstructured learning logs, and an open-ended questionnaire to provide an in-depth picture of student perceptions of this technology mediation. Through a purely qualitative research design, the log, interview, and open-ended questionnaire data were analysed, categorised and coded. The findings represented students’ perceptions of the benefits of the e-feedback and learning logs as (i) offering a motivating and empowering means of providing EFL writing support, (ii) enhancing the thinking and problem-solving processes, (iii) a flexible and fast scaffolding approach for L2 writing improvement, and (iv) encouraging student writers’ active knowledge construction by helping them notice mistakes, focus on writing specifics, overcome the fear of writing, and grow confidence in L2 learning. The self-reported data indicated perceived limitations including (i) the time-consuming nature of the e-feedback processes, (ii) the occasional need for face-to-face discussions, peer feedback addition, providing supplements to e-feedback such as on-demand e-tutorials, and (iii) increased workload for the teacher in proportion to the number of students. Specific writing improvement was perceived to be locally in the use of punctuation signs and grammar, in spelling skills and the scope of vocabulary; and globally in organising ideas, finding ideas in the form of blueprints, and developing ideas into full-length essays. The student perceptions demonstrated that the learner-centred e-feedback environment created different affordances for students’ cognitive, affective, and metacognitive behaviours: (i) cognitively, it assisted the use and development of various learning strategies, enhanced student EFL writing experience, and increased awareness of error patterns in their essays; (ii) affectively, it supported students’ motivational processes, ability to appraise their progress, restore, and sustain positivity, and greater perceived self-efficacy beliefs in their own L2 writing skills; finally, (iii) metacognitive affordances included the ability to rethink and amend their plans as well as seek out support, ability to reflect on the writing processes holistically, ability to self-monitor to remain on course, and ability to devise and implement a plan of action mostly by finding a strategy to deal with mistakes and by taking greater caution in writing their future drafts. Despite arising from a particular contextual framework with the experience of particular cohorts of students, the findings can hopefully be of value to researchers and practitioners in the fields of online language pedagogy, second language acquisition (SLA), EFL writing, and computer-assisted language learning (CALL) with communication uses. The findings can assist language courseware designers, e-feedback platform developers, and L2 writing course administrators to support and enhance their practices and decisions, especially in providing and implementing ICT and SRL initiatives in EFL writing.
PhD in Education