Improving the Practice of Giving Feedback on ESL Learners’ Written Compositions

By Bernard Ouma Mikume and Samuel Ouma Oyoo.

Published by The Learner Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

There has been increased research interest in the area of feedback in students’ written compositions since Truscott’s (1996) article that strongly argued against error correction in ESL learners’ writings. Many of these research studies have, however, concentrated on the effect of teacher written corrective feedback (WCF) on ESL learners’ writing. Little attention has been given to the use of alternative feedback strategies to supplement teacher written feedback on learners’ writing. Besides, many of these studies have been more concerned with describing students’ responses rather than trying to improve teachers’ feedback practice. This study was, therefore, aimed at improving the practice of giving feedback on ESL learners’ written compositions through use of self-correction and conferencing on ESL learners’ compositions to supplement improved teacher written feedback. The study this paper draws from employed a qualitative approach within an action research design. It used a sample of Form 3 (Year 10 equivalent) ESL class in a secondary school in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Data collected from interviews, observations, informal conversations and feedback exit slips with students and the subject teacher formed the basis of reflections and analysis. The findings show that the use of these additional strategies (self-correction and conferencing on ESL learners’ compositions) can lead to improved quality of learners’ written compositions and learners’ increased motivation and confidence in writing. This study concludes by recommending the use of these strategies to improve the practice of providing feedback on ESL learners’ compositions to improve their writing skills.

Keywords: Composition Writing, English as a Second Language, Giving Feedback

The International Journal of Learning, Volume 17, Issue 5, pp.337-354. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.029MB).

Bernard Ouma Mikume

Head, Languages Department, St. Albert’s Girls High School, Migori, Kenya

Bernard is the current Head of English and Library Department at St. Albert’s Girls High School, Ulanda, Kenya, where he also teaches English and Literature. He also gives lectures in English Education courses at the Southern Nyanza-Rongo Campus of Moi University. Bernard holds a Master of Education (M.Ed) degree (Teacher Education Option) from Institute for Educational Development, Eastern Africa, Aga Khan University (AKU-IEDEA), located in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and a Bachelor of Education degree from Kenyatta University, Kenya. His research interests are mainly on language and related pedagogical issues with a current focus on the area of feedback provision on learners’ writing.

Dr. Samuel Ouma Oyoo

Senior Lecturer, School of Education, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

Samuel currently is a Senior Lecturer at the School of Education, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa. Previously he has held the position of Assistant Professor at the Aga Khan University’s Institute for Educational Development Eastern Africa (AKU-IEDEA) located in Dar es Salaam Tanzania, where he led the Educational Inquiry, Science Education and the Academic Writing Courses in the Master of Education (MEd) programme. Immediately prior to joining Wits, he served in a similar capacity at the Department of Educational Communication Technology and Curriculum Studies, Faculty of Education, Maseno University, Kenya. A graduate of both Nottingham and Leeds Universities in the United Kingdom, he also holds a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) Degree in Education from Monash University, Clayton Campus, Melbourne, Australia. His research interest is in language and education including in science education.

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