Vol 5 No 1 (2019)
Beyond Accuracy: Rethinking the Approach to Spanish Second Language Writing through a Tutoring Intervention
This study reports on a pedagogical intervention in Spanish second language writing classes designed to shift learners’ attention away from lower-order concerns (e.g., morphosyntax) and toward higher-order concerns (e.g., content, tone, organization of ideas) through the support of a Spanish writing fellow (tutor) who worked with the 300-level college participants. Those in the treatment group, but not those in the control group, were required to meet with the tutor. Multivariate analyses revealed that (a) learners in both groups improved in their writing from the graded rough drafts to the final versions, and (b) some gains were observed in the treatment group (suggesting some advantage), but, overall, learners still struggled to shift their attention away from lower-order concerns. These results are discussed in light of several write-to-learn and learn-to-write approaches to writing instruction, sociocultural theory, and research on anxiety in language learning.
Reading and attending to feedback has long been established as an important part of the writing process and much pedagogical research discusses how to best provide feedback (Hillocks, 1982; Lipnevich & Smith, 2009; Poulos & Mahony, 2008; Sommers, 1982). Little research exists, however, that investigates the frequency with which students actually read their instructors’ feedback. Guided by three research questions, this study includes empirical survey data collected over two years on a regional campus of a large, Midwestern university with an eight-campus system. This study asks (a) if college composition students read their instructors’ feedback, (b) what might encourage them to read their instructors’ feedback, and (c) what do they find helpful or useful about their instructors’ feedback? Students were invited to participate via email or by an internal online recruitment. Qualitative responses were coded topically, employing content analysis informed by grounded theory. Overall, this study finds that students who earn As and Bs in their college composition classes do read instructor feedback. Additionally, although mostly grade-driven, students are interested in feedback to help them improve their writing and feel encouraged to do so when allowed to revise and when feedback is clear, individualized, and positive. This research concludes that the most instructors are providing feedback and, further, that students are reading it.
An important drawback of peer response in L2 writing classes is a reluctance to be sufficiently critical of a classmate’s writing, particularly with students from cultures that value group harmony. Anonymization of peer response is commonly proposed as a means of overcoming this problem. The current research project examined the effect of anonymizing the peer response process on the number of proposed revisions made by students from eight undergraduate writing classes at a private university in Tokyo. It also examined the students’ attitudes towards the peer response process. The findings revealed that the anonymization of the process had significant impact on the less proficient students’ propensity to recommend revision; however, this was not the case for students of a higher proficiency level. Students at both levels felt more comfortable with the peer response process when it was anonymized. The pedagogical implications of anonymizing the peer review process are discussed.