feedback is an assessment tool as well as instructional
approach to teaching writing named "learner-centered
instruction", which focuses on individual feedback, used by
language teachers and subject matter teachers as well. This
approach is differed from "content-based" approach to
writing which involves explicit instruction of writing,
focuses on grammar, syntax, text structure and style of
writing used by language teachers (Kasanga, 2004, p.65).
Individual feedback is based on learning to write through
practice in a process based on between-draft comments,
focused on the process and leads to improve the writing
product and writing competency as well. Writing feedback is
the most common strategy used among teachers across the
curriculum, but only few programs of teacher education
suggest deep learning and practice in writing feedback. But
most of the studies on writing feedback refer to language
teachers in English, only few of them refer to across the
examined how across the curriculum student-teachers can
improve their feedback writing and how this improvement in
corrective and formative feedback affects their writing
competency. The focus of this study is on feedback givers -
student-teachers learning to write feedback and on the
relation of writing feedback to writing competency.
feedback is one of the ways to create a communicative
writing event, in which teacher and student create a
dialogue on the writing product in order to understand how
writing intentions can be better realized.
writing to others can help writers clarify their own
thoughts and raise questions such as to whom are we writing,
why, and what are our intended message. Feedback can enhance
motivation, engagement and interest towards writing (Srichanyachon,
writing can pose questions, request clarifications, correct
or suggest corrections and can be a starting point for a
dialogue with the addressee (Bitchener, 2008;
Bitchener, & Knoch, 2009; Lillis, 2003). Although teachers face pupils'
lack of motivation towards writing, most writing assignments
at school are not authentic and lack communicative
intentions. Students write to their teachers usually in
order to abide by their demands and rarely experience a real
expressive motive for writing (Lam & Law, 2006; Burning &
complexity of feedback writing depends on the context of the
writing circumstances, teachers' perceptions and goals and
on the writing assignment (Straub, 2000). Researchers
distinguish between direct-corrective feedback, and
indirect-formative feedback (Biggs, 1988; Hounsell, 1997).
Direct-Corrective feedback focuses on editing the text as
the main act of the feedback, resulting in a corrected
version of the text (Sugita, 2006). Indirect-Formative
feedback aims to develop writers' self-assessment. Wingate
(2010) describes the aim of formative feedback: "The main
purpose of formative assessment is to guide and accelerate
students’ learning by providing them with information about
the gap between their current and the desired performance."
(pg.520). Formative feedback focuses on different strategies
from the corrective feedback: marking the mistakes, writing
suggestions, adding explanations for the corrections needed,
reminding writers' of their task or objectives of writing,
and directing writers to their audience instead of
corrections, mainly on spelling, punctuation or grammar and
syntax (Beach & Friedrich, 2005, Bitchener, 2008; Ellis,
2009; Shute, 2008; Sweeler, van Merrienboer, & Paas, 1998).
impact of Feedback on writers: Researchers point at
teachers' feedback to students as having high impact on
their perceptions and writing behaviors (Connors & Lonsford, 1993; Furneaux, Paran, & Fairfax, 2007).
Ferris and Roberts (2001) found that direct
corrective feedback is more productive with writers of low
level proficiencies than indirect feedback. It was also
argued that second language (L2) writers have a limited
processing capacity and therefore feedback focused on
limited aspects of writing will be more effective than
unfocused feedback which might cause a cognitive overload (Bitchener,
2008). Van Beuningen (2010) in her review on
corrective feedback concludes that for L2 writers
direct-corrective feedback is more efficient than indirect
feedback, explaining that L2 writers are unable to infer the
rules from underlying grammatical errors to other writing
assignments: "Empirical evidence so far seems to suggest
that learners benefit more from direct correction than from
indirect CF, especially when CF targets errors within the
grammatical domain." (pg.19). Truscott & Hsu, (2008)
examined formative feedback through the impact of marking
locations of errors and found that students did not transfer
the corrections to a different text. Srichanyachon (2012)
concluded that direct feedback fits for students with weak
English skills because of writers' lack of language
knowledge, the researcher added that, explanations are
needed to be attached to the corrections in order to expand
writers' knowledge. But, researchers claim that the impact
of writing feedback on writing improvement is difficult to
prove because of methodology differences: different
population, different points of view, different situations
and manipulations, ((Bitchener, 2008; Ferris 2007; Gue´nette,
2007; Lee, 2004; Moore, 2000).
problematic of writing feedback: Implementation of
writing feedback as an assessment and teaching method
conceal within it several difficulties. Research on the
practice of writing feedback among teachers points to three
main problems: (a) teachers usually write feedback in order
to correct a specific text failing to address their
feedback to the development of strategies and understanding
of writing processes (Lee, 2003; 2004). (b) Although
teachers are aware of the importance of motivation and of
the impact of their feedback on motivation, they usually
write corrective feedback, give few praising comments and
display critical attitudes towards the writers (Kasanga
2004; Sugita, 2006). (c) Student-teachers develop a
technical approach towards the writing process; ignoring
content and ideas; focusing on spelling and grammar rules (Arikan,
2006; Cohen-Sayag, Asaf & Nathan, 2013).
describes changes in student-teachers writing corrective and
formative feedback during a course whose aims were to
develop insights and practices of writing feedback and to
improve their writing competency. In the course,
student-teachers across the curriculum learned to write
feedback to pupils and peers on compositions and summaries.
The full results of the study were published in Hebrew
(Cohen-Sayag, Nathan & Triebish 2012). This article will
focus on L2 Hebrew speakers, since they were the weak group
but improved significantly.
questions were: 1. To what extent will writing feedback (CF
and FF) change the feedback of the experimental group? 2. To
what extent will learning to write feedback create an
advantage for improving writing in the experimental group in
comparison to the control group, both are L2 Hebrew
speakers? 3. How will writing competency and writing
formative and corrective feedback interact before and after
guidelines of the course plan were based on practical
suggestions in the research for preparing teachers to their
role in feedback writing:
Reflection- Ferris (2007) suggests teaching writing feedback
starting with reflective processes on their own writing,
which will enable participants to talk about their writing
experiences and receive feedback, on the other hand the
researcher emphasizes that teaching feedback writing should
be formal and can't rely on experiences alone.
Authentic feedback- teaching student-teachers to learn about
children's writing should be based on experiences with texts
written by children (Colby & Stapleton, 2006; Moore, 2001).
of experiences- Researchers suggest exposing student
-teachers to a variety of evaluation experiences to be
applied in writing, which help them choose the rhetorical
style content and quantity of the comments in their feedback
(Connors & Lunsford, 1993; Fife & O'Neill, 2001; Straub,
aloud writing products- Rijlaarsdam, Braaksma, Couzijn, &
Janssen (2008) suggest that writing feedback should be based
on reading aloud learners' written texts with peers which
enables a better dialogue on the writing product.
session started with reading articles and writing summaries.
This was the starting point to reflect on their writing.
During the course students read six articles about reading,
writing and language and were asked to write summaries. The
students prepared indicators for every specific assignment
and were instructed to use the indicators in their feedback
to peers. The instructor of the course supervised these
indicators with the whole class discussing genre, main ideas
and different option of language use.
feedback – experience of writing feedback on compositions
with peers and school-students was the main activity of this
course. Compositions taken from fifth and six graders were
the authentic writing texts of school-students for which
student-teachers wrote feedback. They wrote comments on six
different compositions, consulted on comments with peers,
and discussed the feedback based on ten guidelines for
efficient feedback (Nicol, 2010; Nicola & Macfarlane-Dick,
2006) referring to: Written in terms which the writer can
understand; pointing specifically to the places needed to be
corrected; non-judgmental but descriptive; balancing between
positive and negative comments; selective according to
writers capability to accept; provided in time; include
suggestions for further writing; guiding writers to the
process of writing; include explanations to the writers on
the corrections needed; conclude your feedback.
activities combined writing at students' level in the
college with writing feedback at pupils' level.
of writing feedback activity: The example demonstrates a
product of one activity which started with student-teachers
reading an article, and writing a summary, followed by
writing feedback to a peer (presented in Table 1, first
column). Subsequently, reading others' feedback and writing
an evaluation of this feedback took place in pairs (Table 1,second
and third column).
guided by the instructor on feedback raised pedagogical
questions about, clarity and necessity of comments, lack of
praising, comments on wording preferences, inconsistency of
comments and the comments' potential contribution to the
writers. These discussions aimed to shape and deepen their
knowledge, perceptions and practices of the writing process
and writing feedback.
Table 1: Example of two pairs
criticizing feedback writing: (translated from
The feedback on a
summary of one
Student-teachers responding to this
responding to this feedback
You need a good opening
It is not helpful
because we did not know what a good opening
sentence might be.
This comment could be
helpful if you would give a clue, for example:
the opening sentence in this task should include
the aim of this article.
You are too close to the
language used in the article.
It is an important
comment but needs an example.
You need to explain it.
Lack of coherence [The
comments related to several ideas written in
Can cause the writer to
think of text structure.
Important comment, but
need to connect to writing summary in
Maybe there is a
This is very helpful.
This comment can result
162 words in the summary
What does it mean, you
can write that a summary needs to be 1/4 of
words comparing to the original text.
activities described above interacted during 13 consecutive
weeks (90 minutes every meeting). Writing feedback to peers
and discussing feedback in the class guided by the
instructor in the course created collaboration in feedback
writing. This collaboration aimed to avoid poor feedback or
misjudgment of the texts for which they were writing
that participating in the course will widen their options of
writing feedback and thus their feedback will improve in
terms of more correct and efficient formative or corrective
comments which will show their understanding of the writing
process and of their role as teachers. It was also assumed
that this process will improve student-teachers own writing.
The Context of the Study
participants of this study attended a four year B.Ed. program
at a Teachers College in Israel. The students belonged to
six different departments (kindergarten, special education,
elementary school, junior high school, art education and
physical education). Studies included three major domains:
pedagogy, (psychology and education), different disciplinary
areas (literature, mathematics, sciences, etc.) and field
practice within a teaching methodology course. The program
included 2-3 language courses (depending on the grade they
achieved in a language admission examination). The language
courses focused on academic writing, grammar and oral
proficiency. This academic writing course was mandatory for
students of the third year and was focused on writing
feedback for second language and first language Hebrew
speakers. Arabic students constitute 50% of the students in
the college. The majority of these Arabic-speaking
student-teachers will teach Hebrew as a second language to
Bedouin children, and therefore they are expected to achieve
a satisfactory level in Hebrew writing and in teaching
Hebrew writing. The participants were asked to give their
consent to participate in the research, and had other
options to take another course of academic writing.
The study is
a longitudinal pedagogical intervention performed with
experimental group and control group. The intervention
focused on corrective and formative feedback to peers and to
school-students. Both experimental and control groups
learned with the same teacher, were involved in reading and
writing activities based on the same articles, discussed and
created indicators for writing tasks. Feedback writing
activities were not part of the program of the control group
and were used only in the intervention group. During the
study, repeated measures were used on the quality of writing
(between–subjects array) and on writing feedback
speakers of Arabic student-teachers participated in the
study, 53 in the experimental group and 33 students in the
control group. The students were from different disciplinary
areas literature, mathematics, sciences, etc. No significant
difference was found between the control and the
experimental groups in a writing composition test before the
course: The mean score in the experimental group was 50.72
(±19.06) n = 46 and the mean score in the control
group was 44.04 (±13.58); n = 28; t = 1.61;
p = 0.08 (n.s.).
had been developed in a preliminary study (Cohen-Sayag, Asaf
& Nathan, 2013). In this article we will present results
from two tools which will give the answer to the interaction
between writing competency and writing feedback.
Writing composition: This test examined writing
competencies of the student-teachers as an effect of the
activities held during the course.
The test lasted for 30 minutes, during which students were
asked to write an argumentative text about advertisement in
the media. To support their writing and speed it up, they
got an opening paragraph which presents a disputed point of
view in this issue. The
participants were asked to take side and explain their
Writing Feedback: Two compositions (a story and an
argumentative text) written by fifth-grade students and two
text summaries of expository text (The Nile) written by
sixth grade students were used to examine feedback writing
of the student-teachers to pupils. The students were asked
to write comments on the compositions and summaries that can
help school-students to improve their writing. Every
participant wrote comments on different composition and
summary in pre- and post-test in order to avoid rehearsal of
the same comments in pre and posttest.
the Composition - Each composition of the student-teachers
was evaluated according to four criteria: ideas, structure,
vocabulary and language (spelling, punctuation, syntax and
grammar), and each of the criteria was evaluated on a scale
of three levels. The maximum score was 12 points calculated
to percentages. Reliability between judges was
r = 0.86 (Kappa
Feedback writing- Analysis of the feedback writing data was
first analyzed by correct and incorrect comments, such as
wrong suggestions of grammar or wrong corrections of
punctuations. Incorrect comments were calculated in
percentages before and after the course. The improvement of
writing feedback was calculated on the correct comments
solely. Second, the comments were coded to global and local
comments by their location in the written text. Local
comments were in the text while global were at the end of
the text. Third the feedback data was classified into 20
comment types (see appendix A) and were classified into 10
formative and 8 corrective feedback types. None of the
comments are typical of Hebrew language but rather general
comments that teachers use in their feedback.
Feedback were: suggestions of new ideas; correct spelling;
corrections regarding text structure; rephrasing wording
problems; suggestions on style; criticizing writers' ideas
or standpoints; correction of grammar and syntax errors;
adding transitional sentences;
feedback were: Request for clarifications of information;
marking places in need of correction; asking questions on
content; general global comments; asking questions
regarding the connection between ideas; Asking questions
regarding text structure; guidelines how to improve writing
in the future; explanations regarding genres.
were not coded as formative or corrective, praising and
grading (17; 11; see appendix A), because their
classification to either corrective or formative is not
testing: Coding the comments into the 20 comment types was
tested on ten cases of feedback by three judges achieving a
relatively high level of reliability (89% agreement).
The data was
tested by frequencies, qualitative analysis and t test,
examining changes in mean score of the CF and FF within
time. T test on the grades of writing composition test
between pre and posttest examined the differences between
the experimental and the control group. The connections
between number of feedback types, and writing composition
grades was tested through ANOVA using composition grades as
the depended variable and feedback types and time as
limitations of the study are important to take into
consideration; first the writing feedback included two
different acts, writing feedback to peers and to children,
which were not controlled. Second, the improvement of
writing compositions in both experimental and control group
could be a result of a floor effect.
will be presented in three parts according to three research
questions: Changes in feedback writing, the improvement of
writing and its relation to writing feedback.
I. To what
extent will writing feedback (CF and FF) change the feedback
of the experimental group?
findings pointed at student-teachers improvement of writing
comments were 35% in the pre-test and reduced to 25% in the
post test. Student-teachers showed less misjudgment of the
writing texts they were evaluating.
comments divided into formative and corrective comments
showed that the participants doubled their formative
comments from mean score of 8.48 (±4.67)
to mean score of (4.60±) 15.35
N = 37, this change was statistically
significant (t = -5.349***).
On the other hand their corrective comments on pupil's
compositions almost did not change, starting with a mean
score of 7.10 (5.36±)
changing to a mean score of
comments increased significantly- pre learning mean score
was =4.66 (±3.77)
and post learning mean score changed to = 9.05 (±4.60);
(N = 44) t = -5.23
(p < 0.01).
comments increased from a mean score of =3.7 (±3.19)
to a mean score of =5.5 (±4.06)
(N = 22) t = -2.09 (p < 0.05). This
finding points at student-teachers' increase of their
awareness and knowledge of how to encourage writing, as will
be demonstrated below.
in feedback according to genre: the number of comments on
writing a summary increased significantly more than other
genres: from a mean score of = 4.98 (±3.27)
at the pre test, to a mean score of = 7.91(±5.47)
at the post test; (n = 44) t = -3.26 (p
analysis of three student-teachers' global comments
to a summary will illustrate the changes in writing
Pre-learning feedback: "The summary is good but
you have to correct your grammar and rewrite some
"Encouraging comments: You have no
spelling mistakes, the structure is good: you have an
opening, a body and an ending. Corrections: you did not use
punctuations as needed. There is no division into
course his/her feedback was very vague although its general
judgment was right. After the course the student-teacher
learned to recognize the good elements of the students'
writing and decided to be clearer in praising comments
referring to structure and spelling as good parts of the
summary and to point to punctuation and structure as
the weaker elements of the summary. The titles "Encouraging comments" and "corrections" following the
indicators seemed as if the student-teacher addressed the
instructor of the course.
Pre-learning feedback: "Good summary, I don't have
Post-learning feedback: "The summary is good regarding the
language and structure. But he did not write all the main
ideas from the text. The connections between the sentences
are good. The sentence at the end is unnecessary (quotations
should not be included in the summary)."
beginning, the student concluded that his/her feedback as
'good' and it seemed that s/he did not know how to handle
the task of writing feedback. After the course the student
praises the writer trying to be concrete (language and
structure) and to comment on important issues such as: main
ideas, connections between sentences, etc. S/He explains
claim for the unnecessary sentence in brackets,
demonstrating knowledge on writing a summary. The student
used third person (he) "he did not write all the main
ideas" addressing the instructor of the course.
L. pre-learning feedback: "A nice summary, but you
have to emphasize some details so the readers of your
summary will understand how important the Nile is for
Post-learning feedback: "A very nice summary. You used your
own words, very well. You clarified the main ideas from the
text. Pay attention to punctuation."[she marked the missing
places of punctuations marks]
course the student started with "a nice summary, but" she
continues with a good point of view directing the writer to
the aim of his writing, but the comment was vague and could
leave the writer with a question. After the course she
refers in her feedback to concrete measures such as: the use
of your own words, the main ideas and the punctuation.
Indeed, she yielded a very good communicative point "to
emphasize some details in order that the readers of your
summary will understand how important the Nile is for
Egypt." This change demonstrates the weakness of
indicators, which on the one hand help student-teachers to
write clear feedback, but on the other hand cause her to
stick to the indicator and leave her good point behind.
these results the changes in feedback writing were revealed
in four main ways: 1. Comments at the post learning stage
were more specific giving the students detailed information
and explanations which were incorporated into the feedback,
such as: the structure is good: you have an opening, a
body and an ending; 2. Some of the students changed
their opinions about the same composition and recognized
more positive/negative points of view. 3. Early in the
course praising was general. After the course
praising was detailed. 4. After the course comments were
abiding by the indicators, sometime in titles like,
"praising comments", "comments on structure" which point at
thinking in clusters when writing feedback.
II. To what
extent will learning to write feedback create an advantage
for improving writing in the experimental group in
comparison to the control group?
writing composition test showed statistically significant
improvement in composition writing, in both groups as
provided in Table 2.
Improvement in composition writing- pre-post paired t-test
Mean score and S.D.
.000 **p< .001
3. How will
writing competency and writing formative and corrective
feedback interact before and after the course?
effect between formative comments, writing composition
grades and time was statistically significant:
11.70 (±5.74) (f (2;74) = 12.18 ;p < .000)
with moderate size effect R² = 0.25, meaning that, learning
to write formative feedback affected the improvement in
writing composition within time, but this result was not
found in corrective feedback. Interaction effect
between, corrective comments, writing composition grades and
time was not significant:
(±5.43) (f (2;51)=0.23; n.s.) with small effect size:
underlies in this study in two perspectives:
a. Teacher education- student-teachers across the curriculum
need to understand and practice feedback writing in order to
prepare them for their role as writing facilitators.
b. Writing and the feedback process- writing feedback can be
fertile environment for writers to improve their writing.
education: Assessment is one of the important components of
teacher role, but is not the focus of teacher education
programs, as might be expected (Hill, Bronwen, Gilmore, &
Smith, 2010). This study dealt with student-teacher
assessment abilities through a process of learning to write
feedback and with the interaction between writing and
feedback. The findings show that student-teachers changed
their writing feedback to a more formative type of feedback.
The participants in the experimental group wrote more
formative comments at the end of the course, indicating
their understanding of the writing task and the role of
feedback. They wrote more global comments, more praises,
gave more explanations, and were more concrete in their
comments on pupils' compositions, all of which represent
their knowledge of writing. By these acts they overcome
difficulties of teachers using feedback comments:
incomprehensible comments, too general or vague comments,
focused on negative perspectives, and unrelated to the
assessment criteria comments (Wingate, 2010). In this study
student-teachers met these difficulties and improved their
writing feedback while they wrote indicators for the writing
assignment and feedback to their peers and to
school-students. They learned to give more formative
feedback which was realized by writing explanations,
suggestions and clear requests about text structure and
genre. This improvement prepares them for their role as
writing facilitators in their teaching disciplines.
contribution of this study to the field of teaching writing
and teacher education can be concluded by four conclusions:
First, this study support peer learning to promote writing:
since most of the activities in the course were based on
peer learning, we can say that peer learning regarding
feedback writing for SL student-teachers with First Language
speakers can improve writing and contribute to prospective
teachers across the curriculum to widen their understanding
of writing process. Second, using indicators while writing
feedback might have led to an analytic approach for writing
and make their knowledge more explicit. But it is important
to recognize that indicators might create superficial type
of feedback, abiding by the indicators and leaving behind
student-teachers' intuitive understanding of writing. It can
also cause students to write to the instructor in the course
instead of the writer. Third, writing feedback does not
automatically reflect on feedback givers' own writing
competency, it seemed that formative feedback is more
connected to reflect on writing competency, but this needs
to be reexamined in further research. Fourth, the task of
writing feedback to unknown writers can reduce empathy and
thus change feedback type. Authentic situations are
recommended (see also Moore, 2000) in further research on
teacher education, where student-teachers will write
feedback to their pupils in the practicum and thus avoid
situation of "unknown" addressees while writing feedback.
and the feedback process – Researchers described receiving
feedback as an act which develops self-assessment, which is
essential for the writing process (Nicola & Macfarlane-Dick,
2006; Hattie& Timperley 2007; Hill, Cowie, Gilmore, & Smith,
2010; Wingate, 2010). But in this study student-teachers
were feedback givers and the question was, whether giving
feedback will impact on their writing competency? The
improvement in formative feedback which also improved
writing composition could be that formative feedback does
not only reduce ambiguousness for the feedback receiver, as
Straub, (2000) and Shute, (2008) explained, but it is also
reduces ambiguousness of the feedback givers. Second
language writers, became clearer in their writing as they
were guided to write feedback.
that while researchers shift their focus to Corrective
feedback mainly for second language writers (Van Beuningen,
2010), this study point on the benefit of formative feedback
to SL writers in higher education. In this intervention we
recognized that peer review was straightforward, honest and
accurate (see the example in pg.6) and was not
characterized by the negative side of peer feedback as
reported in the review of Junining (2014) pointing at lack
of trust in the accuracy, sincerity and specificity of peer
expectation to find an advantage in the experimental group
over the control group in the composition test did not
materialize. This result can be explained by the difference
between writing requirements which are much beyond feedback
writing: while writing process requires production of ideas
and knowledge, organization of these ideas in text
structure, it requires a high level of language awareness
and self-criticism based on reflective thinking (Torrance &
Galbraith, 2006; Nystrand 2006 Hayes, 2012). Writing
feedback requires language awareness to identify mistakes,
but not to produce language; discourse knowledge to identify
text structure, but fewer efforts for creating text
structure. Writing feedback demands identification of
coherence, but fewer efforts in creating coherent text. Most
of all, it does not include self-criticism. Therefore,
writing feedback is important activities on the rout to
improve writing, but writing process demands higher level of
exposed a complex alignment of variables which is hard to
control in pedagogical interventions: "content-based"
instruction of writing versus individual instruction based
on writing feedback, teacher feedback versus peer feedback,
receiving feedback versus giving feedback and writing
feedback to school-students versus writing feedback to
peers. Further research is needed, which will control this
complex alignment and examine the outcomes of learning to
write feedback on writing competency of the feedback givers.
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Types of comments
Questions about the objectives of
Suggestion of new ideas;
Correction spelling mistakes;
Suggestions regarding text
Request for clarifications on
information (e.g. relevance of ideas or accuracy of
Marking places in need of
Rephrasing wording problems;
Underlining or writing question
marks next to spelling, syntax, or wording errors;
Suggestions on style;
Criticizing the writers' ideas or
Grading or giving an evaluative
Asking questions on content;
General global comments (on
ideas, structure, language and style, etc.);
Correction of grammar and syntax
Asking questions regarding the
connection between ideas;
Adding transitional sentences;
Praising the writing;*
Asking questions regarding text
Guidelines how to improve writing
in the future;
Explanations regarding genre;