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1.1 Introduction

For many second language learners, receiving a feedback on their

written work is significant as it highlights the errors made thus enable
learners to execute an immediate correction. Learners benefited from such
approach for they get the opportunity to note and modify their errors into
accurate forms which result to a good piece of writing. Such positive impact
signifies the crucial role of corrective feedback (CF) in second language
(L2) learning. Besides that, corrective feedback can greatly influence the
learners motivation and the linguistic accuracy of their writing. Therefore,
it is not surprising that corrective feedback (CF) has a place in the theories
of second language (L2) learning and in language pedagogy.


perspectives share the same opinion which agrees upon the poignancy of
giving feedback to students written work as a vital strategy for it helps to
promote a better L2 writing. To date, there are growing amount of studies in
attempt to investigate the type of corrective feedback that cater the
development of L2 acquisition. These studies are quintessentially important
as the findings obtained would provide in depth clarification on issues
concerning corrective feedback.

Corrective feedback (CF), as aforementioned, constitutes a negative

type of feedback that responds to a linguistic error committed by the learner
which can be represented by (1) an indication that an error has been made,
(2) a provision of the correct language form, (3) metalinguistic information
on the nature of error, or (4) a combination of these (Ellis, Loewen, & Erlam,
2006). For L2 teachers, the usual response to learners errors would be
number (1). The indication of errors, as outlined in number (1), is commonly
responded by the teachers through an employment of two kinds of symbols,
which are first, giving a tick to the correct form and secondly, placing a cross
or an underline to the incorrect forms. By doing so, learners would be
informed implicitly of the errors occurred thus enable them to proceed with
the correction task. This task usually involves the process of modifying the
incorrect forms into correct forms of the target language. Such process results
a refined version of L2 writing.

Yet, in Malaysian classroom, such an ideal scenario does not always

take place in all settings. There are still many pupils, in some settings,
struggling to correct errors in their writing although the teachers have
highlighted the errors through the aforementioned two symbols (i.e. crosses
or underlines). Such cases are evident among the pupils who reside in the
rural parts of Malaysia. Due to their limited exposure of L2 (which is
restricted during school hours only), these pupils often display a poor grasp
of L2 thus fail to identify the type of language form or grammatical items that
should be corrected. Therefore, many pupils, especially in the rural area, will
face a huge difficulty to construct simple sentences as well as to create a flow
of ideas in their L2 written work.

Having said that, there are cases in which although teachers have
provided corrective feedback on their pupils writing, their latter writing
version would be repetitively displayed as a recycle of the same
grammatical errors, articles and tenses in particular. This is because the

remarks given by the teachers are of a variety. Teachers sometimes make

wavy lines to indicate grammatical errors in their students writing, without
clearly emphasizing the type of tenses and articles that should be used. As a
result, students have little clue of what they need to correct and they will later
end up being confused and will resort to copying their friends work. Such
scenario often occurs at primary level, for many pupils could not decipher the
symbols placed by their teacher on their inaccuracy usage on L2.

Hence, to help the students and teachers of L2 in the primary schools

in Malaysia, the need to discover a good practice of corrective feedback is
clearly significant. It is clear that the real issue that should be focused here is
the explicitness of corrective feedback to be offered as it will affect the
quality of corrections made by the pupils. Besides that, the type of errors to
be highlighted by the teachers should be thought carefully. This is because
the implications of such thought would determine the teachers choice of
symbols or coded signs as indication of errors in their pupils written work.
Moreover, it would also signify the type of corrective feedback (CF) that they
believe is sufficient for the pupils to do their self-correction. This calls for
further studies on what is an ideal type of corrective feedback that teachers
could practised when assessing the pupils writing.

This study, therefore attempts to find out whether coded type

corrective feedback has a significant impact on the pupils accuracy of L2
usage particularly of the 4-grammatical items (i.e. tenses, articles,
prepositions and conjunctions) and 4-technical items (i.e. missing word, word
usage/vocabulary, spelling, punctuation). This is followed by the preceded
focus which is to find out whether coded corrective feedback enables the
pupils to practice self-correction of their own writing.

1.2 Background of Study

This study will take place in a primary school in a rural part of

Mersing, Johor. The school is located in a FELDA settlers area, where a
majority of the pupils come from the middle to low social -economic
background. The learning of L2 in this school of 7-period a week; each
period entails a 30-minute lesson. Out of the five-day schooling hours, there
are 3-day of 2-period of a 60-minute L2 lessons and a day of 30-minute
lesson. The writing lessons usually overrules the reading, listening and
speaking lessons because the pupils always complain that they have difficulty
to write using the correct L2 forms and that their written work are often of
poor quality with a lot of errors on the L2 forms, such as the use of articles,
tenses (simple present, simple past), prepositions, conjunctions, word error,
punctuation marks and spelling.

During a writing lesson, usually the teacher would provide a stimulus

or a series of pictures with some words. The stimulus would entitle the pupils
to strictly write 5-individual sentences that describe the action which takes
place or occurs clearly in the picture. The meanings of difficult words are
usually discussed where the teacher will either provide some clues to the
pupils to grasp its usage or give a direct translation in L1 if the pupils could
not crack the clues. After 15 minutes, the teacher would request for
volunteers to write down their sentences on the board. The teacher would
then respond to the sentences by providing a tick to the right L2 forms and
placing crosses or underline the incorrect L2 forms. Then the teacher would
decide on the overall score of the writing /sentence where most often would
be poor ( <3 over 10, which is the full score). The same process takes place
for the writing task with a series of pictures that requires the pupils to expand

the given words into a few paragraphs to form an essay. Alike the first task,
the pupils tend to repeat the same grammatical errors (i.e. articles, tenses
(present and past), prepositions, conjunctions) and the same gross errors (i.e.
spelling, word error and punctuation marks). Such poor performance by the
pupils causes a constant worry of the teacher-in-charge, whom has put
laborious efforts on correcting the pupils written tasks every day.

Clearly, the above scenario depicts an irony that shows even though
corrective feedback (CF) is provided by the teacher-in-charge, if it is not
executed explicitly; it could be construed as insufficient and ineffective to
ensure a development of the pupils L2 writing. Evidently, through the above
corrective feedback type, instead of a show of a progress, the pupils tend to
repeat the same grammatical errors and other types of gross errors (i.e.
spelling, word error and punctuation marks) in their latter L2 writing. This
clearly signals the need for a more explicit type of corrective feedback to be
employed in order to refine the pupils ability to self-correct their errors in
their L2 writing.

Therefore, the aim of the study is to discover whether explicit type of

corrective feedback can be helpful for the pupils to identify the type of errors
of L2 forms and modify the errors into its accurate version. It is decided that
coded corrective feedback (CF) is employed throughout the study. A set of
codes are employed in this study; and the codes represent either of these two
categories which are first, the usage of 4-grammatical items namely articles,
tenses, prepositions and conjunctions. The second category is on 4-common
errors in writing which are; omission of a word, word error, punctuation and
spelling. Such focus is based on two major reasons. The former is due to the
fact that these pupils, who are in the 6th year of schooling, have been taught
on the aforementioned two categories as one of the integral parts of writing.
Yet, the major errors made in their written work are rooted from the improper
usage of these items. The latter reason for such focus is the pupils

misconceptions on few grammatical items; particularly the mixed-up tenses

usage, deletion of articles a and the, and inaccurate usage of prepositions
and conjunctions.

1.3 Statement of Problem

Although a lot of effort has been derived by teachers to correct their

pupils writings, it turns out that not many pupils are capable to self-correct
their writing confidently. Majority of them will repeat a variety of errors
which roots from the tenses, pronouns, prepositions, articles and spelling in
their writings. On top of that, the pupils are often incapable to decipher the
teachers symbols on the errors committed, which are of a range of
grammatical items and technical items. Hence, the final product would
always display their incompetency to write using the target L2 forms
correctly which then resulted to a poor grade with a very few scores (the
pupils often obtained the score of <3 over 15 which is full marks for an

The pupils, for example, have the tendency to generalise the regular
and irregular past tense rules by adding the suffix-ed to all verbs in the
story-writing. It results to a poor piece of writing thus reflects a need to
correct the misconceptions. A similar effect is obtained with the rest of the
remaining 7-type of errors where the final product would display a poor
display of L2 forms. This shows the lacking of linguistic accuracy in the
pupils writings. Therefore, it clearly signals the need of a consistent, clear
and explicit indication of errors as a means to help these pupils to modify the
errors to accurate forms thus would later indicate a better quality of L2
writing. Such need justify the decision to employ coded corrective feedback
(CF) as to represent an explicit reference to the type of errors committed by
the pupils and allows them to self-correct thus produce a refined version of
L2 writing.

1.4 Purpose of Study

This study aims to find out how far the coded corrective feedback
(CF) helps L2 pupils to self-correct their writings.

1.5 Objectives of Study

The objectives of this study are:


To investigate the pupils understanding of the codes used by their

teachers in their writings.


To find out whether the pupils can self-correct their errors after receiving

the coded corrective feedback from their teachers.

1.6 Research Question

To achieve the above objectives, the following questions were formulated:

1. Do L2 pupils know what to correct after receiving the corrective

feedback for their writings?
2. Do young L2 learners make the right corrections after
receiving the coded corrective feedback for their writings?

1.7 Significance of Study

The finding of this study is significant. It offers some insights upon

the types of Corrective Feedback and their importance in assisting the
students to become competent in writing. Another plus point from this
finding is, it could be handy to the teachers who wish to guide their students
on achieving a better accuracy on their written work.

1.8 Scope of Study

The study will be conducted in a primary school in a rural area of

Johor, Malaysia. It will involve 30 Year Six students with a proficiency level
ranging from low achievement to advanced level. In addition, this study
focuses on the use of corrective feedback on two kinds of errors which are
firstly, 4 grammatical items; tenses (simple and past), articles, prepositions
and conjunctions, and secondly, 4 common errors in writing; omission of
word, word error, punctuation marks and spelling. These selected items are
relevant because the pupils, whom are about to complete their 6 years of
schooling, have been taught on those items during their L2 writing lessons in
the classroom.


1.9 Conceptual Framework

Figure 1.1: Impacts of Teachers Corrective Feedback on Students

Written Essay

The challenge of second language learning for the skill of writing has been
an interest among many practitioners. Some attempts have been projected to find
solution to solve and help the L2 learners to write better thus produce a quality
piece of writing. These attempts include the studies on coded corrective feedback
(CF) on writing, which have been conducted in several different contexts; for
example in an EFL setting such as Iran (Ahmadi, 2014). The findings suggested
that coded feedback is highly relevant in assisting the L2 learners thus promotes a
better accuracy for their linguistic items.

According to the SLA theory, as outlined by Swains (1985) output

hypothesis, learners who receive direct meta-linguistic feedback on their output (i.e.
product), are capable of acquiring the target language as the feedback consolidates
their understanding on the rules of form. In line with this view is the opinion by
Zacharias (2007) who sees feedback as a key to encourage and consolidate



1.10 Definition of terms

1.10.1 Corrective Feedback (CF)

Corrective feedback is defined as information offered to learners
with regards to the linguistic error they have made (Loewen, 2012 and
Sheen, 2007).

1.10.2 Coded Feedback

Coded feedback refers to the use of specific symbols as a clue of
the nature of error made. It serves as a tool for learners to self-correct or
self-edit their written work (Lee, 2008 & Ellis, 2009) In this study, coded
feedback such as using Conj. to represent the error is on conjunction and
Sp is the coded sign for spelling error will be employed by the teacher to
correct students writing.
1.10.3 Error
Errors is defined as the gap of learners interlanguage system and
could be refined into its systematic pattern over a period of time (Corder,

1.11 Chapter Summary

This chapter provides the background of the study which highlights
the crucial impact of corrective feedback in teaching L2. Besides that, it
also outlines the focus of the study that is to look in breadth of the use of


coded corrective feedback as a means to help pupils self-correct their

writings. Finally, the conceptual framework and definition of terms are
discussed in the attempt to set a clear insight upon the focus of the study.



2.1 Introduction
In order to better understand how corrective feedback works in the
learning of L2, it is highly significant to look up on its theoretical grounds.
Hence, in the following sections of this chapter 2, some theoretical grounds
underpinning the use of corrective feedback (CF) in L2 will be explained.
Alongside the explanation, the notions and significance within the theories in
relation to corrective feedback (CF) will be discussed.


2.2 Corrective Feedback (CF) and its significance

The complexity of providing a sufficient corrective feedback to

learners of L2 as a means to achieve a better accuracy in writing has become
an incessant worry to many L2 teachers. In the attempt to help the learners,
many teachers spent hours laboriously correcting their students writing
errors through corrective feedback (CF). While some teachers highlighted the
errors and scribbled the correct ones on the top of each error, other teachers
might just offer simple two lines comments and give a tick on the students
work which they feel is sufficient to be referred as corrective feedback.
Hence, although the techniques are different, both ways are mutually in line
with the similar learning goal; which is supposed to be like ; My student
should be able to make his corrections after he sees the feedback I have
given. Such thought, in other words, means that the teachers instinctively
believe that these kinds of feedbacks are sufficient to engage the learners to
self-correct their work. The learners however will naturally, depend on
teachers feedback to modify the incorrect items to accurate ones while
producing their latter version of the original work.

Unfortunately, in the attempt to execute their corrections, many L2

learners are still struggling to self-correct their writing although the feedback
has been provided by the teachers. This scenario often occurs with learners of
L2 settings they are unprivileged of experiencing an L2-rich environment due
to logistical factors; such as their learning settings, socio-background and
community. In Malaysia, although English is regarded as the second official
language of the country, many learners are still struggling with their writing
skills. The young learners or commonly known as the pupils, are of no
exception. These pupils, who reside in the rural settings in Malaysia share the
same difficulty akin the above case, thus resulted in a consistently low score


for their writings. Such depressing experience causes an incessant worry

among the teachers who wish to witness some progress in the pupils writing.

Upon this dilemma, therefore in this study, it is hoped that coded

corrective feedback (CF) can help the pupils in Malaysian primary schools to
improve the accuracy in their writing. In a similar vein, it is hoped the pupils
are able to understand coded feedback while executing their self-corrections.
On that, it is also hoped that the impact of coded corrective feedback (CF) on
the pupils linguistic accuracy could be obtained.


Theoretical Framework

Back in the early 1970s, communicative language teaching has been

dominating the field of L2 instruction. The distinct elements of
communicative approaches steer far and wide from the traditional teaching
method which primarily focuses upon the isolated teaching of linguistic
features and grammar rules. The communicative approaches, on the other
hand, embrace the theories of communicative competence as pioneered by
Hymes (1971), and Canale and Swain (1980). Through the approaches, they
believe that learners would be able to use L2 in many realistic,
communicative situations. In congruent with this view is the work by
Krashen (1981, 1982, 1985) who strongly recommends an abundant need of
comprehensible input in developing the learners L2 communicative ability.
The input is believed to open doors of opportunities for learners to engage
in meaningful, L2 usage. Such practice, nevertheless, calls for a naturalistic
environment that promotes implicit and incidental language learning
(Krashen & Terrell ,1983; Long , 1985; Skehan, 1998).


Based on a naturalist view of learning, L1 and L2 are of no difference

in terms of the learning processes. This opinion has brought to several studies
looking into the impacts of a fully naturalistic approach to L2 teaching (i.e.
Krashen & Terrell, 1985). It is discovered that an ample comprehensible
input stands out as the fundamental condition for L2 acquisition to take place
in a fully naturalistic method. In addition, learners are to comprehend the
input by surmising the meaning within a communicative context whereas
throughout the process, the L2 grammatical competence is believed to
develop naturally (e.g. Krashen,1982;1983;1985; Schwarts, 1998) .

In comparison to the above opinion, at present, there are some SLA

researchers have shared a distinct opinion on L1 and L2 acquisition. On their
opinion, L1 and L2 acquisitions are not the same due to the difference of its
cognitive processes (Doughty, 2003). This view is supported by some
research investigating L2 acquisition conducted in a naturalistic setting. For
instance, studies executed in French immersion classes in Canada have
surmised that the learners were unsuccessful at achieving a native-like
grammatical competence despite the rich exposure of L2. Instead of a display
of a good level of accuracy, the findings revealed that the learners have
developed an average level of L2 perceptive skills and fluency. Such
conclusions clearly suggest that relying upon comprehensible input alone is
insufficient to achieve a native-like accuracy in spite of its significance in
SLA field.

In addition, despite the massive language productions experienced by

learners, those productions do not always allow a practice beyond strategic
and semantic processing (Rvsz, 2007).

As explained by Van Beuningen

(2010), these types of L2 outputs do not always permit learners to engage

with morphosyntactic processing. Therefore, although there is a lacking of
formal accuracy, the learners are still capable of constructing messages which
are communicatively adequate. This scenario is surmised by Skehan and
Foster (2001) as language can work despite poor execution. Its meaning is


recoverable even if its form is incorrect (p. 183). On top of that, due to the
absence of L2 accuracy, learners might adopt non-target like linguistic
solutions to communicate thus resulting to a premature fossilization of errors.
(Skehan and Foster, 2001).

It is definitely worthwhile to note that the main focus in L2 instruction

is to achieve a good level of L2 accuracy. By referring to the above, it implies
tacitly that the sole-reliance upon meaning based approach to obtain a good
L2 accuracy is insufficient and should be taken into careful consideration.
Therefore, there are suggestions for learners to have an attention on linguistic
forms as it is inevitable towards a well-formness in L2 ( Ellis, 2005; Long,
2000; Long & Robinson, 1998; Norris & Ortega, 2000; Skehan & Foster,
2001). To date, there are several communicative methodologies such as taskbased approaches and content-based approaches that embed grammar
instructions as part of its learning goal.


Focus on -Form: A pedagogical


The current methodology, as elucidated above, has suggested that

effective L2 teaching should involve some attention to linguistic form. As
put by Doughty (2003), L2 acquisition could be more difficult and less
successful without an emphasis on the forms. In line with this opinion is the
work by Long (2000), known as focus-on-form as a pedagogical
intervention that has been advocated in the field of SLA (Van Beunigen,
2010). According to Longs (2000), focus-on-form:

involves briefly drawing students attention to linguistic elements [] in

context as they arise incidentally in lessons whose overriding focus is on

meaning or communication. The temporary shifts in focal attention are
triggered by students problems with comprehension or production (p.

As a pedagogical intervention, it is important to note that focus-onform should be delivered within a communicative context, which is one of
its significant conditions. The essence behind such condition is explained by
Lyster (2007) illuminating Segalowitzs notion of transfer-appropriate
learning which is outlined as the kind of cognitive processing that
occurs while performing [language] learning tasks should ideally resemble
the kind of processing involved during communicative language use (p.
43). In other words, Lyster is suggesting that decontextualized linguistic
teaching or grammar instructions would be less impactful on learners due to
the lacking of experience on transferring the isolated grammar learning into
real communicative situations. On the contrary, focus-on-form approach
weighs more of the transfer-appropriate learning due to its communicative

Following the perspective of Longs(2000) focus-on-form approach,

error correction or corrective feedback (CF) is one of the influential
pedagogical tools in L2 learning (Ellis, 2007). Apart from being referred as
a reactive focus-on-form methodology, CF is capable at directing learners
attention to the target forms by completing tasks in personalized,
individualized manner. Thus, it makes it possible for learners to use accurate
L2 forms both in written and oral outputs. Yet, as argued by Van Beuningen
(2010), corrective feedback on written outputs is potentially more effective
thus promising as a focus-on-form intervention because it does not interrupt
the flow of communication as it causes on oral feedback. This is because
learners are to comprehend the written feedback after ensuring that the
meaning has been communicated.


2.2 Noticing the gap :The Noticing Hypothesis

Being referred as the second focal principle of focus-on-form

methodology apart from Segalowitzs(2007) notion of appropriatetransfer-learning, the Noticing Hypothesis by Schmidt (1991, 2000) has its
fair share of importance in L2 linguistic development. Svalberg (2007)
describes the noticing concept as a combination of two poignant linguistic
notions; attention and awareness. Adding further, the Noticing Hypothesis
perceives that intake or subconscious L2 acquisition is unlikely to occur
without a focused attention on the inputs. Thus, Schmidt (2000) points out
the significance of noticing as an integral condition to ensure acquisition of
L2 is to occur subconsciously.

Alongside with the role of attention as aforementioned is the essence

of awareness in language learning as outlined by Schmidt (2001, p. 6); a
mismatch or gap between what they can produce and what they need to
produce, as well as between what they produce and what target language
speakers produce. This concept is also known as noticing the gap
(Schmidt and Frota, 1986). Ellis (1995) however terms it differently as
cognitive comparison due to his belief that it is necessary for learners at
noticing when their outputs are similar to inputs.

On the attempt to facilitate L2 interlanguage development through

conscious attention to linguistic forms, corrective feedback (CF) has a
fundamental role for it weighs great significance as the focus-on-form
intervention (DeKeyser, 1994; Han, 2001). Corrective feedback (CF) in this


sense represents the cognitive focusing devices as they direct learners

attention (Hulstijn and Schmidt, 1994) and raising learners awareness on
the L2 forms. It also allows learners to notice their gaps between the
interlanguage outputs and the target inputs by referring to the given
feedback (Van Beuningen, 2010). As a result, these noticing processes
would promote learners to destabilize and restructure their development of
the interlanguage grammar (Gass, 1997; Long ,1996).


The previous sections have discussed in breadth the theoretical

foundations of corrective feedback and the prerequisite conditions. While
drawing into its quintessential role in facilitating a development on L2
accuracy, there are some crucial points that should be discussed at length,
which have been briefly elucidated in chapter 1: (1) direct corrective
feedback, (2) indirect corrective feedback (3) coded corrective feedback.


Types of Corrective Feedback

In spite of the growing amount of research conducted on corrective

feedback, at present, there are few corrective feedback that received the
utmost attention. They are as follows:


Direct Corrective Feedback

Direct corrective feedback refers to the action of supplying the

learners with correct target language forms for errors they have committed
(Ellis, 2008). The learners are likely benefit from this feedback due to its


essence in acquiring the internalisation on new linguistic forms. As

described by Heift (2010), direct CF weighs more on its explicit continuum.
This is because the correct linguistic form or structure is provided by the
teacher above each error of the written work. The example of a direct CF is
as follows:

One rainy day, there was the dog. A dog was thin. He run very fast.
(adapted from Ellis, 2009)

As a result to the above practice of feedback, learners would receive a

clear reference while executing their correction task. Hence, such
convenience has its limitations in terms of engaging the learners
cognitively, which might inhibit their progress towards a better L2 accuracy.

3.1.2 Indirect Corrective Feedback

Indirect corrective feedback refers to various strategies applied with

intention to indicate learners errors thus encouraged them to self-correct
(Ellis, 2008). It is more on the less explicit continuum (Heift, 2010) and it
requires a certain level of cognitive processing. Learners would be engaged
cognitively while doing their self-correction task because they need to
discover the linguistic forms themselves by deciphering the given symbols.
By doing so, they gradually acquired the potential to develop a control over
a partially-internalised linguistic form, yet are unlikely able to internalise
new forms (Ellis, 2008).

21 feedback

Coded feedback refers to the use of specific symbols or a clue to the

nature of error which serves as a tool for learners to self-correct or self-edit
their written work (Lee, 2004 and Ellis, 2009). Due to this less explicit
feature, coded feedback does fit into the category of indirect type of
corrective feedback. Although coded feedback has its ample share on
cognitive-learning experience for the learners, it comes with an exceptional
condition. It is to ensure that learners are able to understand all symbols
highlighted by the teacher in their writings. With that capability, the learners
would be able to self-correct their errors independently thus gain control
over the problematic target forms over a certain time. An example of coded
corrective feedback is as illustrated below:

VT (Past)
One rainy day, there was the dog. A dog was thin. He run very fast.
(adapted from Ellis, 2009)


Empirical research on Corrective Feedback

(CF) in L2 instruction

Over the years, the role of corrective feedback (CF) in

facilitating L2 accuracy is still debated until today. The following
sections review empirical studies which investigate the role of
corrective feedback (CF) upon learners written accuracy.



Relative effectiveness

of CF on Direct and Indirect Methodologies

The methodologies incorporated in corrective feedback L2 instructions are

frequently categorized into direct or indirect type of corrective feedback.
Until today, the growing number of studies upon corrective feedback is
determined to outline the relative effectiveness of both CF types.

In the early studies of corrective feedback (Chandler, 2003; Ferris,

2006; Frantzen, 1995; Lalande, 1982; Rob, Ross, & Shortreed, 1986), the
reported findings were inconsistent due to the lack of convergence in its
research design and analytical problems (Van Beuningen, 2010). In Lalande
(1982) study, for instance, her findings are in favour of indirect over direct
feedback but the difference between both types is not statistically significant.
On the contrary, Chandler (2003) has reported direct feedback as the most
influential CF but alike Lalande (1982), she failed to provide a statistically
significant findings of their differences. In terms of accuracy development,
Frantzen (1995) and Robb, Ross and Shortreed (1986) have reached a parallel
conclusion akin the above studies.

Following the trend of direct and indirect CF is the studies adopting

coded and uncoded approach to feedback. Some of the investigations (Erel &
Bulut, 2007; Sampson, 2012) shared a mutual agreement that coded feedback
has its significance on developing learners written accuracy. As described by
Guenette (2007) cited in Ahmadi-Azad (2014), the use of codes engages
learners to experience cognitive-error processing and self-editing. However,
the level of engagement does have a considerable impact on L2 accuracy.


This opinion is proven through a study pioneered by Erel & Bulut (2007)
which attempt to draw a distinction between direct coded feedback and
indirect coded feedback. The result indicates that indirect coded feedback has
a better effect of learners accuracy as compared to direct coded feedback.
Hence, such result illuminates Guenettes (2007) opinion that by cognitivelyengaged, learners have developed a control to self-correct their errors

In contrast to the above findings are the unfavourable results from

several studies (Ferris & Roberts, 2001; Robb et. al, 1986; Semke, 1984)
which suggest that coded feedback may potentially unable to foster accuracy
development. According to the reported results by Ferris & Roberts (2001),
there were no significant differences obtained between learners who do selfcorrection of errors marked with codes and those who corrected the
underlined errors. In a similar vein, Robb et. al (1986) concluded
pessimistically that there is inconsistent and unclear advantages upon the use
of coded and uncoded approaches in facilitating towards a better accuracy in

Nevertheless, in recent studies conducted by Van Beuningen, De Jong

and Kuiken (2012) and Bitchener and Young (2010b), the findings indicated
that both direct and indirect feedback contribute positive short-term effect
and only direct error correction weighs great significance for long-term
effect. Vyatkinas study (2010) also indicated a similar findings in which she
highlighted that the usage of many codes tend to confuse the learners and
lead them to inaccurate corrections.

As elucidated in the studies above, it is best to conclude that the

relative effectiveness between direct and indirect feedback is still ambiguous.
Due to this, the need for more studies and investigations to find significant
results is to be considered and taken into account by prospective researchers.


3.2.2 Learners Understanding of Different Corrective Feedback (CF)

While drawing into the effectiveness of corrective feedback (CF) upon L2

accuracy, a focal point that should not be overlooked is the capability of the
learners to understand the type of corrective feedback that they are experiencing.
Below are some studies carried out by researchers that hinge upon the
fundamentals of learners understanding on corrective feedback (CF) and their
impacts. Difference of Perspective on Corrective Feedback

As put by Nassaji and Amrhein (2010 ), the root cause for ineffective
cases of CF implementation is due to the discrepancy of perspectives by the
teacher and the learners. For example, when the teacher correct the learners
written work, often they would change the language usage according to what
they assume the learner trying to express. Yet, occasionally there are few
corrections made do not exemplify the learners idea (Ferris, 1995; Gass &
Selinker, 1994; Zamel, 1985). This misunderstanding is evidently rooted from
a scenario whereby the learner does not understand the meaning of corrective
feedback (CF) on their writing thus is clueless of what to do with the feedback
to improvise the work. Ferris (1995) and Hyland (1995) also found evidence
that illustrated such scenario in which learners have problem understanding the
CF given to them and their modifications of errors do not meet the teachers

25 Learners Preferences on Corrective Feedback (CF)

According to Amrhein and Nassaji (2010 ), the positive outcomes of

corrective feedback is suggested to pivot upon learners preferences for it.
The learners preference for certain types of CF will determine the effects of
it in their writings. For example, if the learner believes that one type of CF is
useful, he or she will put more concentration on the corrections executed and
use it for L2 learning (McCargar, 1993; Schulz, 2001). In terms of
complexity, the research investigating on learners preferences of CF are vary.
There are several studies discovered that learners appreciates massive
amounts of different CF irrespective of the types of errors in focus
(e.g.,Cathcart & Olsen, 1976; Ferris, 1995; Lee, 2005; Radecki & Swales,
1988). Other studies have found there are learners in favour to CF that
embeds comments on content and ideas as well as explicit CF on their
grammatical, structural, and lexical errors (e.g., Ashwell, 2000; Leki, 1991;
Ziv, 1984). As for coded feedback, a study by Lee (2005) indicates that
learners approve of the indirect type of CF which they believe carries a
significant benefit on their progress in L2.


Value of CF on different error types

Over the years, there has been various hypotheses about the value of
corrective feedback (CF) on different error types, yet the choice of errors to
be corrected remains an empirical one (Van Beuningen, 2010). Based on


several studies by (Ferris, 2006; Lalande, 1982, Bitchener and Young &
Cameron, 2005) on different error types via CF strategies, there are differing
levels of progress on certain errors. For instance, Ferris (2006) in a study
which explored 5-main errors categories (i.e. verb error, noun error, article
error, lexical error and sentence error, she found that there are improvements
made on verb-error only- from the pre-test to the post-test. On the other hand,
Bitchener et. al (2005) investigated the use of CF upon 3-types of structures
and the results revealed that CF has positive impact upon past tense and
articles usage but not on prepositions.


Potential Harmful Effects of CF

Truscott (1996) highlighted that one of the harmful side-effects of the use of
CF in L2 instruction is the learners tendency to produce simplified writings rather
than incorporating complex structures to avoid making errors. His subsequent
proposals (2004, 2007) upon Chandlers (2003) claim of accuracy gain was based on
the same argument that such accuracy was rooted from learners simplified product
and not naturally-gained accuracy.

Although there are few other studies (Chandler, 2003; Robb 1986;
Sheppard,1992; and Van Beuningen, 2010) with regards to linguistic complexity,
faced difficulty to reach the warranted conclusions due to scarce methodology and
surface-level analysis. For example, Sheppards (1992) study reported CF as
ineffective to foster linguistic complexity but his findings were statistically nonsignificant. On the contrary, in Robb et. als (1986) study, the results showed that CF
has a profound impact upon written complexity yet the study did not include a
control group with no provision to CF. It was, therefore, a doubted analysis although
the findings are seemingly favourable to CF usage.










There are some controversial opinions with regards to the necessity of having
corrective feedback as a pedagogical intervention in L2 instruction. The
controversies, as surmised by Ellis (2009) and Van Beuningen (2010), are
primarily scoped into two main issues: (1) the efficacy of different types of
corrective feedback and (2) the choice of errors to correct.

4.2 The Efficacy of Direct and Indirect Corrective Feedback

The fine line difference between these two types of feedback underlies
the involvement of the learners throughout the CF process. While the correct
forms are provided by the teachers when giving the direct feedback, learners
are to attend to their self-correction by deciphering the correction codes or
symbols (e.g. underlining of errors, coding of errors).

In a study conducted by Ferris (1995) and Lalande (1982), the findings

suggested that indirect feedback weighs more on profound language


processing which are of great benefits for the learners. In a similar vein,
Bitchener and Knoch (2008) conclude that indirect approach could foster
long-term acquisition due to the participation of the learners in problem
solving and guided learning experience. This opinion, however, is
unfavourable to some advocates of direct approach. Chandler (2003), for
instance, has claimed that the use of indirect approach might result to
unsuccessful learning due to the insufficient information to solve complex
errors. Direct feedback, in his argument, is more accessible for learners to
internalise linguistic forms whereas indirect approach is not capable at
confirming the learners on their hypothesized corrections as accurate. Align
with this argument is the suggestion by Bitchener and Knoch (2010b) which
points out the explicitness of direct feedback is the key of accurate
corrections executed by the learners

4.3 The Choice of Errors to correct

Apart from theorizing the possible best corrective feedback

approaches, the question of the choice of errors to correct has also been of
great concern by many researchers. Corder (1967) has proposed the necessity
to differentiate between errors and mistakes. In his view, teachers should
correct errors over mistakes, as they refers to the gap of learners
interlanguage system and would be systematic over time. Unsystematic
occurrence like slips of pen or tongue is caused by performance failures such
as memory limitation (Van Beuningen, 2010).

Another distinguished terms for errors global and local errors are
introduced by Burt (1972) and Burt & Kiparsky ( 1975) . Global errors are
capable at leading to a communication breakdown, which includes lexical and


word order errors. Local errors, on the other hand, infer the minor linguistic
problems that have not interfered with the meaning of the intended message. With
that, Hendrickson (1978) suggested only global errors to be corrected by teachers
as it potentially could disturb the actual message conveyed thus impair the
intended communication to occur successfully.

It is agreed by some researchers such as Krashen (1981;1982; 1985)

that correcting errors permits learners to monitor their L2 production. Yet, he
also stated that correcting actions are believed to have a limited facilitative
effect upon simple grammatical rules (e.g. third person s in English). He
further argued that such restricted impact weighs insignificantly in the role of
facilitating a good L2 accuracy. Thus, a suggestion is put forward which
implies that it is advisable to employ CF and govern errors made on simple
grammatical forms carefully and exclusively.

The final distinction on errors is forwarded by Ferris (1992, 2002) who

has divided the types into treatable and untreatable errors. She distinguishes
the non-idiomatic or idiosyncratic errors like lexical errors as untreatable,
whereas categorized errors that are rule governed (e.g. articles) as treatable.
In her recommendation, corrective feedback would be impactful if the focus
of errors is modifying the treatable inaccuracies (Van Beuningen, 2010).

For some years, the use of corrective feedback in L2 instruction has
received a lot of attention from many researchers. In this chapter, firstly, it
covers the theoretical foundations underpinning corrective feedback in L2
learning. Then, it dwells upon a body of literature covering a range of issues
on corrective feedback such as the possible effective strategies (i.e. direct,
indirect and coded corrective feedback) and the potential harmful side-


effects. Finally, it surmises two major controversies on CF which includes the

efficacy of direct and indirect feedback and the choice of errors to be
corrected by the teachers


3.1 Introduction

This chapter will discuss the methodological approach in this study. It

is divided into the following sections: research design, respondents and
sampling, instruments involved, data collection and data analysis procedure.

3.2 Research Design

In this study, the researcher employs qualitative method to collect the

required data and is obtained from the essay-writings, pre-test, post-test and
semi-structured interviews. As stated by Creswell (2003), the general


characteristics of a qualitative research are based on the task of dealing with

collecting-data process. It also implies the use of forms that are embedded
with unspecific (or general) questions to specific questions as an attempt to
generate responses from the participants. These responses may vary from the
task of gathering words (texts) or image (picture) and compiling information
from a certain amount of individuals or locations.

For this study, therefore, an experimental design is implemented.

There is a total of 30 pupils from year 6 class selected and assigned into two
groups (N=15 participants in each) in which one is the experimental group
and the other represents the control group. Both groups will complete a pretest, treatment and a post-test , where all of the tests involve essay writings
based on picture series with few helping words. For the three completed
essays, the experimental group would have the teacher underline 4grammatical errors (i.e. tenses, articles, prepositions and conjunctions) and 4common errors (i.e. omission of words, word error, punctuation and spelling)
and write the coded signs on them. Meanwhile, for the control group, the
teacher would just underline the same type of errors but with no provision of
the coded signs.

3.3 Respondents of Study

There are two major respondents involved in this study. Each respondent
represents a different entity; first, the pupils as the sample (or participants)
and second, the teachers as the raters.


3.3.1 Sample

Sample is a set of individuals selected from a population and is used

to represent the population of the research (Gravetter & Forzano, 2009). The
total sample in this study is 30 respondents. Accumulatively there are only 30
pupils in a year 6 Arif, which represents the only class of year 6 in the school.
The researcher only chose thirty students as the participants because as put by
Creswell (2003), such amount is sufficient as a purposeful sampling to
present the whole population of the site. As mentioned in the previous
section, the class will be divided into two groups-one group will be the
experimental group and the other will be in the control group. The selection
of the respondents in each group will be administered according to pre-test
scores to establish homogeneity purposes.

In this study, the sampling method used is convenience sampling. The

selected sample is an in-tact class which significantly helps to avoid
distractions of the schools daily activities. Therefore, all of the procedures
will be carried out during English lessons in the year 6 class.

3.3.2 Raters

Two ESL teachers from the rural setting of Mersing, Johor would be
involved in this study as the raters. Both of them are practising teachers who
have a degree in TESL. One teacher will be assigned to the experimental
group while the other will focus on the control group. The former will
provide coded feedback on the pupils writings (i.e. three essays of each
pupil) by placing coded signs on the committed errors. Meanwhile, the latter
will need to underline the pupils errors only.


3.4 Research Instrument Used

The process of collecting data requires the researcher to decide upon

appropriate instruments to gather data. In this study, the researcher aims to
find out whether coded corrective feedback can help pupils to self-correct
their writings. To collect data on pupils self-correction, the researcher will
run pre-test and post-test by assigning an essay-writing task for the pupils to
do. The pre-test, according to Creswell (2008), provides a measure on some
attributes for the researcher to assess for participants before they are given
the treatment. The post-test, on the other hand, offers a measure on the
attributes for the researcher to assess after they receive the treatment
(Creswell, 2008). In this study, the treatment refers to coded corrective
feedback provided by the assigned teacher.

3.4.1 Essay-writing
This study will focus on one group test. The design is as illustrated
below (see Table 3.1)

Table 3.1: Experimental Research Design

One Group Pre and Post-test Design

One group
Source: Lammers, W. J. & Badia, P. (2005). Fundamentals of Behavioral
Research, 147.

Selection of measure is based on measures used in similar research

(Chandler, 2003; Ellis, 2008, Van Beuningen, 2008; Ahmadi-Azad; 2014).


The studies conducted in the past were mainly focused upon secondary to
tertiary learners, and there were limited studies focusing upon primary school
pupils. However, all of the studies have included essay writing task as a way
to obtain data from the learners writings. Therefore, in this study, the same
method is used with some adaptation on the format of the question.

In the public primary school in Malaysia, pupils aged 10 to 12 years

old are referred to as Level 2 pupils. The selected sample as participants in
this study is year 6 pupils, whose age is 11 to12 years old. These pupils are
also known as young learners of L2, while the students in secondary and
tertiary level are commonly referred as L2 learners. Their assigned written
task (the essay writing) is simpler and more of a guided version which suits
their cognitive and maturity level. For this study, the essay-writing question is
outlined with series of guided pictures and few helping words (see Figure

Figure 3.2: A sample of the essay writing test

For this task, both groups are expected to write an essay using the
helping words and given pictures as guidance. The essay should consist of at
least 3-paragraphs and is written within 80-150words at length.


3.4.2 The pre-test and post-test

The pre and post-test will be following the format of essay-writing as

elucidated above. There are good reasons for a choosing such format of
writing which is based on series of pictures with helping words. First, the
pictures and the helping words serve as a clue for the pupils to write based on
their creativity and understanding of the flow of the picture series. Secondly,
this type of writing represents as one of the obligatory questions tested in
National Primary School for English Language and thus the pupils can polish
up their writing skills to score a good grade for their English Paper.

For the pre-test, a question selected from the previous National

Primary School Examination will be used to determine the pupils accuracy
level and also for homogeneity purposes (Ahmadi-Azad, 2014). Having
established homogeneity in both groups (i.e. the experimental and control
group) in terms of their accuracy level, the researcher would select 3- other
questions adapted from year 6 course book and are tailored in a similar
formatting alike pre test for the pupils to write. For the post-test, the question
will be the adapted version of the pre-tests paper. This is to check whether
pupils have gain improvement over the corrections done in former writings.

3.4.3 Semi-structured interview

In order to establish a flexible approach while conducting interview

(Drever, 1995), a semi-structured type is selected. There will be only 10pupils who are selected for the interview. Therefore, using the semistructured method as an interview will offer more useful data due to the small


size sample (N=10).

3.5 Research Procedures

3.5.1 Essay writing, pre- test, post- test

The duration of the study is two weeks. Before the study is conducted,
the researcher has to send an application to the Planning and Research
Division of Ministry of Education (EPRD ) and an application letter of
approval from Faculty of Education, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia. Another
application for permission to conduct the study in the selected school is also
forwarded to Johor Education Department. When the approval from EPRD
and other divisions are received, the data collection will be executed.

The first step to do is to administer a pre-test to all respondents as it is

significant to establish homogeneity in the two groups-the experimental
group and the control group. During the pre-test, no assistance or guidance is
provided in order to ensure the data gained from the first composition serves
its purpose on homogeneity establishment within the two groups.

Having taken the pre-test, based on the findings obtained, the pupils
will be carefully assigned into two groups. All pupils in the first group will be
taught the selected coded signs for the purpose of providing coded corrective
feedback during the treatment session (see Table 3.3 below). On the contrary,
the pupils in the second group will be excluded and they do not have to learn
any coded sign. Then, the pupils in both groups will be assigned to complete
an essay-writing task (see Figure 3.2) in 30-minutes. During the writing time,
the teacher will monitor, observe and provide hints to the pupils who have
difficulty to complete the given task.


Table 3.2: Coded Signs

V .Past/V. Pre


Kind of error
Verb Tense (Present /past)
Omission of a word
Wrong Word

Last weekend, Ali go to Malacca.
She bought a ice-cream for him.
Ali sat between Abu.
He lives at Felda Tenggaroh 2.
She received.. key chain.
They on the television.
She likes swiming.
Her mother .Puan Siti is a nurse.

Having gathered the essay-writings, the researcher will correct the

papers following two methods. Since in this study there will be two different
teachers participated as raters, the allocation of the groups will be equal and
each will be assigned to only one group type (i.e. experimental group only or
control group only). For the experimental group, the assigned teacher will
underline the errors and write coded signs on them, while for the control
group; the teacher will underline the errors only. Then, in the next session, the
corrected papers will be handed to the pupils for corrective feedback
purposes. Both groups will be given 15 to 20 minutes to do their correction.
Pupils in the experimental group will correct their errors showed by the
coded signs and the teacher will provide hints when they face difficulty to do
the self-correction. Meanwhile, the pupils in the control group are to check
and do correction by referring to the underlined errors and comments given.
This procedure is followed for the second and third essay-writing tasks, and
towards the end of the second week, the post-test will be administered to see
whether the treatment had been effective.

3.5.2 The semi-structured interview


In order to obtain profound data from the respondents (i.e. the pupils
and raters) on their perceptions about coded corrective feedback, the semistructured interview will be conducted. It is important to identify topics and
sub-topics rather than specific questions as it allows the researcher to explore
the issue on coded corrective feedback as a matter of course and not as preempting issue (Pathak and Intratat,2012).

Another opinion on semi-

structured interview is the vitality in the beginning stage to pose broad and
general questions or topics first rather than to pinpoint on the subject (Arksey
& Knight 1999).

This interview will take place after the pupils receive their second
essays with the provision of coded feedback. Such condition is to ensure the
respondents have experienced the task of writing and correcting the errors
using coded feedback. Hence, the information obtained will be profound and
realistic as the aim is to get the pupils improving their accuracy in writing.
Moving on, there will be selected respondents involved during the interview
(i.e. the raters and 10 pupils from the experimental group). A list of ten
questions will be employed (see Appendix D and Appendix E) for both
respondents and the session will be one-to-one. The data will be recorded
whereby the researcher will ask the question and record the response from the
respondent one at a time.

3.6 Data Analysis

Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS)version 16 for personal
computers is to be used to compute descriptive statistics and perform a Paired
Sample T-test for analysis of each group.
3.7 Chapter Summary


In this chapter, the research methodology has been discussed which

consists of the design, respondent, the instrument and data collection. More
information on data collection and data analysis will be added when the
actual study is executed.



Pre-test Essay Writing Question



Post-test Essay Writing Question



Table 3.2: Coded Signs

V .Past/V. Pre


Kind of error
Verb Tense (Present /past)
Omission of a word
Wrong Word

Last weekend, Ali go to Malacca.
She bought a ice-cream for him.
Ali sat between Abu.
He lives at Felda Tenggaroh 2.
She received.. key chain.
They on the television.
She likes swiming.
Her mother .Puan Siti is a nurse.


INTERVIEW GUIDE- semi structured (PUPILS)



What do you think of your writing class? Do you like it?


Can you state some examples of the writing exercise that you have learnt?

Have you done any correction in them?


Does the teacher correct the errors using code signs in your writing? How

does the teacher correct the errors? Can you give some examples?

Do you find the coded signs given by the teacher help you to correct the

errors in your writing? If yes, can you state the reason? If no, can you explain why?

Do you understand all of the coded signs given in your writing? Is there any

code that you dont understand? If yes, can you list them?

How do you do the correction in your writing? Do you refer to the coded

signs given by the teacher?


Do you check the type of error you have made in your writing? Do you

repeat the same error?


Do you prefer to have the teacher correct your writing using coded signs? If

yes, can you state the reason? If no, can you explain why?

Do you think the coded signs help you to correct the errors in your writing? If

yes, can you state some examples? If no, can you tell why?

Would you like to have any other type of feedback in your writing?


INTERVIEW GUIDE semi structured (RATERS)


1. What do you understand about corrective feedback in teaching and learning

of L2?
2. How do you evaluate your pupils writings? Can you describe the steps
3. How do you inform the pupils on the grammatical errors committed in their
writings? Do you explain to them? If yes, can you describe your steps? If not,
can you explain why?
4. How frequent do you offer coded feedback to your pupils writings?
5. How do the pupils respond to coded feedback?
6. In your opinion, will the pupils able to understand coded feedback given?
7. Do you face any difficulty in the task of providing coded feedback to your
pupils? If yes, can you describe them? How do you confront these
8. In your opinion, do you think the coded signs provided can help the pupils to
self-correct their work? Do the pupils exemplify progress in accuracy? If yes,
can you state some examples?
9. In your experience, do you think the pupils can understand the coded signs
used in their writing? Do they still commit the same error? If yes, can you
explain why?
10. Do you have any suggestion on ways to improve the pupils accuracy in
writing in terms of coded feedback.

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