Doktorsavhandling, 2019

Göteborgs universitet. Humanistiska fakulteten, Institutionen för svenska språket

Liivi Jakobson

This compilation thesis serves to fill a research gap in teacher written feedback on second language (L2) writing and pronunciation by focusing on adult beginners of culturally diverse backgrounds. Basically, this thesis seeks to answer three questions:

  1. What do teachers focus on and in what manner is feedback given?,
  2. What are the teachers’ beliefs about feedback?, and,
  3. What are the students’ preferences concerning feedback?

The study presented in the first article concerns international students and elaborates on a model for analyzing teacher feedback practices regarding writing and pronunciation and the students’ ranking of that feedback. Based on the need for a holistic perspective recognized in the first study, the second article presents and discusses the research gap regarding feedback in adult beginner-learner L2 contexts and proposes a hermeneutic approach in the field of L2 research. In article three and four, a new feedback analysis model based on hermeneutics was applied for the design of a questionnaire, which includes the Likert scale and ranking. These studies investigated teachers’ (article three) and students’ (article four) perceptions and priorities regarding feedback.

Data from the students’ questionnaires indicated that the students evaluated feedback on grammatical structures in writing as top priority. They generally valued all feedback manners, but clearly preferred specific praise and specific criticism.

Results from the teachers’ questionnaires, combined with interviews, showed that they evaluated almost all categories as important but the ranking showed that there was a variation between teachers’ perceptions, which was influenced by a lack of time, and communication with the students, together with technical problems in web-based contexts.

The analysis indicates several factors contributing to the complexity of feedback and, thus, providing feedback requires intuition and dexterity on the part of teachers. It is suggested that aligning students’ expectations and teachers’ practices and beliefs is especially important in distance-learning contexts in order to facilitate new understanding for clarifying the meaning of feedback.