A series of studies has investigated the degree to
which different types of written corrective feedback may have an effect on
helping L2 writers improve the accuracy of their writing. Most of the studies
have characterized written corrective feedback on L2 learners writing as either
direct (explicit) or indirect (implicit) which in this paper the two types of
direct and indirect written correction feedback and the metalinguistic
corrective feedback and the focus of the feedback are discussed.
Direct feedback has been defined as that offers students
with the correct form. Ferries (2001) claims, “This can take a number of
different forms like, crossing-out unnecessary word, phrase, or morpheme,
inserting a missing word or morpheme, and wiring the correct form above or near
to the mistaken part. Direct corrective feedback has the advantage that it
provides L2 learners with explicit guidance about how to correct their errors.
This is obviously desirable if learners do not know what the correct is”.
Ferries and Roberts (2001) propose that direct written corrective feedback is perhaps
greater to indirect written corrective feedback to student with low level of writers’
On the other hand, indirect corrective feedback is indicating
an errors that students made without actually correcting it. Usually teachers
use different ways to indicate it; it could be done through underlining the
error, recording in the margin the number of errors in a given line, using
cursors to show omission in the student’s text or using a code to show where
the error has occurred and what type of error it is (Ferris & Robberts,
2001; Robb, Ross & Shortreed, 1986).
Written indirect corrective feedback is often chosen
to direct feedback in the favor that it provides to ‘guided learning and
problem solving’ (Lalande, 1982) and encourage students to reflect about
linguistic forms. For these reasons, it is considered more to lead to long-term
learning (Ferris and Robberts, 2001).
The consequence of studies that investigated this claim, though, are
very mixed. Some studies like Lalande 1982, propose that indirect corrective
feedback is certainly more effective in allowing students to correct their
errors but others studies like Ferris and Robberts 2001, found no difference
between direct and indirect corrective feedback.
Based on Ferries and Roberts’s argument, it can be appealed
that indirect written corrective feedback where the exact location of errors is
not exposed could be more effective than indirect feedback where the location
of the errors is exposed. Roberts (2001) investigated four types of feedback
including direct feedback and indirect feedback. They reported no significant
difference. Lee (1997), however, specifically compared the two types of
indirect written correction and found that learners were better able to correct
errors that if the feedback is indicated and located than errors that were just
indicated by a check in the margin.
Before discussing about the two types of direct and
indirect written corrective feedback, the metalinguistic corrective feedback
and the focused and unfocused corrective feedback are explained below.
Metalinguistic corrective feedback involves providing
learners with some form of explicit remark about the nature of the errors. The
explicit remark can take two forms. By far the most common is the use of error
codes. These contain of abbreviated labels for different kinds of errors. The
labels can be located over the location of the error in the text or in the
margin. In the latter case, the exact position of the error may or may not be
shown. A major issue in the error codes is how gentle the categories should be.
For example should there be a single category for ‘articles’ or should there be
separate categories for ‘definite’ and ‘indefinite’ articles? Most of the error
codes used in research and language pedagogy employ relatively broad categories
A number of studies have compared using error codes
with other types of written corrective feedback on L2 leaners writing. Lalande
(1982) reported that a group of learners of L2 German who received correction
using error codes improved in correctness in following writing. Robb (2001)
reported an error codes treatment in their study but found it no more effective
than any of the other three types of corrective feedback they investigated
(i.e. direct feedback and two other kinds of indirect feedback). Ferris (2001)
reported that error codes help students to improve their accuracy over time in only
two of the four categories of error she investigated. Ferris and Roberts (2001)
found that error codes did assist the students to self-edit their writing but
no more so than indirect feedback. Overall, then, there is very limited
evidence to show that error codes help writers to achieve greater accuracy over
time and it would also seem that they are no more effective than other types of
written corrective feedback in assisting self-editing.
The second method of metalinguistic corrective
feedback contains of providing students with metalinguistic explanations of errors.
This is not too common, maybe because it takes time than using error codes and
also because it requires teachers to hold adequate metalinguistic knowledge to
be able to write rich and perfect clarifications for a diversity of error.
Teachers can select to correct all of the students’
errors, in which case the corrective feedback is unfocused. Otherwise they can
select some error types for correction. Processing correction is possible to be
difficult in unfocused written corrective feedback as the learner is should
follow up with a big range of errors. In this case, focused written corrective
feedback may prove more effective as the writers are able to examine several
corrections of a single error and consequently obtain the rich signal they need
to understand their mistake and learn the correct form of writing it. Focused
metalinguistic corrective feedback could be helpful in case it promotes not
just consideration but also understanding of the nature of the error. However, unfocused
corrective feedback has the advantage of addressing a variety of errors, so
while it might not be as effective in assisting learners to acquire specific
features as focused corrective feedback in the short term, it may prove
superior in the long run.
The question then stand up that which type of written
corrective feedback is more useful for accuracy improvement L2 writers. For
many years, argument have been innovative for both direct and indirect written
corrective feedback in L2 learners writing. A range of studies have
investigated if certain types of written corrective feedback or combination of
different types are more effective than others. These studies often categorized
feedback as either direct (explicit) or indirect (implicit). Theoretical
argument have been advanced for both the direct and indirect types. Those
supporting indirect feedback suggest that this type is best because it offers
L2 writers to involve in conducted learning and problem solving and promotes
the type of reflection on existing knowledge that stand-in long-term learning
and written accuracy. Those more in favor of direct feedback suggest that it is
more helpful to writers because it (1) reduce the confusion that they may
experience if students did not understand or remember the feedback they received;
(2) it also offers students with information to help them solve more complex
errors; (3) offers more explicit feedback on hypothesis that may have been
made; (4) is more immediate. It could be the situation that what is most
effective is determined by the goals and proficiency level of the L2 writers. Ferris
(2010) noted, the goals of the L2 writers in writing classes could be diverse
from those in language learning classes and this alteration may be a factor in assigning
which type of feedback is more appropriate and effective for them. In writing
classes L2 writers are encouraged to manage and review their texts, indirect
feedback is preferred because it offers writers to focus on their linguistic
knowledge when trying to correct the recognized errors. For lower proficiency
writers in language learning classes, indirect feedback tends to be less
preferred because they have a more limited linguistic repertoire to draw on.
Two studies (Lalande, 1982; Ferris & Helt, 2000)
report an benefit for indirect feedback, two other studies (Robb, Ross &
Shortreed, 1986; Semke, 1984) report no difference between the two approaches,
and one study (Chandler, 2003) reports positive findings for direct feedback.
Given these results, further evidence is required before any firm conclusion
can be reached.
In addition to these direct-indirect contrasts,
several other studies (Ferris & Roberts, 2001; Ferris et al., 1986) have examined the comparative effectiveness of different
types of indirect feedback (coded and uncoded). None found any difference
between the two options. Even less attention has been given to a comparison of
different direct feedback options.