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The effects of computer-mediated written corrective feedback on L2 syntactic complexity and grammatical accuracy (Mariane Gazaille, Paul John, Nina Woll, Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières)

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Session régulière / Regular Session
3:15 PM, Mardi 25 Avr 2017 (30 minutes)
Session: Morphosyntax in written proficiencyBloc: La morpho-syntaxe dans les compétences écrites

This study examines the effects of written corrective feedback (WCF) delivered via computer-mediated tutoring sessions. The focus is on the effect of WCF on syntactic complexity and grammatical accuracy, specifically in the written productions of young adult ESL learners.
With the advent of communicative language teaching, sentence pedagogies were no longer a focus of instruction (Connors, 2000). Yet, ESL students' “greatest and most consistent difficulties are baldly manifested in the boundaries of the sentence itself” (Myers, 2003, p. 54) so ignoring the sentence – which is a central feature of writing – would be a disservice to these learners. Complexity and accuracy have been identified as indices of second language development in writing (Ellis & Barkhuizen, 2005; Ortega, 2003; Wolfe-Quintero, Inagaki, & Kim, 1998).
Previous research has shown that WCF helps to improve both L2 accuracy (e.g., Bitchener, Young, & Cameron, 2005; Bitchener & Knoch, 2010; Ferris, 2006; Ferris, Liu, Sinha, & Senna, 2013) and syntactic complexity (Fazilatfara, Fallahb, Hamavandic, & Rostamiand, 2014). WCF plus one-to-one conferencing can also benefit L2 writing accuracy (Bitchener et al., 2005; Li & Li, 2012) while certain types or combinations of types of WCF are more effective than others (e.g., Daneshvar & Rahimi, 2015; Ferris et al., 2013). In addition, due to their intrinsic qualities, ICTs offer the possibility to complement learning beyond the L2 classroom, and claims have been made regarding the benefits of computer-mediated tutoring to the development of L2 skills (Gazaille, 2016; Gelabert, Gisbert, Thurston, & Topping, 2008). Consequently, we ask: Does cross-institutional computer-mediated WCF enhance complexity and accuracy in young adult ELS learners’ written productions?
A total of 21 beginner-level ESL students participated in a 10-week synchronous cross-institutional computer-mediated tutoring program. As part of their weekly assignments, students had to write a short text designed to elicit the use of the grammar taught in class. The following week, they participated in retrospective computer-mediated cross-level tutoring, where they received focused, indirect, and explicit WCF on the errors identified by their tutor. The tutors were 10 university students registered in an ESL teacher training program.
Data collected includes students’ original drafts and revisions of two texts (mid- and end-of-tutoring) per participant (N = 42). Participants’ texts are analyzed in terms of:
 − Complexity, or how varied and sophisticated the production units or grammatical structures are (Ortega 2003, Wolfe-Quintero et al., 1998), is measured on the basis of average number of clauses per t-unit, length of production units and amount of embedding, subordination, or coordination;
 − Accuracy, or the proportion of error-free t-units (a minimal terminal unit or independent clause with whatever dependent clauses, phrases, and words attached to or embedded within it (Larsen-Freeman, 2006)), is measured on the basis of the grammatical elements taught during the first three weeks of the course.
Preliminary results point at benefits, albeit to varying degrees, for WCF delivered via computer-mediated tutoring.

Bitchener, J., & Knoch, U. (2010). Written corrective feedback and advanced ESL learners. Journal of Second Language Writing, 19, 207-217.
Bitchener, J., Young, S., & Cameron, D. (2005). The effect of different types of corrective feedback on ESL student writing. Second Language Writing, 14, 191-205.
Connors, R. J. (2000). The Erasure of the Sentence. College Composition and Communication, 52(1), 96-128.
Daneshvar, E., & Rahimi A. (2014). Written Corrective Feedback and Teaching Grammar. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 136, 217-221.
Ellis, R., & Barkhuizen, G. (2005). Analysing Learner Language. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Fazilatfara, A. M., Fallahb, N., Hamavandic, M., & Rostamiand, M. (2014). The Effect of Unfocused Written Corrective Feedback on Syntactic and Lexical Complexity of L2 Writing. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, 98, 482-488.
Ferris, D. (2006). Does error feedback help student writers? New evidence on the short- and long-term effects of written error correction. In K. Hyland & F. Hyland (Eds.), Feedback in second language writing: Contexts and issues (pp. 81-104). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Ferris, D., Liu, H., Sinha, A., & Senna, M. (2013). Written corrective feedback for individual L2 writers. Journal of Second Language Writing, 22, 307-329.
Gazaille, M. (2016) On-line Synchronous Oral Tutoring and Young Adult Acquisition of ESL Grammar: a Support to Formal Classroom Grammar Teaching? Communication présentée à la WEFLA 2016 X Conferencia International Sobre Lenguas Extranjeras, Comunicación y Cultura, Guardalavaca, Cuba.
Gelabert, S. B., Gisbert, D. D., Thurston, A., & Topping, K. (2008). International online Peer Tutoring to promote modern Language Development in Primary Schools. Actes du colloque de l’IAIE, Turin, Italie. Accédé de
Larsen-Freeman, D. (2006). The Emergence of Complexity, Fluency, and Accuracy in the Oral and Written Production of Five Chinese Learners of English. Applied Linguistics, 27(4), 590-619.
Li, S., & Li, P. (2012). Individual Differences in Written Corrective Feedback: A Multi-case Study. English Language Teaching, 5(11), 38-44.
Myers, S. A. (2003). Reassessing the “Proofreading Trap”: ESL Tutoring and Writing Instruction. The Writing Center Journal, 24(1), p. 51-70.
Ortega, L. (2003). Syntactic complexity measures and their relationship to L2 proficiency: A research synthesis of college-level L2 writing. Applied linguistics 24(4), 492-518.
Wolfe-Quintero, K., Inagaki, S., & Kim, H.-Y. (1998). Second Language Development in Writing: Measures of Fluency, Accuracy, and Complexity. Honolulu, HI: University of Hawaii Press.

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