Corrective Feedback (ARG October)


November 25, 2016 by gemmalunn

The topic for the Academic Reading Group in October was feedback. We looked at the article on corrective-feedback by Panova & Lyster (TESOL Quarterly, 2002) ‘Patterns of Corrective Feedback and Uptake in an Adult ESL Classroom’ . They define corrective feedback as “any reaction of the teacher which clearly transforms, disapprovingly refers to, or demands improvement of the learner utterance”. This should lead to uptake, where the student corrects their error, or at least, realises a gap in their knowledge. There are seven types of feedback analysed in the main study: recast, translation, clarification requests, metalinguistic feedback, elicitation, explicit correction and repetition.

Below are some notes on some of the questions we discussed, you can find the full list of discussion questions here:feedback-qs

 1. Clarification requests, elicitation, metalinguistic feedback and repetition had the highest rate of uptake (student response), do you ever use these?

Clarification requests – yes, but these are specific e.g. asking ‘do you mean (a) or (b)’ rather than the examples given in the text such as ‘I’m sorry’ which we agreed might just result in the student thinking the teacher hasn’t heard them .

Elicitation – the text mentions three ways of doing this (p. 584), most teachers stated that they use pauses or open questions regularly to prompt students to self-correct.

Metalinguistic feedback, everyone agreed that they mostly do this at the end of a class / activity when giving class feedback and anonymous errors. However, some quick feedback could also be given during an activity if the teacher feels the student has a good knowledge of the linguistic area and won’t require an in-depth explanation.

Repetition – we discussed that this can sometimes be confusing for students and they don’t always realise why you are repeating their utterance. However, with common errors such as third person singular ‘s’ and past simple it can be useful for quick repairs.


Repetition can get annoying!  

                                                     Picture from @eltpics @sandymillin

2. Which type of feedback do you think you use most often and why?

This always depends on the specifics: type of class, activity, the level, the number of students, the confidence of the students, as well as the teacher’s style and their relationship with the class and individual students. The article didn’t include delayed feedback, when the teacher gives group or individual feedback (could be on post-its) once an activity is over, which many of us use. Apart from this, common methods used are: clarification requests, recasts and elicitation.

3. The text concludes that a balance of different feedback types is most effective, do you agree with this? And do you stick to one method of feedback or use a variety?

We said that this largely depends on the variables mentioned above: type of class etc. We also agreed that we use various methods but only to a certain extent as constantly using new and different methods may confuse students. A variety, can however, give students the feeling you are focusing on their errors and keep them on their toes! Overuse of some method such as recastimg may affect students’ confidence by making them more self-conscious and less fluent.

We concluded that it‘s always worthwhile discussing feedback with students: asking them how much they value accuracy, which methods you as a teacher favour and explaining how these are effective e.g. delayed feedback so as not to interrupt and effect fluency. We also said we would try to be more conscious of the error correction methods we regularly use and maybe try to vary these whilst ensuring students are aware of the methods we employ. Also, most agreed that over the following month we’d try to be more aware of uptake and the effect feedback has on students. Thanks again to all those who attended and contributed to the interesting discussion.


5 thoughts on “Corrective Feedback (ARG October)

  1. Marc says:

    What Matthew said. I also have some slides knocking about as I think that it isn’t so cut and dry with repetition and recasts depending on the context.

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