Feedback on Peer Feedback in EFL Composing: Four Stories*

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  • ABSTRACT

    The purpose of this study is to investigate prospective teachers’ perceptions of the peer review comments readily available to them during the writing process in a teacher training class. Given these needs, we employ a qualitative method of inquiry giving voice to the learner’s own view of peer feedback. The data we wish to consider is first-person narratives elicited from four EFL college students, who are prospective teachers of English. With regard to the EFL students’ narrative considered here, all were attentive to the feedback they received. Moreover, the way in which these EFL writers talk about peer response activity reflects that they still welcome peer feedback because of the benefits to be accrued from it. Although this study, covering only four EFL students in total, can hardly be considered conclusive, we attempt to offer a synthesis of their stories. First of all, students indicate that they received responses from “authentic readers” (Mittan 1989, 209). We do note, consequently, that students gain a clear understanding of readers’ needs by receiving feedback on what they did well and on what seems unclear. Perhaps the greater effect of peer feedback claimed by these students is that they take active roles in utilizing peer comments. Since they feel uncertain about the validity of their classmates’ responses, students feel that they have autonomy over their own text and can make their own decisions on whether they should accept their peer comments or not. This contrasts with their treatment of teacher comments that they accept begrudgingly even if they disagree with them. Four EFL writers talked a lot, typically in a positive way, about peer response to their writing, yet they have expressed reservations about the extent to which they should put any credence in comments offered by their fellow students. Perhaps this is because their fellow students are still developing writers and EFL learners. In turn, they were sometimes reluctant to accept the peers’ comments. Thus, in EFL contexts, L1 use can be suggested during peer feedback sessions. In particular, we have come to feel that L1 use enables both reviewers and receivers to have more productive peer review experiences. Additionally, we need to train students not “to see peer feedback as potentially bad advice” (Silva et al. 2003, 111). Teachers should focus on training students to utilize their peers’ comments. Without such training, students will either ignore feedback or fail to use it constructively.


  • KEYWORD

    peer feedback , EFL composing , qualitative method , narrative approach

  • I. Introduction

    For second language students, the most time-consuming tasks they are asked to undertake in writing classes is producing texts, that is, written responses to the required writing assignments. Sometimes this process is extended when teachers structure peer feedback opportunities for their students (Kroll 2003). In fact, peer feedback is an increasingly common practice in first language (L1) and second language (L2) writing classes. There are various potential benefits for having students engage in peer feedback sessions, including providing students with readers other than the teacher, encouraging students to work together during the writing process, and helping students revise their texts (Scott 1996).

    We have made great strides in the past twenty years in understanding the area of peer response.1 However, as Ferris (2003) points out, “we still have a long way to go” (136). Clearly, more research is needed. For instance, little research attention has been paid to examine the use of peer response in EFL teacher training courses. Having students engage in peer review session in such courses may be particularly challenging because prospective teachers of English may embrace a philosophy of how to implement peer feedback as a regular fixture in the EFL classroom with their own experiences. Hence, it may be useful to find out how prospective teachers talk about the use of peer response in teaching writing as a process in the EFL environment.

    The purpose of this study is to investigate prospective teachers’ perceptions of the peer review comments readily available to them during the writing process in a teacher training class. Given these needs, we employ a qualitative method of inquiry giving voice to the learner’s own view of peer feedback. We do believe that first-person accounts of how peer response is received by student writers in the form of personal narratives provide a much richer source of data than do third-person observations. Besides, through personal narrative, “experience is literally talked into meaningfulness” (Shore 1996, 58). As a result, we can gain rare insights into prospective teachers’ concerns with the value of peer feedback that guides their future students’ writing trajectories.

    1Peer feedback is also referred to as “peer response” or “peer review” in the literature.

    II. Feedback on ESL/EFL Writing: Previous Research

    The literature on second language writing research abounds with discussions on the features and effectiveness of different types of feedback available to L2 writers. The potential value of teacher feedback has been highlighted by the widespread adoption over the past twenty-five years of process approach in English as a second language (ESL) writing classrooms (Ferris 2003). While teacher feedback has been indicated to be desirable for the development of L2 writing (Ferris & Roberts 2001; Goldstein 2004; and Zhang 1995), it has also been argued that while advanced students seem to respond positively and benefit from teacher feedback, students at lower levels of language and writing proficiency respond poorly and constantly need to be taught to process and work with the teacher’s comments (Guénette 2007). Research has even suggested that feedback may not play a significant role in student writing due to teachers’ usage of vague and “rubber stamp” comments (Paulus 1999). Further, early L2 studies of teacher feedback reported that ESL writing teachers focused almost exclusively on grammar correction.

    Although providing effective written feedback is one of the most important tasks for L2 writing teachers (Hyland 1998; Hyland & Hyland 2001), peer feedback has long been a widely accepted pedagogy in the writing classroom as it has been shown to have positive effects on student writing (Hedgcock & Lefkowitz 1992; Lundstrom & Baker 2009; Mangelsdorf 1992; Paulus 1999; Tsui & Ng 2000; and Yang, Badger & Yu 2006). While research has indicated that teacher feedback tends to generate more comments at the grammatical level, peer feedback can generate more comments on content, organization, and vocabulary (Paulus 1999). Besides beneficial effects on the quality of writing, peer feedback has advantages such as developing critical thinking, learner autonomy and social interaction among students (Yang, Badger & Yu 2006). The practice of peer feedback allows students to receive more individual comments as well as giving peer reviewers the opportunity to practice and develop different language skills (Lundstrom & Baker 2009).

    There has also been a proliferation of studies on peer response in Korean EFL writing classes over the past ten years. This body of research has examined the nature and effects of peer response (Cha 2007; Cho 2007; Kang 2008; Moon 2000), the effects of different types of feedback on Korean college students’ writing improvements, and the impact of trained responders’ feedback on EFL college students revisions, both in terms of revision quantity and quality (Kim 2009). In general, these researchers have found that peer response is well received by Korean EFL college students. Furthermore, advanced writers benefit from peer feedback, while students at lower levels of writing proficiency benefit from teacher feedback, even though most students prefer the latter. In addition, a key to successful peer feedback sessions is prior training of students to be effective responders. Of course, the feedback situation as reflected by these studies is not typical of situations in many classrooms where English is taught as a second language.

    However, numerous researchers have pointed out that peer review has limited value in the L2 classroom (Nelson & Murphy 1992; Zhang 1995). The body of research has shown that teachers have raised objections about peer response because L2 students are simply not very good at giving one another helpful feedback, due to their limited knowledge, experience and language ability (Connor & Asenavage 1994; Nelson & Carson 1998; and Saito & Fujita 2004). In a similar vein, students sometimes express concern about either their peers’ competency to evaluate their work or their ability to give critical feedback constructively (Berger 1990; Leki 1990). Another potential drawback of peer feedback is that, although students express positive attitudes toward peer feedback, they clearly prefer teacher feedback over peer feedback when asked to choose (Yang, Badger & Yu 2006; Zhang 1995).

    Despite a fairly large number of research on peer feedback, as Ferris’ (2003) excellent survey article on peer response in L2 writing classes shows, subjects and research methods varied widely in those studies. Thus, to this point, it is difficult to draw hard-and-fast conclusions about the effects of peer response in all contexts. Nevertheless, the general conclusion is that teacher feedback triggered more revision than peer feedback. And students also recognize the importance of peer feedback (Kang 2008; Zhang 1995). Thus, there is no doubt that “coaching from the margins” (Leki 1990), whether it is undertaken through teachers’ written responses or peer feedback, is a challenging task for students’ development as L2 writers. With this in mind, we now turn to the consideration of EFL students’ reactions to peer response as told in narratives.

    III. The Stories2

    The data we wish to consider is first-person narratives elicited from four EFL college students, who are prospective teachers of English. Narratives elicited from the learners are a legitimate source of data in “SLA that cannot be captured in the more traditional approach to research” (Pavlenko & Lantolf 2000, 159), “as they allow for both teachers’ and learners’ voices to be heard on a par with those of the researchers” (Pavlenko 2002, 213-14). In a related discussion, Silva et al. (2003) note that “in most second language writing studies, only the researcher speaks, reporting on and interpreting observations about L2 writers and/or L2 writing” (93). Further, Silva et al. comment that “only recently have L2 writers been given an opportunity to tell their own stories” (ibid.).

    They all took a course entitled “EFL Writing” which was offered during the Fall semester of 2010, at College of Education in a large university in Seoul, Korea. The course was taught by one of the researchers and reviewed pertinent theories and research about writing in English, English as a second language, and English as a foreign language, for the purpose of developing an understanding of teaching and learning EFL writing. Among the topics addressed was teacher and peer responses to writing. Students received training with respect to providing effective feedback to a student’s paper without becoming what Hairston (1986) calls “composition slaves.” Students were also trained to read and respond to other students’ papers by viewing sample papers which came from ESL composition classes at the university level.

    Meanwhile, students had the opportunity to write an essay and to engage in peer review sessions. The instructor put students together in groups of four, each with a first draft in hand, and then had each student read the other’s paper and react to the strengths and weaknesses of the paper. Although peers’ responses could contain feedback on both content and language, the instructor asked students to focus exclusively on response to content. Feedback given by peer was written feedback. Although feedback can be oral as well as written, during written feedback, EFL students can explore where to locate comments: in the margins, in an end comment; and both in the margins and in an end comment.

    Students were asked to make comments in English. Based on peer review comments, students were required to write their second draft and to submit the revised section in the following week. At the end of the semester, the instructor had invited four students, Choi, Shin, Seo, and Won (all pseudonyms) to craft reflective narratives describing their own experience on peer response. They voluntarily participated in the study. They are all juniors and prospective teachers of English. We stated that what we were interested in is a brief text in which they address anything regarding peer feedback activity.

    In her detailed discussion of narrative analysis, Riessman (2008) suggests that there are four different analytic approaches of dealing with narratives: thematic analysis, structural analysis, dialogic/performance analysis, and visual analysis. Thematic analysis relies on categorizing accounts or aspects of accounts that are being told. Structural analysis looks into the ways in which the narratives are structured (how it is told) and what the language in the stories does both on the textual as well as the cultural level. Dialogic/performance analysis focuses on the difficulty in analyzing accounts that are co-constructed or performed. Lastly, visual analysis focuses on the analysis of all visual media including art, video, and digital media.

    Among them, thematic analysis is primarily a focus on the content of what is said, leaving to the side other aspects of narrative such as how it is produced. Although some scholars see this approach as intuitive and overly simplistic, we decided to identify key themes (what is said) and strands in the narrative and present findings in the form of case studies. Thus, the narratives of the individual student helped us to more fully explore various potential benefits and concerns about peer response. Additionally, narrative observation of each students allowed us to understand more clearly how each student attended to what their peer had responded to the content of their papers.

    2The narratives have been included as written; none have been edited or polished.

    IV. Discussion

    We have found that peer feedback was well received by these EFL students. Four narratives are interesting, insightful, and enlightening as they are and our analysis about them constitutes a basis for making general or specific claims about the nature of peer feedback. Indeed, the narratives of four EFL students in themselves represent benefits and drawbacks of peer feedback. All agreed that a great deal of excitement has been generated by the notion of peers giving each other feedback. Nevertheless, the most pressing of the issues surrounding peer response is whether or not peer responses to student writing do any good.

       1. Choi’s Absolute Trust in Her Peers

    Choi displayed a most positive attitude toward her peers’ feedback. Choi was a student who demonstrated an absolute degree of trust in her peer by appreciating her peer’s efforts in making comments on her draft. Choi tried to interpret whatever her peers had done for her very positively and utilized peer feedback in constructing revision of her text. The peer responses clearly did provide Choi with information helpful for rewriting her paper, and peers made suggestions she considered valid. Thus, she could “reconceptualize [her] ideas in light of [her] peers’ comments” (Mendonca & Johnson 1994, 746). Choi’s reconceptualization of her ideas indeed brought about significant changes to her second draft, including the restructuring of the paragraphs.

    Peers’ responses to Choi’s paper were divided into several categories—1) form: suggestions to change paragraphs so they would be closer to typical English form (e.g., making the general point clear in the introduction, not bringing up new arguments in the conclusion, etc.); 2) organization: suggestions to change the order of sentences and paragraphs for reasons not due to form; 3) more information: suggestions to write more detailed information about one aspect of the point; and 4) clarity: suggestions to clarify the meaning of a particular point, or paragraph which had been unclear to the reader. This is most explicitly evidenced in the words of Choi:

    All writers have difficulty in being objective about their own writings. Once the paper is written, students seem overwhelmed when asked to check problems with coherence or organization (Scott 1996). However, when she got a paper back from the peers with comments, Choi seemed to make productive use of feedback. Choi pointed to the benefit of peer feedback as offering opportunities to read other people’s arguments regarding the same issue and to see examples she had not come across before, thereby helping her expand her views about the topic at hand. Moreover, she found it beneficial to obtain input from more than one person and to work collaboratively in helping each other improve their writings. It is evident that peers can take over the part of the job of the teacher. Thus, Choi said,

    Some studies have looked at the nature of commentary peers give about other students’ papers (Mangelsdorf & Schlumberger 1992; Lockhart & Ng 1995; Villamil & de Guerrero 1996; and Villamil & de Guerrero 2006). For instance, Mangelsdorf and Schlumberger (1992) analyzed the peer review comments made by students in an advanced ESL composition class and categorized the reviews according to personae or stances that the peer reviewers took during peer review sessions. After all, peers, in providing commentaries, take a wide variety of “stances” which “refers to the roles that readers adopt toward texts in particular rhetorical situations” (Mangelsdorf & Schlumberger 1992, 236). They found that students adopted a prescriptive, an interpretive, or a collaborative stance toward their fellow students. According to Mangelsdorf and Schlumberger (1992),

    Choi also mentioned how the feedback givers took the stance when reading her writing. In EFL writing classrooms, teachers often assumed judgmental stances toward student texts, perceiving the texts as demonstrations of linguistic skill rather than as opportunities for the discovery and expression of meaning. In contrast, Choi’s peer reviewers pointed out the problems the hypothesized reader would have and provided more information on the topic. These peer reviewers did not impose their own ideas about topic onto the text. Definitely, the most obvious characteristic was interpretive, or collaborative stances, in contrast to the findings of a study conducted by Mangelsdorf and Schlumberger (1992), which presents a prevalence of a prescriptive stance rather than an interpretive or a collaborative one among L2 students responding to a text written by students in the previous semester. The most detailed account comes from Choi’s comments:

       2. Shin’s Ongoing “macro-text-based changes” for His Readers

    Shin said that peer feedback activities were refreshing, encouraging students to work together during the writing process. He felt that peer comments helped him revise and improve his writing when peers were able to provide concrete suggestions for revision. In particular, some comments tended to be general and were aimed at the whole piece of writing, rather than one part. The other comments, on the other hand, tended to be very specific and rarely contained suggestions for the whole piece of writing. Shin found the peer response sessions useful in clarifying his thoughts and expressing his intended meanings. Like Choi, he efficiently utilized his peer reviewers’ comments when he revised. Shin tells us:

    We observe in the above excerpt that Shin made more global meaning changes and fewer surface changes. Eventually, Shin’s attention was focused on “macro-text-based changes” (Connor & Asenavage 1994, 262) that refer to changes at the macro level of the text such as the reorganization of chunks of text and a change in the direction of the idea presented. According to Shin, such changes could be induced by peer comments. Shin pointed out that peers provided feedback on whether the points were relevant or whether they needed elaboration. Besides, they could suggest a better organization. Shin’s commentary especially makes it transparent:

    At one point in his story, Shin wrote that he did not have any target readers in mind when writing the first draft. However, peer comments helped him enhance a sense of audience. Shin confessed that he would not care as much about what he wrote if his peers did not have to read his writing. Besides, having peers provide feedback on his writing fostered a sense of ownership of text. Regarding this issue, Shin indicated that he gained a clear understanding of readers’ needs by receiving feedback on what remained unclear. In other words, after he received reactions and responses from peer reviewers, he saw his text from the readers’ viewpoint. Interestingly, Shin gained his sense of audience through writing for his peers to read. For Shin, this type of peer comments was useful in and of itself, and in addition, it is useful because they helped him take more objective views regarding his writing. This point is nicely illustrated as follows:

    Shin appeared to value a mix of negative and positive comments. One concern, as Shin points out, is that positive comments allow him to establish a “positive affective climate” (Krashen 1982). Shin gained confidence by seeing peers’ positive comments in his writing. He felt that teachers or professors generally pointed out weaknesses rather than strengths in student writings. Thus, he always considered his teachers to be judges of his writings. Yet another concern raised by Shin was that negative comments might be more beneficial for his subsequent draft and future papers. This has been illustrated by Shin in his narrative:

       3. Seo’s Uncomfortable Encounters with His Non-native Peers

    According to Seo, peer review sessions were to provide him with an audience other than the teacher. Seo said that he paid much more attention to his second draft, mainly due to the fact that he now knew that readers (his peers) existed and that he had to present his writing to them. It is clear that “a responsive real audience” (Rollinson 2005, 25) will encourage Seo to formulate his writing in line with the demands of his readers. Apart from a sense of audience, Seo further said that the experience of reading others’ writings provided him with the opportunity to look back on his own writing. That is, by finding the strong points of his peers’ writing and spotting logical errors therein, he reflected on his own writing, exploring several ways to improve. Seo writes about potential benefits of peer feedback:

    Villamil and de Guerrero (1996) argue that a crucial aspect of peer feedback is “affectivity,” which includes “camaraderie, empathy and concern for not hurting each other’s feelings” (1996, 65). In the following excerpt, the affective advantages of peer response have been immediately recognized by Seo. His peers may lavish praise through their written commentary while making few revision suggestions. In fact, such praise might be helpful for Seo’s self-esteem and future writing.

    While positive notes about peer feedback were voiced by Seo, he also raised objections about peer feedback and even rejected such peers’ comments out of hand. Seo said, “I don’t have much confidence in my peers. I can’t trust entirely whether their evaluations are correct.” One of the limitations of the peer-reviewing process was linked to the low authority of the peers, which made their feedback somewhat less powerful. The feedback further lost its credibility when it was given by a person whose proficiency is deemed lower than Seo himself. He saw the value of peer comments not so much in terms of helping him actually make revisions but rather in terms of spotting and raising his awareness of the weaknesses in his own writing. What merits further exploration is the students’ own criteria, if any, in filtering their peers’ feedback. Thus, the criterion mentioned by Seo was, among other things, his perception of his peers’ L2 proficiency.

    For the feedback he received from both teachers and peers, Seo showed very different attitudes towards them. Seo provided more insights into the reasons why teacher commentaries were favored and what drawbacks he saw in the peer comments. Seo pointed out that he has more confidence in teacher comments because teacher comments were considered to be of better quality. As for teacher response, Seo said, “they were able to explain what the problems were, and were better able to provide direction for revision . . .” However, Seo felt that feedback received from classmates who were not native speakers of English is “a poor alternative to the ‘real thing’— that is, the teacher’s periodic red-penned notations” (Rollinson 2005, 23). He may feel instinctively that only a native speaker is qualified to comment on his written work. In a way, Seo admitted to feeling uncomfortable with some of the changes that his peers had suggested during peer feedback sessions:

    Thus, Seo said that upon reading the comments, he would make his own decision about whether to make the revisions or not: “I read all the comments first and think whether all the comments need to be considered . . . I will think it over again before deciding whether I will add some points or not in my second draft.” In other words, he is the one to make the final decision about his own text and not the reader. Seo felt that he had ownership of his own texts and did not feel obliged to incorporate any comments he disagreed with. At the very least, Seo incorporated peer comments into his compositions only when he agreed with his peers. Otherwise, he would ignore the comments. This issue is forcefully captured in Seo’s words:

       4. Won’s Increased Awareness of Her Own Text

    Often, Won was dissatisfied with the quality of peer comments, which were often not specific enough and did not explain what the problems were. She said, “. . . their comments aren’t of much quality.” Won admitted that she largely ignored such comments. This, however, does not mean that she did not see any value in getting feedback from peers. Won found it useful to have peers read her writing because they would be able to spot weaknesses that she herself would not be aware of. Nevertheless, she emphatically said that peer feedback was not the sole criterion used to make changes. Like Seo, Won was also reluctant to rely on her nonnative peers for feedback. The higher L2 proficiency her feedback provider has, the more likely it is that she would incorporate the feedback from that person into her own writing. Upon reflection, Won noted that:

    Interestingly, Won benefited more from reading the writing of their peers than from the written comments. The experience of being a reader made her give more consideration to her own potential readers, to which she had not previously paid attention. Won also pointed out that giving comments to their peers helped raise her awareness of the weaknesses in her own writings and to think of ways to improve them. In addition, Won’s increased awareness of the readers came from her experience of providing feedback with regards to others’ writing rather than receiving feedback. Won comes to realize that responding to peers’ writings is a learning process that will raise her awareness of what constitutes good and poor writing, help her identify her own strengths and weaknesses in writing, and make her texts more reader-friendly.

    For Won, responding to peers’ writing built the critical skills needed to analyze and revise her own writing. This is in line with Rollinson (2005) who states that peer feedback also trains students to be a critical reader on their own writing. Further, the importance pointed out here is that, when the student critically and carefully reads their friend’s writing, it is possible that they find mistakes that they made similarly on their own writings. There emerge the students as the readers who make revision based on their self-awareness, where the friend’s writing becomes a mirror that reflects their own writings. A simple, yet powerful, illustration was voiced by Won:

    Giving comments to her peers also helped her to respect others’ rights over their texts. Won often withheld comments that they thought might be offensive to other group members. She tried to avoiding ‘appropriating,” or “taking over” (Ferris & Hedgcock 2005, 191) her peers’ text. Reid (1994) spoke out loud against what she termed “the myths of appropriation,” arguing that writing teachers were sometimes failing to distinguish between appropriation and necessary intervention. It seemed clear to us that Won expressed a balance between the two concerns. In other words, she tried to maintain between the need not to hurt the writer’s feelings or force the writer to change her work and the need to say what she thinks about the essays. Indeed, Won emphasized the importance of preserving the writer’s original meaning. She said:

    In these four narratives, though we cannot compare revisions made after getting feedback from teachers with revisions made after getting feedback from peers, the practical benefits of peer feedback has been highlighted by the students. The feedback, according to Choi, could be even richer than that provided by the teacher, especially when students were experienced in responding to peer writing. She herself found the peer response experience “beneficial” (Mendonca & Johnson 1994, 765) and saw many advantages of working with peers.

    Shin, Seo, and Won all confessed that feedback givers, particularly due to their limitation as both developing writers and EFL learners, do not make meticulous and copious comments on their papers. Consequently, the feedback from the peers with lower proficiency could be more easily dismissed. To this point, Shin, Seo, and Won sometimes questioned the efficacy of peer feedback and were concerned about their peers’ competency to review their work. Especially, Seo did not have confidence in their peers who were non-native speakers of English, and did not think that they were able to provide good quality comments, as Leki (1990) and Nelson and Murphy (1993) observed. However, this practical limitation in turn allowed him to take a more active role in accepting and filtering feedback.

    In addition to practical benefits and limitations of peer feedback, as previously noted, peer feedback “fosters a myriad of communicative behaviors” (Villamil & de Guerrero 1996, 69) and highly complex sociocognitive interactions involving explaining, clarifying, and justifying. In a study of ESL students involved in peer response, de Guerrero and Villamil (1994) explored the social-cognitive dimensions of peer feedback from a Vygotskian perspective. With regard to cognitive stages of regulation during peer review sessions, they categorized students as object-regulated (the student is controlled by the draft and does not respond to suggestions from a peer), other-regulated (the student is guided by a peer), and self-regulated (the student is capable of independent problem solving and responds effectively and efficiently to suggestions from a peer).

    We observed that four students displayed particular behaviors that would characterize them as object-regulated, other-regulated, and selfregulated during peer feedback sessions. Choi generally took other people’s opinions and ideas, unless they were severely contrasted with her own. As for cognitive stages of regulation, citing de Guerrero and Villamil (1994), Choi was other-regulated. On the other hand, someone like Seo, who described himself as “stubborn” and “not flexible,” took quite a different stance towards peer feedback. Rather than accepting the feedback blindly, he first compared it with linguistic knowledge at his disposal and made judgments on whether to accept it or not. Consequently, he was more selective in taking feedback than Choi, thereby being more self-regulated in a Vygotskian sense.

    V. Conclusions

    With regard to the EFL students’ narrative considered here, all were attentive to the feedback they received. And the way in which these EFL writers talk about peer response activity reflects that they still welcome the peer feedback because of the benefits to be accrued from it. Although this study, covering only four EFL students in total, can hardly be considered conclusive, we attempt to offer a synthesis of their stories. First of all, students indicate that they received responses from “authentic readers” (Mittan 1989, 209). We do note, consequently, that students gain a clear understanding of readers’ needs by receiving feedback on what they did well and on what seems unclear. Certainly, as Caulk (1994) points out, the roles played by teachers and peers are “complementary rather than redundant” (186) in responding to EFL writing.

    Perhaps more great effect of peer feedback claimed by these students is that they take active roles in utilizing peer comments. Since they “feel uncertain about the validity of their classmates’ responses” (Ferris & Hedgcock 2005, 227), students feel that they have autonomy over their own text and can make their own decisions on whether they should accept their peer comments or not. This contrasts with their treatment of teacher comments that they accept begrudgingly even if they disagree with them, as in Seo’s case. Won also put that though she and her peers made the same mistakes, she was able to spot their mistakes but not her own. After all, responding to peers’ writing heightened Won’s awareness of her own problems. In the long-term effect of peer feedback, students become less reliant on the teacher and more confident in themselves as writers.

    Four EFL writers talked a lot, typically in a positive way, about peer response to their writing, yet they have expressed reservations about the extent to which they should put any credence in comments offered by their fellow students. Perhaps this is because their classmates are still developing writers and EFL learners. In turn, they were sometimes reluctant to accept the peers’ comments. Thus, in EFL contexts, L1 use can be suggested during peer feedback sessions. In particular, we have come to feel that L1 use enables both reviewers and receivers to have more productive peer review experiences. Additionally, we need to train students not “to see peer feedback as potentially bad advice” (Silva et al. 2003, 111). For this to happen, teachers should focus on training students to utilize their peers’ comments. Without such training, students will either ignore feedback or fail to use it constructively (Min 2005; 2006).

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