Students' Response to Peer and Teacher Feedback in a First-Year Writing Course

  • Luanga A Kasanga Department of English Language and Literature, Sultan Qaboos University, Oman
Keywords: Process writing, English for academic purposes, Academic writing, Reader response, Peer and teacher feedback


This article reports on the findings of a classroom-based study of the use in combination of peer feedback and teacher feedback in process writing by first-year university students at the revision stage. A peer-reviewing activity was carried out (following a survey of more than 250 students) in normal classroom writing activities with 52 first-year students from two tutorial groups taking an academic writing course. Two short (pre- and post-reviewing) questionnaires were administered to identify problems in and possibilities for using both peer and teacher feedback in student writing. The study confirmed the prediction of the preference of teacher feedback over peer feedback and, concomitantly, greater use of the former. It also resulted in the following findings: an unexpectedly high level of willingness to engage in peer reviewing by the majority of the students (more as reviewers than as recipients of the feedback); and, in some cases, correspondingly actual use of the feedback in revision; notable differences in the types of feedback from peers and from the tutor, a result suggesting the complementary roles played by the two main sources of feedback in revision; some explicit reasons for failure (decision not) to use peer feedback, much less explicit for not using teacher feedback in revision. In conclusion, there was evidence of greater feasibility than had been expected of the introduction of multiple-draft multiple-reader writing instruction at first-year. The study also showed how a "negotiated" classroom practice may become "accepted" practice, in spite of presumably unfavourable sociocultural and educational traditions. The findings reported in this article have implications for writing pedagogy at tertiary level in South Africa (and may be useful elsewhere).

Key Words: Process writing; English for academic purposes; Academic writing; Reader response; Peer and teacher feedback.

Journal for Language Teaching Vol.38(1) 2004: 64-99

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eISSN: 0259-9570