Feedback practices in English writing skills at tertiary level in Vietnam

2017-02-26T23:57:39Z (GMT) by Nguyen, Thi Ha
Due to the dominant role of English as a foreign language (EFL) in Vietnam, the ongoing issue of education reform in EFL teaching and learning has been taken into consideration among Vietnamese educators in recent years. Approaches to teaching and learning English language skills attract ample attention from Vietnamese teachers and learners especially in tertiary education. Of the four macro language skills, writing is not pursued as much as the other skills, since it demands much effort from teachers and learners. Indeed, giving feedback on English writing is a time-consuming task, which can lead to teachers’ unwillingness to teach the productive skill. Thus, it can be of great significance to investigate feedback approaches in English writing skills and suggest solutions to improve the teaching and learning quality of the skill in this EFL context. This study draws on the two concepts, namely assessment for learning and metacognition, to highlight the significant role of feedback practices in promoting and consolidating students’ learning processes. By investigating student and teacher perceptions of feedback practices in English writing at tertiary level, the study aims at examining current feedback practices in an English writing course at one university in Vietnam, and based on the information and the two theoretical concepts mentioned, it develops, pilots and critically analyses a model of feedback practices in the same context. The study sits in the constructivist paradigm and applies a qualitative research design through a case study of sixteen English major students, two teaching assistants, and two lecturers in charge of English writing skills. The major tools for gathering data included semi-structured interviews, class observations, and document collection of student writing, syllabi of the two writing semesters, and the curriculum of the BA in the TEFL program. Content analysis and case analysis were employed to interpret the data to seek responses to the research questions. The major findings of the study revealed three kinds of feedback practices being utilized in the two EFL writing classes, namely written feedback, oral feedback, and peer feedback. Some issues emerged from the implementation regarding the effectiveness of each feedback type. Student and teacher participants also expressed their expectations for innovation in each feedback approach. Accordingly, a jigsaw feedback model encompassing five feedback activities was developed and piloted in these English writing classes. The development of the model highlighted the significance of formative assessment and metacognition in developing EFL students’ writing skills. Participants’ evaluation of the piloted model showed that it had four major strengths and three limitations. The strengths of the model included: (1) appreciation of pedagogy innovation, (2) appreciation of student writing improvement, (3) appreciation of the teaching assistant’s feedback, and (4) appreciation of students’ positive engagement with feedback approaches. Limitations of the model were discovered in: (1) participants’ sceptical views toward the accuracy of peer feedback, (2) students’ reluctance to keep portfolios, and (3) one-off seminar. A number of solutions were then suggested to maximize the strengths and minimize the limitations for further implementation of the jigsaw feedback model in EFL writing classes.