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Volume 6 Number 4, Winter 2009, Pages 1-296   

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Indirect Feedback: A Plausible Suggestion for Overcoming Error Occurrence in L2 Writing

    Sogand Noroozizadeh

Despite the significant emphasis that process-oriented research has laid on content as compared to mechanical aspects of L2 writing (Raimes, 1983; Spack & Sadow, 1983; Taylor, 1981), many written products are difficult to understand owing to their grammatical inaccuracies (Ferris, 2002). There has been an ongoing controversy in the literature regarding the plausibility of error correction, in general and the extent to which direct vs. indirect error corrective feedback could affect overcoming grammatical inaccuracies in L2 writing, in particular (Ferris, 1999a; Truscott, 1996, 1999). Hence, the present study was an attempt at finding out whether indirect feedback on certain error categories as compared to direct feedback on every single error could have any significant effect on improving the students' L2 writing ability. Therefore, 44 Ph.D. students of an advanced Academic English writing course were randomly selected from 90 homogeneous students among a total population of 118 students majoring in different engineering fields. Having randomly divided the subjects into two groups of 22 students, the researcher further assigned 8 essays to be written on suggested subjects during one semester. One group was provided with indirect feedback on certain error categories and required to further self-edit the errors marked by the teacher and also provide a revised draft of their texts. The other group was exposed to direct feedback in terms of detailed comments on every single error they had made. Both groups were also required to correct the error categories they could possibly discern in 50 erroneous sentences containing 159 errors from 9 error categories. The results revealed that there was a significant difference regarding the error categories properly identified and corrected by the indirect feedback group. Moreover, there was a significant difference in the writing ability of the indirect feedback group as compared to that of the direct feedback group.

Keywords: error category, error correction, direct error corrective feedback, indirect error corrective feedback