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Volume 19 Number 1, Spring 2022, Pages 1-397   


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L2 Writers' Response to and Use of Teacher Feedback: An Activity Theory Perspective

    Lam Tsui Eu Sandra


Despite the oft-cited preference for teacher feedback over peer feedback among L2 writers, it has not been established if this preference leads to its greater effectiveness in revising. This paper reports data from a multiple case study that investigated twelve L2 writers engaged in academic writing in their preference and use of feedback in revising. The participants had access to both peer and teacher feedback to their writing in a web-based feedback platform - SWoRD. Sources of data included stimulated recall interviews, questionnaires, focused diary entries, drafts of writing and records of feedback on writing. The theoretical lens of “contradictions” (Activity Theory) surfaced two contradictions in the activity system: that between the L2 writer (‘Subject'), teacher feedback (‘Tool') and preference for teacher feedback (‘Rules') and that between “Writer as Author” (‘Division of Labour') and preference for teacher feedback (‘Rules'). The first uncovered students' dissatisfaction with teacher feedback arising from perceived time constraint on the teacher's part in giving feedback which could possibly explain the less-than-expected impact of teacher feedback on revisions. The second delineates three reasons why learners might reject teacher feedback: sense of text ownership, lack of understanding of and lack of proficiency to deal with teacher feedback.

Keywords: preference of feedback, teacher feedback, L2 writers, academic writing, use of feedback, Activity Theory