The debate on written corrective feedback (CF) has attracted much attention since Truscott (1996) claimed that it is not effective, has no support from research, and may even be detrimental for learners. Responding to this claim, Ferris (1999) argued that Truscott’s judgment was premature. She further stated that there should be more studies conducted on this topic to provide a clear answer. For more than a decade later, many studies have been conducted in response to Ferris’ (1999) call (e.g. Bitchener, 2008; Bitchener and Knoch, 2008, 2009; Ellis, Sheen, Murakami and Takashima, 2008) and recent studies have proven that under some circumstances, written CF could be effective to improve learner’s linguistic accuracy without altering the syntactic complexity of their writing (Hartshorn, Evans, Merril, Sudweeks and Strong-Krause, 2010; Van Beuningen, De Jong and Kuiken, 2011).
Although the studies on the efficacy of written CF are quite large in number, the literature on teachers’ and learners’ belief and perception about written CF is very limited. It is unfortunate, because knowing teachers’ point of view about this topic is important, for “teachers must constantly make decisions about what to do‒and what not to do‒ in their classes,” and “these decisions are necessarily made under conditions of uncertainty: research never puts an end to doubt. But the choices still must be made, and made constantly” (Truscott, 1999, p. 121).
Similar to Truscott’s view, Kumaradivelu (1994) pointed out that when theories and studies have not yet provided a firm and clear solution for a problem, teachers usually response pragmatically and this response is based on their experience, training, observation, and even intuition. Thus, investigations on teachers’ (and learners’) belief and perception about written CF are important, because they may provide information to comprehend the function of written CF in a holistic way.
This paper aims at investigating teachers’ and students’ perception about written CF. This paper will specifically try to answer the following questions:
1) To what extent written corrective feedback is actually applied in classrooms?
2) How teachers and students perceive written corrective feedback?
To answer the questions, I will start by defining written CF. Having a clear definition is important to set up a clear parameter, so it would be easy to decide what should and should not be included in the discussion. After that, I will provide a brief review of some studies conducted on perceptions about written CF, and then move to a discussion to answer the questions. Possible implication and suggestion will also be addressed at the end of the discussion.
Defining Written Corrective Feedback
Truscott (1996) defined written CF as “correction of grammatical errors for the purpose of improving a students’ ability to write accurately” (p.331), making the term focused on the grammatical accuracy of learner’s...