Is training student reviewers worth its while? A study of how training influences the quality of students’ feedback and writing

Rahimi, Mohammad
January 2013
Language Teaching Research;Jan2013, Vol. 17 Issue 1, p67
Academic Journal
Vygotsky-inspired sociocultural theory (Vygotsky, 1962) indicates that human learning is mainly a social and cultural process that occurs through meaningful negotiation and interaction (scaffolding) between learners. The present study investigates whether training student reviewers can help them provide stronger scaffolding for their peers through providing feedback of a higher quality than those who do not undergo such training. In other words, this study investigates the effect of training student reviewers on the quality of their feedback and the effect of their comments on the quality of the revisions as well as their writing in the long run. To this end, two groups of Iranian English as a Foreign Language (EFL) learners (n = 56) were randomly assigned to a trained group and an untrained group. The students in the trained group participated in two training sessions as well as student–teacher conferences, where they learned how to review a paragraph and provide effective feedback on it. The two groups then proceeded to review their peers’ writing. The results suggested that the trained students shifted attention from mere focus on formal aspects of writing to global comments (comments on the content and organization of writing) after training, while the feedback provided by untrained students mainly addressed formal errors. The results also indicated that the trained group made significant improvement in their writing in the long run and wrote paragraphs of a much higher quality as compared to the untrained group.


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