Case Study: Learner Attitudes Towards the Correction of Mistakes

Galina Kavaliauskienė, Lilija Anusienė

Abstract


The objective of the research is to explore learner attitudes to correction of mistakes or feedback as a language learning tool in oral, electronically- and paper-written work as well as peer correction of mistakes.
Feedback is a method used in the teaching of languages to improve performance by sharing observations, concerns and suggestions with regard to written work or oral presentation. It includes not only correcting learners, but also assessing them. Both correction and assessment depend on mistakes being made, reasons for mistakes, and class activities. Recently the value of feedback in language studies has been a matter of debate among language teaching practitioners. The research into the effects of feedback is far from conclusive. Teachers’ and students’ expectations toward feedback are found to be opposing, and the most frequent reason given is its negative impact on students’ confidence and motivation. However, at the university level the issue of feedback has been examined in passing and there is insufficient research into learner attitudes to feedback in English for Specific Purposes.
The hypothesis for the present study is to find out whether criticism has a negative impact on student confidence and whether perceptions of feedback depend on professional specialization.
The research methods. A survey of students’ perceptions of teachers’ feedback in various class activities was administered to various groups of undergraduate students of psychology and penitentiary law. Statistical treatment of students’ responses using Statistical Package for the Social Sciences software (SPSS) was carried out in order to establish the level of significance for the two small samples of participants.
The respondents in this research participated students of two different specializations, penitentiary law and psychology, who study English for Specific Purposes at the Faculty of Social Policy, Mykolas Romeris University in Vilnius, Lithuania.
The results obtained. The results indicated that feedback was considered helpful though correction of written work was more appreciated than correction of speech. Students believe that in order to improve their writing skills, it is necessary to receive teacher feedback on written work both on paper or submitted electronically. They prefer immediate correction of errors in spite of its impracticality and claim that individual correction of mistakes by teacher is useful. Differences between the responses of students who study two disciplines were slight. Attitudes to feedback do not differ significantly—specialization is not very relevant. Criticism isn’t meant to undermine self-esteem, though some students were more confident than other students. Perceived merits of oral, handwritten, electronic, teacher and peer feedback as well as the value of statistical analysis in interpretation of data are discussed in this study. All the things considered might help learners be successful in improving language skills. It is generally believed that by making the students aware of the mistakes they make, and by getting them to act on those mistakes in some way, the students will assimilate the corrections and eventually not make those same mistakes in the future.
Research limitations. A limited number of respondents might raise a question of the reliability of the findings and require a further study into the issue.
Practical implications. The analysis of the responses by means of SPSS suggests that, in spite of the limited number of the respondents, the results may be extended beyond the studied samples.
Originality. The value of this study encompasses the statistical approach to data analysis, which proves that the findings are reliable.

Keywords


English for Specific Purposes; teacher’s feedback to written work and oral production; peers feedback

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"Social Technologies" ISSN online 2029-7564