Direct and indirect teacher corrective feedback and learners’ writing ability in secondary schools
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The purpose of this study was to find out the better strategy in helping learners revise and edit their grammar errors in writing; a strategy that helps them think about their errors, process the corrections and attempt repairs and modifications so as to produce meaningful, relevant and error free texts. It was conceptualized from the understanding that implicit and explicit error feedback strategies and learners' opinions on these methods of error feedback influence learners’ writing ability. The specific objectives of the study included finding out whether direct written corrective feedback and indirect written corrective feedback help learners to revise and edit grammatical errors in their writing; and finding out the opinions of learners about the two methods of teacher error feedback. A sample of 115 respondents in the Western Ugandan District of Kabale was used. Two schools formed the representative sample population and from each school, a specific class was chosen for the experiment. Respondents were secondary school students of Senior Three and four teachers who were interviewed to verify the information got from the students. A quantitative quasi-experimental design was employed plus some qualitative methods of data collection using tools like structured questionnaires and oral interviews. The results of the study were analysed by laying out the number grammatical errors which appeared in the leaners’ writings and the outcome measure was then studied to determine the group of respondents that registered a reduction in the number of the selected error types for this study. Learner’s responses from the questionnaires were quantified using the SPSS software package so as to analyse them more objectively and compare them to the results got through the use of other research instruments. Results show that both types of feedback helped students to revise and edit their texts. Although direct feedback reduced students’ errors in the rewrite, it did not improve students’ accuracy in a different topic. Indirect teacher error feedback helped the students reduce more errors than direct teacher error feedback on a new topic. Interview results show that students have a strong preference for the direct teacher error feedback method, but the indirect teacher error method supported the learners better in editing their grammar errors. Overall results imply that providing corrective feedback on students’ writing is very supportive to students’ in improving accuracy in their writing. However, indirect teacher corrective feedback makes learners more autonomous in error correction than the direct feedback strategy because of its spoon feeding effect. Teachers should, therefore, give learners as more opportunities as possible to correct their errors before providing them with the correct forms. On the other hand, teachers should use the direct feedback strategy at the beginning of writing course and progressively change to the indirect feedback strategy.