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Comments on a Quasi-experimental Study by Younghee Sheen

张慕凝

【Abstract】This paper makes comments on Younghee Sheens study on the differential effects of oral and written corrective feedback in the ESL classroom from the aspects of experiment design, data analysis, and implications.

【Key words】comments;experiment design;data analysis; implications

1. Introduction

Younghee Sheen form American University in Washington DC made a study of the differential effects of oral and written corrective feedback in the ESL classroom, which was to examine whether there is a differential effects on ESL learners acquisition of English articles for oral and written corrective feedback (CF).

2. Comments

2.1 Comments on the experiment design

This paper examines whether there is any difference between the effect of oral and written corrective feedback (CF) on learners accurate use of English articles. To this end, the current research presents the results of a quasi-experimental study with a pretest, immediate-posttest, delayed -posttest design, using 12 intact intermediate English-as-a-second-language classes with adult learners of various first language backgrounds.

As a quasi-experimental study, the experiment was carefully designed by Younghee Sheen in this study. Logically, he makes a plan for the experiment first and then implements it. In the stage of planning, a series of decisions are made. It is also necessary to mention that the narrative tasks are carefully chosen. The first one, “The Fox and Crow”, was to minimize the processing load on the learners when reproducing the narrative. The second story was constructed by the researcher; the goal was to create an interesting, yet simple story with easy vocabulary that afforded many instances of the two functions of articles.

Beyond such a nice experiment design, one thing that teachers or researcher should keep in mind is that experimental study has to some extent its unfairness to the students in the control group. So its better for them to apply some compensative measures to these students in order to help them gain the equal benefits of the treatment.

2.2 Comments on the data analysis

Statistical package for the social sciences (SPSS) is used in this study. All scores collected from the pretest, immediate-posttest, delayed-posttest, and an exit questionnaire were entered into SPSS for both descriptive and inferential statistics.

In order to answer the first research question of this study, a comparison of the oral recasts, written-direct, and control groups should be made. The author offers us a clear table of the descriptive statistics for the total scores derived from the dictation, writing, and error correction tests over the there testing periods, and also a figure to show the visual representation. About the second question, the same representation ways were applied. In addition, a two-way repeated-measures ANOVA was used to deal with the Time×Treatment interaction, a one-way ANOVA was applied to analyze whether the differences in the groups scores on the pretest were statistically significant.

2.3. Comments on the Implications

Although the current study was carried out with a careful research design, using a series of instruments that had previously been tested in a pilot study in the same research site, a number of short comings must be acknowledged. First, the testing instruments did not include a measure of the learners unplanned oral production, such as an open-ended spontaneous speaking task or an oral elicited imitation test; Second, this study examined the effects of CF on just two relatively simple functions of English articles: the indefinite article a and the definite article the. Given the complex nature of articles, the findings of this study can not be directly generalized to the acquisition of articles as a whole. Third, the treatment was admittedly short. Finally, the students in the written CF treatment groups were not required to revise their writing, which might be considered a limitation.

3. Conclusion

Younghee Sheen carefully and thoroughly designed the study of finding out the differential effects of oral and written corrective feedback in the ESL classroom, from which teachers can get useful implications. Addition, novice researchers can learn from Younghee Sheen the way to do research.

(作者单位:拉萨师范高等专科学校)

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