Examining emotional responses to written feedback and the role emotions play on second language writing performance




Malec, Alesia

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The influence of affective factors on learning has been studied by researchers in a range of disciplines, including within SLA research, where tests measuring anxiety specific to second language writing have been developed (Cheng, 2004). Recent studies on instructor perceptions show increasing numbers of second language learners (SLL) enrolled in mainstream university courses with instructors providing varying types of feedback to these learners. The current study investigates how the writing anxiety of second language learners in a mainstream context may relate to writing performance and how feedback anxiety resulting from one written assignment may be connected to writing performance on a subsequent assignment. Using modified writing anxiety survey instruments, 16 SLLs enrolled in two mainstream university English composition courses (taught by two instructors) completed two surveys, an informal interview, and an online questionnaire about feedback on two writing assignments prepared for their course; feedback and a grade from one assignment and a grade from a second assignment were also collected. Mainstream instructors were found to balance feedback provided to learners between content and organization feedback and grammatical feedback, similar to findings on feedback practices for second language instructors (Evans et al., 2010). Statistical analyses between survey results and grades revealed negative (non-statistically significant) correlations between anxiety scores (from surveys) and grades. Participants expressed 16 different emotions in response to feedback through qualitative data collection methods (open-ended survey questions, interviews, and online questionnaire); hope, acceptance, and anxiety were the three most commonly emotions reported. The number and complexity of emotional responses reported indicate that anxiety is only one of numerous responses to feedback and research on the effects of affective factors on learning may benefit from investigations of other emotions, including pleasant or positive emotions. Two data collection methods converged in reporting that nearly all participants made use of feedback through one or more forms of follow up action. Continued research into the complex emotions inspired by writing feedback may provide a deeper understanding of how SLLs may moderate their own emotional responses and provide instructors insight into additional factors that may affect learners’ writing performance.



academic emotions, second language acquisition, second language writing, written corrective feedback, anxiety, feedback, second language anxiety, SLA, WCF, feedback perceptions