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Extra info for Applied Linguistics, volume 31, issue 2 , 2010

Sample text

In this delayed post-test, their accuracy levels fell. A post hoc review of the students’ scripts revealed a higher article overuse— a phenomenon that can sometimes arise when meta-linguistic feedback or instruction has just been provided. Like earlier findings (Bitchener 2008; Bitchener and Knoch 2008a, 2008b, 2009), the study revealed that the simple provision of error correction was just as effective as the additional provision of written and oral meta-linguistic explanation. Although Bitchener (2008) found that only two of the three treatment groups outperformed the control group (there was no significant difference between participants who received direct error correction with written meta-linguistic explanation and those who received no feedback), the observed differences between the three treatment groups was found to not be statistically significant.

Because of the difficulty in accessing participants over an extensive period of time, the sample size, while acceptable, was smaller than one would have wished for. Second, the study was interested in examining the effect of typical WCF practices in second language classrooms, practices that on some occasions involve only direct error correction, practices that on other occasions add written meta-linguistic explanation and or oral meta-linguistic explanation. Consequently, it is not possible to determine if, in cases where direct error correction together with written and/or oral meta-linguistic explanation are provided, the findings can be attributed to the effect of one or more of the feedback variables.

BITCHENER and U. KNOCH 197 is evidence to support an abandonment of the practice. Given the design and analytical shortcomings of these studies (Ferris 2003; Guenette 2007; Sheen 2007; Bitchener and Knoch 2008a), such conclusions need to be read with caution. Since making this claim, an expanding research base has been considering (i) whether or not WCF can help learners improve the accuracy of their writing and thereby facilitate the acquisition process and (ii) the relative effectiveness of different types of WCF.

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