Technology mediated written corrective feedback in the Danish lower secondary classroom

Hanne Wacher Kjaergaard

Research output: Book/Report/PhD thesisPhD thesisResearchpeer-review


The provision of written corrective feedback (WCF) is a fundamental activity for language teachers, and an area that has been researched extensively, especially for the past 20 years. Writing and feedback on writing hold great potential for students’ language acquisition, and research has provided evidence of what constitutes the feedback with the greatest potential for student learning, knowledge stemming from both cognitive and sociocultural approaches. However, although language teachers spend much time on providing WCF, they tend to have little faith in the effect of their efforts.

Research into what teachers think, know, and believe belongs to the research field of teacher cognition, an area that has had an increased focus on language teachers over the past decades. This research recognizes the importance of the teacher and has highlighted e.g. the relation between teachers’ beliefs and practices as well as change in these.

In a Danish context, teacher beliefs and practices concerning WCF in the lower secondary English classroom, where English is a foreign language, have never been looked into. An initial study showed that, despite the fact that Danish schools make up a technology-rich environment, Danish teachers do not use technology for providing WCF, just as their practices do not necessarily live up to what is known from research concerning useful feedback.

Combining the research fields of written corrective feedback, teacher cognition, and technology, this study investigates the changes in teachers’ beliefs and practices concerning WCF when they are part of an intervention which aims to introduce them to recent research evidence and introduce them to technology as a tool for mediating their feedback. The connection of theoretical knowledge with the introduction of a new technology is seen as essential, especially since technology in and of itself does not lead to specific change.

Since students’ beliefs and practices often reflect teachers’ beliefs and practices, teacher changes during the intervention are believed to be of consequence to the students. Therefore, a secondary aim of the study is to investigate changes in student beliefs and practices concerning WCF.

Methodologically, the study is a mixed-methods, 9-month intervention study with three cases, each case being one teacher and her approx. 20 eighth-grade students. In the primary field of investigation (teacher beliefs and practices) only qualitative methods are used, data being interviews, sound recordings from paper returning sessions, and document study, especially of teachers’ WCF. The secondary field of investigation (student beliefs and practices) involves group interviews as well as questionnaires and quantitative data. Qualitative data in the study was coded in NVivo using both deductive and inductive codes.

The intervention consisted of two workshops: One where state-of-the art research knowledge was discussed and related to teacher beliefs and practices, and one where teachers were scaffolded in setting up metalinguistic categories and explanations in the program to be used: Markin. This program was chosen as a result of a systematic comparison of seven potentially relevant WCF programs.

The investigation finds that, in the course of the intervention, both teachers’ beliefs and practices change: Teachers came to be more confident of the effect of their WCF provision since they saw students having been allowed more agency through the demand for students’ revision and resubmission of papers. Additionally, teachers changed their grammar teaching or use of grammar resources, something that may be related to the metalinguistic categories and explanations used in Markin. Furthermore, they perceived that they provided WCF of a higher quality, among other things because they started providing more systematic, actionable feedback, allowing students to take on new, more active roles rather than being passive receivers. It was thus seen that Markin supported changes in both their beliefs and practices, changes which made their practices more aligned with research evidence concerning useful WCF. It also appears that the changes in their beliefs are related to the experiences of increased meaningfulness and success with the new practices. They very much seem to ascribe this to their feedback being mediated by Markin – despite the existence of technological barriers – as well as to the students’ now revising and resubmitting their papers.

Other aspects of teachers’ beliefs and practices were stable, e.g. their concern for students as seen in their attention to differentiation and focusing of errors. This was to be expected as these beliefs were not targeted and as they belong to the realm of core or generally stable beliefs. Particularly in one aspect, expected change did not occur: Teachers did not make consistent use of the tools provided by Markin to ensure connections between a student’s papers in the course of the year, something which may be relatable to the fact that they did not have enough time or practice to reach levels of mastery in their use of the program.

Changes in student beliefs and practices were also seen: Students generally saw added meaning to their work with writing papers and receiving FB, and they perceived an increase in learning outcome. They also appreciated the increased agency and self-regulation, among other things due to the built-in possibility of self-differentiating the degree of assistance they required to rectify an error. Due to the revision requirements, students naturally spent more time attending to the WCF given, and in this process, there was an increase in their use of grammar resources.
Translated title of the contributionIt-medieret skriftlig feedback i engelskundervisningen i udskolingen
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationAarhus
PublisherAarhus Universitet
Number of pages275
Publication statusPublished - 3 Apr 2018


  • continuing education
  • teacher education

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