NU Ideas Volume 3, Number 1

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Nagoya University Multidisciplinary Journal

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Feedback on Feedback: An Analysis of L2 Writers’ Evaluations of Proofreaders

Mark Rebuck
Meijo University

Most research into second language (L2) writers’ feedback preferences has been in the context of L2 writing classes with students responding to teachers’ feedback. The present study, however, sought to ascertain writers’ perceptions of corrective feedback provided by proofreaders, both native speakers (NSs) and nonnative speakers (NNSs) of English, recruited by an English language-check service in a Japanese graduate school. The aim of this piece of exploratory research was practical: to improve academic feedback through a deeper understanding of the student writers’ perceptions of different feedback styles and strategies. In the study, 15 students ranked the usefulness of the feedback provided by six anonymous proofreaders on the same sample of high-stakes writing. Students were also required to add comments to elucidate the rankings assigned. An analysis of the ranks and the writers’ holistic impressions suggested, amongst other things, that most writers preferred direct feedback over indirect, and were more averse to erroneous correcting of content than of language. The study also revealed that feedback provided by NNSs often outranked that given by NSs, although, partly because of the small sample size, no firm conclusions were drawn from this finding.

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