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Peer Feedback In Learning The English Language English Language Essay

“Influenced by the shift in pedagogical focus from product to process in the L1 writing field, L2 writing researchers and teachers also began to pay considerable attention to peer feedback”. (Taeko Kamimura, 2006).

“I have two eyes. Classmates and I have eight eyes. So we can see more clear”. “Also, I can learn from other students’ paper. It is because I can aware of their weak points and also can learn from their strength.” (Jabcobs, Curtis, Braine and I-wang (1998))

R7: In the past two decades, peer feedback has been increasingly used in English as a Second/Foreign Language (ESL/EFL) writing instruction.

Peer feedback is assumed to be one of the most important and update factors that affect the success of teaching and learning process - oriented writing skill in ESL/EFL classroom. When peer feedback occurs in any stages of writing practice, it helps to emphasize the importance of student - centeredness and improve their writing skill somehow.

In Vietnam, more and more teachers try to use peer correction in teaching, especially writing skill. The reason is that it can help them to deal with some problems. Firstly, with large class, peer feedback is a very effective way to involve students in writing process in realizing and correcting each other independently of the teacher, bettering their critical thinking and improving their writing skill step by step, etc. Moreover, peer feedback can help teacher to solve the problem of fearing the boring endless writing circle which teacher assign students a topic then students try to finish it and give to their teacher who is in charge of giving comments by mostly correct grammar mistakes or wrong words usage. It is such an incredible work when a teacher has to give comments for 40 students at the same time. Therefore, teachers do not have enough time to explain each student’s mistakes which is a good way for them to understand the mistakes and avoid them in their later compositions. Normally when students get their writing back, they first just focus on the marks then have a look at their teacher’s suggestions and next time maybe they will make the same mistakes. Hence, it takes a long time to see students’ writing improvement. From all of these difficulties above, peer feedback seems to be a magic tool that helps teacher and students to solve their problems. Yet, students do not still realize peer review’s benefits and use them often in writing classes.

Although previous studies have investigated the correlation between peer feedback and student’s writing improvement, some of them still suggest teacher feedback in composition class. In order to have deep understanding about this issue, the purpose of this paper is to examine previous researchers try to find out the effectiveness of peer feedback in improving student’s writing skill.

Eight researches with the same concerns will be included and most of them mainly in Asian contexts from 1993 to 2010.

This paper will consist of 6 main sections. It starts with some relevant literature followed by the method of these researches. Next, the findings of eight researches will be discussed followed the relevant literature’s points. An exemplary study which I find the most useful will be presented in the fourth section. Last but not least, the limitations and further research will also be included in this paper.


Peer feedback and its characteristics:

Lockhart and Ng,’s (1993) belief of peer feedback is suggested as “ Rather than relying solely on the teacher, students could have their peers respond to their drafts and help them to review and revise their writing. Such an approach to feedback involves students critically reading and discussing each others’ drafts”. To confirmed this definition, Paulus (1999) considered that “Peer feedback is one part of the feedback and revision process of ESL writing classes”.

According to Tang and Tithecott (1999), students in peer feedback stage participate in some “sociocognitive activities” such as: “reading, evaluating, pointing to trouble sources, writing comments, and discussing task procedures, as well as substrategies for providing scaffolding that students employed in peer response sessions either during peer interaction or during the revision process”.

Many researchers agree that peer feedback can be organized either in pair or group. However, Min (2005) in Miaoa, Badger and Zhenc’ research (2006) concluded that ‘‘the use of paired peer review is preferred by most EFL students’’ (p. 296).

Positive effects of peer feedback on students' writing improvement.

Among 8 studies, 5 of them review previous researchers by using ideas of the authors including Chaudron (1984), Keh (1990), Elbow (1981), Nystrand (1986) and Clifford (1981), et al. All of them shared the same agreement about the benefits of peer feedback in improving students’ writing. This approach is considered to have several positive effects:

Through peer response, student writers can gain a sense of a wider audience than is represented in the viewpoint of one teacher The reactions, questions, and responses from this audience often provide an impetus for revision.

Since students play the role of both audience and writer, they are able to gain a clearer understanding of what a reader needs, and by responding critically to classmates’ writing, students practice the critical thinking they must apply to their own work.

Students increase their insights into writing and revising processes by having to read each others’ drafts .

Peer response may be more informative than teacher feedback because it is given at the learner's level of development and interest .

Rather than the teacher appropriating the student's ideas in teacher feedback, peer negotiation provides student writers an opportunity to discover their own meaning and to learn how to convey that meaning through the written mode.

Peer response groups can enhance attitudes towards writing, reduce writing anxiety, and increase motivation to write and revise.

The teacher saves time because not every draft need be read and commented on and because the quality of the texts that the teacher does read is improved.

The impact of peer feedback on student’s revisions

Some of the researches reveal previous studies’ result of Nelson and Murphy (1993) and Mendonca and Johnson (1994) that students are willing to use their friends’ comments as an useful suggestion with their original draft (E.g. 53%)

However, in a study of Connor and Asenavage (1994) only 5% student’s revision combines their peer’s responses “although recognizing the importance of peer feedback”.

Student’s attitude / preference / perception toward peer feedback (in comparison with teacher feedback & other sources):

The eight chosen articles include some studies of researchers who are same interested in finding the preference of students when using peer feedback in comparison with teacher’s feedback and other feedback source. The result is mixed. Some research told the audience that teacher feedback is more preferable and influential than peer feedback when students revising their drafts because students always believe that “teacher feedback was more accurate, more to the point, and more trustworthy than peer feedback”. However, R7 Hyland’s (1998) and Goldstein’s studies (2006) claimed that some students change their final writing with suggestions from their teacher’s comment “without understanding its necessity”. In somehow, “the students' comments had specific roles in fostering their sense of authentic audience and ownership of text and contributed to raising their awareness of both strengths and weaknesses in their own compositions” (R2: Tsui and Ng (2000)

More interestingly, R1: Hedgcock and Jerkewitz (1992) said that students’ revisions are improved in form aspect (grammar) while those ones with peer comments will be better in terms of meaning, structure and lexical aspect (“content, organization and vocabulary”).

The need to have peer feedback training in advance:

Some views of previous researchers explained the reasons why peer feedback give students many benefits but they are still not prefer in comparison with teacher feedback. The answer is that students do not have enough understanding about the importance of peer correction and techniques to take part in complicated peer feedback tasks or integrate their friend’s comments to revise their previous draft. .

Therefore, “preliminary training is a key that determines the success of the use of peer feedback in ESL/EFL writing instruction” (Stanley (1992) and Berg (1999))

In sum, the background literature above provides useful basic knowledge about peer feedback in teaching and learning process - oriented writing skill in ESL/EFL classroom and give the skeleton which the findings in the next section follows.



The participants in 8 studies are Asian students from mainly Japanese, Hong Kong, Taiwan and China, etc. colleges or universities. This feature of participants shows that teachers and learners in Asian counties pay considerable attention to peer feedback on Asian students’ writing improvement. The subject’s levels in these researches are from low intermediate to high proficiency and some students have experience with TOELF or IELTS. While 6 groups are mixed level in English, 2 of them learn English as their major. The numbers of participants include 6 small scale groups from 11 to 56 students and 2 large one consisting of 81 and 121 students. Among 8 studies, there are 3 groups which do not have sex description but the rest is the combination of male and female. More than half of 8 groups have acquaintance with peer feedback training in writing in advance.


To understand about the effectiveness of the peer feedback to student’s writing improvement, most of the researches use multi-drafts (pre-test, post-test, original draft, revision), questionnaires with rating scale or open questions which need explanation. All of these are used to see how much students can improve after receiving feedback from their friends and whether those peer feedback affect their revisions or not. There are two researches using interview method to understand more about students’ feelings and attitude to peer response. In addition, one study observe the interactions of students in peer feedback process by video recording and audiotapes. The similarity of some researches when using peer feedback in t-test with criteria worksheet is included for students to give comments.

Data analysis:

The data are collected and analyzed by both quality and quantity approach in which the data are compared, using Taxonomy of revisions and chi-square test.


Positive effects of peer feedback on students' writing improvement.

In 8 researches about peer feedback in students’ writing improvement, 5 studies deal with its positive effects. It is believed that students can see the benefits that peer feedback gives them in composition classes. Nho co so sanh voi phan ly thuyet tren

- In Lockhart and Ng, (1993), the findings state very clearly that peer feedback works with their writing progress. 37 out 56 students commented that peer feedback can be valuable for them to “improve their writing and their writing skills” in terms of making some necessary change in their compositions, sharpening their writing skills, getting peer’s suggestions for mistakes, etc. In addition, the second usefulness of peer response is the interest to be as real readers and raise their role as readers when reading other’s writing. Next, 78% of the participants proposed peer feedback as their choice because they can exchange their own idea in a relaxed atmosphere without stress. The strength of this research is that it can able to find out the positive and negative factors peer feedback carried out. For example, some students did not know how to give comments to their friends or when they feel their partners’ essays are boring to read or they do not dare to give corrections to their friends directly or disagree with their friends in some areas of mistakes, etc.

- Kamimura’s (2006) research, by using t-test formula, the result shows that the students’ score is twofold higher in the post - test in comparison with the pre - test. It means that there is a considerable increase in quality of writing when peer feedback is used. In addition, the change in fluency between pre- and post test also appears.

- In Tang and Tithecott’s study (1999), with great advantages, peer feedback is considered as a suggestion for teachers when teaching writing skill. The result points out that the participants think of peer response with optimistic thoughts although the result varies from 50% to 63.7% then 44.4% in first journal, second one and the last one at the end of the semester. Talking about the positive effect of peer feedback on their writing improvement, Yukiko said that: ““ People in my group including me don't hesitate to say both positive and negative parts so we all can be encouraged and know what is wrong with our essays. I think I am, or we are all helping with our essays”. In addition, this research also found what field that peer feedback in group can provide the participants in terms of improving their listening and speaking skill, identify grammar mistakes, words and sentences usage by others, increase their self confidence and how to give feedback in a polite way without making others hurts, etc.

- In Miaoa, Badger and Zhenc (2006), in case study, peer feedback is the first choice of students (70%) in comparison with teacher feedback. 2 reasons are used to explain students’ preference including: “(a) learning from others’ strong points to offset their own weaknesses and (b) communicating with each other to enhance understanding and explore better solutions to writing problems”. Moreover, peer feedback can help students to maintain and increase learner-centeredness in such non-western education environment.

- In Jabcobs, Curtis, Braine and I-wang (1998), with 2 groups of participants from Taiwan and Hong Kong, 93% students emphasized that peer feedback stands at the highest position in the list of 3 kinds of feedback in writing received from giving feedback on their peers’ writing. The reason for this positive preference is that students can get their own experience from their partner’s strong and weaknesses’ essays. Peer feedback in this research is suggested as “more understanding, provided encouragement, were less threatening, and, because of teachers’ heavy workload, could supply more feed- back.”

The impact of peer feedback on student’s revisions:

- In Kamimura (2006) research, there is both quality and fluency improvement in the writing revision of students in both low and high proficient groups as a result of their having the positive attitude with peer response. That is, more than 90% of the participants in the research value their partners’ comments and their scores as well as the number of words increase between the first drafts and their last ones. More interestingly, peer comments help the lower-level class achieve a better improvement in their revisions which “produce longer rewrites compared with the original drafts”.

- In Tang and Tithecott (1999), 7/12 participants (58%) accepted their friends’ feedback and tried to use them in their final drafts although students claimed that the change in the revision is not remarkable.

- In Lockhart and Ng, (1993), with the question “What did students find useful when using peer feedback?”, the choice “students found peer response useful in revising their drafts ” with mean is 2.94 on a scale from 1 to 4. They argued that their revisions will be improved because peer feedback can “provide more ideas”, suggest “different points of views”, be useful to “clarify their ideas”, “know which point to elaborate” and “what information to include or exclude”

- In Miaoa, Badger and Zhenc (2006). The purpose of this study is to understand students’ preference in 2 groups receiving teacher feedback and peer feedback. Although teacher feedback is more trustful than student feedback, “98% revisions that were traced to peer feedback were successful, as against 87 % for the teacher feedback group”.

- However, in Paulus (1999), going Miaoa tren, students’ revisions are successful thanks to the teacher, peer and other sources comment. There is only “32% of the changes made to the second draft of the essay, written immediately after receiving only peer feedback” but “a majority (63%) of these second draft peer – influenced revisions were meaning changes”.

Student’s attitude / preference / perception toward peer feedback ( in comparison with teacher feedback & other sources):

Although teacher feedback is more preferable than peer feedback, peer feedback is still recognized as an important factor in oriented-writing process. The studies below suggest a positive look about peer feedback in comparison with teacher feedback which is traditionally believed to be the most powerful in writing class.

- Tang and Tithecott (1999): the attitude of participants in this study put teacher feedback at the priority position but more and more students still think of the effectiveness of partner’s comments and take part in this process. The reasons for that is they can find out which part is necessary for their text as well as make some necessary change for the revisions (Villamil & De Guerrero, 1996 cited in Tang and Tithecott’s study (1999))

- Jabcobs, Curtis, Braine and I-wang (1998): However in this study, students consider peer feedback is just one kind of feedback which is as important as teacher feedback and self- feedback. Hence, they use 3 of them in revising their writing.

- Miaoa, Badger and Zhenc (2006): With the beliefs that teachers are said to be “more “professional”, “experience” and “trustworthy” than their peer”, 90% students choose teacher feedback in their revisions which are mainly meaning- change. However, more than half of them still realize the importance of peer feedback and appreciate it which is accounted for 67%. The research also pointed out that “At the same time, teacher-initiated revisions are less successful than peer-initiated revisions, probably because negotiation of meaning during the peer interaction helps to enhance mutual understanding and reduce misinterpretation and miscommunication.”

- Zhao (2010). This study again confirms the teacher feedback choice of students in their revision (74%). Nevertheless, it explained that students may incorporate teacher feedback while they do not be aware of how essential and important the peer feedback can bring them. Thus, they change their writing as their teacher’s suggestions mechanically. More interestingly, students implied that it is easier to understand peer comments and “acquire more knowledge” than teacher ones because students can include L1 when explaining mistakes for their peers.

- Zhang (1995): in comparison the preference of students in teacher feedback and peer feedback, 93.8% students use feedback from teachers and only 3.7% suggested non-teacher response including peer and self- feedback. Therefore, the response to peer feedback in this study is negative at all since it is believed that “Peer feedback may or may not have enough affective value attached to it to be a clear winner in the ESL writing class”.

The need to have peer feedback training in advance:

R2: Kamimura (2006): Thus as this result suggests, if preliminary peer training is provided, EFL students might not be preoccupied with grammatical or orthographical correctness, but rather could focus on more global, discourse-level features of writing.

R3: Tang and Tithecott (1999) Experience reveals that students should be given intensive training to enable them to participate fully in the process, and that they need to be taught appropriate language.

To ensure success, the teacher could bring the advantages inherent in peer response sessions to the awareness of the students by explicitly presenting all the benefits of peer response sessions in class. When conducting the sessions, it is also advisable for the teacher to vary some of the components of the sessions from time to time, for example, by changing the group size from foursomes to dyads and, perhaps at times allowing students to have written copies of the essays. Some ESL students may understand the presentation more fully and give more detailed comments with a written text in front of them.

R4: Lockhart and Ng, (1993) First of all, providing initial training sessions is essential. This training should involve a discussion of the purpose of peer response as well as the roles of readers and writers. It is important to emphasize that readers need to be supportive of the writer.


Among 8 studies, the article which surveys how peer feedback has an effect on Japanese EFL students from low to high level of English by Kamimura (2006) attracts me much for the following reasons. Firstly, the study’s context is the same with Vietnamese learning and teaching situations in which students are mixed-level in the same class. Hence this topic and context match with my concerns about this issue so that some valuable results and suggestions can be applied in my current classes. Secondly, it is easy to understand the report whose language is clear and moderate. Thirdly, the organization of the report is quite well-structured and coherence so the readers can find parts which interest them easily. For instance, the introduction contains necessary theory of peer feedback by previous educators and 4 specific research questions followed by the participants, detailed procedure, and data analysis; next is the description of the results and discussion with clear and specific graphs, charts. The study also consists of some samples to illustrate the original drafts and revisions of students using peer feedback to prove the results of the study that peer feedback has positive effects on students’ writing. The readers can find the synthesized conclusion with main findings of the study as well as the limitation and further researches needed to be carried out in the future.

The research studied 24 EFL students who are the first- year students and consider English as their major in a Japanese university. They are classified and put into 2 classes with different levels in English as a result of a test called G-TELP (General Tests of English Language Proficiency). Moreover, the students had 2 class hours to attend peer response training so that the can have overall understanding about how to give peer feedback in writing. These participants attended the research followed the procedure in which their multi-drafts were compared to see whether peer feedback works with their writing or not. After implementation the research, Kamimuma concluded that both classes made progress in their writing thanks to the benefits of peer feedback in terms of quality, not fluency. Therefore, the hypothesis of the effectiveness of peer feedback before carrying out this research is confirmed.

In sum, the research which attracts me can be considered as a good one because of its reliability and validity. The reliability is explained by the consistence of the data in which the tests used for two groups are the same (i.e, t-test), the participants are “Japanese university freshmen who majored in English”. They are divided into 2 groups with the same level in each. This research was carried out in 2006 and shared them similar results with some studies of Lockhart and Ng, (1993), Tang and Tithecott’s study (1999), Miaoa, Badger and Zhenc (2006), Jabcobs, Curtis, Braine and I-wang (1998), etc. which reach agreement about the effectiveness of peer feedback in oriented-process English writing classes. Moreover, the research used both qualitative and quantitative analysis to ensure the results of the study. In addition, the data of the research that there was a change in comparison pre- and post-test, multi-drafts in both 2 groups confirm the hypothesis and support the conclusion that the effectiveness when peer feedback occurs in writing is positive.




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