Tag: technology

My LTSIG Talk: Using Multimodal Learner-Driven Feedback to Provide Sustainable Feedback on L2 Writing

My LTSIG Talk: Using Multimodal Learner-Driven Feedback to Provide Sustainable Feedback on L2 Writing

Time for a little advertising! ūüėČ

On October Thursday 5th October at 4.25pm UK time, I’ll be giving an online talk as part of the LTSIG /OllREN online conference and would be delighted to see you there!

LTSIG Presentation Clare Maas

Exploring efficient ways to give sustainable feedback on L2 writing is important because providing meticulous correction of language errors and hand-written summaries can be time-consuming and often seems less effective than desired. For feedback to be sustainable (i.e. effective long-term), it should be formative, interactive and impact on students’ future work (Carless et al 2011). Thus traditional, hand-written feedback practices may be inefficient at effecting sustainability. Integrating technology into feedback delivery has been shown to have potential in alleviating the situation, by stimulating students to engage with feedback they receive and enabling dialogues about their work.

Combining work into feedback on L2 writing with ideas promoted in higher education, I devised the Learner-Driven Feedback (LDF) procedure, where feedback is given by the teacher, but learners ‚Äėdrive‚Äô how and on what they receive feedback: they can choose between various digital delivery modes and are required to pose questions about their work to which the tutor responds.

In this talk, I will summarise some recent literature which supports both the use of technologies such as email, audio recording, and text-editing software features, and responses to students’ individual queries in feedback procedures, before practically demonstrating LDF. I will refer to my own recently published article on LDF in EAP, and discuss my evaluation of its application in my teaching, providing compelling reasons and practical suggestions for its employment in various language teaching contexts. These discussions will also explore potential mechanisms underpinning the efficacy of multimodal approaches to making feedback more sustainable, in order to further aid teachers in making informed choices pertaining to their specific class groups. This includes topics such as learner autonomy, motivation, receptivity, learner-centredness and individualisation.

The talk is thus a combination of practical demonstration and theoretical background, of interest and relevance to a broad audience.

 

Reference: Carless, D., Salter, D., Yang, M., Lam, J., 2011. Developing sustainable
feedback practices. Studies in Higher Education, 36, 395‚Äď407.

What Postgraduates Appreciate in Online Feedback on Academic Writing #researchbites

What Postgraduates Appreciate in Online Feedback on Academic Writing #researchbites

In this article, Northcott, Gillies and Coutlon¬†explore their students’ perceptions of how effective online formative feedback was for improving their postgraduate academic writing, and aim to highlight best practices for online writing feedback.

Northcott, J., P. Gillies & D. Caulton (2016), ‘What Postgraduates Appreciate in Online Tutor Feedback on Academic Writing’,¬†Journal of Academic Writing, Vol. 6/1 , pp. 145-161.

Background

The focus of the study was on helping international master’s-level students at a UK university, for whom English is not their first/main language. The study’s central aim was investigating these students’ satisfaction with the formative feedback provided online by¬†language¬†tutors on short-term, non-credit-bearing ESAP writing courses. These¬†courses, run in collaboration¬†with subject departments, are a new provision at¬†the university, in response to previous surveys showing dissatisfaction among students with¬†feedback provided on written coursework for master’s-level courses. Participation is encouraged, but voluntary. ¬†The courses consist of five self-study¬†units (with tasks and answer keys), as well as weekly essay assignments marked by a tutor.

The ¬†essays are submitted electronically, and feedback is provided using either Grademark (part of Turnitin) or ‘track changes’ in Microsoft Word . The feedback covers both¬†¬†language correction and¬†feedback on aspects of academic writing. These assignments are effectively draft versions of sections of¬†coursework assignments students are required to write for the master’s programmes.

Research

The EAP tutors involved marked a total of 458 assignments, written by students in the first month of the master’s degrees in either Medicine or Politics. Only 53 students completed¬†all five units of the writing course; though 94 Medicine and 81 Politics students completed the first unit’s assignment.

Alongside the writing samples,¬†data was also collected¬†by surveying students at three points during the writing course, plus an end-of-course evaluation form.¬†Focussing on students who had completed the whole writing course, students’ survey responses were matched with their writing samples¬†which had received feedback, as well as the final¬†coursework assignment they submitted for credit in their master’s programme, for detailed analysis.

Findings

Analysing the feedback given by tutors, the researchers found both direct and indirect corrective feedback on language, as well as on subject-specific or genre-specific writing conventions and the academic skills related to writing. Tutors’¬†comments mostly refered to specific text passages, rather than being unfocused or general feedback.

Student engagement with feedback was evidenced by analysing¬†writing samples and final coursework: only one case was found where ‘there was clear evidence that a student had not acted on the feedback provided’ (p. 155). However, the researchers admit that, as participation in the course is voluntary, the students who complete it are likely to be those who are in general appreciative of feedback, thus this finding may not be generalisable to other contexts.

In the surveys, most students’ reported feeling that the feedback had helped them to improve their writing. They acknowledged¬†how useful the corrections provided were, and how the feedback could be applied in future. Moreover, comments demonstrated an appreciation of the motivational character of the feedback provided.

Summing up these findings, the researchers report:

It appeared to be the combination of principled corrective feedback with a focus on developing confidence by providing positive, personalised feedback on academic conventions and practices as well as language which obtained the most positive response from the students we investigated. (p. 154)

The¬†students’ comments generally show that they responded well to this electronic mode of feedback delivery, and also felt¬†a connection to their tutor, despite not meeting in person to discuss their work. As the researchers put it, students came to see¬†‘written feedback as a response to the person writing the text, not simply a response to a writing task’ (p. 156).

Take Away

The findings from this study highlight that simply using electronic modes of feedback delivery does not alone increase student satisfaction and engagement with feedback on their written work. Instead, the content and manner of the feedback given is key.

From the article, then, we can take away some tips for what kind of feedback to give, and how, to make electronic feedback most effective, at least for postgraduate students.

  • Start with a friendly greeting and refer to the student by name.
  • Establish an online persona as a sympathetic critical friend, ready to engage in dialogue.
  • Don’t only focus on corrective feedback, but aim to guide the student to be able to edit and correct their work autonomously, e.g. provide links to further helpful resources.
  • Be specific about the text passage the feedback refers to.
  • Tailor the feedback to the student’s needs, in terms of subject area, etc.
  • Give praise to develop the student’s confidence.
  • Take account of the student‚Äôs L1 and background.
  • Eencourage the student to respond to the feedback; especially if anything is unclear or they find it difficult to apply.

This post is part of ELT Research Bites 2017 Summer of Research (Bites) Blog Carnival! Join in here.

MaWSIG Meetup – Questions from teachers/writers

MaWSIG Meetup – Questions from teachers/writers

Are you an ELT teacher looking to move into materials writing? This post is for you!

On Saturday 14th January, I hosted a Meetup for the Materials Writing Special Interest Group of IATEFL. The idea was to enable some informal networking for anyone in the area who is involved in writing ELT materials.

One of the activities we did involved editors/publishers and teachers/writers posing questions for each other on posters, and then discussing¬†their answers to the ‚Äúother side‚Äôs‚ÄĚ poster.¬†IMAG0050[1].jpg

To share some of the insights beyond our cosy meetup in Germany, I also posed the questions from teachers/writers questions to some editors and other people who work in ELT publishing, and here are their answers:

  • Is there any interest in / a market for writing smaller-scale projects? (e.g. topic worksheets / individual lessons)?

Yes. Generally when we commission these sorts of projects, they’re supplementary materials supporting a book, and there are specific things we need, generally things we feel the target group needs but the book has not provided. So if you regularly use a book and notice a gap, you should definitely let the publisher know, and perhaps send examples of supplementary worksheets you have created.

Yes, definitely, but I suggest a system of crowdsourcing. Writers can produce modules or collections of individual lessons (they need to be substantial lessons) and these can be sold as individual modules (after there are ten or so they can be made into a book).

There is a market, but not really so much for individual worksheets. Find something that links your materials together, a thread that flows though several worksheets or lesson plans. Sets of lesson materials which form a coherent unit are probably of more interest to potential publishers.

  • Is it possible to have more access to writers to discuss objectives etc?

We can’t give out contact information, but we’re not secretive about who writes for us; just look in the copyright pages.

The teacher’s books often give more¬†detail on the overall approach and aims of the activities than the student’s books, so maybe have a look there.

  • How can we get into proof-reading / copy-editing work?

A good way to get a foot in the door is to offer to write readers’ reports on first drafts of material. Publishers are always happy to have readers, and I have personally seen examples of readers then getting writing work because they’ve made an impression.

About proofreading work: the best place to start is with your own materials, then offer to check worksheets or materials that are being written for your school/shared bank of materials. Create a style sheet that will give you consistency across the whole collection of materials. If you find you enjoy this kind of work, you could contact your local publishers’ office and express an interest, or you could consider doing a recognised proofreading course somewhere like The Publishing Training Centre or joining an organisation like the Society for Editors and Proofreaders (SfEP).

Definitely get some kind of recognised training if you want to do copy editing and/or proofreading professionally. It not only gives you credibility, it will teach you a lot. I did my training in Canada, and I went into it thinking ‘I teach grammar… this is just a formality.’ Not so. I learned so much about the process of editing a text that I would never have got by myself.

For anyone interested in ELT editing, follow the White Ink FB page for tips, tricks and work opportunities. Facebook.com/WhiteInkLimited.com

  • How can (potential) writers make themselves known to you and/or find out about upcoming projects?

Send editors/publishers your CV and a couple of sample materials you’ve made.

Submit your work to materials writing competitions – most publishers and lesson sharing websites host competitions.

Most publishers have an email address or contact form for potential writers.¬†It‚Äôs really important to make clear what kind of materials you can write ‚Äď whoever processes the emails will want to forward it quickly to the relevant editorial department ‚Äď so put ‚ÄėEnglish‚Äô and ‚ÄėBusiness / Primary / EAP / etc.‚Äô in a prominent place in the email.

You can always email our editorial teams to discuss any potential opportunities.

To make yourself ‘findable’, make sure you join ELT Teacher 2 Writer. All of the publishers listed on the homepage use the database to find writers.

Most people suggest starting a blog where you share materials you have made for your classes more widely. Likewise, if you create something innovative then share it by presenting at conferences etc. This can get your name known, and if you do contact a publisher then you have a portfolio to show them.

If you can commit to piloting and reviewing material, you can impress editors that way and may then be offered writing work.

  • What can teachers¬†do if we notice a gap in the market?

Yes, if you spot a gap in the market that is innovative, get in touch ¬†and most editors will send you a proposal document, or check the publisher’s website for an electronic proposal from. Make sure¬†you approach the right kind of publisher, though.

Get in touch via the website of a relevant publisher РThere’s ususally a list of details you should include on there.

Do your research! If the gap you find is very niche, publishers might be less interested, so you’ll need to ‘prove’ that your gap is relevant to a wider audience than just one of your classes.

  • Is experience/expertise in digital materials writing essential nowadays?

I would say no, not yet, but a willingness and an interest is helpful.

Not essential ‚Äď the vast majority of educational material sold is still print. However, it‚Äôs becoming increasingly relevant and we‚Äôre always on the lookout for people who can write this kind of content.

Depends what you want to write and who for. If you specifically want to write digital materials, then some experience will clearly help, but training will probably be provided if you’re new to the area – especially as different publishers use different digital platforms anyway.

  • And if so, is there capacity for advice/training to produce this type of material?

I think it‚Äôs a case of learning by doing. Let your publisher know you‚Äôre interested. Probably the best ‚Äútraining‚ÄĚ you can do is to get yourself familiar with the apps and things that are on the market, and try to imagine what had to be taken into consideration when the content was created.

I would say this is out there if you look hard enough. Nellie Deutsch runs courses on MOODLE for Teachers. And some organisations run Writers Retreats which might be relevant.

I think most producers of educational material are still learning what makes good digital content in our industry. In my opinion, the best thing to do is to learn and work with everything yourself (particularly the apps and websites that are successful, like Duolingo, Babbel, The Day, PlayPosit, etc. ‚Äď or even brain training apps like Elevate) to get a better idea of what kind of content works well on a smartphone, tablet or PC.

For digital training, you could have a look at what ELTjam offer.

Are you involved in ELT materials writing? Do you have more questions from the teacher‚Äôs/writer‚Äôs perspective? Or answers to these questions from an editor’s/publisher’s perspective? Add your thoughts in the comments below!

British Council Teaching for Success – My Webinar

British Council Teaching for Success – My Webinar

Here are the slides (inc. references)¬†from my talk yesterday as part of the British Council’s “Teaching for Success” online conference. This talk takes research into feedback practices & translates it into practical ideas for classroom application!

Click here for Slides.

Link to the recorded talk: http://britishcouncil.adobeconnect.com/p424b8xlubb/

Abstract: Providing meticulous correction of errors and hand-written summaries on each student’s text can be time-consuming, and often seems less effective than desired. However, many teachers cannot access relevant publications discussing alternative feedback strategies, and remain unsure about which more time-efficient procedures might be applicable in their context. For this reason, this talk aims to discuss various strategies for assessing and giving feedback on EFL learners’ written work, which I have collected from recent publications, have applied and evaluated in my own teaching, and would like to share with fellow ELT practitioners.

This talk will demonstrate practicable strategies including ways of marking learners’ errors (underlining, correction codes, margin comments), as well as conducting successful peer review, delivering feedback with technology, and making the student-teacher feedback dialogue more constructive and efficient. For each strategy demonstrated, I will summarise recently published relevant research on its employment in various contexts, and briefly present discussions from the literature on the mechanisms underpinning its efficacy, with the main aim of aiding teachers in making informed choices pertaining to their specific learners and contexts. These factors include learner autonomy, motivation, learning styles, receptivity, learner-centredness and individualism.

The talk therefore encourages CPD within the British Council‚Äôs professional practices rubric of ‚ÄėAssessing Learning‚Äô, a topic of interest and relevance to a broad audience, provide practical ideas which can be immediately trialled in a wide range of teaching contexts, and will encourage open discussion on feedback practices among participants.

screen-shot-2016-10-08-at-6-18-21-am

Learner-Driven Feedback in Essay Writing

Learner-Driven Feedback in Essay Writing

A recent focus of work into feedback in ELT looks at ways of increasing students’ openness to teachers’ feedback and how students can be stimulated to engage more thoroughly with the feedback they receive. Learner-Driven Feedback (LDF) seems to be a promising practice here, and below is a summary of some research done in this area.

LDF is usually taken to mean¬†responding to learners‚Äô individual queries to make the feedback process more dialogic in nature, particularly in English for Academic Purposes (EAP) settings. For example, Bloxham and Campbell (2010)‚Äôs study of ‚ÄėInteractive Coversheets‚Äô, which require students to pose questions about their work when submitting essay drafts. Overall, they report good levels of uptake of the feedback provided, demonstrating that these Interactive Coversheets prompted their students to evaluate their writing in more detail, and that students responded positively to receiving this individualised feedback. Tutors in their study also found it quicker to give feedback based on the Interactive Coversheets, as students‚Äô individual questions helped them focus their thoughts. However, Bloxham and Campbell noted that, if students had not put much effort into the draft or Interactive Coversheet, they were less able to make use of the formative feedback, for example if they only submitted an outline, or scribbled paragraph, instead of a properly formulated draft. This leads to the idea that the better organised or more autonomous students may be more likely to receive and engage with formative feedback, and Bloxham and Campbell thus note the limitation that this feedback procedure may merely help better students to perform even better.

Working within a similar framework, Campbell and Schumm-Fauster (2013) devised ‚ÄėLearner-Centred Feedback‚Äô, which also required their students to pose questions to direct tutors to give feedback on certain aspects of their writing when reading drafts, here in footnotes or as comments in the margins to their essays. They were interested in how students react to being asked/allowed to ‘drive’ the feedback they receive.¬†Their survey showed that students were open to the dialogical feedback and reported finding it motivating and personal, and particularly helpful in working on their individual essay-writing weaknesses.

Studies on feedback on essay writing have also begun to explore the use of various delivery modes for feedback and has shown that this, too, may deepen students’ engagement with the feedback and may increase uptake. Technology-based modes can be used to deliver feedback on essays digitally, for example as in-text changes, as comments added to a document, as a feedback email, or as an audio recording. The focus here is on computer-mediated teacher feedback, i.e. not automated feedback.

In the field of language teaching, Cloete (2014) investigated the new multifaceted options for feedback which are afforded by EAP students submitting their work through online platforms. His study focused on the Turnitin platform, which his team of tutors used to give feedback by inserting comments into text’s margins or in separate columns, highlighting text in different colours, and recording audio feedback. Based on teachers’ evaluations of using Turnitin in this way, he notes that the time-efficiency of delivering feedback in electronic modes depends on tutors’ typing speed and general comfort with using the feedback functions of the software, but that the added value of such electronic modes stems from the scope and amount of multi-m feedback that can be given, and the option to provide feedback in various modes simultaneously. Students in his study also showed heightened engagement with the feedback they received.

My own, very recent, study (Fielder, 2016) focused on an LDF¬†procedure I devised which combines and adapts these previously published ideas and allows learners to determine the feedback they receive. In my LDF, the feedback is given by the teacher, but learners ‘drive’¬†¬†how and on what they receive feedback: they can choose between various formats (e.g. hand-written, email, audio recording), and are required to pose questions about their work to which the teacher responds (e.g. on grammar, vocabulary/register, referencing, organisation). The study is an initial exploration of students‚Äô receptivity towards Learner-Driven Feedback in EAP.¬†The findings from the detailed survey data highlight a high level of student receptivity towards the procedure, and that students perceive it as a useful tool for improving their general language accuracy and study skills related to essay writing. However,¬†it seems from the survey responses¬†that the specific skills which can be significantly improved by my LDF may depend on which skills have already been trained by students‚Äô previous academic experience. ¬†Nonetheless, this and the studies described above¬†demonstrate¬†compelling reasons for piloting LDF on EAP writing courses; many of which may also justify trialling the approach in other ELT classrooms.

 

References

  • Bloxham, S. & L. Campbell, ‚ÄúGenerating dialogue in assessment feedback: exploring the use of interactive cover sheets‚ÄĚ, Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education, Vol 35 (2010), 291‚Äď300.
  • Campbell, N. and J. Schumm-Fauster¬†(2013). Learner-centred Feedback on Writing: Feedback as Dialogue. In M. Reitbauer, N. Campbell, S. Mercer, J. Schumm and R. Vaupetitsch (Eds) Feedback Matters (pp. 55‚Äď68). Frankfurt: Peter Lang.
  • Cloete, R., ‚ÄúBlending offline and online feedback on EAP writing‚ÄĚ, The Journal of Teaching English for Specific and Academic Purposes, Vol. 2, No. 4 (2014), pp. 559-
  • Fielder, C., “Receptivity to Learner-Driven Feedback in EAP”,¬†ELT Journal [Advanced access 2016 – print issue Maas, C. in 2017]

George Orwell‚Äôs ‚Äú1984‚Ä≥: Discussion Topics ANSWERS

It’s taken a while … but for those who’ve been hoping for¬†suggestions of possible points to be covered in the various discussion tasks, here they are!

I’m not calling them ‘answers’, since I think any teacher teaching the book should have read it and know the ‘answers’ that they are aiming for their class to reach, but here are some ideas anyway!

 

George Orwell’s 1984

Task 1

Präsentation1

  • The novel uses technology-based surveillance in both public and private spaces, they also have a greater impact on the individual.
  • The person-based measures of surveillance make the existence of private space impossible (family/neighbors have an impact on the behaviour of the individual), while in our world family and neighbours don‚Äôt play such an important role
  • The novel doesn‚Äôt use technology such as means of personal communication, it also does not include the media as a public mean to watch and control people

 

 

Task 2

  • Orwell‚Äôs concept of surveillance is all encompassing and supports a specific ideology
  • Technical surveillance is accompanied by personal surveillance through individuals.
  • Surveillance is omnipresent and sometimes invisible
  • Lack of laws, mistrust of people and threat of becoming an unperson increase insecurity
  • Allusion to the possibility of reading people‚Äôs minds (O‚ÄôBrien) √® telescreens etc. not just used to control behavior but more importantly to control thoughts
  • But: Relative freedom from surveillance for proles
  • Orwell‚Äôs predictions are not entirely applicable to today‚Äôs situation
  • Surveillance technology exists (CCTV etc.) but no threat to people‚Äôs lives should something deviating be thought or said
  • No connection to the stabilization of a Party/Government ideology, rather prevention of terrorism etc.
  • Yet, it some instances surveillance has led to people being publically denounced as in the case of the American diplomat Victoria Nuland
  • In the next 20-30 years the technological possibilities of surveillance will increase but radical government shifts, increase of terrorism or shifts in public opinion of issues like privacy must accompany mass surveillance

 

Task 3

In both cases the checks and balances must be considered.

Government Corporation
o   In democratic systems it must be enabled by the public and have a basic order based on freedom and democracy (Totalitarian systems may employ surveillance in an Orwellian fashion)

o   Monitoring by transnational organizations (EU, NATO, UN)

o   Need to be able to account for what the material is used

o   May be able to enforce access to private homes

o   Control of public spaces

o   Not subject of public scrutiny

o   Question of what the material us used for (e.g. is it sold to governments, other people, corporations etc.)

o   In transnational environment, it is hard to appeal to a court

o   Economy orientation makes complete deviation from public demands difficult

o   No legal possibility to access homes or public spaces without permit

 

Task 4

The media is always a positive as well as a negative medium.

Positive Negative
o   Maintaining order through public scrutiny

o   Draws attention to problem areas and can rectify problems

o   False accusations and subsequent repercussions for individuals

o   Can be (mis)used to promote a certain political/social ideology

 

o   Depending on the readership, the media can influence public opinion.

o   Turn to a greater defense of privacy issues possible if false reports are known

o   Relieve and feeling of security when information about fellow workers, citizens etc. are broadcasted

 

Task 5

Fighting for Peace (War is Peace):

o   Contradiction in terms: How can war, a state of strive, violence and pain, simultaneously be peace, a state characterized by the absence of the former?

o   War means a stability of social/economic order and thus creates peace within society

o   In the novel, this is the background for the events and a defining principle of society

o   In real life, war is often followed by a period of uncertainty (post-WWII) in which war with its clear cut lines is still remembered è background for Orwell’s writing

Unpeople:

o¬†¬† People does usually not go with the prefix ‚Äúun‚ÄĚ: How can a person not be a person?

o   People who committed thoughtcrime are vaporized and effectively erased from memory, yet, they the fact that they are named unpeople hints at the fact that exactly this does not happen

o   In the novel, Winston becomes an unperson but still exists; Goldstein is an unperson that functions as the greatest symbol for hate

o   In real life, the Soviet Union used the term to describe people who were erased from history, yet, most of them are still known

Thought Crime:

o   How can something happening in somebody’s head be a crime?

o   It is not the actual act that makes a person a criminal but actually thinking deviating thoughts that warrant vaporization

o   In the novel, thoughtcrime is committed by mostly everyone but some people like O’Brien still go free; actual crimes such as murder go unpunished

 

Task 6

o   Mass data transfer from cellphones to servers in the US using Whatsapp and Facebook services. è contact lists and pictures are saved somewhere and can potentially be used against individuals.

o   CCTV as for example in Britain è makes it virtually impossible to go anywhere without being on camera (“Smile, you’re on CCTV)

o   Possibility of not using services such as FB/Whatsapp

o   Hard to escape surveillance in public spaces

 

 

For original post with task questions etc, please see here: https://clareseltcompendium.wordpress.com/2013/05/21/george-orwells-1984-discussion-topics/