Feedback is a very powerful teaching tool, and in order to be effective, it should be timely, specific and multiple (Ferris, 2009). The feedback under investigation was provided to comply with these principles as far as institutional context allowed. This paper aims to present the results of the study investigating the effectiveness of feedback on EFL learners' writing quality with regard to lexical sophistication as an important component of writing proficiency.
Psycholinguistic properties of words have been of interest to cognitive scientists and recently have been connected to the construct of lexical sophistication. Word properties such as concreteness, familiarity, imageability, meaningfulness, age of acquisition, lexical-decision times and word associations have been used to model writing and lexical proficiency (Crossley&McNamara, 2011; Guo et al., 2013; Kyle et al., 2018). Learners' development in these aspects of lexical sophistication might be measured using indices of a freely available natural language processing tool TAALES (Tool for Automatic Analysis of Lexical Sophistication) (Kyle, 2015) which calculates over 300 indices capturing the construct of lexical sophistication.
The research design of the study takes the form of a pre-test/post-test quasi-experiment with the treatment in the form of a multiple-feedback provision on subsequent drafts of the same text in a computer-mediated environment where both a teacher and peers were feedback providers. Two learner corpora were collected and analysed using TAALES to explore how the psycholinguistic properties of words contribute to the development of lexical and writing proficiency of EFL learners of English for Specific Purposes.
The results indicate improvements with regard to lexical sophistication measured by the indices of psycholinguistic properties of words, and some of these changes are statistically significant. The findings suggest that mostly formative feedback provision might be effective in developing lexical aspects of students' writing and peer feedback might be successfully made part of the feedback provision process.
La contribution traite de l'effet de rétroaction multiplicative sur l'expression écrite des étudiants universitaires et se focalise en particulier sur le développement de la sophistication lexicale en termes de qualités psycholinguistiques des mots. La recherche prend la forme d'une expérience de test préliminaire and postérieur avec l'intervention en forme de rétroaction multiplicative électronique sur des versions consécutives d'essais qui est donnée par l'enseignant et trois collègues. L'effet de l'intervention est mesuré entre le corpus des essais de test préliminaire and le corpus des essais de test postérieur en utilisant l'outil de linguistique de corpus TAALES qui compte plus de 300 indices de complexité lexicale.
- Ferris, D. (2003). Response to student writing: Implications for second language students. New York: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group.
- Crossley, S. A., Salsbury, T., McNamara, D., & Jarvis, S. (2011). Predicting lexical proficiency in language learner texts using computational indices. Language Testing, 28, 561–580.
- Guo, L., Crossley, S. A., & McNamara, D. S. (2013). Predicting human judgments of essay quality in both integrated and independent second language writing samples: A comparison study. Assessing Writing, 18(3), 218–238.
- Kyle, K., & Crossley, S. A. (2015). Automatically assessing lexical sophistication: Indices, tools, findings, and application TESOL Quarterly, 49(4), 757-786.
- Kyle, K., Crossley, S. A., & Berger, C. (2018). The tool for the analysis of lexical sophistication (TAALES): Version 2.0. Behavior Research Methods, 50(3), 1030-1046.
Blanka Pojslova is an ESP instructor and Language Unit Head at the Faculty of Economics of Masaryk University in the Czech Republic. She teaches courses of Business English, academic writing and intercultural communication alongside developing study materials and assessment tools for these courses. She is currently undertaking her PhD research focusing on the role of feedback in the development of writing proficiency of ESP students. Her other research interests include the role of ICT tools in the facilitation of the learning process and corpus linguistics, mainly analysing learner corpora to observe the FL acquisition process.