An Optimality-theoretic Account of Corrective Feedback in Process Writing

| September 17, 2012
Title
An Optimality-theoretic Account of Corrective Feedback in Process Writing

Keywords:  corrective feedback, multiple drafts, writing skills, local and global errors, optimality theory, language learnability

Authors
Rasheed Al-Jarrah and Sayyah Al-Ahmad
Yarmouk University, Jordan

Bio Data

Rasheed Al-Jarrah is an Associate Professor of English, currently teaching English language and Linguistics in the English Department and Language Center at Yarmouk University/Jordan. I graduated from Ball State University Muncie/ Indiana with a PhD in Applied Linguistics in 2002. Areas of research interests include language learning, second language writing, optimal solutions, language testing, contrastive and discourse analysis studies, and Qur anic studies.

Sayyah Al-Ahmad is an Assistant professor of English, teaching English Language and Linguistics in the English Department and Language Center at Yarmouk University/Jordan. He graduated from Indiana University of Pennsylvania/USA with a PhD in Rhetoric and Linguistics in 2003. His research interests include language teaching and learning, language acquisition, writing, and pragmatics.

Abstract
The present paper is a theory-driven analysis of English majors composition writing errors in the Jordanian EFL context over a period of one year. Concisely, it assesses corrective feedback (Truscott, 1996, 1999, 2007; Ferris, 1999a, 2004; Chandler, 2003; Bitchener et al. 2005; Bitchener, 2008; Guenette, 2007; Truscott & Hsu, 2008; Bruton, 2009; Alroe, 2011) in light of advancement in linguistic theory, namely Optimality Theory (Prince & Smolensky, 1993; McCarthy & Prince, 1993a, b). By situating error correction within the framework of Optimality Theory (henceforth OT), we show that a constraint-based approach provides us with the mechanics to revise our pedagogy in teaching writing skills. In particular, we hope to get to the level of detail to show (1) how to reset treatment priorities, and (2) which type of corrective feedback is most constructive at each stage of development. These can be very feasible objectives because OT proposes that structural requirements be presented as constraints (not rules) on surface representations in parallel fashion. In other words, OT refutes altogether the practice that structural requirements are presented as segmented rules in a particular and fixed order. Instead, it promotes the proposal that material presentation should show at least three things: (1) structural requirements are violable; (2) structural requirements oftentimes impose competing demands; and (3) settling the conflict between competing structural requirements in the most harmonic way requires relative ranking.
[private] See page: 10-40

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Category: Quarterly Journal, Volume 14 Issue 3