L1 feedback in automated writing evaluation: From learners' perspectives
Learner attitudes and use of L1 glossed feedback in an automated writing evaluation program, Criterion®, were investigated in an intact IEP classroom setting. In this four week mixed methods study, students used Criterion®, to write and revise short essays and respond to surveys weekly. In addition, semi-structured interviews and screen capture videos were used with two focus participants. In weeks 1 and 3, students received English feedback (L2), but in weeks 2 and 4, students also received automated feedback in their native language (L1). Open coding was used to analyze the data (Esterberg, 2002).
Because glossed feedback has been shown to be helpful in other areas of language learning, like reading and vocabulary acquisition (Prince, 1995; Laufer and Shmueli, 1997), it was hoped that they would prove to be helpful in writing as well. The students showed a positive attitude toward the tool in general, toward noticing of errors, and toward their increased autonomy. However, some students found themselves in a quandary, recognizing their need for translations, yet believing that they should not use the L1 feedback (Liao, 2006). They felt the use of L1 glosses should be tied to one's writing level, with concessions being made for lower level learner use. Finally, the findings were mixed on the L1 and L2 weeks for holistic scores (6-point scale), submission rates, word counts, and time spent. Holistic scores and word counts were higher and showed weekly gains with the Ll feedback; whereas, the time spent on essays and submission rates both went down in the first L1 week (week 2), but rebounded and were highest in week 4, another L1 week. Overall, it seems that the L1 feedback may have had a motivating effect for these lower level learners. Writing is a highly complex task, and for these low proficiency learners who have not yet matriculated into the university, the L1 feedback may indeed prove to be a helpful tool (Atkinson, 1993; Cole, 1998; Cook, 2002; Storch and Wigglesworth, 2012).