An Inquiry into Effective Written Feedback from EFL Teachers’ and Students’ Perspectives at a Saudi University
The aim of this study was to investigate L2 teachers’ and students’ perceptions toward the importance of written feedback and the elements of effective written feedback in an EFL context; the Preparatory-Year College (PY) at King Saud University, Saudi Arabia. The methodological approach used in the study was Mixed Methods by means of explanatory sequential design. In the quantitative phase, 150 L2 university male students from the science stream and 88 L2 teachers from the PY College completed the assigned questionnaire. The students’ proficiency level was upper-intermediate equivalent to B2 (CEFR). The participants were selected through convenience sampling. In the qualitative phase, 4 male students and 4 teachers volunteered to attend the semi-structured interviews. The results showed that both the teachers and the students valued the importance of written feedback as it reinforces learning, enhances confidence, autonomous learning, and promotes interaction between the teachers and their students inside the English writing classroom. The results indicated that providing the students with user-friendly feedback and the feedback that informs the learners about their progress, where to go, and what to do next are the preferred features of effective written feedback. In addition, the findings revealed that both written corrective feedback and written commentary feedback are the preferred types of written feedback but the teachers need to adapt the best form of the written corrective feedback that matches their learners’ proficiency level. The participants of this study preferred positive comments as the strategy of effective written feedback while the qualitative data suggested L2 teachers to use this strategy appropriately. Additionally, the findings indicated that L2 teachers need to respond more to accuracy issues (i.e. grammar, vocabulary, and mechanics) as they are problematic and challenging for the learners. Both the teacher and the student participants perceived the teacher as the best source to receive the written feedback from. Procedural knowledge and intentionality are the preferred features in the feedback provider. In addition, the findings show that the students’ absence and institutional authorities make the teachers respond to their learners’ texts as final; whereas, the student participants like to receive feedback on multiple drafts. This study contributes to the knowledge of effective written feedback and provides some implications for L2 writing teachers and policy makers.