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Bringing innovation to conventional feedback approaches in EFL secondary writing classrooms: A Hong Kong case study

Icy Lee (Faculty of Education, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China)
Pauline Mak (School of Education and Languages, The Open University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China)
Anne Burns (School of Education, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia)

English Teaching: Practice & Critique

ISSN: 1175-8708

Article publication date: 7 September 2015




The purpose of this paper is to examine how the teachers implemented innovative feedback approaches in their writing classroom and the extent to which the innovative feedback approaches impacted upon student attitude and performance in writing. In the writing classroom, teacher feedback serves as an assessment as well as a pedagogical tool to enhance the teaching and learning of writing. While there is no shortage of literature on the topic of feedback per se, there is scant research on teachers’ attempts to implement change to conventional feedback practices, as well as the impact of such feedback innovation on student learning. Drawing on data gathered from individual teacher interviews, student questionnaires, student focus group interviews, pre-and post-writing tests and classroom observations, this study seeks to explore two teachers’ change initiative in their writing feedback approaches.


The study used multiple sources of data including individual teacher interviews, student questionnaires and student focus group.


The results suggest that the innovative feedback approaches helped to enhance the motivation and writing performance of the students. The paper concludes with implications and insights to help teachers implement similar feedback innovations in their contexts.

Practical implications

First, the findings suggest that focused written corrective feedback is a viable option for responding to student writing, especially for low proficiency students in English as a foreign language (EFL) contexts. Second, teachers might consider the option of removal or delay in the reporting of scores, where appropriate. Third, more intensive training might be necessary to help students improve their peer evaluation skills and their ability to write more constructive comments for their peers.


The significance of the study lies in the contribution it can make to existing writing feedback research that pays insufficient attention to teacher feedback in real classroom contexts, uncovering the process through which teachers attempt to bring improvement to conventional feedback practices, as well as the impact of feedback innovation on student learning in naturally occurring classroom contexts.



This article is based on a research project supported by a grant from the Research Grants Council of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, China, CUHK 448610.


Lee, I., Mak, P. and Burns, A. (2015), "Bringing innovation to conventional feedback approaches in EFL secondary writing classrooms: A Hong Kong case study", English Teaching: Practice & Critique, Vol. 14 No. 2, pp. 140-163.



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