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Publication Detail
DLSU RP 2000-03: Social Constructivist Analysis of the Role Teachers Play When They Respond to Students’ Essays

This study describes the analysis of teachers’ feedback observed in 140 second draft essays of students enrolled in English I during term 2 of school year 1999-2000 at De La Salle University. Ten English I teachers were asked to randomly select 10 essays that they corrected and graded. Each essay came with a set of drafts, including an outline. The illocutionary acts of the written feedback in the second draft were analyzed and categorized into five: indicating a mistake, explicit correction, giving advice, asking a question, and giving praise. Moreover, the level of discourse addressed by each feedback was also observed. Finally, the roles played by the teachers were also examined and categorized into three as reader interacting with writer, as writing teacher concerned with points of confusion, and as grammarian. The results of the analysis of the illocutionary acts of the teachers’ comments showed that there were five communicative functions: indicating a mistake (36%), providing explicit correction (26%), asking a question (18%), giving advice (17%), and giving praise (3%). It was also observed that when teachers put a circle, a line, or a question mark on or beside a phrase or sentence the function of such feedback becomes ambiguous because it violates Grice’s maxim of manner and quantity. These types of feedback do not provide enough details for interpretation. The analysis of the roles teachers play when they respond to students’ essays showed that teachers played three roles: as writing teacher concerned with points of confusion (58%), as grammarian (38%), and as reader interacting with the writer (3%). The results imply that the writing teachers serve as critic, judge, and collaborator, but rarely as a real reader. The results of the analysis of the level of discourse where the feedback operates showed that the feedback addressed more local (55%) than global (23%) and surface (22%) aspects of the essay. In addition, it is worth noting that half of the 14 teachers provided helpful intervention in their students’ second draft while five gave feedback and evaluation on the second draft considered as final product. On the other hand, two teachers gave feedback on the first draft and the third draft or final draft. This has implications. For instance, this observation suggests that the process approach being used in the English Language Education Department has to be reviewed. There should be a training as to when should teacher intervention come in. Furthermore, there is also implications in the evaluation and of students’ papers. If teachers do not provide helpful intervention in the working drafts, how could they justify the grade that they give to the students’ final paper?

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