A Cognitively Designed Error Correction Log for Facilitating the Learning of Grammatical Structures

David Frear


The exploratory study investigated the effectiveness of a new tool referred to as the error correction log (ECL). It was designed from a cognitive SLA perspective to facilitate learning, in the context of this study, of grammatical structures, following the receipt of written corrective feedback (WCF). The uniqueness of the ECL is that it guides learners through the cognitive processes deemed to underlie acquisition of grammatical structures, namely, noticing-the-gap (Schmidt & Frota, 1986), noticing (Schmidt, 1990, 2001) and noticing with metalinguistic understanding (Leow, 1997; Schmidt, 2001), and in the process potentially change the type of WCF available to learners. As the ECL was designed by the author, no study has investigated its effectiveness against a more established means of attending to WCF. In the case of the study presented here, the ECL was compared against studying WCF for a period of time. Utilizing a quasi-experimental design (a pre-test, treatment, immediate post-test, and delayed post-test), the treatment was a focused direct WCF plus ECL group versus a focused direct WCF plus study group. A control group received no WCF. The tests were three writing tasks; the target structure was regular past tense verbs. While the ECL group improved over time, the study group and the control group did not. The ECL group outperformed the control group in the delayed post-test, whereas the study group did not. An analysis of whether the corrected past tense verbs were subsequently used or not used in the post-tests demonstrated a lack of correct use for the ECL group; this, with an analysis of the ECLs for the provision of a metalinguistic explanation, suggest learners may have been able to change direct WCF (potential noticing) to direct WCF plus metalinguistic explanation (potential noticing plus metalinguistic understanding) leading to the suggestion these learners likely drew on the corrected verbs, their preexisting vocabulary-learned knowledge and preexisting metalinguistic knowledge (implicitly and explicitly acquired) when completing the delayed post-test. These results will be discussed in relation to research, theory and practice.


SLA, Written Corrective Feedback, Focused Feedback, Direct Written Corrective Feedback, Error Correction Log, Awareness

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.7575/aiac.ijalel.v.8n.2p.30


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