Insights From Verbal Protocols: A Case Study

Margaret Kumar


This study explores a postgraduate student writer’s responses and reactions through verbal protocols as she attends to teacher feedback. Teacher feedback has been heralded as an important element in process writing. Numerous studies have been carried out on various aspects of teacher feedback such as on the effectiveness of feedback, students’ preferences for teacher feedback and students’ perceptions of feedback. However, there is still a gap in the literature in determining how students respond as they engage with teacher feedback. This paper reports on one postgraduate student’s responses on and her reactions to teacher feedback. Concurrent verbal protocols used in complement with written drafts and teacher commentaries were the main sources of data for this study. The analyses reveal that attending to feedback is a recursive process that fosters self-reflection which, in turn promotes planning for revision.



Verbal protocols, Teacher written feedback; Recursion; Reflection; Planning

Full Text:



Bailey, J., & Vardi, I. (1999). Iterative feedback: Impacts on student writing. Paper presented at the HERDSA Annual International Conference, 12-15 July, Melbourne.

Baker, W., & Hansen Bricker, R. (2010). The effects of direct and indirect speech acts on native English and ESL speakers’ perception of teacher written feedback. System, 38(1), 75-84. doi: 10.1016/j.system.2009.12.007

Bereiter, C., & Scardamalia, M. (1987). The psychology of written composition. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Bloxham, S., & Boyd, P. (2007). Developing effective assessment in higher education: A practical guide. Cambridge: Open University Press.

Bowles, M. (2008). Task type and reactivity of verbal reports in SLA: A first look at an L2 task other than reading. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 30(4), 359-379.

Bowles, M. A., & Leow, R. P. (2005). Reactivity and type of verbal report in SLA research methodology: Expanding the scope of investigation. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 27(3), 415-440.

Cohen, A. D. (1987). Student processing of feedback on their compositions. In A. L. Wenden & J. Rubin (Eds.), Learner strategies in language learning (pp. 57-69). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Cohen, A. D., & Cavalcanti, M. (1990). Feedback on compositions: Teacher and student verbal reports. In B. Kroll (Ed.), Second language writing: Research insights for the classroom (pp. 155-177). New York: Cambridge University Press.

Ellis, R., Sheen, Y., Murakami, M., & Takashima, H. (2008). The effects of focused and unfocused written corrective feedback in an English as a foreign language context. System, 36(3), 353-371.

Ericsson, K. A., & Simon, H. A. (1993). Protocol analysis: Verbal reports as data. Cambridge: MIT Press.

Faigley, L., & Witte, S. P. (1981). Analysing revision. College Composition and Communication, 32, 400-414.

Ferris, D. (2003). Response to student writing. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Ferris, D. (2007). Preparing teachers to respond to student writing. Journal of Second Language Writing, 16(3), 165-193.

Flower, L., & Hayes, J. R. (1981). A cognitive process theory of writing. College Composition and Communication, 32(4), 365-387.

Granville, S., & Dison, L. (2009). Making connections through reflection: Writing and feedback in an academic literacy programme. Southern African Linguistics and Applied Language Studies, 27, 53-63.

Green, A. (1995). Verbal protocol analysis. The Psychologist, 8(3), 126-129.

Hayes, J. R. (1996). A new framework for understanding cognition and affect in writing. In C. M. Levy & S. Ransdell (Eds.), The science of writing: Theories, methods, individual differences and applications. (pp. 1-27). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Hayes, J. R., & Flower, L. (1980). Identifying the organization of writing processes. In L. W. Gregg & E. R. Steinberg (Eds.), Cognitive processes in writing: An interdisciplinary approach (pp. 3-30). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Hayes, J. R., & Gradwohl-Nash, J. (1996). Onthe nature of planning in writing. In C. M. Levy & S. E. Ransdell (Eds.), The science of writing: Theories, methods, individual differences, and applications (pp. 29-55). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Hyland, F. (1998). The impact of teacher written feedback on individual writers. Journal of Second Language Writing, 7(3), 255-286.

Hyland, F. (2000). ESL Writers and feedback: Giving more autonomy to students. Language Teaching Research, 4(1), 33-54.

Hyland, F. (2003). Focusing on form: Student engagement with teacher feedback. System, 31(2), 217-230.

Hyland, F., & Hyland, K. (2001). Sugaring the pill: Praise and criticism in written feedback. Journal of Second Language Writing, 10(3), 185-212.

Hyland, K. (1990). Providing productive feedback. ELT Journal, 44(4), 279-285.

Hyland, K., & Hyland, F. (2006). Feedback in second language writing: Contexts and issues. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Janssen, D., van Waes, L., & van den Bergh, H. (1996). Effects of thinking aloud on writing processes. In C. M. Levy & S. Ransdell (Eds.), The science of writing (pp. 223-250). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Jourdenais, R. (2001). Cognition, instruction and protocol analysis. In P. Robinson (Ed.), Cognition and second language instruction (pp. 354-375). New York: Cambridge University Press.

Kroll, B. (2001). Considerations for teaching in an ESL/EFL writing course. In M. Celce-Murcia (Ed.), Teaching English as a second or foreign language (pp. 219-232). Boston, MA: Heinle and Heinle.

Kumar, M., Kumar, V., & Feryok, A. (2009). Recursiveness in written feedback. New Zealand Studies in Applied Linguistics, 15(1), 26-37.

Kumar, V., & Kumar, M. (2009). Recursion and noticing in written feedback. European Journal of Social Sciences, 12(1), 94-99.

Kussela, H., & Paul, P. (2000). A comparison of concurrent and retrospective verbal protocol analysis. American Journal of Psychology, 113(1), 387-404.

Laurillard, D. (1993). Rethinking university teaching: A framework for effective use of educational technology. London: Routledge.

Leow, R. P., & Morgan-Short, K. (2004). To think aloud or not to think aloud: The issue of reactivity in SLA research methodology. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 26, 35-57.

Murphy, H., & Roopchand, N. (2003). Intrinsic motivation and self-esteem in traditional and mature students at a post-1992 university in the north-east of England. Educational Studies, 4(1), 243-259.

Nicol, D. (2010). From monologue to dialogue: Improving written feedback processes in mass higher education. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 35(5), 501-517.

Perl, S. (1981). Coding the composing process: A guide for teachers and researchers. National Institute of Education, Washington, D. C.

Rowntree, D. (1977). Assessing students: How shall we know them? London: Harper and Row.

Ryan, K. (1997). Teacher comments and student responses. Directions in Teaching and Learning, 69, 5-13.

Sachs, R., & Polio, C. (2007). Learners' use of two types of written feedback on an L2 writing revision task. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 29(1), 67-100.

Sadler, D. R. (1989). Formative assessment and design of instructional systems. Instructional Science, 18, 119-144.

Sanz, C., Lin, H.-J., Lado, B., Bowden, H., & Stafford, C. A. (2009). Concurrent verbalizations, pedagogical conditions, and reactivity: Two CALL studies. Language Learning, 59(1), 33-71.

Scardamalia, M., & Bereiter, C. (1986). Research on written composition. In M. Wittrock (Ed.), Handbook of research on teaching (3rd ed., pp. 778-803). New York: McMillan.

Schmidt, R. (2001). Attention. In P. Robinson (Ed.), Cognition and second language instruction (pp. 3-32). Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.

Smagorinsky, P. (1989). The reliability and validity of protocol analysis. Written Communication, 6, 463-479.

Smagorinsky, P. (2001). Rethinking protocol analysis from a cultural perspective. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, 21, 233-245.

Stern, L. A., & Solomon, A. (2006). Effective faculty feedback: The road less traveled. Assessing Writing, 11, 22-41.

Stotsky, S. (1990). On planning and writing plans. Or beware of borrowed theories! College Composition and Communication, 41(1), 37-57.

Swain, M. (1995). Three functions of output in second language learning. In G. Cook & B. Seidlhofer (Eds.), Principle and practice in applied linguistics: Studies in honour of H. G. Widdowson (pp. 125-144). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Swain, M. (2006). Verbal protocols: What does it mean for research to use speaking as a data collection tool? In M. Chaloub-Deville, C. A. Chapple & P. Duff (Eds.), Inference and generalizability in applied linguistics (pp. 97-113). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Valli, L. (1990). Reflective and teacher education: Cases and critiques. Albany: State University of New York Press.

Vardi, I. (2012). The impact of iterative writing and feedback on the characteristics of tertiary students' written texts. Teaching in Higher Education, 17(2), 167-179.

Wigglesworth, G. (2005). Current approaches to researching second language learner processes. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, 25, 98-111.

Zacharias, N. T. (2007). Teacher and Student Attitudes toward Teacher Feedback. RELC Journal, 38(1), 38-52. doi: 10.1177/0033688206076157



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

2012-2022 (CC-BY) Australian International Academic Centre PTY.LTD

International Journal of Applied Linguistics and English Literature

To make sure that you can receive messages from us, please add the journal emails into your e-mail 'safe list'. If you do not receive e-mail in your 'inbox', check your 'bulk mail' or 'junk mail' folders.