Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Correcting our student's writing

We can divide correction into Direct and Indirect CorrectionIndirect Correction is where the teacher does not correct the mistake; they just indicate where the mistake is and let the student correct the language themselves. 
Studies have shown that because of the cognitive processes in play when the student has to identify and then correct the error for themselves, the long term benefits of Indirect Correction are clearly superior. 
Interestingly enough, studies have also shown no significant difference between Coded and Uncoded Correction in the long term.  Coded Correction is where the teacher gives the student the reason the language is incorrect (such as “sp” for spelling).  Students were 75% as successful (Ferris et al, 2000) at self-correcting when no codes were given yet the long term results were the same.
We also make a distinction between Global and Local ErrorsGlobal Errors interfere with the understandability of the text where Local Errors are minor errors that do not.  There is no evidence to suggest that treating the two kinds of errors differently have any impact on student writing.
Treatable and Untreatable ErrorsTreatable errors are errors that the student can find a rule for to help them to correct it.  Examples include tense errors, subject-verb agreement errors and plural errors.  Untreatable Errors are idiosyncratic and they need to have met this language before to correct it.  Examples include using the wrong word and idiomatic expressions.
Obviously, focusing on Treatable Errors of both the Global and Local variety using Indirect Correction in either Coded or Uncoded fashion is the way to go.  Hopefully, understanding these distinctions will help us to correct our students’ writing in a way that provides long-term benefits.
For verbal correction see here.

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