A Qualitative Study of Grammar Corrections in Studentsí Writing: A Singapore Case study

Lee Fong Ting

English Language Honours AE, NIE, 2001


Research on teachers' feedback in essay evaluation has revealed that teachers tend to focus primarily on form rather than on meaning-related issues in their actual marking. In spite of teachers' emphasis on accuracy of forms over other aspects of writing like content and structure in their marking of students' writing, I am sure many teachers have found that their efforts at correcting grammatical errors are often wasted as students make the same types of grammar mistakes throughout their essays.

There have been a lot of studies done either on the effectiveness of grammar correction as a whole or on the usefulness of various grammar feedback techniques However, very few studies in the area of grammar correction pedagogy investigate the teachers' beliefs which underlie their practices. Additionally, even fewer studies have looked at teachers' perceptions of the ways of giving grammatical feedback and their pupils' perceptions of the value of such feedback. Consequently, this study is an attempt to fill the gap in the grammar correction literature.

The findings reveal that there was a rather close match between the two teachers' perceptions and their actual practices in providing grammatical feedback in students' essays. Comparisons between students' perceptions and the two teachers' perceptions and actual practices in the area of grammar correction reveal a discrepancy in the frequency of giving grammatical feedback and on the issue of peer-editing and/or teacher-correction. Preferences of the students in this study were similar to what their teachers perceived and practised in the areas of grammatical focus and techniques employed to give grammatical feedback.

It may be argued that teachers do not necessarily need to conform to whatever form of instruction and marking practice that the students think best, but instead teachers should adopt methods that they deem suitable to help students learn. Nonetheless, it would still be useful to understand the students' perceptions about their teachers' techniques of rectifying grammar mistakes in compositions, so that any differences could be discussed by both parties and clarifications about marking practices outlined. In this way, teacher expectations and student expectations can be better matched.