Electronic feedback on second language writing
A retrospective and prospective essay on multimodality
Keywords:CMC, technology-mediated feedback, second language writing, multimodal feedback, ESL/EFL writing, feedback modes
As technology has made a range of modes of communication available and created new ways to integrate these modes, feedback has become increasingly electronic and multimodal. From written to audio, video, and screencast feedback, the multimodal options for electronic feedback (e-feedback) have expanded in such a way that we might speak of a ‘multimodal turn’ in feedback on foreign and second language writing. However, feedback studies on second language writing are just beginning to explore these complex areas. This essay offers a multimodal perspective on e-feedback by illustrating the scope of current research and highlights future research directions. The retrospective underscores the scarcity of research in the area with a specific focus on multimodality and identifies needs for speciality feedback systems that consider practical and contextualized perspectives. We argue that future research should strive for a context-rich description of e-feedback activities, gathering thick data about feedback provision, learner engagement with feedback and uptake through screencasting, eye-tracking, and keystroke logging technologies. These data should be triangulated with information about all factors impacting the feedback activity outcome, ranging from participant variables over modal affordances of the platforms used to environmental factors like institutional support.
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