Electronic feedback on second language writing

A retrospective and prospective essay on multimodality


  • Carrie Chang Tamkang University
  • Kelly J. Cunningham Iowa State University
  • H. Müge Satar Newcastle University
  • Carola Strobl Ghent University




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.

Author Biographies

Carrie Chang, Tamkang University

Carrie Yea-huey Chang received her Ph.D. in Language Education from Indiana University (IU)-Bloomington (US). She previously taught at language schools (K-6) in Taiwan, and online at IU-Bloomington. Currently Chang works as an Associate Professor at the Department of English, Tamkang University (Taiwan). Her areas of interests are L2 reading and writing, language learning strategies, and distance education. She has published a book titled L2 Peer Feedback: Insights from EFL Taiwanese Composition Classrooms. Her recent L2 research has also appeared in Assessing Writing, Computers and Composition, and Journal of Writing Research.

Kelly J. Cunningham, Iowa State University

Kelly J. Cunningham completed her PhD in Applied Linguistics & Technology and Human Computer Interaction at Iowa State University. She holds an MA in intercultural studies and TESOL and has taught ESL in a variety of academic and community based programs since 2007. Her research combines user experience methods and appraisal analysis to study implications of technology-mediated instructor feedback in ESL writing. She is currently the director of the Graduate Writing Lab in the School of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Virginia.

H. Müge Satar, Newcastle University

H. Müge Satar is a Lecturer in Applied Linguistics and TESOL at Newcastle University, UK. Her primary research interests are in the areas of CALL and teacher education; more specifically CMC , multimodality and social presence. She is an active member of EuroCALL and has publications in international journals including Modern Language Journal, CALICO and ReCALL.

Carola Strobl, Ghent University

Carola Strobl is a post-doctoral researcher at the Department of Translation, Interpreting and Communication of Ghent University, Belgium. In her research, she combines computer-assisted language learning with writing development and academic writing in a foreign language. Her current project focuses on the development of an automated feedback system targeting cohesion problems in advanced writing.


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How to Cite

Chang, C., Cunningham, K. J., Satar, H. M., & Strobl, C. (2018). Electronic feedback on second language writing: A retrospective and prospective essay on multimodality. Writing and Pedagogy, 9(3), 405–428. https://doi.org/10.1558/wap.32515



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