National Kaohsiung Normal University, Taiwan
This study examined EFL students' perceptions and preferences for teacher commentary and the relationship between their perceptions and their improvement in writing proficiency. The participants included 119 Taiwanese English majors enrolled in English composition courses in universities across Taiwan. A written survey and interviews were administered and students' essays were collected, and were analyzed by SPSS, the coding scheme, and text analysis, respectively. The findings showed that the students strongly believed that teachers should comment on most aspects of their writing on both early and later drafts, and that comments on most aspects were helpful. By means of revisions, the students improved their overall writing performance and performance in each macro- and micro-level aspects of writing. More importantly, a high positive relationship was found between the students' perceptions of global-level comments and their writing proficiency/improvement whereas little relationship was found between the students' perceptions of local-level comments and their writing proficiency/improvement. The students' perceptions of macro-level comments were therefore more important and should inform teachers' response practices more than their preferences for micro-level comments. This study suggests that teachers should foster and encourage students' positive perceptions of and interest in the macro-level comments to help them learn to write effectively.
Key Words: teacher comments, student reactions, foreign language writing, writing performance