Writing and Peer Feedback
As one of the language skills, writing is treated as a branch of competence developed in the language department, in my college as well. More than three years I teach English writing to my students, it is still difficult to find suitable approach to develop their writing. In one case, I believe that students’ knowledge on the English structure, including morphology and syntax, plays important roles; in the other side, they perhaps need more supplements to encourage their writing motivation.
I tried some approaches, asking them to write their own perception about certain phenomena, daily activity, free expression, diary, but none was seemed motivational. One thing inspired me, then, I should look another way.
One year ago, I did research in other region in Indonesia. The research was conducted under my supervisors’ guidance, who didn’t respect the approach I took that time at all. Fifteen students were involved into my research; I investigated the application of peer feedback which my supervisor said “not better than teacher feedback”. Surprisingly, I found that peer feedback was good, even in two ways. First, peer feedback encourages students’ writing skill, and second reading skill. This is, actually, had been revealed by researchers like Rollinson and Kurt and Atay with similar conclusion.
Rollinson argues that peer feedback makes students critically read their peer’s writing; and therefore peer feedback trains students to be critical readers. Kurt and Atay , argue that peer feedback trains students to be better in writing and reading altogether. My research revealed that the students’ writing skill develop as their reading skill develop. Their reading skill was encouraged by their role as “the mistake searcher”. Since they were required to find mistakes in their peer’s writing, they were aware that they should be critically read their peer’s writing.
That research, likely, told me that peer feedback is very useful to my students. The participants of that research were not my on students. My students’ English skill is under my participants’; at least which is my view at glance; to discuss it now is not needed. However, I know that my participants are cleverer than my students; it must be caused by the difference of the learning way between them.
Coming back to my students after graduation, I took one semester in teaching writing. Surprisingly, students’ writing skill is still poor. Using peer feedback in teaching them writing might be “dangerous”, since peer feedback requires critical thinking as critical reading. How can they identify mistakes if their knowledge of English structure (about which correct is and which incorrect is) is under average? That is my question which takes me to do this research.
This research, actually, should be entitled “Peer Feedback: An Implication on the Low English Mastery students”. However, avoiding to be said “intimidate”, this research is then entitled as what can be read. I would like to reinvestigate peer feedback, in the context of low English skill mastery. Peer feedback, which was originally used for L1 , is now being implemented into L2 classroom, where the students’ mastery of English is low.