A comparison between native-speaker teachers and non-native speaker teachers in their attitudes to feedback on writing

Rodgers, Theodore S.
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Bilkent University
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Many institutions employ both native English speaker teachers (NSTs) and non-native English speaker teachers (NNSTs) on their staffs. A long standing question has focused on instructional differences, if any, between NSTs and NNSTs. One area of research that is related with difference between NSTs and NNSTs is their attitudes towards feedback on writing. This study investigates whether there is a difference between NSTs and NNSTs in their attitudes to feedback writing, specifically, their perceived order of importance of the following aspects of writing: content, organization, grammatical language use, vocabulary usage, and mechanics, and if so, in what way? Also, if there is difference, to what extent are these differences in feedback on writing related to demographic variables, specifically, different educational background, level of education, and years of teaching experience? Twenty NSTs were given a questionnaire to determine background information, a sample composition to which subjects gave feedback, and five aspects of writing: contect, organization, grammatical language use, vocabulary usage, and mechanics which subjects rated and then ranked according to their perceived order of importance. The means between the two groups, NSTs and NNSTs, were analyzed, and statistically compared using t-test for rating and Mann-Whitney U - Wilcoxon Rank Sum W Test for ranking. Results indicate that there were not any statistically significant differences between NSTs and NNSTs in their rating of aspects of writing. The results of ranking of aspects of writing indicate that on the issue of organization NSTs and NNSTs showed a statistically significant difference at p < .05. NNSTs ranked organization as the most important; on the other hand, NSTs ranked content as the most important. One possible interpretation might be that since several of the subjects had difficulty distinguishing between content and organization perhaps they use the term as a cover term that includes both organization and content. Results of the analyses to determine the effects of demographic variables of different educational background, level of education, and years of teaching experience were as follows: subjects from the English Literature field seemed to place more importance on organization when compared to subjects from the English Language Teaching field. The higher the degree of the subjects, the greater importance given to organization; the more years of teaching experience, the more importance subjects gave to organization. However, the patterns for the above were very slight; overall, there were no clear patterns.

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