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[Xmca-l] Re: studies of feedback on student writing?
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- Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: studies of feedback on student writing?
- From: David Kellogg <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Date: Sat, 29 Jul 2017 07:44:27 +0900
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I'm currently writing a rather tiresome article on the distortions of
Vygotsky's ideas we find in Lantolf, Thorne, and "sociocultural theory"
generally. I won't bore you with the details: the gist is that the "zone of
proximal development" was never designed to be tautological: Vygotsky did
not think that the "next zone" was defined by being able to do tasks, and
being able to do tasks was how you knew that the child was ready for the
next zone of development (i.e. "the child is ready to learn whatever the
child is ready to learn"). It was based on a serious study of child
development and an attempt to establish age periods that were immanent to
the process of development itself (i.e. defined by the pace of
development--crises and stable periods--but relatable to the fruits of
development--as observable in language and verbal thinking).
But inevitably part of what I have to do is to take out the garbage that
has accrued around Vygotsky's name, to show how sociocultural theory
popularized Vygotsky by reducing all his ideas into extant "best
practices". At the time (the early nineties in second language writing
instruction) best practices were starting to move away from whole language
ideas based on providing the young writer with a "print rich environment"
and plentiful "input" towards more social-behaviorist notions of "focus on
form" and "corrective feedback". The theoretical rationale was that the
former approach had been "cognitivist" whle the latter was "sociocultural",
because it involved interaction between minds which was then "internalized"
within the learner's mind.
Here are some key articles from Lantolfian "sociocultural theory" which do
Aljaafreh, A. & Lantolf, J.P. (1994). Negative feedback as regulation and
second language learning in the zone of proximal development. Modern
Language Journal, 78, 465-483.
De Guerrero, M.C.M. & Villamil, O.S. (2000). Activating the ZPD: Mutual
scaffolding in L2 peer revision. Modern Language Journal, 84, 51-68.
Poehner, M.E. (2012). The zone of proximal development and the genesis of
self-assessment. Modern Language Journal, 96 (4) 610-622.
Poehner, M.E. & Lantolf, J.P. (2010). Vygotsky’s teaching-assessment
dialectic and L2 education: The case for Dynamic Assessment. Mind, Culture,
and Activity, 17 (4) 312-330.
Poehner, M.E. and Lantolf, J.P. (2013). Bringing the ZPD into the equation:
Capturing L2 development during Computerized Dynamic Assessment (C-DA).
Language Teaching Research, 17 (3) 323-342.
Needless to say, I don't recommend any of these. Don't get me wrong: I too
am an agitator and not a propagandist; I want a few simple ideas I can
give to lots of teachers rather than a whole complex system that can only
be mastered by a few. Like you, I firmly I believe that it is possible to
popularize without vulgarizing, and I even think the demotic forms of
theory are the most democratic and ultimately the most profound.
I too have a strong sympathy for the teacher training approach that
analyzes best practices and tries to abstract best principles, and then
shows how these are perfectly compatible with high theory. I even think
that at some point it is useful to try to show teachers that they were
"unconscious" Vygotskyans all the long.
But this stuff isn't that. It's just bait and switch: The zone of proximal
development was not and never will be a form of corrective feedback, and
the very word "feedback" suggests the behaviorist theory that it really
On Fri, Jul 28, 2017 at 3:46 AM, Shirley Franklin <
> I know people in this project have done research on feedback on academic
> Also, we discussed people's work on this in the Academic Literacies
> Forum in the Institute of Education in London. Brian Street, who sadly
> died recently, had a lot to say about it.
> Sent from my iPad
> On 27 Jul 2017, at 19:00, Shirin Vossoughi <email@example.com>
> > Dear all,
> > I am writing to ask if anyone might have suggestions for CHAT or
> > socio-cultural studies of written feedback on student writing?
> > Thank you,
> > Shirin