A Cognitively Designed Error Correction Log for Facilitating the Learning of Grammatical Structures

David Frear


The exploratory study investigated the effectiveness of a new tool referred to as the error correction log (ECL). It was designed from a cognitive SLA perspective to facilitate learning, in the context of this study, of grammatical structures, following the receipt of written corrective feedback (WCF). The uniqueness of the ECL is that it guides learners through the cognitive processes deemed to underlie acquisition of grammatical structures, namely, noticing-the-gap (Schmidt & Frota, 1986), noticing (Schmidt, 1990, 2001) and noticing with metalinguistic understanding (Leow, 1997; Schmidt, 2001), and in the process potentially change the type of WCF available to learners. As the ECL was designed by the author, no study has investigated its effectiveness against a more established means of attending to WCF. In the case of the study presented here, the ECL was compared against studying WCF for a period of time. Utilizing a quasi-experimental design (a pre-test, treatment, immediate post-test, and delayed post-test), the treatment was a focused direct WCF plus ECL group versus a focused direct WCF plus study group. A control group received no WCF. The tests were three writing tasks; the target structure was regular past tense verbs. While the ECL group improved over time, the study group and the control group did not. The ECL group outperformed the control group in the delayed post-test, whereas the study group did not. An analysis of whether the corrected past tense verbs were subsequently used or not used in the post-tests demonstrated a lack of correct use for the ECL group; this, with an analysis of the ECLs for the provision of a metalinguistic explanation, suggest learners may have been able to change direct WCF (potential noticing) to direct WCF plus metalinguistic explanation (potential noticing plus metalinguistic understanding) leading to the suggestion these learners likely drew on the corrected verbs, their preexisting vocabulary-learned knowledge and preexisting metalinguistic knowledge (implicitly and explicitly acquired) when completing the delayed post-test. These results will be discussed in relation to research, theory and practice.


SLA, Written Corrective Feedback, Focused Feedback, Direct Written Corrective Feedback, Error Correction Log, Awareness

Full Text:



Anderson, J. R. (1982). Acquisition of cognitive skill. Psychological Review, 89, 369-406.

Anderson, J. R. (1983). The architecture of cognition. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Bitchener, J. (2008). Evidence in support of written corrective feedback. Journal of Second Language

Writing, 17, 102-118.

Bitchener, J. (2012). A reflection on ‘the language learning potential’ of written CF. Journal of Second

Language Writing, 21, 348-363.

Bitchener, J., & Knoch, U. (2008). The value of written corrective feedback for migrant and

international students. Language Teaching Research, 12, 409-431.

Bitchener, J., & Knoch, U. (2010). The contribution of written corrective feedback to

language development: A ten-month investigation. Applied Linguistics, 31, 193-214.

Bruton, A. (2009). Designing research into the effect of error correction in L2 writing: Not so

straightforward. Journal of Second Language Writing, 18, 136–140.

Cohen, J. W. (1988). Statistical power analysis for the behavioral sciences. New York: Erlbaum.

Ellis, N. (1996). Sequencing in SLA: Phonological memory, chunking, and points of order. Studies in

Second Language Acquisition, 18, 91-126.

Ellis, N. (1997). Vocabulary acquisition: Word structure, collocation, word class, and meaning. In N.

Schmidt and M. McCarthy (Eds.). Vocabulary: description, acquisition and pedagogy (pp. 123-129). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Ellis, N. (2002). Frequency effects in language processing: A review with implications for theories of

implicit and explicit language acquisition. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 24, 143-188.

Ellis, R. (1999). Item versus system learning: Explaining free variation. Applied Linguistics, 20, 460-

Ellis, R. (2003). Tasked-based language earning. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Ellis, R. (2004). Individual Differences in Second Language Learning. In A. Davies and C. Elder

(Eds.). The handbook of applied linguistics (pp. 525-521). Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.

Ellis, R. (2009). A typology of written corrective feedback types. English Language Teaching Journal,

, 97-107.

Ellis, R., & Barkhuizen, G. (2005). Analyzing learner language. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Ellis, R., Sheen, Y., Murakami, M., & Takashima, H. (2008). The effects of focused and unfocused

written corrective feedback on Japanese university students’ use of English articles in narratives. System, 36, 353-371.

Ferris, D. (2003). Response to student writing: Implications for second language students. Mahwah:


Frear, D., & Chiu, Y. (2015). The effect of focused and unfocused indirect written corrective feedback

on EFL learners’ accuracy in new pieces of writing. System, 53, 24-34.

Frear, D. (2012). The effect of written corrective feedback and revision on intermediate Chinese

learners’ acquisition of English. (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). The University of Auckland, New Zealand.

Frear, D. (2010). The effect of focused and unfocused direct CF on a new piece of writing. College

English: Issues and Trends, 3, 59-71.

Hartshorn, K. J., Evans, N.W., Merrill, P. F., Sudweeks, R.R., Strong-Krause, D., & Anderson, N. J.

(2010). Effects of dynamic corrective feedback on ESL writing accuracy. TESOL Quarterly, 44, 84-109

Kocatepe, M. (2017). Extrinsically motivated homework behaviour: Student voices from the Arabian

Gulf. In J. Kemp (Ed). Proceedings of the 2015 BALEAP conference (pp. 97-106). Reading: Garnet Publishing.

Krashen, S. (1985). The input hypothesis: Issues and implications. London: Longman.

Lalande, J. (1982). Reducing composition errors: An experiment. Modern Language Journal, 66, 140-

Leow, R. (1997). Attention, awareness and foreign language behavior. Language Learning, 47, 467-

Long, M, (1996) The role of the linguistic environment in second language acquisition. In: W. Ritchie

and T. Bhatia (Eds). Handbook of second language acquisition (pp. 413-468). San Diego: Academic Press.

Noels, K. A., Clement, R., & Pelletier, L. G. (2001). Intrinsic, extrinsic, and integrative orientations of

French Canadian learners of English. Canadian Modern Language Review 57, 424-442.

Pica, T. (1983). Adult acquisition of English as a second language under different conditions of

exposure. Language Learning, 33, 465-497.

Posner, M., & Petersen, M. (1990). The attention system of the human brain. Annual Review of Neural

Science 13, 25-42.

Schmidt, R. (1990). The role of consciousness in second language learning. Applied Linguistics, 11,


Schmidt, R. (2001). Attention. In P. Robinson (Ed.) Cognition and second language instruction.

Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Schmidt, R., & Frota, S. (1986). Developing basic second language ability in a second language: A

case study of an adult learner. In R. Day (Ed.) Talking to learn: Conversation in second language acquisition (pp. 237-236). Rowley, Mass.: New Bury House.

Sheen, Y. (2007). The effect of focused written corrective feedback and language aptitude on ESL

learners’ acquisition of articles. TESOL Quarterly, 41, 255-283.

Sheen, Y., & Ellis, R. (2010). Corrective feedback in L2 teaching. In E. Hinkel (Ed.). Handbook of

research in second language teaching and learning. New York: Routledge.

Sheen, Y., Wright, D., & Moldawa, A. (2009). Differential effects of focused and unfocused written

correction on the accurate use of grammatical forms by adult ESL learners. System, 37, 556-569.

Shintani, N., & Ellis R. (2013). The comparative effect of direct written corrective feedback and

metalinguistic explanation on learners’ explicit and implicit knowledge of the English indefinite article. Journal of Second Language Writing, 22, 286-306.

Stefanou, C., & Révész, A. (2015). Direct written corrective feedback, learner differences, and the

acquisition of second language article use for generic and specific plural reference. Modern Language Journal 99, 263–282.

Swain, M. (1995). Three functions of output in second language learning. In G. Cook & B. Seidlhofer

(Eds.), Principle and practice in applied linguistics (pp. 125-144). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Tomlin, R., & Villa, V. (1994). Attention in cognitive science and second language acquisition. Studies

in Second Language Acquisition 16, 183-203.

Van Beuningen, C., De Jong, N., & Kuiken, F. (2012). Evidence on the effectiveness of comprehensive

error correction in second language writing. Language Learning, 62, 1-41.

VanPatten, B. (1996). Input processing and grammar instruction in second language acquisition.

Norwood: New Jersey.

West, M. (1953). A general service list of English words. London: Longman.

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7575/aiac.ijalel.v.8n.2p.30


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

2012-2019 (CC-BY) Australian International Academic Centre PTY.LTD

International Journal of Applied Linguistics and English Literature

To make sure that you can receive messages from us, please add the journal emails into your e-mail 'safe list'. If you do not receive e-mail in your 'inbox', check your 'bulk mail' or 'junk mail' folders.