Collaborative narratives between Spanish heritage and foreign language learners: Understanding aspect selection through two types of corrective feedback



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This dissertation aims to present a better understanding of Spanish mixed classes—learning contexts shared by heritage language learners (HLLs) and foreign language learners (FLLs)—by exploring both (1) the immediate and delayed impact of direct and indirect corrective feedback (CF) on the aspectual distinction (i.e., the use of the preterit and imperfect in Spanish written narrations tasks) and (2) the implications of writing collaboratively as an activity system following a sociocultural perspective. To analyze the use of Spanish aspect in written narrations, this study included three groups enrolled in a Spanish intermediate course: two were experimental, Groups A (n=10) and B (n=10), and the third was a control section, Group C (n=11). Participants from all three groups took a pretest and a posttest concerning the preterit and imperfect, but only those in the experimental groups (5 mixed dyads constituted by a FLL and a HLL in each pair) collaboratively completed three narrations and consequently revised them. After completing the first drafts collaboratively, pairs in Group A received indirect feedback through a coding system, while dyads in Group B obtained direct correction (i.e., the correct answers) accompanied by metalinguistic explanations on the use of Spanish aspect. Regardless of the type of feedback received, dyads from both experimental groups were also required to turn in a second version of their work (i.e., draft 2) in which they collaboratively corrected their errors. Additionally, participants from Groups A and B were asked to individually re-write the last composition (composition #3) one month after the treatment. Finally, at the beginning of the semester, both experimental groups completed a demographic and a perception questionnaire about collaborative work at the end of the semester. The collaborative composition and revision process among the 10 dyads was mediated through Google Docs and recorded through RelanPro, producing a total of 60 dialogic encounters, all of which were transcribed and coded into language-related episodes (hereafter LREs). These LREs were subsequently analyzed to determine how participants approached writing in terms of the pairs’ division of labor, scaffolding, intersubjectivity, and contradictions. After analyzing pre- and posttests as well as the two versions of each composition, results did not show a main effect (i.e., statistical differences) among the three groups. However, there was a significant time-group interaction effect; both experimental groups improved in accuracy, but the control group did not. Thus, results from the pretest and posttest suggested that CF helped dyads from both experimental groups achieve a better understanding of aspectual distinction, while the lack of feedback presumably prevented learners (in Group C) from achieving a similar level of accuracy in production given that their posttest scores slightly decreased during the semester. Furthermore, both versions (draft 1 and 2) of the three collaborative narrations revealed that—by the end of the treatment—both indirect and direct error corrections assisted dyads in the experimental groups to (a) improve from the first to second drafts and (b) use the preterit and imperfect more accurately in the new pieces of writing (comparing the first draft of composition 1 to the first draft of composition 3). However, the writing assignment individually written a month later (i.e., re-written composition #3) suggested that only participants that received indirect feedback (i.e., Group A) were able to maintain the same degree of long-term accuracy in using Spanish aspect (i.e., from composition #3 to the individually rewritten version). After analyzing the LREs, the results indicate how learners approached writing. Indirect CF seemed to impact the ways in which dyads (especially those in Group A) addressed their work by helping them (1) to accomplish equal contributions when completing their work (i.e., collaboration versus dominant/passive contributions), (2) to promote a larger number of effective scaffolding interactions and intersubjectivity instances, and (3) to develop various techniques to effectively solve various internal contradictions that arose while completing their work. This dissertation also includes the learners’ perceptions regarding the advantages (e.g., developing ideas) and disadvantages (e.g., dealing with too many ideas) of collaboration. It concludes by discussing the research and pedagogical implications of using collaborative writing accompanied by corrective feedback together in mixed settings.



Spanish mixed classes, foreign language learners, heritage language learners, collaborative writing, Spanish aspect, corrective feedback