Skip to content
Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton February 24, 2021

Discrepancies in Teachers’ Perceptions and Reported Practices: The Case of Written Feedback in an EFL Context

  • Hooman Saeli EMAIL logo and An Cheng


As Ferris (2014) states, teachers have received insufficient research attention regarding their perceptions and practices of feedback. This study, therefore, was an attempt to qualitatively explore Iranian EFL teachers’ feedback-related perceptions and practices. In addition, the discrepancies between the reported perceptions and practices were examined. The data collection consisted of qualitative interviews with 14 teachers. The data analysis (i. e., data coding using the grounded theory approach) helped develop a coding scheme in which a number of thematic categories and subcategories were delineated with regard to feedback. The findings, accordingly, revealed some noteworthy discrepancies between the teachers’ perceptions and practices. For instance, although the teachers valued peer-feedback and selective correction, they reported providing teacher-generated feedback and comprehensive commentary on grammatical errors, respectively. Also, the teachers were aware of the importance of indirect methods of correction (e. g., to promote learner autonomy), but mostly gave explicit feedback on their students’ grammatical issues. Overall, we showed that these discrepancies primarily resulted from students’ expectations. We also discussed the findings in light of sociocultural considerations and the tenets of learner engagement with feedback.


Feedbackpraktiken von Lehrenden sind nach Ferris (2014) im Fremdsprachenunterricht unzureichend empirisch erforscht worden. Diese qualitative Studie zielt darauf ab, Feedbackpraktiken und deren Wahrnehmung von Lehrenden im Kontext von Englischunterricht im Iran zu untersuchen. Zu diesem Zweck stützt sie sich auf 14 qualitative Interviews mit Lehrenden an einer iranischen Sprachschule, in denen die Lehrenden über ihre Feedbackpraktiken befragt werden. Die Interviewdaten werden nach dem grounded theory approach in mehrere analytische Kategorien unterteilt. Aus der Analyse ergeben sich Diskrepanzen zwischen den von den Lehrenden idealisierten Feedbackpraktiken und jenen, die sie in der Praxis anwenden. Diese Diskrepanzen stehen in einem weiteren Zusammenhang mit der Erwartungshaltung von Lernern an den Unterricht und an die Lehrenden. Abschließend werden die Ergebnisse im Kontext von soziokulturellen Erwartungen im Iran und der Erwartungshaltung von Lernern an den Umgang mit Feedback diskutiert.


Comme le dit Ferris (2014), les enseignants ont reçu une attention insuffisante à la recherche sur leurs perceptions et pratiques de remarques. Cette étude, alors, tentait d’explorer de manière qualitative les perceptions et pratiques à propos des remarques des enseignants iraniens d’anglais langue étrangère. En plus, les différences entre le perceptions et pratiques constatées ont été examinées. La collection des données consistait d’interviews qualitatifs avec 14 enseignants. L’analyse des données (c’est-à-dire un codage de données en utilisant l’approche de la théorie ancrée) a eu pour résultat le développement d’un schéma de codage dans lequel un nombre de catégories et de sous-catégories thématiques sont définies par rapport aux remarques. Les résultats, donc, révèlent quelques différences notables entre les perceptions et pratiques des enseignants. Ces différences sont principalement en raison des attentes des étudiants. Finalement, les résultats sont discutés à la lumière de plusieurs considérations socioculturelles iraniennes et des principes d’engagement avec les remarques de la part des étudiants.


Alshahrani, A., & Storch, N. (2014). Investigating teachers’ written corrective feedback practices in a Saudi EFL context. Australian Review of Applied Linguistics, 37, 101–122. 10.1075/aral.37.2.02alsSearch in Google Scholar

Baleghizadeh, S., & Farshchi, S. (2009). An exploration of teachers’ beliefs about the role of grammar in Iranian high schools and private language institutes. Journal of English Language Teaching and Learning, 52, 17–38.Search in Google Scholar

Barkhuizen, G. P. (1998). Discovering learners’ perceptions of ESL classroom teaching/learning activities in a South African context. TESOL Quarterly, 32, 85–108.10.2307/3587903Search in Google Scholar

Bitchener, J., & Knoch, U. (2009). The relative effectiveness of different types of direct written corrective feedback. System, 37, 322–329.10.1016/j.system.2008.12.006Search in Google Scholar

Corbin, J., & Strauss, A. (2014). Basics of qualitative research: Techniques and procedures for developing grounded theory. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publication.Search in Google Scholar

Ellis, R. (2010). A framework for investigating oral and written corrective feedback. Studies in Second Language Acquisition,32, 335–349.10.1017/S0272263109990544Search in Google Scholar

Farhady, H., Hezaveh, F. S., & Hedayati, H. (2010). Reflections on foreign language education in Iran. TESL-EJ, 13(4), 1–18. Search in Google Scholar

Ferris, D. R. (2014). Responding to student writing: Teachers’ philosophies and practices. Assessing Writing, 19, 6–23. 10.1016/j.asw.2013.09.004Search in Google Scholar

Ferris, D. R., Liu, H., & Rabie, B. (2011). “The job of teaching writing”: Teacher views of responding to student writing. Writing & Pedagogy, 3, 39–77.10.1558/wap.v3i1.39Search in Google Scholar

Ganjabi, M. (2011). Effective foreign language teaching: A matter of Iranian students’ and teachers’ beliefs. English Language Teaching, 4, 46–54.10.5539/elt.v4n2p46Search in Google Scholar

Hajian, L., Farahani, A. A. K., & Shirazi, M. A. (2014). A study of students’ and teachers’ preferences and attitudes towards correction of classroom written errors in Iranian EFL context. International Journal of Applied Linguistics and English Literature, 3, 287–297. Search in Google Scholar

Han, Y., & Hyland, F. (2015). Exploring learner engagement with written corrective feedback in a Chinese tertiary EFL classroom. Journal of Second Language Writing, 30, 31–44.10.1016/j.jslw.2015.08.002Search in Google Scholar

Harwood, N., Austin, L., & Macaulay, R. (2009). Proofreading in a UK university: Proofreaders’ beliefs, practices, and experiences. Journal of Second Language Writing, 18, 166–190.10.1016/j.jslw.2009.05.002Search in Google Scholar

Hedgcock, J., & Lefkowitz, N. (1994). Feedback on feedback: Assessing learner receptivity to teacher response in L2 composing. Journal of Second Language Writing, 3, 141–163.10.1016/1060-3743(94)90012-4Search in Google Scholar

Hyland, K. (1998). The impact of teacher written feedback on individual writers. Journal of Second Language Writing, 7, 255–286.10.1016/S1060-3743(98)90017-0Search in Google Scholar

Jodaie, M., & Farrokhi, F. (2012). An exploration of private language institute teachers’ perceptions of written grammar feedback in EFL classes. English Language Teaching, 5(2), 58–67.10.5539/elt.v5n2p58Search in Google Scholar

Jodaie, M., Farrokhi, F., & Zoghi, M. (2011). A comparative study of EFL Teachers’ and intermediate high school students’ perceptions of written corrective feedback on grammatical errors. English Language Teaching, 4(4), 36–48.10.5539/elt.v4n4p36Search in Google Scholar

Junqueira, L., & Payant, C. (2015). “I just want to do it right, but it’s so hard”: A novice teacher’s written feedback beliefs and practices. Journal of Second Language Writing, 27, 19–36. 10.1016/j.jslw.2014.11.001Search in Google Scholar

Lee, H. H., Leong, A. P., & Song, G. (2016). Investigating teacher perceptions of feedback. ELT Journal, 71, 60–68.10.1093/elt/ccw047Search in Google Scholar

Lee, I. (2004). Error correction in L2 secondary writing classrooms: The case of Hong Kong. Journal of Second Language Writing, 13, 285–312.10.1016/j.jslw.2004.08.001Search in Google Scholar

Lee, I. (2005). Error correction in the L2 writing classroom: What do students think? TESL Canada Journal, 22(2), 1–16.10.18806/tesl.v22i2.84Search in Google Scholar

Lee, I. (2008). Understanding teachers’ written feedback practices in Hong Kong secondary classrooms. Journal of Second Language Writing, 17, 69–85.10.1016/j.jslw.2007.10.001Search in Google Scholar

Lee, I. (2009). Ten mismatches between teachers’ beliefs and written feedback practice. ELT Journal, 63, 13–22. 10.1093/elt/ccn010Search in Google Scholar

Liu, Q., & Wu, S. (2019). Same goal, varying beliefs: How students and teachers see the effectiveness of feedback on second language writing. Journal of Writing Research, 11(2), 299–330. 10.17239/jowr-2019.11.02.03Search in Google Scholar

Min, H. T. (2013). A case study of an EFL writing teacher’s belief and practice about written feedback. System, 41, 625–638.10.1016/j.system.2013.07.018Search in Google Scholar

Montgomery, J. L., & Baker, W. (2007). Teacher-written feedback: Student perceptions, teacher self-assessment, and actual teacher performance. Journal of Second Language Writing, 16, 82–99. 10.1016/j.jslw.2007.04.002Search in Google Scholar

Norouzian, R., & Farahani, A. A. K. (2012). Written error feedback from perception to practice: A feedback on feedback. Journal of Language Teaching and Research, 3(1), 11–22.10.4304/jltr.3.1.11-22Search in Google Scholar

Rahimi, M. (2010). Iranian EFL students’ perceptions and preferences for teachers’ written feedback: Do students’ ideas reflect teachers’ practice? The Journal of Teaching Language Skills (JTLS), 2(2), 75–98.Search in Google Scholar

Russell, J. & Spada, N. (2006). The effectiveness of corrective feedback for the acquisition of L2 grammar: A meta-analysis of the research. In J. Norris and L. Ortega (Eds.), Synthesizing research on language learning and teaching (pp. 133–164). Amsterdam: John Benjamins. Search in Google Scholar

Saeli, H., & Cheng, A. (2019). Effects of L1 writing experiences on L2 writing perceptions: Evidence from an EFL context. Reading & Writing Quarterly, 35, 509–524. 10.1080/10573569.2019.1579129Search in Google Scholar

Sheen, Y. (2010). Differential effects of oral and written corrective feedback in the ESL classroom. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 32, 203–234.10.1017/S0272263109990507Search in Google Scholar

Zhu, W. (2004). Faculty views on the importance of writing, the nature of academic writing, and teaching and responding to writing in the disciplines. Journal of Second Language Writing, 13, 29–48.10.1016/j.jslw.2004.04.004Search in Google Scholar

Zohrabi, M., Torabi, M. A., & Baybourdiani, P. (2012). Teacher-centered and/or student-centered learning: English language in Iran. English Language and Literature Studies, 2(3), 18–30. 10.5539/ells.v2n3p18Search in Google Scholar


Note : The teachers were asked to reflect on their students’ feedback-related preferences, as well.

Background information:

  1. Age; educational background; academic degree; TEFL-related courses; teacher training; teaching experience.

Feedback-related perceptions and practices:

  1. Do your classes involve writing? How do you compare the importance of grammar feedback and grammatical accuracy with their content and organization counterparts in student writing? Discuss, please.

  2. What do you think of students’ errors in writing? Positive? Negative? Discuss, please.

  3. How do you correct students’ errors in writing? Direct? Indirect? One-on-one conferences? How much correction? Comprehensive? Selective? Discuss, please.

  4. Who provides correction on errors in student writing? You? Peers? Self-correction? Outside sources? Discuss, please.

Published Online: 2021-02-24
Published in Print: 2021-09-09

© 2021 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

Downloaded on 2.3.2024 from
Scroll to top button