Written Feedback Focus on Bachelor's Thesis Writing: A Case Study of Supervisors' Beliefs and Practices at a Chinese University

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Zhibin Lei
Issra Pramoolsook


Written feedback is recognized as integral in supporting L2 writers. In China, the bachelor’s degree thesis is an important genre aiming to cultivate undergraduates’ critical thinking and basic research ability. However, writing this genre presents a context where written feedback has not yet been extensively studied. The objective of this paper is to explore six EFL supervisors’ beliefs, practices, and the relationship between their beliefs and practices in written supervisory feedback (WSF) on drafts of theses for a bachelor’s degree at a Chinese university. Two semi-structured interviews were used to investigate their beliefs in the WSF values, the WSF focuses, and the factors affecting their WSF practices. WSF analysis on students’ theses was conducted to study the supervisors’ practices for their WSF focuses. The results revealed that they had a positive view on the value of WSF; they believed that, on the whole, organization and content are the important aspects to be addressed, while organization should be the focus for the first draft, all aspects should be addressed for the second draft and grammar and the academic and university’s requirements should be the focus for the third draft. However, their practices showed that they focused mostly grammar, academic and the university’s requirements, and content. For the first draft, the supervisors mainly focused on the academic and university’s requirements, grammar and content, while for the second and third drafts, they mainly focused on grammar. These mismatches between their beliefs and practices were explained by the supervisors as being for the students’ proficiency, occupational reactions, supervisors’ expectations, institutional policy and time constraints. The findings suggested that supervisors should be offered more training opportunities in WSF provision. Moreover, future research on WSF should be careful about the classification of feedback focus and go beyond the consideration of only one aspect.


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