The teacher-student relationship in an EFL college composition classroom : how caring is enacted in the feedback and revision process

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Lee, Given, 1960-

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The purpose of this study was to explore how Korean college students developed their English composition abilities based on their teacher's written comments on their class assignments. Drawing upon Vygotsky's (1978) socioconstructivist perspective on learning and Noddings' (1984) concept of care, I focused on the relationship between teacher and students and the effects of that relationship on the feedback and revision process. Participants included one non-native teacher of English and 14 students enrolled in a six-week summer English academic writing class in a Korean university in which the teacher employed the process writing approach to help students learn to write in English and the students were encouraged to revise their drafts from her written comments. Data were collected from formal, informal, and text-based interviews, class observations, and students' writing samples commented on by the teacher. In this study, the feedback and revision process was not portrayed as an intellectual activity involving only the teacher and each student, but as a social activity that involved a highly complex, dynamic, and interpersonal process. Despite various constraints and conditions, when the teacher committed herself to helping her students learn to write in English, the students generally responded to her with respect and appreciation. Particularly, her written comments allowed her and her students to meet as the one-caring and the cared-fors respectively. However, for caring to be developed and sustained, building trust in each other was a necessary condition, one that was problematic for some students. Three major contributions of the study include the following: (1) an expansion of Noddings' (1984) conception of caring to the English academic writing education in a foreign language context; (2) a re-envisionment of the cognitive process model of writing and revision in which the success of writing and revision was determined by students' knowledge and their intention in revision, now adding the role of the relationship between teacher and student; and (3) a new view of the feedback and revision process not as a product but as a frame within an EFL classroom.