Input vs. intake in formative assessment and explicit grammar teaching Do the students understand what we are talking about?

  • Lenka Garshol University of Agder
Keywords: feedback effects, metalinguistic knowledge, agreement errors


The relevance of explicit grammar instruction in foreign language classrooms has been discussed widely in the past, but there is no consensus regarding what is the best approach or how much time should be spent on explicit grammar teaching. This paper presents the results of three studies which focus on students’ knowledge of explicit grammar, their understanding of metalinguistic terminology, and their ability to correct agreement errors in their texts as a response to formative assessment. In the first study, the effect of different types of formative feedback on the improvement in agreement marking accuracy was tested. As there were no statistically significant differences found, two follow-up case studies were conducted to test the possible causes of the observed lack of effect. The first of the case studies tested the effect of formative assessment in a process writing task, but there was only limited effect found. The second case study focused on testing explicit grammar knowledge and understanding of metalinguistic terminology in an inverted classroom setting. The results suggested that the understanding of metalinguistic terminology was rather low, and the knowledge of explicit grammar was varying. The students found the task difficult. The Norwegian English language curriculum gives the teachers freedom to choose their methods and only sets requirements for the results of the students. These three studies show that there is a need for a discussion of the relevance, methods, and extent of explicit grammar teaching and the use of metalinguistic terminology in formative assessment in English language classrooms in Norway.
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