Improving motivation and language attitudes: The post-it experience

Marike Dewina MEM, Desiree Mannens M.A. and Elena Vilanova M.A.
The Hague University of Applied Sciences, The Netherlands,,


Giving oral corrective feedback to our students’ oral production could sometimes interrupt the oral production and disrupt the student’s focus and their confidence. In our paper we would like to highlight the advantages of giving written feedback on post-it stickers at the end of their oral presentations.


One of the most important aspects in the field of language learning is the awareness-raising of the linguistic progress of the individual learner. The learner’s autonomy is developed by the learner through the experience of learning and the results of his/ her efforts to learn a language.

As soon as learners are aware of their individual progress in the target language (TL), further steps can be taken. Receiving oral or written feedback during this process can stimulate the learner to improve his/her oral skills, to become more accurate and raise awareness of written/oral improvement.

However, autonomy is a principle which cannot be taught like i.e. past tenses or conditionals. Autonomy is developed by the learner through the experience of learning and it is the result of the effort to learn how to learn a language. Promoting autonomy at our university means encouraging the learners (students) to take their own decisions and help them to become independent and responsible for their own learning process.

Many studies have shown that students usually prefer to be corrected by the teacher when giving a presentation (Loewen et al. 2009, Mendez 2008, Rodríguez 2017). Furthermore, the majority demands an immediate correction after each mistake. However, this procedure enforces an interruption in the oral process and could disrupt the student’s focus and confidence. Therefore, different means of transmitting feedback was invented. The idea of giving personal written feedback (on post-it notes) to oral production in presentations and debates contributes to a different approach by the learner.

In the following we would like to explain our research method:

Research method:

What are the advantages or disadvantages of written feedback instead of oral feedback at the end of a short presentation by students at THUA (The Hague University of Applied Sciences)

The principle of individual reflection (feedback of teacher to student) is seen as one of the most significant learning principles at a University of Science (The Hague University of Applied Sciences, The Netherlands).

Preconditions research
Type of education: German / Spanish (speaking workshops)
Level: B1/B2
Duration observation practicals: thirty minutes in three weeks
Target group : 8 students, second year (age 19- 20) of 4-years programme
Presentation: four minutes per student
Assessment: mark at the end of semester

Written feedback on grammar/ pronunciation/ contents will be given to the students at the end of their presentations by means of a post-it sticker.  At the end of the session the teacher takes a photograph of the post-its and will document the evaluation process in his/her files. After one semester the students receive their mark based on the average score of the 12 presentations.

Description of the procedure
During three weeks the practicals of one group were observed in the following order:

Week 1: 1st practical: Baseline measurement: only oral feedback
Week 2: 2nd practical: Written feedback
Week 3: 3rd practical: Comparison of feedback presented during 1st and 2nd practical

Observation technique
During the 1st practical four groups were observed. After the presentations only oral feedback was given (students do not make notes).
During the 2nd practical students had to give their presentation again. Motivation of the students was very high. Written feedback was presented at the end of the presentations.
During the 3rd practical students had to improve their presentation by implementing the written feedback of the post-its.

Description of the outcome
At the end of the semester students made the following statements:

•All the participants want to receive feedback.
•The majority of the students has a positive attitude while receiving feedback.
•Oral feedback is accepted positively, but partly with restrictions. Oral communication does not leave behind a permanent record.
•Written feedback is accepted positively without  restrictions.
•Preference of written feedback.
•The majority states that written feedback on Post-its is more efficient.
•Encouragement for students for more self-reflection.
•96% acknowledge feedback as an efficient tool for study success.

Further remarks:
It is quite significant to acknowledge that a slight change of methodology can trigger a different attitude amongst the students. Involvement in a new project (including observation) can make a positive impact on the students´ behaviour and work ethics.

Finally, the goal of the feedback session is to initiate a self-analysis of the students so that he/she can make a realistic estimate of his/her potential developments and identify the acquired knowledge and skills.

We might conclude that written feedback may contribute to a higher level of autonomy and therefore a more progressive state of language learning:

•It is corrective feedback but not invasive. The student can speak without interruption and he is still being corrected, but the error treatment is not intrusive.
•It is immediate correction, however, the student will wait until his/her oral production is done.
•It is a personalized feedback.
•It is an effective feedback, as it leads to correct specific errors in the long term.


Loewen, S., Li, S., Fei, F., Thompson, A., Nakatsukasa, K., Ahn, S., and Chen, X. (2009). Second Language Learners’ Beliefs About Grammar Instruction and Error Correction. The Modern Language Journal; Volume 93, Issue 1 Spring 2009; Pages 91–104. DOI:
Méndez, N. J. (2008). Teori´as sobre el error en el aprendizaje de lenguas extranjeras y las actitudes de los estudiantes hacia el tratamiento del error en el aula de espan~ol. Biblioteca Virtual redELE 2010, number 11. Available here:
Rodríguez García, C. (2017). Actitudes y creencias de estudiantes universitarios checos y eslovacos ante la correccio´n de sus errores en la expresio´n oral en espan~ol. Revista electro´nica de dida´ctica del espan~ol lengua extranjera ISSN: 1571-4667, Year 2017, number 29.

Other literature

Ende, K., Grotjahn, R., Kleppin K. and Mohr, I. (2013). Curriculare Vorgaben und Unterrichtsplanung Einheit 6  Fort- und Weiterbildung. Deutsch Lehren Lernen. Goethe Institut, 2013.
Hendrickson, J. (1978). Error correction in foreign language teaching: Recent theory, research, and practice. Modern Language Journal, 62. DOI :


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