The associations between working memory and the effects of four different types of written corrective feedback
Abstract Working memory has been posited to play an important role in affecting the processes of writing (Kellogg, 1996). However, to date there has been limited research on its role in second language writing and no research on whether it is associated with the effects of written corrective feedback in second language learning. This study examines the associations between two types of working memory—complex working memory and phonological short-term memory—and the effectiveness of four types of written corrective feedback: direct corrective feedback, direct corrective feedback plus revision, metalinguistic explanation, and metalinguistic explanation plus revision. Seventy-nine adult learners of English as a foreign language performed three writing tasks and took two working memory tests: a reading span test (complex working memory) and a non-word span test (phonological short-term memory). The results showed that (1) complex working memory was a positive predictor of the effects of metalinguistic explanation and the effects of direct corrective feedback plus revision, and (2) phonological short-term memory was a negative predictor of the effects of direct corrective feedback plus revision. The results suggest that the role of working memory varies as a function of feedback type and that complex working memory and phonological short-term memory may have opposite associations with the effectiveness of written feedback.