The aim of the pilot study was to examine data collection instruments that will be used in the main data collection. It is important that any tools of data collection should have a pilot study ‘in order to iron out any problems of overlap of categories’ (Cohen et al, 2005: 130). In other words, Drever (1995: 56) points out that the researcher in the pilot study is trying to do two things: ‘first, to give the interview a trial run under realistic conditions; second, to get as much information as possible from the other person about how they interpret and reacted to the researcher’s questions.
Two instruments of data collection were used in the pilot study: first, in class-essay writing sessions, this was done by asking students to write three essay drafts in three different writing sessions. The time allowed for writing the essay drafts was 90 minutes. The number of errors was used to measure the achievements of the students’ accuracy in a new piece of writing. Second, conducting an interview with students first and then their tutors in order to know their expectations towards tutors’ error feedback.
Students from the two colleges were selected and had informed that their writing work would be analysed and used for research and teaching purposes. First year students and second year students from each college were enrolled in three writing class sessions. The total number of students who participated in the study was ninety-seven students. Students assigned to two different groups: first group, students who received ‘coded’ direct written feedback focused on form and the other group who received ‘un-coded’ written feedback focused on form as well. English writing tutors were selected in the study and their number was four.
Pilot Study Procedures and methods of collecting data Used
Students were required to write three descriptive essays on different topics but on a similar context during six weeks’ time. Tutors were asked to focus on correcting errors based on form, and they were given a list of types of errors that should be addressed on students’ essay drafts. (See table 1)
Types of Error
Plural Nouns Errors
Verb Tense Errors