Date of Award

January 2015

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Dwight Atkinson

Second Advisor

April Ginther

Committee Member 1

Margie Burns

Committee Member 2

Tony Silva


This case study investigated second language writing instructors’ written feedback practices from a complexity theory perspective. The purpose of the research was to explore and examine contextual factors and their impact on instructor written feedback practices. Data were collected from two ESL writing instructors and two ESL writers through surveys, interviews, and classroom observations. Based on the results, a complexity theory-based model of second language writing instructor written feedback practices was developed to represent the complexity of written feedback practice situated in the specific instructional context. The findings suggest that the instructors were under constant influence of five different contextual factors: 1. instructional context, 2. writing task, 3. feedback strategies, 4. student writing performance, and 5. time constraints. Each of the factors affected the instructors’ written feedback practices in its own right leading them to choose how, why, and where they provided feedback on the students’ drafts. Based on the findings, the study challenges the presupposed assumption of the mind-text duality, which has been pervasive in second language writing feedback research.