Higher-degree research being undertaken by Tiefu Zhang




Associate Professor Aek Phakiti and Associate Professor David Hirsh

Thesis title:

The effectiveness of written corrective feedback on explicit and implicit grammatical knowledge of university-level learners in an EFL context.



Project description

My study is an attempt to investigate the comparative effects of focused and unfocused corrective feedback with metalinguistic explanation on the development of learners’ explicit and implicit knowledge of regular and irregular English past tense in an EFL context. In addition, framed within a multiple-dimensional model, this study explored learner engagement with written corrective feedback in terms of how EFL learners cognitively, behaviourally, and affectively respond to the feedback.

Using a pre-test-immediate post-test-delayed post-test longitudinal design, this study compared three groups of intermediate university-level learners of English over a period of three months.

I hope my study can contribute to an ongoing debate over written corrective feedback in the field of second language acquisition by providing empirical and theoretical evidence. It is also expected to bring about certain implications for second language teachers in pedagogy.

Tiefu Zhang first engaged in research in language education when he was completing his Masters in English Language Teaching. His dissertation investigated beliefs of pre-service EFL teachers about language teaching and how a postgraduate teacher education program influenced construction of their beliefs. He started his PhD research in August 2013 with supervisors Assoc. Prof. Aek Phakiti and Assoc. Prof. David Hirsh. Tiefu’s passion for research has expanded into the fields of second language acquisition, second language writing and higher education. More recently, Tiefu has been selected to serve as a student representative for the Office of Doctoral Studies.


  • Australian Postgraduate Awards (2013-2016)
  • Thomas T Roberts Fellowships (2015)

Professional and community roles

  • American Association Applied Linguistics member
  • Applied Linguistics Association of Australia member
  • Student representative, Office of Doctoral Studies, the Faculty of Education and Social Work

Conference presentations