Background and Purpose: In order to compete with native speakers, EFL and ESL students are under more pressure to produce native-like academic papers. This has led to more reliance on online grammar checkers, but these can be ineffective with regards to identifying and giving feedback on particular grammatical forms, phrasing and issues relating to style. Language learners may not be effectively correcting these errors. Hence, this study aims to examine the effectiveness of one online grammar checker, grammarly.com, with that of self-editing.
Methodology: This case study employed a descriptive approach to data analysis. 199 essays were collected from undergraduates at four universities in Kyushu, dated from April, 2019 to January, 2020. 99 essays were proofed by an online grammar checker, while 100 essays were self-edited. The English proficiency level of the participants was at the lower to intermediate range (i.e., TOEIC 300 to a TOEIC 500). The online grammar checker Grammarly was utilized by all participants to minimize issues relating to feedback. In the analysis of data, the complexity, accuracy, and fluency (CAF) of the essays was assessed in order to examine the significant changes between the first and other drafts, and the types of errors produced.
Findings: Results showed that there were no significant differences found in terms of the methods of editing, although the participants who employed online grammar checkers had better results. It was also shown that there were no significant differences in terms of syntactical complexity with either method of editing. There were fewer errors committed by the participants who self-edited, but there were no significant differences in the edited drafts with regards to errors/100 ratios, error-free clauses, and error-free clause ratios. The study showed marginal differences between the two methods of proofing but indicated that online tools can be useful for identifying certain grammatical errors.
Contributions: This paper argues that educators need to work more with EFL learners on the editorial and proofing process, but online grammar checkers may be a useful pedagogical tool to help low-proficient L2 learners.
Keywords: Writing quality, editing, online grammar checkers, proofing, syntactical complexity.
Cite as: Long, R. (2022). Online grammar checkers versus self-editing: An investigation of error correction rates and writing quality. Journal of Nusantara Studies, 7(1), 441-458. http://dx.doi.org/10.24200/jonus.vol7iss1pp441-458