Educational Technology Research and Development

, Volume 67, Issue 4, pp 1025–1042 | Cite as

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet: A study via metaphoric perceptions on how online feedback benefited Chinese learners

  • Seong Lin DingEmail author
  • Esyin Chew
Cultural and Regional Perspectives


Theoretical claims about the benefits of online feedback suggest it can facilitate language learning. However, despite the calls for new digital literacies on language education, attitudes of educators have not been encouraging. To delve further into this issue, the present study addresses the following research concerns: (1) learners’ metaphoric perceptions of online feedback, (2) how metaphoric perceptions show the impact of online feedback on language learning, and (3) the messages educators can glean through these metaphoric perceptions. A subsequent question would be what new insights we can gain by asking students to reflect on online feedback via metaphors not unearthed by previous research using more traditional means. We argue that different methods should be used based on student differences and the contextual realities of the learning setting. Participants are introverted Chinese novice learners who are not accustomed to technology-enhanced teaching/learning and are restrained in the open expression of their feelings and thoughts. Given participants’ backgrounds, the use of metaphors enables them to express their reflective thinking in a more profound manner. Therefore, the findings of the present study, i.e., learners’ metaphoric thoughts, are considered timely and can be used in academic training to address the necessity of applying different approaches to different types of students. They can also showcase the impact of online feedback on introverted learners. Together, these findings can encourage educators to consider changing their attitudes regarding educational technology.


Online feedback Perception Metaphor Chinese learners Introverted learners 



This study was funded by University of Malaya Research Grant (grant number RG365-12HNE). The authors would like to thank Patricia Young and the anonymous reviewers for their insightful comments on earlier versions of this article. The first author is also indebted to Mohana Nambiar for her generous advice.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

No conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Association for Educational Communications and Technology 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Languages and LinguisticsUniversity of MalayaKuala LumpurMalaysia
  2. 2.Department of Computing and Information SystemsCardiff Metropolitan UniversityCardiffUK

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