Break the Negative Feedback Chains: Future Teachers Speak Up

Keywords: critical incidents, reflective writing, future English teachers, professional identity, negative feedback


This study examines future teachers’ theoretical reflections on Critical Incidents and how these link to Costa Rica’s English teaching system. Participants included 30 senior college students from an English teaching program. Using narrative research techniques, the authors have concluded that: (1) spaces for reflection must be created in EFL so that students’ voices are heard; (2) both instruction and assessment need to be tackled not from the native speaker angle but from the learner language perspective; and (3) because mistakes are both inherent to foreign language learning and an indicator of language development, more tolerance to learner errors needs to be exercised. The study proves relevant for language pedagogy and Applied Linguistics (AL) since it paves the way for further research, opens room for reflection and dialogue, and enhances our understanding of the issue at stake from a future-teacher standpoint. 



Download data is not yet available.

Author Biographies

Henry Sevilla-Morales, Universidad Nacional de Costa Rica, Costa Rica

M.A. has been an EFL instructor for 13 years at the elementary, secondary, and higher education levels. He is an Associate Professor at the National University of Costa Rica and holds over 20 publications including research papers, short stories, poems, and news articles. His investigations have been presented in more than 30 national and international conferences, and his papers appear in various scientific journals and conference proceedings in Costa Rica, Colombia, and the United States. His current research agenda includes topics such as learner autonomy, authentic assessment, testing washback, reflective writing, and translation studies. For a preliminary list of academic publications,

Roy Gamboa-Mena, Universidad de Costa Rica, Costa Rica

has been an EFL professor for 25 years at the higher education level. He is a tenured professor of English at the Universidad de Costa Rica. His current research areas include reflective writing, learner autonomy, and ELT materials development and evaluation. His research has been presented in several national and international conferences and published in several journals and conference proceedings.


Abaya, R. (2014). Corrective feedback in English Language Teaching and Learning: Which Way to Go? 10 (2), 5-12.

Balgopal, M. M., & Montplaisir, L. M. (2011). Meaning making: What reflective essays reveal about biology students' conceptions about natural selection. Instructional Science, 39 (2), 137–169.

Chang M. & Lin M. (2014). The Effect of Reflective Learning E-journals on Reading Comprehension and Communication in Language Learning. Computers and Education, 71, 124-132.

Cisero, C. A. (2006). Does Reflective Journal Writing Improve Course Performance? College Teaching, 54 (2), 231–236.

Corbally, J. E. (1956). The Critical Incident Technique in Educational Research. Educational Research Bulletin, 35 (3), 57-62.

Dey, Ian (1993). Qualitative Data Analysis: A User-friendly Guide for Social Sciences. London and New York: Routledge Taylor & Francis Group.

Eiriksson, S. (1997). Preservice Teachers Perceived Constraints of Teaching Science in the Elementary Classroom. Journal of Elementary Science Education, 9(2), 18–27.

Fallas, C., & Dillard, E. (2015). Professors’ and Students’ Conflicting Views about Translanguaging in the EFL Classroom: Dismantling the Monolingual Bias. Revista de Lenguas Modernas, 23, 301-328.

Fallas, C. (2016). Challenging the Monolingual Bias in EFL Programs: Towards a Bilingual Approach to L2 Learning. Revista de Lenguas Modernas, 24, 249-366.

Farrell, T. (2013). Critical Incident Analysis through Narrative Practice: A Case Study. Iranian Journal of language Teaching Research, 1(1), 79 – 89. Retrieved from:

Farrell, T. C. (2008). Critical incidents in ELT initial teacher training. ELT Journal: English Language Teaching Journal, 62(1), 3-10.

Freeman, D. (1998). Doing Teacher Research: From Inquiry to Understanding. Pacific Grove: Heinle & Heinle.

Gay, L.R., Mills, G.E., & Airasian, P. (2009). Educational Research: Competencies for Analysis and Applications. New Jersey: Pearson Education, Inc.

Gorlewski, J., & Greene, K. (2011). Research for the Classroom: The Power of Reflective Writing. The English Journal, 100 (4), 90–93.

Graham, J. (1997). Pedagogical Growth of Two Student Teachers in Art as Revealed in their Journal Entries Reflecting Critical Incidents in the Classroom. Visual Arts Research, 23 (1), 1–30.

Josefson, J. (2005). Don't Argue, Reflect! Reflections on Introducing Reflective Writing into Political Science Courses. PS: Political Science and Politics, 38 (4), 763–767.

Kalman, C., Aulls, M. W., Rohar, S., & Godley, J. (2008). Students' Perceptions of Reflective Writing as a Tool for Exploring an Introductory Textbook. Journal of College Science Teaching, 37 (4), 74–81.

Khandelwal, K. (2009). Effective Teaching Behaviors in the College Classroom: A Critical Incident Technique from Students’ Perspective. International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 21 (3), 299–309.

Khandelwal, K. A. (2009). Effective Teaching Behaviors in the College Classroom: A Critical Incident Technique from Students' Perspective. International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 21 (3), 299-309.

Lang, H. G., Foster, S., Gustina, D., Mowl, G., & Liu, Y. (1996). Motivational Factors in Learning American Sign

Language. Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education, 1 (3), 202–212.

Lightbown, P. M., & Spada, N. (1990). Focus-on-Form and Corrective Feedback in Communicative Language Teaching: Effects on Second Language Learning. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 12, 429-448.

May, S. (2014). The Multilingual Turn: Implications for SLA, TESOL and Bilingual Education. New York: Routledge.

Merriam, S. B., & Tisdell, E. J. (2016). Qualitative research: A guide to design and implementation. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Mlynarczyk, R. W. (2006). Personal and Academic Writing: Revisiting the Debate. Journal of Basic Writing, 25 (1), 4–25.

Morey, A. I., Nakazawa, K., Colvin, C. (1997). Japanese and American Student Teacher Voices: A Comparative Study of Critical Incidents. Peabody Journal of Education, 72 (1), 203–214.

Purcell, D. (2013). Sociology, Teaching, and Reflective Practice: Using Writing to Improve. Teaching Sociology, 41 (1), 5–19.

Rutherford, J. S., Flin, R., & Irwin, A. (2015). The non-technical skills used by anaesthetic technicians in critical incidents reported to the Australian Incident Monitoring System between 2002 and 2008. Anaesthesia & Intensive Care, 43 (4), 512-517.

Ryan, M. (2011). Improving reflective writing in higher education: a social semiotic perspective. Teaching in Higher Education, 16(1), 99-111.

Schulz, C. M., Krautheim, V., Hackemann, A., Kreuzer, M., Kochs, E. F., & Wagner, K. J. (2016). Situation awareness errors in anesthesia and critical care in 200 cases of a critical incident reporting system. BMC Anesthesiology, 161-10.

Sevilla, Henry, & Gamboa, Roy. (2017). Critical Incidents, Reflective Writing, and Future Teachers’ Professional Identities. Revista de Lenguas Modernas, 26, 233-255.

Ramsay, S., Barker, M., & Jones, E.. (1999). Academic Adjustment and Learning Processes: a comparison of international and local students in first-year university. Higher Education Research and Development.

Tripp, D. (1993). Critical Incidents in Teaching: Developing Professional Judgement. London: Routledge.

Walker, J. (2015). Perspectives: Using Critical Incidents to Understand ESL Student Satisfaction. TESL Canada Journal, 32 (2), 95-111.

How to Cite
Sevilla-Morales, H., & Gamboa-Mena, R. (2019). Break the Negative Feedback Chains: Future Teachers Speak Up. GiST Education and Learning Research Journal, 18, 180-197.