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9 Ways to Give (More Effective) Writing Feedback


❶Your conclusion here is a bookend, bringing up the same or at least a similar point as the one you began with concerning the different kinds of attraction that exist.

Writing activities promote high-level recall, organized thinking and clear expression.

Even the best students need your guidance to improve. Writing loses its potency when it becomes a onetime event instead of an ongoing process.

Students should be writing multiple drafts and improving their work each time with the help of a writing guide. Given the chance, most students will "engage in an iterative discourse about their writing" [1] which promotes engagement, time on task, and meaningful student learning. Too often, students are given just one shot at an assignment for a grade.

But this doesn't give them the opportunity to take the advice given and improve. There is little room for risk taking, experimentation and practice. Instead, students need to be given opportunities to close the gap between current and desired performance.

This means giving students a chance to improve through revisions guided by appropriate feedback. Most importantly, this revision cycle needs to happen as rapidly as possible. Prompt feedback guides students when they can still recall what they did and thought at the time they wrote the paper.

Plus they are still motivated to improve their work. It's also important for the revision cycle to occur before the unit is over. Students should receive feedback on their paper about photosynthesis before the photosynthesis unit is over. Otherwise, the learning that occurs as a result of the writing activity can't be applied anywhere else. This can also help teachers. Having your students write is one of the best ways to get inside their heads and assess their level of understanding.

By providing feedback to students before a topic is over, you give yourself the chance to adjust content or teaching strategies based on actual learning needs. Feedback isn't helpful unless the student is forced to respond to it. It is not uncommon to correct the same errors on a particular student's work over and over again.

This is because the student is not taking your advice, or not being required to do so. Sometimes students are lazy or just don't get it. But teachers can take steps to make feedback consequential, forcing students to address your comments. When a student submits a revision, it might be a good idea to have her explain exactly how the revision addresses the previous feedback.

Making this process transparent to the class as a whole can help students learn from their peers as well. Good feedback begins before students submit anything. Let's call it "feedforward". Students need written guidelines for the assignment grading criteria in advance. This provides a roadmap to success and helps to clarify the features of good performance. One study [7] showed that tutors and students often had quite different conceptions about the goals and criteria for essays and that poor essay performance correlated with the degree of mismatch.

An agreed upon assessment criteria makes sure everyone is on the same page. Instructors can benefit from this strategy as well, since it ensures you have well defined goals for every writing assignment.

After students submit, it is important to relate all feedback to the original assessment criteria. Students should get a specific sense of what they have achieved in progressing towards goal set forth in your assessment criteria and what they have yet to achieve.

There are two main types of comments you can offer your students: These comments evaluate the student's ability to write a focused paper with support and a logical development of ideas. Though both types of feedback can point students in the right direction, teachers tend to emphasize error correction more than they should. There is some evidence that directly critiquing students' mechanical errors isn't very helpful.

Instead, students should be encouraged to proof-read their own work or get help from their peers. If you do decide to include both types of feedback, it's important to clearly divide your comments into one category or the other, and prioritize your content comments over your error corrections. It typically involves marking mistakes or making suggestions related to a specific word or sentence in the student's work.

Holistic comprehensive feedback means displaying your comments as endnotes on the top or bottom of the page. Much of the time, proximate feedback is used for error correction, while holistic feedback focuses on content and idea development see above. Studies have shown that proximate comments are easier for teachers, but students prefer holistic feedback because it gives them just a few things to concentrate on as they make revisions.

This means telling students they made an error, but not giving away the answer or doing their work for them. Remember, feedback is about providing guidance. Assist students to think about a better approach then let them figure out the details.

Feedback comments should be limited to three or four major suggestions. This might mean restraining yourself from pointing out every single mistake or suggesting every improvement that comes to mind. Too much feedback can prompt anxiety.

No student likes to receive back a paper filled with red marks. More importantly, an overwhelming amount of feedback prevents the student from acting on your comments. Both the nature of the class and its small size facilitated more substantive feedback than is always possible. My comments below, however, are indicative of the tone and approach I take toward papers I consider to be significantly inadequate. Specifically, I want to emphasize the following:.

Again, the paper shows a good grasp of some of the basic points made in the literature, weaving together a number of overlapping ideas. Although given in response to a specific set of papers, it models the type of general feedback I give: You must be logged in to post a comment. Feedback on superior papers Feedback on an inadequate paper General feedback for a class From superior papers: Dear Student, You have a clever argument.

James From an inadequate paper: Specifically, I want to emphasize the following: Your paper is almost exclusively a report of various points of consensus among the authors you cite. This does not meet the specifications of the assignment. A clear and specific thesis sentence stated up top will help you to organize and tie together the various parts of your paper. The conclusion section should also help to do the same thing.

Your conclusion here is a bookend, bringing up the same or at least a similar point as the one you began with concerning the different kinds of attraction that exist. More than just a bookend, however, you want your conclusion to be in the service of your argument. At each stage, however, ask yourself —how does this support my argument?

Is this fact clear to my reader? Remember, however, that the paper is not just a list of points. This is closely related to my comment on argument. Transition language needs to be accompanied by explicitly tying together or explaining the relationship between the different sections of the paper. Doing so is an important way to highlight your overall argument and make the paper cohere. As discussed in the assignment, a critical part of your argument is exploring a counterargument.

Either in making specific claims to support your thesis or after articulating your argument, consider countervailing evidence or interpretive frameworks or objections to your reasons and conclusions. Doing so will strengthen your case. This is not just true when attempting to make your own argument, but is also an important element of explicating the academic dialogue for your reader.

Help your reader to understand the tensions, contradictions and questions that are left in the wake of their studies. Then argue for why —given these tensions, contradictions and questions —your reader ought to side with your own claims. The host of punctuation and grammar errors, along with the frequently awkward phrasing of the paper makes it read like a first draft. This is very distracting and inhibits your ability to keep the attention of the reader or convince the reader of your point.

Notice that authors like Taylor, Sandler, and Rolston start right off with a substantive description or statement concerning what they will argue. However, the principle to keep in mind is that the opening is the first opportunity to make an impression on your reader.

Consequently, there are a couple things to keep in mind. Poor grammar, misspelled words, and inaccurate statements are impression killers. In your opening, above everything else, you want to make it clear to your reader what your paper is going to be about. More in-depth information, ideas and links on electronic portfolio development in both K and Higher Education at http: CRLT is dedicated to the support and advancement of evidence-based learning and teaching practices and the professional development of all members of the campus teaching community.

CRLT partners with faculty, graduate students, postdocs, and administrators to develop and sustain a University culture that values and rewards teaching, respects and supports individual differences among learners, and creates learning environments in which diverse students and instructors can excel. Search Search this site: Home Feedback on Student Writing. Feedback on Student Writing These links describe ways to construct and react to assignments based on student written work, including creation of questions, strategies for grading, and ways to respond effectively to student writing.

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Providing Feedback on Student Writing. 3. Purpose. The purpose of in-text marks and comments is to identify specific examples of the strengths and weaknesses in students’ papers, thereby educating them on what they need to do to improve.

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Few practices promote student learning as effectively as well-formed writing assignments paired with personal, constructive feedback. Of course, giving useful feedback can be time consuming and has limited value if students don't read or act on it.

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9 Ways to Give (More Effective) Writing Feedback Grading essays is a tricky business. Commenting on every problem leads to a sea of ink that can overwhelm students. Writing Center tutors are trained to provide students with feedback on the clarity of their writing in a general way and will not necessarily be familiar with the criteria you are using to grade papers, unless you or the student have shared those criteria.

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Examples of Feedback on Student Writing As an undergraduate, my first writing assignment in Jim Faulconer’s philosophy of religion course changed me. More specifically, it was the feedback on my first paper. QuestioningAssumptions: WhatMakesforEffectiveFeedback onStudentWriting? Brad%Hughes Director,TheWritingCenter writing organization clarity grammar,usage overall*grade. What Makes for Effective Feedback on Student Writing? Author.