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Providing feedback & comments on student work

Nancy Sommers, “Responding to Student Writing.” College Composition and Communication, Vol. 33, No. 2 (May, 1982), pp. 148-156

Chris Anson, “What Good Is It? The Effects of Teacher Response on Students’ Development.” Writing Assessment in the 21st Century: Essays in Honor of Edward M. White. Ed. N. Elliot and L. Perelman. New York: Hampton Press, 2012. 187-202.

See below for session notes:

From last Friday’s D-WRD session with Darsie Bowden on providing feedback & comments on student work:

Darsie summarized her ongoing project on how students perceive instructors’ written comments — and how they use them or don’t use them –which has included interviewing WRD103 students, coding for perceptions, and comparing student drafts before and after receiving instructor comments.

The trends in the types of comments Darsie has observed in instructors’ written comments:

  • Word level comments
  • Marginal comments
  • End comments
  • Substance comments — prompting, questioning, leading
  • Specific directions
  • Editing

I bolded substance comments there because Darsie suggested that those were the ones students seemed to appreciate most, when they felt like they were in “conversation” with instructors. 

That insight led to a generative conversation among participants about the role and practice of commenting on student work, especially when we considered what Darsie pointed out: that so much real, actual, genuine learning happens between drafts, often outside the instructor’s view — conversations with roommates and with parents, and students’ own decision-making processes — that we never get to see, and that are not always reflected in final drafts. We brainstormed ways of trying to make that crucial work more visible, asking students to think about, to reflect on, and to be in conversation about written comments & feedback via post-writes, reflective pieces, portfolio entries, and in one-on-one conferences.

Sarah Read recommended reading chapter 3 from Rehearsing New Roles: How College Students Develop as Writers (“Riding the Literacy Roller Coaster in General Education and First-Year Composition”), which she assigns in WRD104, and which happens to be online via The WAC Clearinghouse: That chapter might be of interest to you for other reasons, too — portfolios, lifelong learning, etc.

Good stuff!

We discussed the role of commenting on student work in real time, face-to-face, in the classroom (Kristin Rozzell) and the context of labor in commenting on student work, including how the tradition of such labor has come down to us in the history of writing studies (Sarah Read).

We talked about the possibility of inviting a small group of students to a D-WRD session in the SQ, where we could have a conversation about written feedback and commenting on student work with students, with some hands-on application.