Getting Students to Address Feedback

10 Nov

November Teaching with Writing Tip
by Steven Wandler,Teaching with Writing Consultant
UMinn Center for Writing


Feedback on writing is important at the pre-writing, drafting, and revision stages, but students often misunderstand or even ignore it. Providing feedback strategically can increase the likelihood that students will use it to improve their writing.

Tip #1: Feedback is most effective when it’s given at the right time.

    • For example, students don’t always know what to do when they are told a sentence or idea is simply “unclear”; suggesting specific ways to clarify or particular resources to consult gives students a concrete sense of what they can do to improve.
    • For example, if a top priority is to improve a student’s use of evidence, your feedback should focus there (and not, for example, on grammar).
  • Studies suggest that feedback that comes “often and regularly” improves performance better than more detailed feedback that is provided only once. Less extensive feedback during the drafting process is more valuable than more extensive feedback on final revisions.

Tip #2: Develop strategies that explicitly require students to address feedback.

  • Incorporate the use of feedback into the assignment process itself; for example, requiring a “revision memo” forces students to think self-consciously about the process of revising and the choices they make in revision.
    • Whenever possible, incorporate building block assignments that allow for moments of “work-in-progress” feedback. Such feedback is more effective for improving students’ performance (and helps you keep them on track).
  • Break students out of the view that writing tasks are isolated events by framing assignments in terms of larger goals. A motivated student is more likely to incorporate feedback into their future work in your class and beyond.

Related TILT Posts:


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