Responding Effectively to
Student Writing
Why We Respond
When to Respond
How to Respond
The Ethics of Our Responses
Why We Respond
• Harvard Study of Undergraduate Writing
(1997-2001)
• “Feedback plays a leading role in
undergraduate writing development.”
• An “opportunity to engage with instructors
through feedback” is one characteristic of
students’ best academic writing.
When to Respond
• Responding during the writing process
• Responding after the writing process
How Not to Respond
• Nancy Sommers “Responding to Student Writing”
• Comments that are more about the teacher doing
his/her job than about student
• Comments about both higher-order and lowerorder concerns
• Comments not specific to paper (rubber stamp)
• Too many comments
• Comments that push the paper towards an ideal
text in teacher’s head rather than in student’s head
How to Respond to Drafts
• Comments that are specific to the paper
and/or to the writer
• Comments that pair constructive criticism
with writing instruction
• Comments that treat students as “apprentice
scholars”
How to Respond to Final Essay
• Respond to writer rather than paper (use
examples from the paper)
• Use a scoring guide
Praise vs. Criticism
• Donald Daiker “Learning to Praise” (1999)
• Harvard Study of Undergraduate Writing
(1997-2001)
• Lee Ann Carroll Rehearsing New Roles:
How College Students Develop as Writers
(2002)
The Ethics of Our Responses
• Directive vs. facilitative
• Student control
• Student learning
Examples of Facilitative Comments
• Asking questions
• Registering confusion
• Pointing out where you find yourself
disagreeing or needing more convincing
• Talking about strategies you use as a writer
when you run into problems similar to those
the student is facing
Peter Elbow’s Ideas for
Facilitative Response
•
•
•
•
Describe what the text is doing
Describe your reactions/feelings as you read
Praise
Reply to what the writer says not just how
she says it (Elbow calls this responding as a
human being)
• Identify one “fruitful problem” for the
writer to address
Student Openness to our
Responses
• Direct our comments
• Feedback on our comments
Works Cited
Carroll, Lee Ann. New Roles: How College Students Develop as Writers. Carbondale:
Southern Illinois UP, 2002.
Daiker, Donald. “Learning to Praise.” A Sourcebook for Responding to Student Writing. Ed.
Richard Straub. Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press, 1999.
Elbow, Peter. “Options for Responding to Student Writing” A Sourcebook for Responding to
Student Writing. Ed. Richard Straub. Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press, 1999.
Sommers, Nancy. “Across the Drafts.” College Composition and Communication 58.2
(2006) 248-258.
Sommers, Nancy. “Responding to Student Writing.” College Composition and
Communication 33.2 (1982): 148-56.
Straub, Richard. “The Concept of Control in teacher Response: Defining the Varieties of
‘Directive’ and ‘Facilitative’ Response. College Composition and Communication 47.2
(1996): 223-51.
White, Ed. “Using Scoring Guides to Assess Writing.” A Sourcebook for Responding to
Student Writing. Ed. Richard Straub. Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press, 1999.
.
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Responding Effectively to Student Writing