Writing comments on student papers is something of an art: it requires a little thought and practice for the comments to be effective—that is, both read and attended to. The following recommendations about writing comments were developed for students in writing and literature classes; however, with a little adjustment, they can be applied to any writing assignment. Be careful in your comments not to hurt the students unnecessarily. Tell the students in advance that the job they do on a paper is not a reflection of their worth as a human being. Many students have gotten grades in high school based on how well the teacher liked them, so when you give them a C or D, they think you hate them.
CORRECTING AND GIVING FEEDBACK TO WRITING
Assessment cannot occur without feedback , including specific and constructive criticism when applicable. A lot of teachers believe this means they have carte blanche to unsheathe their trusty red pen and start hacking away at your work. They seem to take pleasure in drawing Xs and Os and making comments and criticisms all over the once-orderly paper. Many teachers secretly enjoy leaving their marks, like dogs on fire hydrant s. The effect that this sort of grading can have on a student is enormous. Not only can it jeopardize their trust and comfort level with the subject matter and teacher , but it can leave the teacher open to reciprocal hostility. Teachers have to grade papers anyway, and it takes hours to grade them thoroughly whether the comments are meaningful or not.
Getting feedback is an essential part of becoming a better writer. In the US university system, students are expected to request feedback from their professors and mentors as their ideas evolve. We believe seeking feedback shows that a student is intellectually curious and active. Advisers, instructors and the Writing Center staff can help you at any stage of the writing process. When asking for feedback, it is most useful and appropriate to provide a short background of the paper and then ask specific questions about the paper.
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