Writing on and Responding to Student’s Papers

red-pen

 

I can definitely say that I spent more time mulling over the first article I read, “Response to Writing” by Richard Beach and Tom Friedrich. I can tell that in most of the articles we’ve had to read so far this semester, all of the ideas seem to be trying to move further away from comments on student’s papers and feedback being too general and uninformative in the long run. When I was younger, I would always get general praise on my writing assignments, but was never told what was good about what I had done and the choices I decided to make. I never had too many of my teachers write something too negative in the margins, but instead very vague and confusing “awkward” statements. I can definitely see how old/traditional processes of responding to student’s writing may stunt a student’s growth, which is why I am glad that later on I had better professors. I am also thankful that as the instruction I received became better, I was able to get to a point where I could now help other students. I feel this coincides with the work that I do in the writing center, and I have a feeling that most things this semester will.

Beach and Friedrich spoke about teachers needing to shy away from being judgmental and start responding to writing as readers. Instead of having the student view the assignment as something only the professor would see, maybe the stakes would be higher if they had to write the assignment as if anyone could see it. This helps students to establish purpose with their writing and understand the value of and why changes are being made and how they can help instead of just “going through the motions”. By responding as a reader, a professor could easily show the student how something that is confusing to them can be confusing to others. This idea ties in nicely with the way Beach and Friedrich noted that the way a professor responds fosters a particular way in which a student revises. When looking at the second article, “Writing Comments on Student’s Papers” by John Bean, he mentioned that tone and meaning in teacher’s comments can be misconstrued, which brought me back to the reasons why oral commentary (like in Beach and Friedrich’s article) would be helpful. I don’t know if a professor has to always tape their comments to have them be oral, but as a student, I find that speaking in person with a professor helps me just as well. There is more time to carefully explain what is meant rather than leaving a vague comment that can cripple a student mentally.

In a way, the second article seemed like a plea for teacher’s and professors to reframe the way they think about commenting on student’s paper as well. Instead of viewing the situation as having to correct a paper, it may be more beneficial to look at it as if one has to respond to papers. In this way, a student is then encouraged to reframe their negative thoughts about writing, what it is, and the purpose of it based on the intricate care the professor took in responding to them in a more beneficial way. I liked the way in which the second article went into the questions to be thought about when commenting on papers, as well as the examples given to visually help emphasize the point. Sometimes students learn better with visuals and a huge difference is made if a professor drew an arrow showing where a block of text might fit in better with a comment and explaining why etc. Overall, I thought these articles served their purpose well in terms of looking at how teacher’s/professor’s techniques are evaluated and working out ways that they can be improved to better assist their students.