Research in teaching with writing consistently emphasizes the importance of early, formative feedback on writing as critical for students' growth as writers. Formative comments on works in progress can affirm effective writing choices, correct misconceptions and misunderstandings, and coach students on various improvements they can make to their written work. The labor of revising and extending their writing based on expert feedback provides some of the most engaging and practical lessons for developing writers.
Among the many reasons to assign collaborative or team-based writing to students is that it models the collaborative and team-oriented academic fields and workplace contexts where they hope to work. Three Minnesota researchers in Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior and colleagues from four other institutions recently described work in their discipline to promote meaningful authorship in massively multi-authored scientific papers.
The final weeks of the semester can be a period of frenzied production as students prepare drafts of their final projects—proposals, essays, presentations, etc.—with hopes of receiving guidance from their instructors and teaching assistants before turning in final versions. While intentionally scaffolded assignments can do much to support students through the process of completing a final project, they do not alleviate the need for timely feedback.
Many instructors know the benefits of reflective writing for promoting students’ conceptual understanding, encouraging student agency, and helping students transfer what they have learned to new contexts. At the same time, grading students' reflections can be challenging: when students report their personal, subjective reflections, doesn’t it make all grading subjective? How can we grade reflective work fairly?
Faculty and instructors tend to be divided over the use of rubrics and scoring sheets to assess writing. Some instructors appreciate the sense of consistency that rubrics provide and how they simplify grading. Others find scoring rubrics artificial and confining, and worry that splitting hairs between categories increases assessment challenges. In this blog post, we’ll look at the question of scoring rubrics from the perspective of student performance and recent research on how scoring rubrics can help students learn.
Feedback on writing is critical to writing development, but how can we provide valuable feedback in an online teaching context? This tip introduces audio and video feedback as strategies for responding to writing and details easily available tools in Canvas to incorporate audio and video feedback.
Sentence-level errors can be a frustrating component of working with student writing. Each instance of a sentence-level error breaks the flow of reading and can lend an impression of carelessness or inattention. Faculty members, many of whom are accomplished writers, can spend hours correcting minor errors in student writing, which distracts from the learning goals of the assignment.
Last month’s TWW post offered three suggestions for assigning and supporting team-based writing. These suggestions emphasized a consensual, interdependent, and collaborative vision for team-based work. It’s a fine vision, but, at the end of the day, how do you assess it? Because our students often think of grades as individual, distinctive, and competitive markers of performance, team-based writing assignments can raise challenging questions when it comes to their evaluation. Should one grade be given equally to each student on a team?
Research in the teaching of writing has demonstrated that early feedback offered when a student has an opportunity to revise has beneficial consequences for learning. This formative feedback affords the opportunity for students to learn in the context of their own writing, to experiment with strategies for improvement, and to engage in self-directed learning as they revise. However, what about the end of the semester? Can faculty offer meaningful feedback at the end of the term? Of course!