The Job of Teaching Writing
Teacher Views of Responding to Student Writing
Keywords:Writing feedback, Writing pedagogy, College writing, Teacher perceptions
Although response to student writing often consumes the majority of a writing instructor’s time and energy, studies of teachers’ philosophies and practices with regard to feedback have been relatively rare in the response literature. In the study described in this article, college writing instructors from six community colleges and two four-year universities in Northern California (N=129) were surveyed, and volunteers from this group (N=23) gave follow-up in-depth interviews. In addition, each interview participant provided 3-5 samples of student texts with their own written commentary. Based on the findings, our analysis focuses on two questions: 1. How do the participants (college-level writing instructors in Northern California) perceive response to student writing? 2. In what ways might the participants’ own practices be causing or adding to their frustrations? We found that although most of the participants value response and believe it is very important, they are often frustrated and dissatisfied with the task itself and with its apparent lack of impact on student progress. Our data analyses suggest some possible underlying explanations for these teachers’ complex attitudes toward response. The discussion concludes with suggestions of ways writing instructors can adapt or focus their response practices to increase the efficiency and quality of their feedback, to reduce frustration, and to increase satisfaction with this aspect of their teaching practice.
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