Providing Feedback on Students' Writing by lih18327

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									    Providing Feedback on
      Students’ Writing
 Part 1: What is a “good” Paper

        Prof. George Braine
        English Department
The Chinese University of Hong Kong
    Quiz: What is a “good” paper?
    A ―good‖paper should have
•   a clear title
•   a clear thesis statement, stated early
•   a topic sentence for each paragraph
•   evidence to support the topic sentence
•   adequate cohesive devices, such as
•   a good conclusion (usually in the final
•   a reasonably good command of grammar
    and vocabulary
              Human Factors: A Major Cause of famine

         According to recent research, the number of famines has not
decreased with the advance of technology. Most people believe that
famines are caused by droughts, floods, and other natural disasters,
factors beyond human control. But they are wrong. Natural disasters
cause famines when coupled with man-assisted disasters. I believe that
a major cause of famine is human factors such as civil wars and
government mismanagement.
         First, civil wars can cause famines. Take a country like the
Sudan, which experienced a severe drought for a number of years.
When a civil war broke out, millions of Sudanese died of starvation. This
is because the United Nations and other relief organizations were cut off
by the civil war. For example, the Red Cross suspended all flights to
Sudan because the landing strips in areas held by the Sudan Peoples
Liberation Army (SPLA) had been bombed by the government . . .
         Second, government mismanagement can be a major cause
of famine. For example, Ethiopia could actually feed itself, because
more than half the arable land is being cultivated. But . . .
Providing Feedback on
  Students’ Writing
Part 2: What is feedback?
  What is feedback? Some terminology
• Teacher response to students‘ writing
  Teachers provide oral and written feedback
  to students. The focus is on contents &
  ideas. The aim is to improve the contents of
  students‘ writing.
• Error Correction
  Teachers provide written feedback on
  grammar and lexical errors. The aim is to
  improve the accuracy of students‘ writing.
What is feedback? Some terminology (contd.)

• Peer response
  Students provide oral and written feedback
  to classmates. The focus is on contents and
  ideas. The aim is to improve students‘
• Assessment/Testing
  Assigning a grade or a score to students‘
        The focus of this workshop
• Teacher response to      • Error Correction
  students‘ writing
                             Teachers provide
  Teachers provide oral
                             written feedback on
  and written feedback
  to students. The focus
                             grammar and
  is on contents &           lexical errors. The
  ideas. The aim is to       aim is to improve
  improve the contents       the accuracy of
  of students‘ writing.      students‘ writing.
Providing Feedback on Students’
Part 3: Teacher Response: What does the
            research show?
     Teacher Response: What does the
             research show?*
1. Effects of Teacher Commentary on
   Students‘ Writing
2. Students‘ Views on Teacher Feedback

*Based on Teaching ESL Composition (2005, 2nd Edition) by
    Ferris & Hedgcock. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, NJ,
    1. Effects of Teacher Comments
• Students are very likely to incorporate
  teacher comments on their revised papers.
  One study (Ferris, 1997) found that 76% of
  teacher‘s suggestions were incorporated
  into students‘ revisions.
• Most changes made by students in
  accordance with teacher‘s comments
  improve the writing; some changes don‘t.
    A Recent Study in a Chinese Context

Prof. Icy Lee of the Hong Kong Baptist
  University recently completed a study titled
  ―Feedback in the Hong Kong writing
  classroom:Where are we going?‖.
She gave a questionnaire to 206 secondary
  school teachers and interviewed19 teachers
  by phone.
Prof. Lee analyzed the corrections made by 58
teachers who participated in the questionnaire
   57% of teacher corrections were accurate.
 3% were inaccurate (accurately located but
inaccurately corrected / coded).
 40% were unnecessary (e.g. leading to stylistic
difference /improvement; changing original
meaning; resulting in errors).
2. Students‘ Views on Teacher Feedback
• Students greatly appreciate and value
  teacher feedback and consider teacher
  feedback very important in their
  writing development.
• Students value teacher feedback not
  only on language errors, but a variety
  of issues that relate to writing.
 2. Students‘ Views on Teacher Feedback (contd.)

• Students are frustrated by teacher feedback
  when it‘s illegible, cryptic (consisting of
  symbols, circles, single-word questions) or
  confusing (such as questions that are
• Students value a mix of encouragement and
  constructive criticism.
Providing Feedback on Students’
      Part 4: Error Correction
            What is an ―error‖?

• Errors consist of    • They are different
  syntactic and          from style, which is
  lexical deviations     the teacher‘s sense
  from grammatical       that a particular
  rules.                 word or phrase will
                         flow more
                         smoothly and
                         idiomatically in a
   Quiz - Error Correction: What does the
               research show?
1. Does error correction help students at all?
2. What kinds of errors do L2 writers make?
3. Should error correction be selective or
4. Should error correction be direct or
 1. Does error correction help students at all?

• Controversial. Some research indicates that
  even the most intensive and systematic
  feedback on grammar produces hardly any
  improvement in subsequent writing.
• SLA research shows that adult students
  prefer to have their errors pointed out in
  order to avoid future errors.
 2. What kinds of errors do L2 writers make?

• Verbs: errors in tense, errors in form,
  passive constructions, modal constructions,
• Subject-verb agreement
• Nouns: Countable/uncountable, abstract,
• Errors are closely related to students‘ L1.
  3. Should error correction be selective or
• Marking selectively • But, research shows
  (that is, some errors that students prefer
  only) is easier for   comprehensive
  the teacher and       feedback, with all
                        the errors marked.
• This also allows
  prioritization of
  most serious and
  frequent errors.
 4. Should error correction be direct or
• In direct feedback, • In indirect
  the teacher provides  feedback, the
  the correct form      teacher indicates
  (or a suggested       that an error has
  correction, if the    been made, but
  student‘s intention   expects or requires
  is not clear).        the student to self-
  4. Should error correction be direct or
            indirect? (contd.)
• Experts agree that     • But, for students
  indirect feedback is     who are at a lower-
  more effective.          level of
  Research shows           proficiency, direct
  that even students
  realize that they        feedback would be
  will learn more          more effective.
  from indirect
Prof. Lee also gave a questionnaire to 320
secondary students and interviewed 27 students.
  83% said they wanted teachers to mark all
  76% said they wanted teachers to give direct
feedback on all errors.
 67% said despite teacher corrections, they
would make the same errors again.
  60% said it is the teacher‘s job to locate errors
and provide corrections for them.
Providing Feedback on Students’
        Part 5: Practical Aspects

              See Handouts:
1. Providing feedback on students‘ Writing
   2. ―A Good Friend‖ (marked paper)
 1. When should feedback be provided?
A paper with the final grade on it is
 considered ―dead‖ by most students, and
 they tend to ignore the feedback on such
 papers. Thus, providing feedback along
 with the final grade is not useful. Feedback
 on preliminary drafts is more effective.
This is fundamental to the idea of feedback.
      2. What about oral feedback?
Oral feedback is also effective on preliminary
 drafts, because it provides direct interaction
 between teacher and student and
 opportunities for instant clarification of
 meaning. For the student, talking to a
 teacher about his/her work and responding
 to the teacher‘s questions is a way to
 expand and clarify ideas and objectives.
   What about oral feedback? (contd.)
Writing conferences could be held by
 appointment or on a walk-in basis. Students
 could be required to attend at least one such
 conference per term. The student should
 take notes to ensure that the teacher‘s
 advice is understood and remembered.
3. Where should comments & suggestions be
If, due to time and other constraints, only one
   form of feedback is possible, then a
   comprehensive and clear endnote is
   preferred. As there is more space at the end
   of the paper, the feedback is likely to be
   clearer, more thorough, and easier to read.
   However, a judicious combination of both
   marginal and endnotes is strongly
   recommended when time permits.
 Where should comments & suggestions be
            written? (contd.)
Marginal notes are immediate and
 proximate—they are given at the exact
 point in the paper where the issue occurs,
 whereas endnotes allow the teacher to
 provide general comments and prioritize the
 points to be made.
Procedure for Writing Marginal and Endnotes
1.Read the entire paper through at least once without
   providing any feedback.
2.Read the paper again, paying attention to the most
   important issue of content and organization that you might
3.Compose your endnote, which should be comprehensive but
   selective. Address the major points clearly but don‘t
   overwhelm the student by attempting to address every
   single problem in the paper. Focus on the most important
4.Go back and add marginal comments that highlight specific
   examples of the general points you made in the endnote.
     4. How can a teacher provide feedback on
         ideas/content? A sample endnote.
Sarah, An interesting topic and a well
  organized paper. Good examples and a fine
  analysis of Hong Kong‘s economic
  problems. But your final paragraph came as
  a surprise because you hadn‘t mentioned the
  threat of Shenzhen‘s new port before. This
  para belongs earlier in the paper. When you
  revise, pay special attention to articles and
  tenses. I am looking forward to reading
  your final version.
   Suggestions for marginal comments
Write personalized         Provide guidance,
  comments                   direction, suggestions
“I like this example.”     “Can you summarize
“This is convincing          Barna’s essay a bit
  evidence.”                 more in your
“You have really cleared     introduction?”
  up this point since      “An example might help
  your last draft!”          here.”
 Suggestions for marginal comments (contd.)

Make text-specific       Balance positive and
  comments                 negative comments*
“This verb doesn’t match   “Your language is
  the subject’s plural     generally fluent and
                           you express your ideas
  form.”                   quite well. However,
“You need more             you might want to pay
  statistics on Hong       attention to your use
  Kong’s economic          of tenses and
  problems.”               prepositions.”
     From a history paper by a Form 7 student

Many ruling parties pillar is people and public.
 Since, a large mass of people discontent to ruling
 parties or government, they may brings a great
 force or stress to ruling parties. Military and
 economical of a country most of come people.
 Therefore, if people support the revolution, the
 revolution will more successful. Moreover, many
 opportune moment occurs when the support of
 people. Even some people questionable to revolt.
 This power is very important. It leads to complete
 the revolution.
5. Should the teacher respond to grammatical
          errors (error correction)?
Research indicates that even the most
 intensive and systematic feedback on
 grammar produces hardly any improvement
 in subsequent writing. But grammatical
 errors that cause irritation to the teacher
 (such as frequent errors in subject-verb
 agreement, tenses, prepositions) could be
 dealt with in marginal comments.
  6. Should error correction be selective or
Because many students make a large number
 of errors, feedback can easily become
 overwhelming. Experts suggest that
 teachers should focus on errors that are
 global/serious (interfering with the
 understanding of a text) and frequent (as
 compared to other errors).
 7. Should red ink be used in providing
Preferably not. A paper full of the
  teacher‘s comments in red ‗bleeds‘ and
  is discouraging to the student. With a
  pencil, it‘s easier to change if the
  teacher has second thoughts.
The Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC) Program
at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

Lee, Icy. ―Feedback in the Hong Kong writing
classroom: Where are we going?‖
Paper presented to the Hong Kong Association for
Applied Linguistics, November 30, 2005. Hong
List of WAC PowerPoint Files (free download)
•   Citation MLA (22 slides)
•   Effective Oral Presentation (27)
•   Four Steps to a Successful Paper (17)
•   How to enrich your courses (11) (for Professors)
•   How to structure an argument (12)
•   Organization of a Research Report (10)
•   Plagiarism - how to avoid it! (18) + 2 similar files (18)
•   Planning to Write – how you really do it! (19)
•   Revising and Editing (10)
•   Teaching writing as a process (18) (for Professors)
•   Tenses (20)
•   Tenses in Literature Reviews (11)
List of WAC PowerPoint Files (free download)
•   Writing Theses and Dissertations (25)
•   Planning an Engineering Manufacturing Proposal (10)
•   Writing a Research Paper in Engineering (25)
•   Literature Review for Geography Projects (21)
•   Thesis Writing for Geography (27)
•   History – Tips for Writing (32)
•   Making an Effective Oral Presentation (Marketing) (26)
•   Writing a Marketing Research Report (24)
•   Preparing Resumes and Application Letters (17)
•   Research Proposals and Reports: Pharmacy (35)
        Feedback Practice
    1. ―Third world children‖
2. ―Comparison of two artworks‖

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