Writing & Pedagogy, Vol 3, No 1 (2011)

"The Job of Teaching Writing”: Teacher Views of Responding to Student Writing

Dana Ferris, Hsiang Liu, Brigitte Rabie
Issued Date: 29 Jun 2011


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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DOI: 10.1558/wap.v3i1.39


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