Guest blog article by Jennifer Haber
Probably the most frustrating part of being a writing instructor is that although I give students feedback and feedback and more feedback, I sometimes wonder if they ever read it. In fact, I remember a few semesters ago when for the third time I wrote on a student’s paper, “Remember, you don’t begin a paragraph with a quote; you need to present an idea first and then support it with the evidence.” Maybe she didn’t understand what I meant, I thought.
Finally, after our next class, I asked to speak with her. “Tiffany,” I probed. “Do you know what I meant by that comment I placed on your paper?”
“What comment?” she asked. “Oh, I don’t really look at those.”
At that point, I knew that one of two things had to happen. One, I could stop writing comments altogether. But, I knew that wasn’t the answer. Or, two, I could make my students do something with the comments.
So, now, when I review their papers in Turnitin, I place the comments on their papers as usual, but next to the comment, I write the letters HOC (Higher-order concern) or LOC (Lower-order concern). The reason that I do this is because I want them to read the comments and do something with them. Some once they have reviewed their comments, they have to complete three tasks:
- Choose one higher-order concern that I marked, explain what it means, and explain how they could fix the problem.
- Choose two lower-order concerns that I marked, explain the problems, and explain how they could correct the problems.
- Find one credible writing website that focuses on one of their writing concerns and share it with the class.
Over the last few semesters, I have seen fewer repetitive mistakes, and students are improving overall. My success rates in my composition I classes have gone from an average of a 78% success rate in 2014 to an 85% success rate in 2016. Moreover, I know that my hard work is not going unnoticed.