Providing Feedback on Students’ Writing

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 interviewed 19 teachers by phone. Prof. Lee analyzed the corrections made by 58 teachers who participated in the questionnaire survey and found that:
57% of teacher corrections were accurate.
were inaccurate (accurately located but inaccurately corrected / coded).
were unnecessary (e.g. leading to stylistic difference /improvement; changing original meaning; resulting in errors).
Cheryl: Does that reflect my marking as well? If 40% of my corrections were unnecessary, that would mean almost half of my time spent marking essays was wasted! Hmm…

Prof. Lee also gave a questionnaire to 320 secondary students and interviewed 27 students.
83% said they wanted teachers to mark all   errors.
67% said despite teacher corrections, they  would make the same errors again.
said it is the teacher’s job to locate errors and provide corrections for them.

Cheryl: I think the statistics given above reflect the Malaysian classroom scenario as well. Students expect teachers to provide corrections for all their errors BUT most of them tend to make the same errors again! Haiz…
Research indicates that even the most intensive and systematic feedback on grammar produces hardly any improvement in subsequent writing.  
Cheryl: How true!
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). 
Should red ink be used in providing feedback? 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.
Cheryl: Noted. One of my goals for 2011 – to be more efficient and effective in grading essays and providing feedback!


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