Making Feedback Meaningful: UDL-Based Solutions for Responding to Student Writing

Credit: iStock.com/Antonio_Diaz
Credit: iStock.com/Antonio_Diaz

Compositionists universally acknowledge revision to be an essential stage of any writing process. Instructors who emphasize written assignments in their classes are likely to encourage greater student achievement when they build revision opportunities into the course. Beyond simple editorial corrections, a meaningful revision process can encourage students “to engage with their own texts in a more advanced way” (Garner & Shank, 2018).

Instructor feedback on student writing is a critical component of the revision process. The instructor’s comments on a student’s draft typically establish the goals for the revised paper, and so the nature of the instructor’s commentary plays a decisive role. In fact, the meaningfulness of a student’s revision process is unlikely to exceed the meaningfulness of the feedback they get from their instructor on their draft. In the best of cases, responding to a student draft can be an opportunity for an instructor to challenge students to build on their own best ideas. Instructor feedback, however, can also be unproductive or even counterproductive to the learning process. Ryan and Henderson (2018) observe, “Unfortunately, when students experience adverse emotional reactions as a result of the feedback process, their receptiveness may be limited,” adding that “it is unsurprising that critical comments from educators can reduce students’ self-esteem and perceived self-efficacy” (p. 881).


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