• Video interview with Emily Wilson and Justine Post, authors of Developing Writers chapter one, discussing the applications of their chapter for instructors of writing.

Transcript

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    Hi I'm Emily Wilson.

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    I'm a doctoral candidate in
    the joint program in English and

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    education here at
    the University of Michigan.

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    My name is Justine Post.

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    I'm currently an assistant
    professor of rhetoric and

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    composition at Ohio Northern University.

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    I also direct the writing center there.

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    Building on what Emily just said,

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    the importance of recognizing the range
    of responses that students have and

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    how those responses are distinct from
    their actual writing development.

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    And what we found was that what students
    do with their writing, doesn't necessarily

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    indicate that they're improving as
    a result of going through that process.

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    If a student takes every comment
    that an instructor gives them and

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    revises their essay exactly the way the
    instructor expected, it's possible that

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    they can do that without learning
    anything through the process.

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    So for instructors,

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    I think a key takeaway from this
    from this chapter would be to say,

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    how can I promote students to really be
    critical of the feedback that I give them.

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    What would that look like?

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    How can I know that
    students are doing that?

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    And something else I think
    instructors can be aware of,

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    is not just the kinds of
    comments that they're leaving.

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    That's one thing to be aware of, but
    also the support systems that they have in

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    place in their classrooms, for teaching
    students how to engage with feedback.

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    So critical engagement isn't
    something that we should expect, but

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    something we should actually teach.

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    There are obstacles that
    make it more difficult for

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    people to engage with feedback.

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    And so those obstacles include,
    in particular,

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    any kind of sort of change or
    transition in different spaces.

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    So students in our study talked about how
    the feedback they received in high school

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    was different than the feedback
    they received in college.

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    You're gonna get different
    types of feedback.

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    You're gonna get different
    amounts feedback and

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    just being open to adjusting and
    adapting to that, I think,

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    can help make the process of engaging with
    feedback a little bit more productive.

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    In terms of getting different kinds
    of feedback across different contexts,

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    we found that students said over and
    over that they felt that feedback was

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    really subjective, because it changed so
    much from one context to the next.

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    But across those contexts,

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    what matters in the end is how
    you engage with that feedback.

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    And then the other piece that
    emerged as a potential obstacle,

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    was the relationship between
    the instructor and the student.

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    So for students that felt like they had
    relationships with their instructors,

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    they often expressed a lot more
    openness toward the feedback they

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    received from that individual.

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    And students who felt like they
    didn't had a strong relationship

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    reported they would be less likely to
    seek out feedback from that person.

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    They might take that
    feedback less seriously.

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    Relationships that you foster with
    your students can have a direct

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    impact on how beneficial the feedback
    that you provide to them is.

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    So all of the data what we got from
    the interviews emerged from students being

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    asked what contributed to
    their writing development.

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    They mentioned feedback on their own.

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    And so the fact that were able to capture
    such a strong link between feedback and

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    writing development,

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    is something that I haven't often
    seen in the existing literature.

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    So I think that's a real contribution.

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    The bulk of the research that has been
    done on instructor feedback to date,

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    has focused primarily on the types of
    comments that we should give to students.

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    And the results of that research
    are completely inconclusive.

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    And what we're finding in our study,

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    is that it's not the type of feedback that
    students receive that really matters,

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    it's what they do with
    the comment when they get it.

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    I think one of the key things that emerged
    from our study is that feedback really

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    does play a strong role
    in writing development.

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    And in order for instructors to give
    feedback to students, they need time.

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    And so,
    as policymakers are making decisions about

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    the number of students enrolled
    in particular classes.

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    And the amount of time that teachers
    are spending in active instruction versus

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    having time to prepare for
    that instruction.

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    That making those decision to give
    instructors enough time to actually

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    comment on student writing,
    would be extremely beneficial.

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    And that could be as practical as class sizes.

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    It's not very feasible to give meaningful
    feedback to a group of 200 students.

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    So as policy makers think about things
    like what the maximum class size is.

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    They should take into account that if
    they want students to develop as writers,

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    they'll need to make sure that the class
    size is such that instructors can give

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    them good feedback.

Interview with Emily Wilson and Justine Post: For Writing Instructors

From Developing Writers in Higher Education: A Longitudinal Study by Anne Ruggles Gere, Editor

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