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Responding to Student Writing Without Losing Your Mind

Billie Franchini, Albany SUNY

As instructors, we feel responsible for helping our students write better, and we believe that offering feedback is essential to improvement. But did you know that the amount of feedback is less important than the type of feedback students receive? In fact, spending too much time responding to student writing (especially correcting all of their errors) can actually be detrimental to their progress. All of this is good news when it comes to creating a strategy for giving students feedback on their writing: we shouldn’t spend all of our time marking every error on their papers, and we don’t have to respond to everything they write.

So how do we make sure that we’re giving the most effective feedback we can? The key is entering the feedback process with a clear strategy for responding only to the things that matter. One of the most important things students need to improve their writing in your discipline is practice—and selective, strategic feedback from you, focused only on the areas where they need and can manage your guidance.