1 TEACHER AND PEER WRITTEN FEEDBACK IN THE ESL COMPOSITION

1 TEACHER AND PEER WRITTEN FEEDBACK IN THE ESL COMPOSITION
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TEACHER AND PEER WRITTEN FEEDBACK IN THE ESL COMPOSITION
CLASSROOM: APPROPRIATION, STANCE, AND AUTHORSHIP
by
Sonja K. Fordham
____________________________
A Dissertation Submitted to the Faculty of the
GRADUATE INTERDISCIPLINARY DOCTORAL PROGRAM IN
SECOND LANGUAGE ACQUISITION AND TEACHING
In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements
For the Degree of
DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY
In the Graduate College
THE UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA
2015
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THE UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA
GRADUATE COLLEGE
As members of the Dissertation Committee, we certify that we have read the dissertation
prepared by Sonja Fordham, titled Teacher and Peer Written Feedback in the ESL
Composition Classroom: Appropriation, Stance, and Authorship, and recommend that it
be accepted as fulfilling the dissertation requirement for the Degree of Doctor of
Philosophy.
_____________________________________________________ Date: July 27, 2015
Linda R. Waugh
_____________________________________________________ Date: July 27, 2015
Christine M. Tardy
_____________________________________________________ Date: July 27, 2015
Chantelle N. Warner
_____________________________________________________ Date: July 27, 2015
Suzanne K. Panferov
Final approval and acceptance of this dissertation is contingent upon the candidate’s
submission of the final copies of the dissertation to the Graduate College.
I hereby certify that I have read this dissertation prepared under my direction and
recommend that it be accepted as fulfilling the dissertation requirement.
______________________________________________________ Date: July 27, 2015
Dissertation Director: Linda R. Waugh
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STATEMENT BY AUTHOR
This dissertation has been submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for
an advanced degree at the University of Arizona and is deposited in the University
Library to be made available to borrowers under rules of the Library.
Brief quotations from this dissertation are allowable without special permission,
provided that an accurate acknowledgement of the source is made. Requests for
permission for extended quotation from or reproduction of this manuscript in whole or in
part may be granted by the head of the major department or the Dean of the Graduate
College when in his or her judgment the proposed use of the material is in the interests of
scholarship. In all other instances, however, permission must be obtained from the
author.
SIGNED: Sonja K. Fordham
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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
I would like to express my gratitude to my dissertation committee for their
consistent support, mentorship, and feedback. Linda Waugh, thank you for taking on the
role of chair of my committee. I appreciate the advice, guidance, and support you have
provided since my arrival at the University of Arizona. You are such a warm and caring
professor, and I felt like you were always available to meet me whenever I needed to
discuss the dissertation, job market, or life as a graduate student. Christine Tardy, thank
you for providing important perspectives on the subject of L2 writing and for being a role
model in the field. I enjoyed your course on L2 writing immensely. Chantelle Warner,
thank you for taking the time to sit with me for hours in coffee shops to discuss my
various research ideas and for providing valuable feedback during the writing process.
Susanne Panferov, thank you for the advice you gave me when we would discuss my
dissertation or the job market and for reminding me to always think of the pedagogical
implications of my research.
Thank you to the library faculty at Southern Adventist University for supporting
me in the completion of the dissertation and a special thanks to Cynthia Gettys for
providing feedback during the final weeks of writing the dissertation.
I would also like to express my appreciation to my family for their support during
my years as a doctoral student. Dad and Karen, thank you for moving near me and
helping so much with the boys so that I had time to study and write. Your assistance was
integral to the completion of my dissertation. Sari and Bryan, a big thank you for your
help with the boys and for your encouragement and advice along the way.
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DEDICATION
For my sons, Aidan and Avery, you spark joy in my life.
I love you more than words can express.
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
LIST OF TABLES………………………………………………………………………..9
LIST OF FIGURES……………………………………………………………………...10
ABSTRACT……………………………………………………………………………...12
CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION………………………………………………………..13
Introduction………………………………………………………………………13
Background of the Problem……………………………………………………...15
Statement of the Problem………………………………………………………...19
Overview of the Study…………………………………………………………...20
Research Questions………………………………………………………………22
Definition of Key Terms…………………………………………………………23
CHAPTER 2: REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE………………………………………26
Teacher Feedback………………………………………………………………..26
Students’ Perceptions of Teacher Feedback……………………………..26
Teachers’ Feedback on Student Writing…………………………………32
Relationship between Teacher Feedback and Student Revisions………..37
Summary of Teacher Feedback………………………………………….45
Peer Feedback…………………………………………………………………....46
Advantages of Peer Feedback……………………………………………47
Students’ Reactions to Peer Feedback…………………………………...48
Peer Response Stances…………………………………………………...50
Benefits of Training in the Peer Feedback Process……………………...53
Impact of Peer Feedback on Subsequent Drafts…………………………54
Comparison between Peer Feedback and Teacher Feedback……………56
Summary of Peer Feedback……………………………………………...59
CHAPTER 3: RESEARCH METHODS………………………………………………...60
Researcher’s Role………………………………………………………………..60
Participants……………………………………………………………………….61
Data Sources and Collection……………………………………………………..63
Data Analysis…………………………………………………………………….73
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TABLE OF CONTENTS – Continued
CHAPTER 4: RESEARCH FINDINGS…………………………………………………81
Teacher Feedback Stance……………………………………………………...…81
Textual Analysis Essay 1 Feedback, Rough and Final Drafts…………...89
Textual Analysis Essay 2 Feedback, Rough and Final Drafts…………...91
Contextual Analysis Essay 3 Feedback, Rough and Final Drafts………..93
Research Question #1……………………………………………………………95
Peer Feedback Stance……………………………………………………………99
Textual Analysis Essay 1 Feedback, Rough Drafts…………………….100
Textual Analysis Essay 2 Feedback, Rough Drafts…………………….100
Contextual Analysis Essay 3 Feedback, Rough Drafts…………………102
Research Question #2…………………………………………………………..103
Student Response to Feedback………………………………………………….107
Acceptors……………………………………………………………….108
Semi-evaluators…………………………………………………………109
Evaluators………………………………………………………………112
Research Question #3…………………………………………………………..115
CHAPTER 5: DISCUSSION AND IMPLICATIONS…………………………………119
Teacher Feedback Stance….……………………………………………………119
Peer Feedback Stance….……………………………………………………….123
Student Response to Feedback………………………………………………….125
Implications and Suggestions for Future Research……………………………..128
APPENDIX A: COVER SHEET……………………………………………………….131
APPENDIX B: STUDENT INFORMATION SHEET.………………………………..132
APPENDIX C: COURSE SYLLABUS………………………………………………..133
APPENDIX D: ESSAY 1 ASSIGNMENT SHEET……………………………………136
APPENDIX E: ESSAY 2 ASSIGNMENT SHEET……………………………………138
APPENDIX F: ESSAY 3 ASSIGNMENT SHEET……………………………………140
APPENDIX G: PEER FEEDBACK SHEET…………………………………………..142
APPENDIX H: FINAL EXAM SHEET………………………………………………..143
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TABLE OF CONTENTS – Continued
APPENDIX I: SELF-ASSESSMENT WORKSHEET………………………………...145
APPENDIX J: ESSAY 1 QUESTIONNAIRE…………………………………………146
APPENDIX K: ESSAY 2 QUESTIONNAIRE………………………………………...148
APPENDIX L: ESSAY 3 QUESTIONNAIRE………………………………………...150
APPENDIX M: STUDENTS’ FEEDBACK STANCES FOR ESSAYS 1, 2,
AND 3…………………………………………………………………………………..152
REFERENCES…………………………………………………………………………153
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LIST OF TABLES
Table 1: Characteristics of Stance Categories…………………………………………...51
Table 2: Participant Information…………………………………………………………63
Table 3: Teacher and Peer Feedback Provided on Essay Assignments………………….70
Table 4: Data Collected for Study……………………………………………………….73
Table 5: Comment Categories, Definitions, and Examples……………………………...75
Table 6: Characteristics of Stances………………………………………………………77
Table 7: Comment and Stance Categories……………………………………………….78
Table 8: Categorization of Comments…………………………………………………...87
Table 9: Teacher Commentary on Textual Analysis Essay 1, Rough Draft……………..90
Table 10: Teacher Commentary on Textual Analysis Essay 1, Final Draft……………..91
Table 11: Teacher Commentary on Textual Analysis Essay 2, Rough Draft……………92
Table 12: Teacher Commentary on Textual Analysis Essay 2, Final Draft……………..93
Table 13: Teacher Commentary on Contextual Analysis Essay 3, Rough Draft………...94
Table 14: Teacher Commentary on Contextual Analysis Essay 3, Final Draft………….95
Table 15: Peer Commentary on Textual Analysis Essay 1, Rough Draft………………100
Table 16: Peer Commentary on Textual Analysis Essay 2, Rough Draft………………102
Table 17: Peer Commentary on Contextual Analysis Essay 3, Rough Draft…………..103
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LIST OF FIGURES
Figure 1. A copy of the Cover Sheet handout portraying the instructions the
students were given for how to complete a Cover Sheet………………………………...69
Figure 2. An excerpt from the assignment sheet of Essays 1 and 2 portraying
how student were to be evaluated………………………………………………………..71
Figure 3. Bar graph depicting the number of marginal and end comments that
I wrote for each essay assignment……………………………………………………….82
Figure 4. A copy of Ai’s Textual Analysis Essay 2, rough draft displaying my
feedback on it…………………………………………………………………………….83
Figure 5. Bar graph depicting my feedback stance for the rough and final drafts
of Textual Analysis Essay 1……………………………………………………………...96
Figure 6. Bar graph depicting my feedback stance for the rough and final drafts
of Textual Analysis Essay 2……………………………………………………………...97
Figure 7. Bar graph depicting my feedback stance for the rough and final drafts
of Textual Analysis Essay 3……………………………………………………………...98
Figure 8. Bar graph depicting the number of marginal and end comments that
students wrote their peers for each essay assignment……………………………………99
Figure 9. Copy of Jiao’s peer feedback end comments for Essay 1, rough draft
displaying her long end comment………………………………………………………101
Figure 10. Copy of Jiao’s peer feedback end comments for Essay 2, rough draft
displaying her short end comment……………………………………………………...101
Figure 11. Bar graph depicting students’ feedback stance in their marginal
comments for the rough drafts of Essays 1, 2, and 3…………………………………...104
Figure 12. Bar graph depicting students’ feedback stance in their end comments for
the rough drafts of Essays 1, 2, and 3…………………………………………………..105
Figure 13. Bar graph depicting peer feedback comment categories that increased for
each essay assignment…………………………………………………………………..106
Figure 14. Bar graph depicting peer feedback comment categories that generally
decreased for each essay assignment…………………………………………………...107
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LIST OF FIGURES – Continued
Figure 15. Copy of Liang’s Textual Analysis Essay 2 Cover Sheet illustrating he is
an Acceptor……………………………………………………………………………..108
Figure 16. Copy of Ai’s Textual Analysis Essay 1 Cover Sheet illustrating she is a
Semi-evaluator………………………………………………………………………….110
Figure 17. Copy of Lan’s Textual Analysis Essay 2 Cover Sheet illustrating she is a
Semi-evaluator………………………………………………………………………….111
Figure 18. Copy of Jie’s Textual Analysis Essay 2 Cover Sheet illustrating he is an
Evaluator………………………………………………………………………………..113
Figure 19. Copy of Hu’s Contextual Analysis Essay 3 Cover Sheet illustrating he is
an Evaluator…………………………………………………………………………….114
Figure 20. Bar graph depicting student response to feedback for Essays 1, 2, & 3…….118
Figure 21. Excerpt from Bao’s Essay 2, rough draft, page 1, displaying my feedback
requesting that she add a main point to her paragraph………………………………….120
Figure 22. Excerpt from Bao’s Essay 2, final draft, page 1, displaying Bao’s revision
of my request that she add a main point to her paragraph……………………………...120
Figure 23. Bar graph separating students by response category and displaying
students’ final grade in the course……………………………………………………...127
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ABSTRACT
While studies have shown that teacher and peer feedback are beneficial to
students, research has also found that teachers can appropriate students’ texts in their
feedback, taking away authorship in the process (Brannon & Knoblauch, 1982;
Goldstein, 2004). The present study addressed the type of written feedback that I gave my
ESL composition students and the type of feedback they gave each other during the
writing process, and it examined their responses to the feedback they received. As the
response stance taken when providing feedback is a determiner of the level of control the
feedback conveys (Straub & Lunsford, 1995), I investigated the stances that both I and
my students took while providing feedback. Since my goal had been to avoid text
appropriation, I wanted to learn if I was successful in taking a less controlling stance in
the feedback that I gave to my students. In addition, I wanted to discover whether the
stance my students took while giving feedback would change over the course of the
semester. Further, I used a consciousness-raising pedagogical tool—the Cover Sheet—to
examine the responses of the students to the feedback to determine if they thought
critically about the feedback they had received. At the end of the study, I discovered that
my intention to only provide feedback that was not considered controlling was too
idealistic and that at least for ESL students, it is easier to understand feedback if it is
more direct. Additionally, I found that those students who had an easier time
understanding the feedback I gave them and used it to revise their papers ended up
getting a higher grade in the course.
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Teacher and Peer Written Feedback in the ESL Composition Classroom:
Appropriation, Stance, and Authorship
CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION
Introduction
As a doctoral student teaching English composition for the first time at an
American university, I spent more time writing feedback on student papers than I spent
writing my own graduate papers. It was not my first time teaching, nor my first time
giving feedback on writing, as I was an experienced second language (L2) teacher who
had taught at the college and university level for more than 13 years in South Korea.
Teaching composition was different though. I was not sure what kind of feedback to give,
so it took a long time to provide written commentary. It was easier to provide error
corrections than to write comments; thus, when I did not know what to say, I would make
error corrections in order to be helpful in some way. Sometimes, I would return to a paper
I had already finished commenting on and change those comments just to make sure that
I was maintaining consistency among papers. Additionally, I wanted to make sure the
comments justified the grade I had assigned the paper, especially if I had given a below
average grade. My desire to be effective in the classroom manifested itself in hours spent
providing feedback. I remember that first Thanksgiving break I had headed off to the
library with a stack of 50 essays to grade while my sister charitably stayed at my house
babysitting my energetic two-year-old and four-year-old boys. When I returned seven
hours later, my sister asked me how many papers I had graded. I said, “Seven.” She was
not impressed. That year, it took me about one hour to provide feedback on each student
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paper. As I taught two sections of composition each semester, which amounted to
approximately 50 students, and as the students turned in four major papers, I estimate that
I spent about 400 hours writing feedback my first year.
Giving feedback is time consuming, yet teachers continue to write comments on
students’ papers because they believe that their comments help students become better
writers. Sommers (1982) referred to giving feedback as the most time consuming part of
teaching writing. Hairston (1986) pointed out that teachers feel that the more time they
spend correcting papers, the more their students’ writing will improve. She noted a
common misbelief, “A good composition teacher…must mark all student papers
meticulously and comment on them copiously” (p. 117). Students need some form of
feedback so that they can understand how others read their writing and what revisions
might make their writing more effective. Teachers face difficulties when giving feedback
because students often do not understand the revision process, which Ferris (2003b)
described as “sending writers back into the messiness or chaos of their thinking and
asking them to “see again” what they have written and to ask themselves hard questions
about what needs to be added, deleted, explained, re-thought, or moved in their texts” (p.
31). In order to help with this process, composition teachers debate the best way to
respond to writing since the type of feedback provided has an impact on how engaged
students are in the revision process (Conrad & Goldstein, 1999; Ferris, 1997; Straub,
1997).
The focus on teacher feedback in first language (L1) composition studies dates
back to the early 1970s when the process approach to feedback started to gain popularity
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(Ferris, 2003b). The process approach focuses on the entire writing process and
encourages the writing and revision of multiple drafts. The research in L1 composition
studies had an impact on L2 writing. Prior to the 1990s, most of the studies that addressed
teacher feedback for English as a second language (ESL) and English as a foreign
language (EFL) writers looked at error correction. As L2 teachers moved from focusing
on the product to focusing on the process, the focus of feedback also changed. Hyland
and Hyland (2006a) summarized the change, “Summative feedback, designed to evaluate
writing as a product, has generally been replaced by formative feedback that points
forward to a student’s future writing and the development of his or her writing processes”
(p. 1). In the last 20 years, second language writing research has begun to study written
teacher feedback on content, organization, and writing style since it has become evident
that students want that type of feedback and are benefited by it (Hedgcock & Lefkowitz,
1994).
Background of the Problem
In providing feedback, teachers want to help students improve their writing, yet
while doing so, it is easy to unintentionally appropriate students’ papers. Text
appropriation occurs when a teacher takes over authorship of the student’s paper by
providing feedback that requests changes to achieve the teacher’s purpose for the text
rather than helping the student achieve her own purpose. The teacher’s voice takes over,
and the teacher’s meaning is prioritized. In a seminal article in L1 composition studies,
Brannon and Knoblaugh (1982) argued that teachers appropriate texts with the best
intentions: “The teacher-reader assumes, often correctly, that student writers have not yet
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earned the authority that ordinarily compels readers to listen seriously to what writers
have to say” (p. 158). Thus, teachers are likely to decide what the writing will be about
and what form the writing will take. However, holding the teacher’s agenda as more
important than the student’s can be demotivating for students (Brannon & Knoblaugh,
1982). Students may lose the desire to communicate their ideas or even to write. Brannon
and Knoblaugh stated, “We lose more than we gain by preempting their control and
allowing our own Ideal Texts to dictate choices that properly belong to the writers” (p.
159). The teacher should acknowledge the authority of the student as the author and leave
final jurisdiction over the paper to the student. Reid (1994), however, questioned the
whole idea of text appropriation and cautioned against a “hands-off approach to student
writing” (p. 273). She stated that it is the responsibility of the teacher to act as cultural
informant and writing expert. In that position, the teacher is not appropriating the text but
empowering the student to write for an academic audience. As Reid wrote, “We must
introduce students to ways in which they can learn to gain ownership of their writing
while at the same time considering their readers” (p. 283).
It is difficult to find the balance between helping a student and taking over a
student’s writing. The L2 researcher Goldstein (2004) identified the differences between
text appropriation and helpful intervention: one ignores the student’s purpose, the other
helps the student achieve her purpose; one corrects the text, the other determines what the
student wants to say and then helps her find the best way to say it. Teachers need to
dialogue with students about their text rather than instruct students in how to fix it. The
more help the teacher gives, the less responsibility the student has for her own paper. It
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can be challenging because as Leki (1990) argued, the role of a teacher is “split into three
incompatible personas: teacher as real reader (i.e., audience), teacher as coach, and
teacher as evaluator” (p. 59). The teacher “as coach” wants the student to do well, so the
teacher will appropriate the text to please the “evaluator.” The teacher is the evaluator;
hence, the students write to please her. They are aware of the power dynamics when they
read and respond to teacher feedback; therefore, the students will often hand over control
of the text to the teacher by making all requested changes, even when they do not
understand or agree with the changes. To prevent this, teachers can collaborate with
students in their feedback to determine the students’ purpose, position, and intended
meaning.
Appropriation is connected to power and control considering it is more probable
when one is in a position of power. Paulo Freire (1970), a Brazilian educator and
proponent for critical pedagogy, was a strong advocate for student power in the
classroom. He pointed out the dichotomy that exists in the classroom between a powerful
teacher and powerless students. He coined the term “banking concept” of education to
describe how teachers consider students to be empty containers waiting to be filled with
knowledge. Freire argued that the “banking concept” leads to mindless learning and
inhibits creative power as the more students work to store a teacher’s “deposits,” the less
they engage in critical thinking. He introduced an alternative approach to education,
which he labeled “problem-posing” education. In this approach, teachers and students are
simultaneously both teachers and students. The teacher not only teaches but is also taught
through dialogue with the students. It is a bottom-up approach in which the teacher and
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students collaborate to produce knowledge: “The teacher presents the material to the
students for their consideration, and re-considers her earlier considerations as the students
express their own” (p. 81). Students are given a voice, and the dichotomy between the
teacher and student is removed. While providing feedback on student writing, the
teacher’s role is to pose problems, not simply instruct the student in how to change the
paper. By using the problem-posing approach, teachers give students the chance to
develop critical thinking skills. Students no longer simply receive feedback; instead, they
are involved in an active, critical process in which they question the feedback to
determine whether it helps them achieve their purpose. In taking a dialogical approach to
providing written feedback, teachers can help students improve their writing while
avoiding text appropriation.
In many composition classrooms, students not only receive teacher feedback on
their writing but also peer feedback. Support for the use of peer feedback in the L2
writing classroom can be found within theoretical frameworks such as process writing
theory, collaborative learning theory, and Vygotsky’s zone of proximal development
(Hansen & Liu, 2005; Liu & Hansen, 2002). Process writing theory promotes the writing
of multiple drafts and emphasizes the revision process. Peer feedback is an important
component of the process approach to writing as it makes it possible for writers to get
more feedback on their drafts. Collaborative learning theory supports the use of peer
feedback with the belief that learning is socially constructed. One of the leading
proponents of collaborative work is Bruffee (1984), who believes that one learns better in
a group. This extends to peer feedback, as he believes that students working together
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produce better writing. Additional support for peer feedback is found within Vygotsky’s
zone of proximal development: The space where the possible growth from studentteacher or student-student interaction is greater than the growth students can experience
on their own. Students who are more knowledgeable can guide their peers in the writing
process so as to help them improve their writing, and text appropriation is less of a
problem as students are not in a position of power.
Statement of the Problem
When a teacher or students provide feedback, they display a stance through the
feedback they give. Stance refers to the role taken towards the text and writer when
providing feedback (Mangelsdorf & Schlumberger, 1992). Severino (1993) quoted
Louise Wetherbee Phelps in defining stance as “the deep structure of response to writing”
(p. 184). She argued, “All teachers and tutors, consciously or subconsciously, have a
stance toward response toward all writing” (p. 184). Stance is established by the type of
feedback that the reviewer gives. It usually falls on a continuum that ranges from
feedback that is more controlling, instructing the writer what to change and how to
change it, to feedback that is less controlling, providing observations or reflections about
the writing. Straub (1996, 1997) argued that the way a teacher frames a comment
determines how much control that comment exerts on the student writer. He listed
criticisms, corrections, and commands as the most controlling type of feedback. Next in
the continuum were qualified evaluations and advice, then praise, questions, and nonevaluative statements, with open questions regarded as less controlling than closed
questions. The least controlling comments Straub (1996, 1997) listed were reflective
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comments. He noted that the meaning of a comment is determined by the way it is
presented, and the comments provide the student with an image of the teacher. Looking at
feedback stance is one way of determining the degree of control the teacher or peer
imparted on a student’s text. The more controlling the feedback is, the higher the chance
of appropriation of the student’s text.
As the role of feedback is to help students develop into strong yet independent
writers, it is essential for teachers to give students control over their own texts throughout
the writing process. In a classroom, the teacher holds power and authority, which may
result in students writing not to achieve their own purpose but instead writing to satisfy
their teacher’s demands and expectations. When their focus is on the written product,
teachers lose sight of the goal of helping students to become self-sufficient writers.
Feedback can have a profound effect on students and how they view themselves as
writers. If they feel discouraged after receiving feedback, they may lose the desire to
continue writing. If they are not receptive to the feedback, they may not be motivated to
think more critically about their own writing as they respond to the feedback. When
teachers empower students in the writing process by avoiding text appropriation and
emphasizing peer feedback, students gain authorship over their own writing.
Overview of the Study
Drawing on research that reports that teacher feedback can take over student
writing through text appropriation to the point that students lose ownership over their
own writing (Brannon & Knoblauch, 1982) and that peer feedback provides feedback that
is less power-driven (Mendonca & Johnson, 1994), I decided to conduct a classroom
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study that addressed the topic of appropriation in feedback. As an ESL composition
teacher, I was interested in whether a writing teacher could avoid text appropriation while
providing feedback to ESL students. I also wanted to determine what type of feedback
my students would give to each other. In addition, I wanted to analyze how the students
would respond to the feedback and in what ways they would display authorship in their
responses. I chose to conduct the study in my first-year ESL composition course, which
had 22 students. The students in the course completed four long writing assignments over
the duration of the semester. They received written feedback from me and from their
peers on the first three assignments. I made an effort to give the type of feedback that
could be considered less appropriating or controlling. I chose to ask questions when
something in the paper was not clear or was missing rather than to tell the students how
to “fix” their paper. I incorporated peer review as part of the review process so that I was
not the only one providing feedback on the papers. I needed a way to determine whether
my feedback could be considered appropriating, so I chose to look at the stance I took
while giving written feedback. As stance determines the degree of control of the
feedback, I could discover how successful I was in my attempts to avoid text
appropriation. I examined my marginal and end comments on 111 rough drafts and final
drafts to investigate the response stance taken. I was also interested in the stances taken
by my students when they gave feedback on their peer’s rough drafts, so I examined their
marginal and end comments on 97 rough drafts. I chose to consider two categories of
stance: the collaborative stance, which was less controlling, and the noncollaborative
stance, which was more controlling. By analyzing the feedback given, I was able to
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determine the stance I took for each paper and the stance taken by the students in their
peer reviews. I also looked at the ways that the students responded to the feedback by
analyzing the Cover Sheets (see Appendix A) that they submitted with their revised
essays and questionnaires that the students submitted after completing each essay.
Research Questions
My study explored the following questions:
1. What stance did I, as an instructor, take toward the students and their texts when
giving written feedback? Did my stance change over the course of the semester?
2. What stance did my students take toward their peers and their peers’ texts when
giving written peer feedback? Did their stance change over the course of the
semester?
3. In what ways did the students respond to the feedback that they received as
demonstrated in their Cover Sheets and questionnaires?
Feedback stance is an area that has not been given much attention in L2 writing
research. Only two studies that I am aware of have looked at teacher stance when giving
feedback to L2 students (Furneaux, Paran, & Fairfax, 2007; Severino, 1993), and no
studies have looked at both teacher stance and peer stance in one classroom. The stance
taken determines how controlling the feedback may be perceived to be. Exploring the
stances of an instructor and her students provides information that can be used in the
training of both instructors and students. There is also a dearth of studies that address L2
students’ evaluation of the feedback they have received. Having knowledge of students’
response to feedback is essential in order to determine what type of feedback is beneficial
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for them and in order to train them in how to use feedback effectively. The findings of
this study contribute to the discussion of feedback stances, appropriation, and authorship
in a composition classroom.
Definition of Key Terms
Appropriation
In the context of this study, appropriation refers to text appropriation and is the
process of taking over another person’s text by trying to achieve a purpose other than the
author’s purpose for the text. It occurs when the reader of the text crosses out parts of the
text written by the author, makes changes to the text without the author’s permission, or
demands that the author change the text to satisfy the reader.
Authorship/Ownership
Authorship refers to the act of assuming that one is the owner of one’s own text.
Ownership is used as a synonym of authorship in this study. In this study, authorship is
demonstrated when the author of a text critically evaluates all changes suggested by a
reviewer of the text and makes the final decision about what to revise.
Direct feedback
Direct feedback is feedback that is not mitigated or hedged, such as criticisms or
commands.
English as a foreign language (EFL)
This term refers to English being learned in a country in which English is not the
native language, such as Japan or China.
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English as a second language (ESL)
This term refers to English being learned in an English-speaking country, such as
the United States or Canada.
First language (L1)
L1 refers to a speaker’s mother tongue. It is usually the first language the speaker
learned.
Indirect feedback
Indirect feedback is feedback that is mitigated or hedged in order to weaken the
force of the feedback.
Second language (L2)
L2 refers to a language other than the mother tongue of the speaker. It is not
necessarily the second language learned by the speaker.
Stance
Stance refers to the role taken by a reviewer towards a text when giving feedback
to its author and is determined by the type of feedback given. Stance determines the level
of control the feedback imparts. The study focuses on two categories of stance. The
collaborative stance is a stance that positions itself with the writer of a text to help the
writer achieve her purpose for her paper. The noncollaborative stance is one that is more
concerned with fixing a paper so that it achieves the purpose the reviewer has for the
paper.
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Written feedback/commentary
In this study, written feedback and written commentary refer to all comments-other than error corrections--that are written on a student’s paper. Those included are
comments that address formatting, style, organization, and content.
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CHAPTER 2: REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE
Teacher Feedback
The research on teacher feedback can be divided into three main areas of focus,
all of which overlap and influence each other:
1. Studies investigating students’ perceptions of teacher feedback (Cohen, 1987;
Cohen & Calvacanti, 1990; Enginlarlar, 1993; Ferris, 1995; Hedgcock &
Lefkowitz, 1994, 1996; Lee, 2008a, 2008b; Montgomery & Baker, 2007; Radecki
& Swales, 1988; Saito, 1994)
2. Studies analyzing teachers’ written commentary (Anson, 1989; Ferris et al., 1997;
Furneaux, Paran, & Fairfax, 2007; Hyland & Hyland, 2001, 2006b; Severino,
1993; Sommers, 1982; Straub & Lunsford, 1995; Zamel, 1985)
3. Studies exploring the relationship between teacher feedback and student revision
(Baker & Bricker, 2010; Chapin & Terdal, 1990; Conrad & Goldstein, 1999;
Faigley & Witte, 1981; Fathman & Whalley, 1990; Ferris, 1997, 2001; Hyland,
1998, 2000; Jenkins, 1987; Kepner, 1991, Paulus, 1999; Sommers, 1980; Sperling
& Freedman, 1987).
Feedback is more effective if students are open to it, and the type of feedback given can
determine student engagement and whether students use the feedback to revise their
writing.
Students’ Perceptions of Teacher Feedback
Teacher feedback is more likely to have a positive effect on students’ revisions if
the students are receptive to it. Studies that have surveyed students’ responses to teacher
27
feedback have found most students to be receptive and appreciative of the feedback. In a
study by Radecki and Swales (1988), students were asked to share their views and
preferences about teacher feedback. They then were divided into three categories based
on their reactions towards feedback: Receptors (46%), Semi-resistors (41%), and
Resistors (13%). The Receptors and Semi-resistors were very open to all types of
feedback, and they wanted feedback on content and ideas, whereas the Resistors were not
accepting of teacher intervention or interested in revision. The response towards revisions
separated the Receptors and the Semi-resistors as the former were willing, even eager, to
rewrite their essays but the Semi-resistors and the Resistors were not interested in
revising their work and considered it a waste of time. One limitation of their study is that
the students completed the questionnaire during the first week of classes before they had
received any feedback from their teacher. Lee (2008b) also surveyed students in her study
of two Hong Kong secondary classes. She found that the EFL students wanted written
feedback, but she noted a difference in how students of different levels responded to
teacher feedback. The high proficiency students were more positive about teacher
feedback and wanted more error feedback than the low proficiency students, as they had
an easier time understanding the feedback and found it more useful. All the students
reported wanting more written feedback than they were receiving though. Another study
investigating EFL student response to teacher feedback was Enginarlar’s (1993), which
surveyed 47 composition students at a university in Turkey. About half of the students
felt that teacher feedback helped them with both grammar and composition skills (such as
organization and content), one-fourth felt teacher feedback helped them with grammar,
28
and one-fourth felt teacher feedback helped them with composition skills. Findings
indicated that the majority of the students felt the feedback helped them improve their
composition skills.
The earliest study to examine L2 students’ perceptions of feedback was conducted
by Cohen (1987). He surveyed 217 university students, which included native English
speakers, ESL students, and foreign language (FL) learners. The majority of students
reported that their teacher gave “a lot” or “some” feedback on grammar and mechanics.
Less then half of the students reported that their teacher gave “a lot” or “some” feedback
on vocabulary, organization, and content. The results indicated that the majority of
teachers focused on grammar and mechanics in their feedback. Although students showed
an interest in receiving all types of feedback, many of them were not getting much
feedback on content and rhetoric. The majority of students did not rewrite their papers,
yet, as Cohen pointed out, feedback is more helpful if it is used to revise the paper.
Similarly, in a study of an EFL institute in Brazil, Cohen and Cavalcanti (1990) found
that the students had a preference for feedback on content but were receiving feedback on
grammar and mechanics. The researchers also surveyed EFL students and L1 students at
a Brazilian university where a better match was found between what the students wanted,
feedback on content and organization, and what they were receiving from their teachers.
However, in a study by Saito (1994), the ESL students felt that the teacher’s feedback
was the most helpful when it focused on grammar corrections. Overall, the students in all
the studies had positive feelings about teacher feedback.
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In order to examine the differences between ESL and foreign language (FL)
learners’ perceptions of teacher feedback, Hedgcock and Lefkowitz (1994) surveyed 137
FL college students and 110 ESL college students. While both ESL and FL students
wanted feedback on grammar and vocabulary use, ESL students were more interested
than FL students in feedback on content, organization, and writing style. ESL students
felt they learned the most from their instructor when the instructor commented on
organization, grammar, and writing style, in that order. FL students felt they benefitted
the most from comments on grammar, vocabulary use, and mechanics, in that order. The
students’ perceptions of the instructors’ evaluation priorities matched almost exactly with
their preferences. ESL students preferred to be evaluated on content and organization,
while FL students preferred to be evaluated on grammar and vocabulary use. The
researchers pointed out that ESL students need to write in all their college courses, so it is
not surprising that they value feedback on content and organization, while FL students
usually write only for their FL instructor as a form of language practice. Then, in another
study, Hedgcock and Lefkowitz (1996) analyzed the same data qualitatively by
conducting interviews with 21 students. They discussed their findings for four of the
students: three FL students and one ESL student. The FL students stated that writing and
revision were for grammar practice; thus, they believed that grammar should be
prioritized over content while the ESL student wanted content feedback. All four of the
students reported that it was sometimes difficult to understand their instructor’s feedback.
The studies by Hedgcock and Lefkowitz (1994, 1996) revealed that ESL and FL students
30
prioritize different types of teacher feedback; therefore, they should not be considered a
homogeneous group of language learners.
Before the 1990s, L2 students were not expected to produce multiple drafts, so
comments on papers were those that could be transferred to future writing, usually error
feedback (Ferris, 2003b). It was in the 1990s that L2 teachers started requiring multiple
drafts of student writing. Ferris (1995) surveyed 155 ESL university students to
determine their response to teacher feedback in a multiple-draft composition classroom.
She found that students were more likely to pay attention to feedback on preliminary
drafts than on final drafts as they were required to revise the preliminary draft. For both
drafts, students reported getting comments on grammar, organization, content,
mechanics, and vocabulary, in that order. It was surprising to the researcher that students
perceived getting so much feedback on grammar on their preliminary drafts as the
program policy discouraged it, but it is possible that the students may have forgotten
what type of feedback they got on each draft or that teachers could not help responding to
grammar on preliminary drafts. Students reported that they paid attention to feedback on
grammar and content. The majority of students (94%) felt that the teacher’s feedback had
helped them improve as writers. Ferris (1995) concluded that if writing teachers do not
have time to respond to both preliminary and final drafts, they should only give feedback
on preliminary drafts since students will pay more attention to it and will be more likely
to use the feedback.
Teachers tend to focus their feedback on local issues such as grammar even when
they feel they should prioritize global issues. Montgomery and Baker (2007) asked L2
31
learners and teachers to fill out a questionnaire reporting on teachers’ feedback practices.
Thirteen teachers and 98 ESL students at a university English language center took part
in the study. The researchers compared the teachers’ self-assessment of their feedback to
both the students’ perceptions and the actual teacher feedback. They found that a majority
of the teachers gave “a lot” or “some” feedback on local issues such as grammar and
mechanics. None of the teachers, however, gave “a lot” of feedback on organization and
only two of them gave “some” feedback on organization. Regarding the teachers’ selfassessments and students’ perceptions of the amount of each type of feedback received,
agreement was reached 87% of the time; however, when there were differences, they
were a result of students reporting that they received more feedback than the teachers
reported giving. When comparing the teachers’ self-assessments with actual feedback, the
researchers found that teachers “tended to underestimate the amount of feedback they
gave on local issues…and to overestimate the amount of feedback they gave on global
issues” (p. 92). Their study suggests that teachers are not always aware of the type of
feedback that they are giving. When Lee (2008a) analyzed the written feedback of 26
Hong Kong secondary English teachers, she found that 94.1% of the feedback was error
correction. The teachers stated that grammar was the most important issue to address in
their feedback. The teachers’ practices were influenced by an emphasis on exams in
Hong Kong, a lack of training about writing process pedagogy, and institutional pressures
to focus on error correction. Students value all types of feedback, so L2 teachers should
make more of an effort to meet the needs of the students by giving feedback on content,
rhetorical structure, and grammar.
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Teachers’ Feedback on Student Writing
Though not as well researched as students’ perceptions of teacher feedback,
teachers’ written commentary on student writing has been examined for both L1 and L2
students. One of the earliest studies analyzing teacher feedback was a study by Sommers
(1982), which analyzed teacher feedback to L1 students. Her findings were not
optimistic. She reported that teachers’ comments are vague, not text specific. The same
comments could be used on any student’s writing. She pointed out how students are
given contradictory messages as they are told to edit their texts, but at the same time, they
are told to make content changes. She argued that teachers’ comments appropriate
student texts as they place the focus on the teacher’s purpose rather than the student’s
purpose for writing. Zamel (1985) reported similar findings when she examined the
feedback of 15 ESL teachers on 105 student texts. She found that the ESL writing
teachers did not always understand the student texts, and their feedback was vague,
inconsistent, and contradictory. They did not respond to the content of the texts; instead,
they responded to the texts as if they were finished products. Like Sommers, Zamel felt
that the teachers were guilty of text appropriation. Both Sommers’ and Zamel’s
methodology have been called into question by other researchers as they did not explain
how they analyzed the data.
With no available method to analyze teacher feedback, Ferris, Pezone, Tade, and
Tinti (1997) developed an original model and then analyzed teacher feedback using the
model. The researchers investigated the feedback one ESL teacher gave her university
students over the course of two semesters. They examined 1500 comments on 111 essays.
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The model was developed using the constant comparative method of analysis (Glaser,
1969). This method produces theory from the data. The teacher’s feedback was examined
to determine what categories could be developed. The categories focused on both the
aim/goal of the comment and the linguistic features of the comment. One challenge Ferris
et al. (1997) faced with the model was how to decide when one comment type ended and
another began as sometimes the teacher was making several requests at once. Another
challenge was determining whether a comment was text-specific or general. An example
given is that a teacher wrote “Good example” next to an example, thus the comment is
general, yet the message is text-specific (p. 169). Zamel (1985) had criticized teachers for
not giving text-specific feedback; however, as Ferris et al. (1997) noted, the location of
the comment could make an otherwise general comment text-specific. The researchers
found that the teacher’s comments varied depending on the assignment, the time in the
semester, and the student being addressed.
Students are more likely to benefit from the feedback if they understand it. In a
case study, Hyland and Hyland (2001) analyzed the written feedback of two teachers that
was given to six ESL students during an English proficiency course at a New Zealand
university. Feedback was categorized according to its function as praise, criticism, or
suggestion. Praise was used the most often, but it was usually combined with criticisms
or suggestions. In order to be less controlling and to maintain a good relationship with the
students, the teachers mitigated criticisms and suggestions using hedging devices or
questions. The researchers felt that the students misunderstand some of the indirect
feedback since they were reading it in a second language and cautioned against using
34
mitigated feedback. One limitation of the study was that only teachers’ end comments
were analyzed. Ignoring the margin comments leaves out data that could impact the
findings. While praise is commonly found in end comments, teachers are more likely to
give suggestions or criticisms in the margins.
Drawing on the same data analyzed in their 2001 study, Hyland and Hyland
(2006b) addressed the interpersonal aspects of teacher feedback. They pointed out that
feedback is more effective if it engages the writer rather than just responding to a paper.
The manner in which teachers respond will determine how feedback is received and will
either “facilitate or undermine a student’s writing development” (p. 209). The
interpersonal is emphasized when feedback is mitigated, includes praise, and avoids
unhedged criticisms. They found that the teachers in their study mitigated 88% of all their
criticisms and 79% of their suggestions. The teachers were less likely to mitigate
comments related to form as those comments were considered less face threatening to
students than comments on ideas that students have produced and may feel are a
representation of themselves. The researchers pointed out that praise can be negative in
the sense that it emphasizes the teacher as the evaluator.
Studies also examined teacher stance when giving feedback. Anson (1989)
studied the written feedback given by 16 university writing teachers and categorized their
response styles as dualistic, relativistic, or reflective. The dualistic responders, with a
belief that writing is either correct or incorrect, focused on the surface features of the
texts and marked the incorrect parts of the text. The content of the writing was ignored
while emphasis was placed on correctness. The majority of the writing teachers were
35
dualistic responders. A few of the writing teachers were relativistic responders; they
made no corrections on the papers and only gave a short reader response at the end of the
paper, which focused on content. They believed “[the text was] “owned” by the writer
and the teacher stands outside it, as if on the edges of someone’s property, unwilling to
trespass but able to enjoy or respectfully question” (p. 349). They avoided any response
that could be considered appropriative, so much so that students were left with no idea
what the teacher’s preferences were for the text. A few writing teachers were neither
dualistic nor relativistic and Anson referred to their response style as reflective. They did
not make surface corrections and appropriate text like the dualistic responders but unlike
the relativistic responders, they did express preferences for the paper as a “representative
reader” (p. 351). They did not insist on how the text should be changed; rather, they
challenged the writer to make changes that would make the text more reader friendly.
Comments were hedged and responsibility for the text was placed on the writer. The
dualistic responder and the relativistic responder appear to mark the two extremes in
teacher response while the reflective responder finds a balance between avoiding text
appropriation and offering helpful feedback.
Another study that looked at the stances of L1 teachers was one by Straub and
Lunsford (1995). The twelve participants of their study were not only composition
teachers but also scholars in the field of composition. The researchers analyzed the
responses of the teachers, who had responded to a set of 15 student essays, to determine
each of the teachers’ stances. The researchers discovered that the response stances of the
readers fell on a continuum from authoritarian to analytical with the authoritarian stance,
36
defined by their corrections and criticisms of students’ writing, considered to be the most
controlling and the analytical stance, defined by their reflection on their understanding of
the text, considered to be the least. Other stances found were the directive stance,
advisory stance, Socratic stance, and dialectic stance. Straub and Lunsford (1995) pointed
out that even experienced and knowledgeable teachers are going to have different
stances, and one stance is not superior to another.
Severino (1993) categorized the stance used by L2 teachers and suggested that
there is a continuum of responses based on stance. She argued that teacher stances are
influenced by their ideology toward L2 students and more specifically whether the
teacher feels that the L2 student should use the same language patterns and style as the
dominant American culture. She separated the stances into three categories: separatist,
accommodationist, and assimilationist. Severino defined the separatist stance as the
responder’s belief that the writer should not have to change to write in the language
patterns of the L2 culture; therefore, the responder focused on meaning in the text and
ignored formal differences of writing. The responders believed the writer has a right to
her own language and culture. The accommodationist stance is the belief that L2 speakers
can be both a part of the dominant culture and retain their own culture and language. The
responder allowed L2 speakers to retain their own writing styles while offering new
patterns of writing. It is the stance of compromise in which the best of both
cultures/languages can be appropriately used when writing. The assimilationist stance is
the belief that the L2 writer should blend into the American culture and should avoid any
features in writing that would mark the writer as an L2 writer. The responder marked all
37
errors or parts of the texts that would draw attention to the writer as an L2 speaker.
Severino noted that responders fall somewhere on the continuum of response stances, and
like Straub and Lunsford (1995), she noted that one stance is not better than another.
Furneaux et al. (2007) studied the stances assumed by 110 EFL teachers from five
different countries when responding to the same student essay. They identified six
teacher roles: initiator, supporter, advisor, suggester, provider, and mutator. The majority
of the teachers took either the provider role, in which they provided a correction for the
writer, or the initiator role, in which they alerted the writer to a problem but did not
provide a correction. Nationality did not have a big influence on the stance of the teacher
assumed when giving feedback. The majority of the feedback was focused on grammar.
Relationship between Teacher Feedback and Student Revisions
Studies have analyzed the relationship between teacher feedback and student
revisions. One very influential L1 study, which has L2 implications, is the case study by
Sperling and Freedman (1987) that examined the revisions of a high school student who
was regarded as both a “good girl” and a good writer. The study analyzed Lisa’s revisions
for her English teacher. Lisa was very successful in making revisions when the feedback
had been covered in class previously, but she failed to make revisions when comments
referred to issues that had not been covered in class. Lisa believed that she should
“always” accept the teacher’s feedback because the teacher is wiser than students (p.
356). Students like Lisa do not mind text appropriation because as Lisa stated, “I’m
writing for him actually” (p. 357). Sommers (1992) pointed out how students think they
must write “in the voice of Everystudent to an audience of Everyteacher” (p. 29). They
38
view writing as a formula that must be learned in order to please the teacher, and they
may think that there is just one correct way to write. Teachers are regarded as the
authority in writing, and students may lose their voice, or writing style, during the writing
process.
Similar to the findings of Sperling and Freedman (1987), Chapin and Terdal
(1990) found that students were compliant when they received feedback from their
teacher and made the suggested changes. They analyzed the feedback of five ESL writing
teachers to 15 ESL students to determine how the students revised their essay in response
to their teachers’ written comments. The students were interviewed after they revised
their essay to determine the reason for the changes they made. The researchers found that
students did not always understand teachers’ comments or why a change was needed, and
changes made by the students did not substantially improve the writing. Teachers’
comments would often appropriate meaning, as the teachers would make direct
corrections on the text, and the students would copy the corrections without
understanding them. Chapin and Terdal suggested that teachers initiate a dialogue with
students to encourage negotiation of meaning. They advised that teachers avoid directly
correcting errors as that leads to appropriation of students’ writing. Instead, teachers
should give students strategies for revision.
In a classroom study, Jenkins (1987) initiated a dialogue with her L1 students. To
give her students a voice, the researcher started a written dialogue with her students about
their papers and her comments. When her students would revise their papers, they would
include responses to her responses. Jenkins asked them to respond twice to her responses,
39
the second time a week later and without her comments in front of them. She found that
at first students found her comments vague and unclear. After she changed her
commenting style to reacting more as a reader, her students became more engaged in
their own writing. They thought more critically about the comments they received, and
they remembered them longer.
Researchers have examined whether the type of feedback that teachers give
students have an impact on student revisions. Fathman and Whalley (1990) studied 72
university ESL students to determine the effectiveness of different types of teacher
feedback. They divided the students into four groups: one group received no feedback,
another group received only feedback on grammar, a third group received only feedback
on content, and the last group received feedback on content and grammar. The original
drafts and the revised drafts were then scored for grammar and content. Findings revealed
that students made more improvement when feedback was given than when it was not.
All students, though, made improvements in content, even those students who did not get
content-specific teacher feedback. When content and form feedback were given at the
same time, the content in the revisions improved as much as when only content feedback
was given. Only the students who received grammar feedback showed improvement in
grammar. The findings imply that students can improve in content even when no content
feedback is given; however, students need grammar feedback in order to improve in
grammar. Feedback on content and grammar can be provided at the same time, and
students will pay attention to both types of feedback during the revision process. As
Ferris (2003b) argued, “[With ESL students] the distinction between “content” and
40
“form” may well be a false dichotomy, as content determines form, at least to some
extent, and faulty form can obscure meaning for a reader” (p. 23). Waiting until the end
of the writing process to give error feedback may be harmful for L2 students as it would
be keeping something from them that they need during the writing process.
Kepner (1991) also investigated the effects of content feedback and form
feedback on student writing. She studied 60 FL college students who were divided by
type of feedback received: error correction or message related. The students received
feedback on journal assignments. The students did not revise their journals; instead, after
receiving feedback on their journal, they were required to write another journal. Their 6th
journal was analyzed for errors and higher-level statement counts. Kepner found that
message-related feedback resulted in higher-level statement counts; however, error
corrections did not have an effect. The findings suggest that error correction does not
transfer to other assignments whereas feedback on content can be applied to other
assignments.
One method used by researchers to analyze student revisions is Faigley and
Witte’s (1981) taxonomy. The taxonomy distinguishes between revisions that are surface
changes--that is, they do not add or subtract information--and revisions that are meaning
changes--that is, they add or subtract content. The researchers considered revisions that
made meaning changes to be more successful than revisions that made surface changes.
Faigley and Witte tested their taxonomy on L1 writers by analyzing their revisions. The
study compared the revisions of inexperienced student writers, advanced student writers,
and expert adult writers. They found that inexperienced writers made mostly surface
41
changes while the advanced and expert writers made revisions of all types including
many meaning changes. They found that the revisions of the inexperienced writers were
less likely to improve their texts. One limitation of Faigley and Witte’s taxonomy is that
it does not take into consideration the effects of the changes made and how they improve
the text (Ferris, 2003b). Changes are assumed to be successful. Paulus (1999) used the
taxonomy by Faigley and Witte (1981) to analyze students’ revisions. She looked at 11
ESL university student essays to study the effect of peer and teacher feedback on student
writing. The teacher gave feedback on the second draft. She found that 57% of the
changes made were teacher influenced and 59% of these changes were meaning changes.
Revisions influenced by other sources resulted in more surface changes. The first and
third drafts of the essays were scored to reveal significant overall improvement.
Students have different strategies for how they approach revision, and whether the
student is a strong writer has a big impact on the strategy chosen. In a study of L1 writers,
Sommers (1980) examined the revision strategies of student writers and experienced
writers to discover the differences in how the two groups defined and approached
revision. The student writers were 20 university students and the experienced writers
were 20 adult writers comprised of journalists, editors, and academics. The subjects
wrote and then revised three essays. Revisions were categorized as deletion, substitution,
addition, and reordering. The student writers considered revision a “rewording activity”
and their revisions were at the word or sentence level (p. 381). The experienced writers
revised on a more global level focusing on the structure of their argument. Their revisions
were more reader-based. While all the writers made deletion and substitution changes,
42
the experienced writers made addition and reordering changes, which were not found in
the student revisions. The experienced writers viewed revision as an ongoing process.
Similarly to Sommers (1980), Ferris (2001) found a difference in the revisions of
“strong” and “weak” writers. She analyzed the revisions of eight university students (four
“strong” writers and four “average” or “weak” writers) to determine why some comments
are more useful than others and why students tend to ignore some teacher feedback (p.
305). The comments and revisions were categorized according to whether comments led
to effective revisions, ineffective revisions, or no revision. Ferris (2001) found comments
that asked for personal or textual information or that required simple changes were more
likely to lead to successful revisions. The comments concerning argumentation, student
logic, or asking for rhetorical or organizational changes were more likely to lead to
ineffective revisions. The strong writers made big changes to their papers while the weak
writers often ignored feedback or deleted problem sections noted in teacher feedback.
Another study that focused on poor writing was Porte’s (1997) study of underachieving
EFL writers. He found that the university students revised based on perceived teacher
preferences. The students stated in interviews that they thought “range of vocabulary”
and “content” were the most important areas to consider in their writing, but they thought
that their teachers were more concerned with “grammar” and “range of vocabulary” (p.
71). When revising, the students focused on neatness and correct grammar, rather than
content, as they assumed that is what the teacher preferred.
The type of teacher comment can have an impact on student revisions. Ferris
(1997) examined more than 1600 marginal and end comments written on 110 ESL
43
university students’ papers to determine how teacher comments affected student
revisions. Ferris found that marginal comments requesting information and summary
comments concerning grammar were most likely to lead to revisions. Longer, more
specific comments also led to more revisions. Questions and statements providing
information did not lead to as many revisions. Whether the comments contained hedges
or not did not seem to make a difference. Most changes were positive and improved the
papers. A limitation of the study is that it only looked at one teacher’s comments. Conrad
and Goldstein (1999) also wanted to determine what characteristics of teacher written
feedback are associated with successful revisions. They conducted a case study of three
ESL university students in which they analyzed how the teacher’s feedback impacted
revisions. They defined successful revisions as “those solving a problem or improving
upon a problem area discussed in the feedback, while being consistent with the writer’s
purpose, main point, and audience. Unsuccessful revisions were defined as those that did
not improve the text or that actually weakened the text” (p. 154). They looked at the
success of revisions based on different characteristics of teacher feedback such as
syntactic form, pragmatic content, directness, use of hedges, specification of a revision
strategy, and the type of problem to be revised. They found only one characteristic
associated with revision success: the type of problem to be revised. Students were more
likely to be unsuccessful when revising problems that required more explanation,
explicitness, and analysis.
Hyland (1998) also investigated writers’ use of teacher feedback in a case study
of six ESL writers. The students were in an English proficiency course at a university in
44
New Zealand; half of them were preparing for undergraduate studies and half of them
were preparing for postgraduate studies. Hyland (1998) reported that five of the students
used most of the usable feedback (86% to 94%) when they revised their drafts. There was
a close relationship between the feedback and the revisions, and the feedback sometimes
acted as a stimulus for additional revisions not requested. Students would sometimes
delete parts of the paper rather than make revisions, especially when they did not know
how to revise a section. Using data from her 1998 study, Hyland (2000) focused on two
students and how they used feedback in their subsequent revisions. The teacher of one of
the students requested that the student not get outside help on her writing, which resulted
in more revisions. However, the student remained frustrated that the teacher did not give
her the freedom to get help from someone other than the teacher. The other student had a
different focus than the teacher. He wanted to improve his vocabulary, so he appeared to
ignore teacher feedback that suggested he focus on form. Hyland (2000) found that
teachers’ requirements can take control away from the students, which can result in
student frustration.
Baker and Bricker (2010) also researched how teacher feedback influences the
revisions of university students. The researchers investigated both L1 and ESL students’
perceptions of direct and indirect teacher feedback to determine which type of feedback
was easier for the students to use effectively in the revision process. The participants read
two sample essays that contained teacher feedback to determine whether the comments
were praise or criticism and whether revision was required. The response times and
accuracy scores were calculated to determine if directness of feedback impacted how fast
45
students could identify whether the feedback was positive or negative and how accurate
they were in determining whether a correction was being requested. Students were faster
and more accurate at recognizing positive feedback regardless of whether the feedback
was direct or not. As for negative comments, students were faster and better able to
comprehend direct comments. The researchers concluded that it is difficult for L2
learners to understand indirect feedback. A limitation of the study is that it was conducted
in an artificial environment, and the students were not revising their own writing. As L2
learners may have more difficulty understanding indirect comments and comments that
request more development of ideas and textual analysis, teachers should devote class time
to explaining how to understand and use the comments.
Summary of Teacher Feedback
Research has shown that students view feedback from teachers positively and pay
attention to it. ESL and EFL teachers tend to focus their feedback on local issues, such as
grammar, even when they feel they should prioritize global issues. Students also want
feedback on content, style, and organization; therefore, teachers should make an effort to
provide feedback on both global and local issues. Feedback is more effective when
provided on intermediate drafts as students have the opportunity to respond directly to the
feedback (Ferris, 2003b). If writing teachers do not have time to respond to both
preliminary and final drafts, they should only give feedback on preliminary drafts since
students are more likely to pay attention to it and use it. Teachers display a stance when
providing feedback, which falls on a continuum that ranges from feedback that is
controlling to feedback that gives control to the writer, with most teachers falling
46
somewhere between the two extremes. Teacher feedback is intended to help students
achieve their purpose for a particular text. Teachers need to remember to focus on what
the student wants to say and not on what the teacher thinks the student should have
written. It is not disadvantageous for L2 students to receive feedback on content and form
on the same draft as they will pay attention to both error correction and content feedback
during the revision process. Students have difficulty with feedback that requests further
explanations, development of ideas, and textual analysis. More class time needs to be
devoted to helping students develop the skills to make effective changes during revision.
ESL students have more difficulty understanding indirect or mitigated comments;
however, mitigated feedback may be less controlling and require more critical thought
(Goldstein, 2004). Teachers may want to spend class time explaining how to understand
feedback such as indirect comments. Students, especially those who are considered poor
writers, will often delete parts of their text rather than trying to come up with a way to
revise it. If teachers require students to be accountable for the feedback they receive,
students will be less likely to delete parts of their writing that is difficult to revise.
Peer Feedback
With the implementation of peer review in the ESL/EFL composition classroom
becoming more common, the number of studies that have researched various aspects of
peer feedback have increased. Studies have addressed the following areas:
•
The advantages of peer feedback (de Guerrero & Villamil, 2000; Ferris, 2003b;
Mendonca & Johnson, 1994; Mittan, 1989; Tsui & Ng, 2000)
47
•
Students’ perceptions of peer feedback (Hyland, 2000; Jacobs, Curtis, Braine, &
Huang, 1998; Mendonca & Johnson, 1994; Tsui & Ng, 2000; Zhang, 1995)
•
Peer response stances when providing feedback (Lockhart & Ng, 1995a, 1995b;
Mangelsdorf & Schlumberger, 1992; Min, 2008; Nelson & Murphy, 1992;
Villamil & de Guerrero, 1996)
•
The effects of training on peer feedback (Berg, 1999; Min, 2006, 2008; Stanley,
1992)
•
The impact of peer feedback on subsequent drafts (Berg, 1999; Kamimura, 2006;
Mendonca & Johnson, 1994; Nelson & Murphy, 1993; Lundstrom & Baker,
2009)
•
How peer feedback compares to teacher feedback (Caulk, 1994; Chaudron, 1984;
Connor & Asenavage, 1994; Hedgcock & Lefkowitz, 1992; Miao, Badger, &
Zhen, 2006; Paulus, 1999; Tsui & Ng, 2000)
The studies’ findings point to peer feedback as an essential component of a writing
classroom.
Advantages of Peer Feedback
Teachers ask students to participate in peer feedback sessions as peer review
provides students with more feedback on their writing and promotes writer autonomy.
Tsui and Ng (2000) pointed out that peer feedback “[fosters] ownership of text” as
students evaluate feedback and determine whether to use it (p. 167). Students are likely to
accept teacher feedback without questioning it because the teacher holds a position of
authority as well as determines the students’ grades; students may not feel that they have
48
a choice in whether to accept the feedback (Mendonca & Johnson, 1994). With peer
feedback, there is mutual peer scaffolding, that is, peers help each other improve as they
work collaboratively to solve problems in their writing (de Guerrero & Villamil, 2000).
Vygotsky (1962) argued that cognitive development is a result of social interaction in
which an individual improves his or her competence through interacting with someone
who is more knowledgeable. Students work within their zones of proximal development
so that each person develops as a writer. In addition, peer feedback enhances the ability
of students to evaluate their own work. Students may find problems in their peers’ papers
that they could not originally find in their own thus raising their awareness of their own
problems. As a result of peer feedback, students will evaluate their own writing more
critically (Tsui & Ng, 2000). In addition, student writers gain confidence from reading
other students’ writing (Ferris, 2003b; Mittan, 1989). They discover that others also
experience difficulties in writing, and they gain confidence when they can point out
problems and give suggestions to their peers.
Students’ Reactions to Peer Feedback
Studies that have investigated L2 students’ reactions to peer feedback have found
that students value peer commentary and find it helpful, although it should not replace
teacher feedback. When Mendonca and Johnson (1994) surveyed 12 ESL graduate
students, they found that students felt that peer feedback was helpful as a peer could help
them understand what was clear in their writing and what needed to be revised. However,
Tsui and Ng (2000) found that students tend to trust their teacher’s feedback more than
their peers’ feedback. In Tsui and Ng’s survey of 27 students at a secondary school
49
(grades 12 and 13) in Hong Kong, students showed more confidence in their teacher’s
feedback, but they did think that peer feedback was useful. Another study in support of
teacher feedback is Zhang’s (1995) in which 94% of 81 ESL college and university
students studying in the United States chose teacher feedback over peer or self feedback.
However, the students preferred peer feedback to self feedback. Although Zhang’s study
is frequently referenced as an argument against peer feedback, he did state, “it should not
be misinterpreted to mean that peer feedback is detrimental to ESL writing or resented
among ESL learners. It may well be that all three types of feedback are beneficial,
although with varying degrees of appeal” (p. 219). He was not opposed to peer feedback
but rather was opposed to unquestioningly using L1 writing research, which supports the
use of peer feedback, to inform L2 writing.
Jacobs et al. (1998) criticized Zhang’s study for asking students to choose
between teacher feedback and other forms of feedback arguing that peer and teacher
feedback do not need to be mutually exclusive. In the study by Jacobs et al., students did
not choose between teacher and peer feedback; instead, they responded to whether they
liked to receive peer feedback. The researchers found that 93% of 121 university students
in Hong Kong and Taiwan preferred to receive peer feedback. Jacobs et al. gave an
example of what one student wrote, ‘“I have two eyes. Classmates and I have eight eyes.
So we can see more clear.”’ (p. 312). Some of the reasons given in favor of peer feedback
were that students got more ideas from their peers and their peers were able to find
problems in their papers. A study by Hyland (2000) found that 23 out of 25 ESL students
studying in a language course at a university in New Zealand rated peer feedback either
50
“very helpful,” “helpful,” or “sometimes helpful.” As Hyland looked at two different
classes, she noted that students in one class rated peer feedback worse after experiencing
it while the other class rated it higher. These findings indicate that the way peer feedback
is incorporated into a classroom will impact how helpful the students find it to be.
Peer Response Stances
Studies have shown that students have a dominant stance when giving feedback
and that the stance determines students’ commentary. In a study of 60 ESL freshmen
composition students, Mangelsdorf and Schlumberger (1992) explored what stances the
students took when they responded to an essay written by another ESL student. Using the
constant comparative method by Glaser (1969), they identified three categories of
stances: interpretive, prescriptive, and collaborative. They also provided a summary of
the characteristics of the stances (see Table 1). The interpretive stance was taken when
the reviewers rewrote the essay based on their own interpretation of the topic. Those
students who took a prescriptive stance wanted the essay to follow a formulaic pattern.
The students who took a collaborative stance tried to work with the author to help the
author achieve her purpose. The researchers categorized students’ stance based on the
dominant stance taken in their peer reviews with 27 taking a prescriptive stance, 19
taking a collaborative stance, and 14 taking an interpretive stance. As the interpretive
stance insisted on the reviewer’s purpose for the text, it was considered to be
appropriating the text. The researchers were surprised at the number of students who took
the interpretive stance as the prompt for the peer review asked for an evaluation of the
text rather than an interpretation. Those students who took a prescriptive stance focused
51
more on form than on meaning in the text. They seemed to view writing as either right or
wrong and in that sense were appropriating the form of the text. The students who took
the collaborative stance gave a reader’s perspective and gave suggestions that would help
the author achieve her goals. Mangelsdorf and Schlumberger found that those who took a
collaborative stance got a higher grade in the class than those who took a prescriptive or
interpretive stance. The researchers suggested that those students may have a greater
understanding of the rhetorical situation and the complexities of writing.
Table 1
Characteristics of Stance Categories (Mangelsdorf & Schlumberger, 1992, p. 247)
Interpretive Stance
Prescriptive Stance
Collaborative Stance
• interested in creation of
• prescriptive
• positions self with author
personal meaning
of prompt text
• tends to put form before
meaning
• puzzles out text.
• tries to see text through
author’s eyes
• “rewrites” for own
• has preconceived idea of
understanding
what essay should be
• does not try to change
author’s focus or
• distances self from author • functions as an editor
argument
• reacts to perceived
• sticks close to the text, no
• points out problems the
inaccuracies in content
“conversation” with it
hypothesized reader will
• uses text as prompt for
• identifies faults and/or
have
personal elaboration
fixes them
• makes suggestions to the
• certitude of tone
author
• does not impose form
In two later studies, Lockhart and Ng (1995a, 1995b) examined the stances that
Cantonese students took while giving oral peer feedback in a classroom setting. Using the
constant comparative method (Glaser, 1969) to analyze 27 and 32 transcripts
respectively, they discovered four categories: authoritative, interpretive, probing, and
collaborative. They defined the authoritative stance as one in which the reviewer
evaluated the text and gave her opinion on how the text should be changed. Those who
52
took the authoritative stance dominated the session. Those who took the interpretive
stance also evaluated the text, but they used the text as an opportunity to discuss ideas
that they found interesting. They also were inclined to dominate the peer review session.
The probing stance was defined as one in which the reviewer asked questions to
understand the writer’s text better. The reviewer was concerned with focusing on parts of
the text that she found confusing. The reviewer and writer spent an equal amount of time
talking during the sessions. Similarly, those who took the collaborative stance worked
with the writer to determine what the writer wanted to say. They were concerned about
the audience and the writer’s purpose. The authoritative responders summarized the essay
more than the other stances. They would point out the problems with the essay more than
other stances. Collaborators spent more time talking about ideas, audience, and purpose
of the texts.
In one of the researchers’ studies (Lockhart & Ng, 1995b), the authoritative stance
was the most frequent and used in 11 of the 32 sessions analyzed; the collaborative stance
was used in nine sessions, and the interpretive and probing stances were each used in six
sessions. In the other study (Lockhart & Ng, 1995a), the most frequent stances taken
were the authoritative and probing stances with nine reviewers each; six reviewers took
an interpretive stance and only three took a collaborative stance. The researchers found
that the reviewer’s stance affected the topic discussed and the type of interaction that the
peers had. They argued that the probing and collaborative stances provided more benefits
than the other two stances as they focused more on the writing process than on the
writing product. One limitation of the categories formed is that there did not seem to be a
53
clear distinction between the probing stance and the collaborative stance as the probing
stance could have been included in the collaborative stance category.
Unlike other studies that identified three to four categories of response stance,
Villamil and de Guerrero (1996) identified only two categories: collaborative and
noncollaborative. When students took the collaborative stance, they respected the
authorship of the writer. They tried to see the text through the eyes of the writer and
wanted to help the writer achieve her goals for the text. Those who took a
noncollaborative stance either tried to control the writing task or had no interest in
helping the writer at all. The researchers argued that appropriation of the text took place
when the reviewer took control over the writer’s text and when the writer surrendered her
rights as author of the text and gave up control of the text.
Benefits of Training in the Peer Feedback Process
Studies have shown that training students in how to give peer feedback is
beneficial, as students give better feedback after training. Stanley (1992) compared two
university writing classes for ESL students: one class got “extensive coaching” in how to
give feedback; the other class was used as a control and got minimal training in peer
feedback (p. 220). The total number of responses from the coached group was 623 but
only 137 for the group that was not coached; therefore, training led to substantially more
feedback. Also, the quality of the feedback was improved by training with the trained
students giving more specific feedback. Berg (1999) researched how the effects of
training impacted revision and writing quality. She looked at four writing classes at a
university-based English language program, two of which received training in peer
54
feedback and two that did not. She found that trained peer response had a positive effect
on revision as it led to more meaning changes and improved drafts. Likewise, Min (2005,
2006), in two studies of one EFL writing class at a university in Taiwan, found that after
training, students gave more feedback and more of the feedback given was incorporated
into the revisions (68% before training and 90% after training). The students’ revisions
were of higher quality, with 72% better after training as compared to 13% that were
better before training, thus leading to better overall papers.
In order to determine whether training would have an impact on the response
stance taken by students during peer review, Min (2008) compared the stances of 18 EFL
students before and after two months of peer review training. Analysis of the students’
written comments revealed four stances: probing, prescriptive, tutoring, and
collaborative. Before training, 59% of the students took a prescriptive stance, but the
percentage dropped to 17% after training. The percentage of students who adopted the
collaborative stance increased from 17% before training to 29% after training. Min
argued that students need training to change their response stance.
Impact of Peer Feedback on Subsequent Drafts
Researchers have found that peer commentary has a positive impact on
subsequent drafts. Nelson and Murphy (1993) selected four students from a university
ESL writing course to determine if the students used peer feedback in their revisions.
They found that the students did make changes based on peer feedback. Mendonca and
Johnson (1994) also found that ESL university students used peer feedback in 53% of
their revisions. Students chose not to incorporate feedback when they did not agree or
55
trust the feedback. Berg (1999) found that peer feedback had a positive effect on
revisions as students got higher TWE scores on their revised drafts. In a study of highproficient and low-proficient EFL students at a Japanese university, Kamimura (2006)
analyzed the effects of peer feedback on revisions. Essays were holistically scored to
make comparisons of the quality both before and after peer feedback influenced
revisions. Peer comments were also counted and categorized as form- or meaning-based.
She found that the overall quality of essays for both the low- and high-proficient students
improved after peer feedback. Most of the peer feedback was meaning-based: 91% for
the high-proficient students and 94% for the low-proficient students. Yet, there was a
difference in the type of feedback and how it was used with high-proficient students
giving more global feedback and making more substantial revisions and low-proficient
students giving more specific feedback and making local revisions. Although most
studies researched the effects of receiving feedback, Lundstrom and Baker (2009)
investigated whether it is more beneficial to give feedback or to receive feedback. They
divided 91 ESL students into two groups: one group gave peer feedback but did not
receive it while the other group received peer feedback but did not give it. The
researchers found that those who gave peer feedback improved their writing ability more
than those who received peer feedback. Lundstrom and Baker argued that students
transferred to their own writing what they learned while giving feedback to their peers,
which led to greater writing improvement.
56
Comparison between Peer Feedback and Teacher Feedback
Many studies have compared peer feedback and teacher feedback to determine
how each type of feedback impacts revisions. Feedback does not always have a positive
effect on revisions as shown in the study by Chaudron (1984). He looked at one
university class of ESL students’ revised essays to determine whether teacher feedback or
peer feedback helped them improve. On one essay, one half of the students received peer
feedback and the other half received teacher feedback, and on another essay, the groups
were reversed. All drafts and revised essays were given a score by evaluators. His study
found that students did not significantly improve from either teacher or peer feedback.
Other studies have shown that peer feedback has a positive impact and is different
from feedback given by a teacher. Hedgcock and Lefkowitz (1992) studied 30 FL
students who were taking French at a university in the United States to determine whether
students who received peer feedback produced better revisions than students who
received teacher feedback. They found that the students who received peer feedback got
higher scores in the areas of content, organization, and vocabulary on their revised papers
while the students who received teacher feedback got higher scores in grammar. This
may be a result of the peers focusing on global issues in their feedback while the teacher
focused more on local issues. Similar to the study by Hedgcock and Lefkowitz (1992),
Miao et al. (2006) compared two groups of students at a Chinese university: one group
received teacher feedback while the other group received peer feedback. They found that
students used more teacher feedback, with 90% of usable feedback being incorporated in
the revisions, than peer feedback, with 67% of usable feedback incorporated. However,
57
there were more meaning changes in the revisions from peer feedback whereas teacher
feedback led to more surface changes. Also, peer feedback revisions were evaluated to be
more successful than teacher feedback revisions, possibly because the students were able
to negotiate with their peers and therefore understood the feedback better. A third benefit
of peer feedback is that it led to more self-corrections: 16 as opposed to 5 from teacher
feedback.
In a case study of eight ESL university students, Connor and Asenavage (1994)
investigated the effects of peer feedback and teacher feedback on revisions. The students
were divided into two writing groups, which got the same treatment. Students got peer
feedback on their first draft and teacher feedback on their second draft. The drafts and
revised drafts were compared and the source of each revision was noted. Faigley and
Witt’s (1981) taxonomy was used to analyze the revisions. Students made both surface
changes and meaning changes as a result of peer feedback. The students who revised the
most had the greatest number of text-based changes while the students who made the
fewest revisions made more surface changes. Peer feedback led to more meaning changes
(70%) than teacher feedback (22%). Teacher feedback resulted in more surface changes.
Peer feedback only led to 5% of the total revisions; teacher feedback produced 35% of
the changes, and other feedback and self-feedback led to 60% of the revisions. The
results were not encouraging in support of peer feedback, although even teacher feedback
did not produce a majority of the revisions.
Paulus (1999) also used Faigley and Witt’s (1981) taxonomy to analyze 11 ESL
university students’ revisions after peer and teacher feedback. Her findings were more
58
positive in regards to peer feedback. Students got peer feedback on a first draft and
teacher feedback on a second draft. The source of each revision was traced to determine
if it was a result of teacher feedback, peer feedback, or some other source. Peer feedback
resulted in 14% of revisions, teacher feedback accounted for 34% of the revisions, and
52% were a result of other sources. Of the revisions influenced by peer feedback, 63%
were meaning changes. Overall, the students’ essays significantly improved as a result of
the feedback. Tsui and Ng’s (2000) study of EFL secondary students also examined both
peer and teacher comments to determine how the comments were used by the students.
They compared the revised drafts after both peer feedback and teacher feedback and
found that while feedback from the teacher resulted in more revisions, peer feedback also
led to revisions. Students trusted and incorporated the teacher’s feedback in their
revisions because of the authority and experience of the teacher. The students also felt
that peer feedback had a role to play, as their peers were more of a real audience.
Caulk (1994), in a classroom study at a university in Germany, found that her
feedback was different from the feedback her students gave each other. She compared the
students’ comments and her comments, which were made on the same draft. She
determined that 89% of students (25 of the 28) made good suggestions, and she also
noted that 60% of the students gave good suggestions not given by her. She found that
her comments were general whereas her students gave more specific feedback that was
closer to how a real reader would react.
59
Summary of Peer Feedback
Peer feedback offers advantages when incorporated as part of the writing process
as it increases audience awareness, gives more autonomy to writers, and enhances the
ability of writers to evaluate their own work. Research indicates that L2 learners view
peer feedback positively and find it beneficial; however, it is not a substitute for teacher
feedback. Peer feedback, which tends to focus on different areas than teacher feedback,
provides multiple perspectives for writers. Students take a stance when responding to
texts, and the stance determines what they comment on. Those students who took a
collaborative stance got higher grades in the class; therefore, the collaborative stance
appears to be a more beneficial stance for students to take (Mangelsdorf & Schlumberger,
1992). Training has an impact on the feedback students provide as students changed their
stance to a more collaborative stance (Min, 2008), gave more feedback (Min, 2005) and
better feedback (Min, 2006) after they received peer review training. Not only does peer
feedback lead to revisions, but it leads to meaning changes in revisions, which are
regarded as superior to surface changes. Most notable, the revisions resulting from peer
feedback improve the quality of the writing. As Ferris (2003b) summarized, “the
evidence is fairly consistent that ESL writers are able to give one another feedback that is
then utilized in revision and that is often helpful to them” (p. 86).
60
CHAPTER 3: RESEARCH METHODS
Researcher’s Role
After years of reading articles about teacher feedback and after trying different
feedback methods to determine which was the most helpful, I decided to conduct a
classroom study that would examine the feedback I gave to my students and the feedback
they gave to each other. I wanted to encourage students’ authorship of their own texts by
not taking control of the paper away from them; however, I also wanted to help them
write the strongest papers possible. My natural inclination had been to write direct
feedback that would instruct students in how to fix their papers. This conflicted with my
desire to avoid text appropriation, so I decided to experiment with my class and make an
effort to not give the students direct feedback, such as corrections, criticisms, or
commands. I wanted to make suggestions and ask questions rather than demand changes
in the student texts. My goal was to focus on what was confusing, what was missing,
what questions I had for the writer. The questions would place responsibility on the
writer to decide how to revise the paper. When providing error correction, I decided not
to take authorship away from the writer by crossing out words, rewriting sentences, or
editing the essay. Instead, I chose to use a highlighter to provide indirect error correction
on the first page of the essay to raise awareness of problems in grammar or mechanics in
the essay. I wanted the students to be able to find their own errors and correct them.
In addition to marginal comments, I also planned to write an end note to the
students at the end of their essays. The end note was intended to summarize the problems
in the essay and to suggest revision strategies. It was to be facilitative since the students
61
would be revising the rough drafts; even when the end note was written on the final
drafts, there was the possibility that the final draft would be revised as part of the
semester’s final assignment. I planned to mitigate my feedback in the end notes as I did
not want my feedback to sound like a command. In order to be less controlling, I wanted
to keep the feedback subjective by adding “I feel” or “I think” to my evaluative
comments. This way, the students would view the comment as one reader’s opinion
(albeit, the teacher’s) rather than a viewpoint held by “Everyteacher” (Sommers, 1992, p.
29). I intended the feedback to point out areas that could be revised without telling the
student what to do. Straub’s (1996) questions became my own every time I provided
feedback on an essay: “How much should I make decisions for the writer? How much
should I leave the student to figure out on his own? How much can I productively allow
the student to explore his own writing choices?...What kind of comments will be best for
this student, with this paper, at this time?” (p. 247).
Participants
It was the spring of 2013. The class I chose to study was a first-year English
composition course for international students at a southwest university. There were 22
ESL students enrolled in my class, which was the maximum number of students allowed
to enroll in an ESL composition course. The ESL composition course was equivalent to a
regular first-year composition course for L1 students and fulfilled the university’s
requirements for the first course in the composition sequence, a two-course sequence
required of all students. The class met 3 hours per week for 16 weeks. I asked my
students to complete a student information sheet (see Appendix B) I created so that I
62
could learn more about them. All of my students were either freshmen or sophomores at
the university, and they ranged in age from 18 to 24. Sixteen of the students were male
and six were female. The class was primarily composed of students from China, who
spoke Chinese as their native language. I also had one student from Samoa, one from
United Arab Emirates, and one from Kuwait. The students were advanced English
speakers as they had been studying English for many years. The mean length of time they
had been studying English was 8 years, 2 months, and the mean length of time they had
lived in an English-speaking country was 1 year, 9 months. I obtained permission from
the students to analyze their writing and peer comments for the study. Students were
under no obligation to participate; I asked another person in my department to pass out
and collect the permission forms when I was not in the room. As the instructor and
researcher, I did not know who had agreed to participate until after I had submitted final
grades. Twenty of my students agreed to participate in the study (see Table 2 for student
information).
63
Table 2
Participant Information
Name * Gender Age
Ai
Fang
Cheng
Jie
Liang
An
Jiao
Akram
F
F
M
M
M
M
F
M
19
23
20
19
20
20
24
21
Lan
F
18
Lutfi
M
21
Guo
M
20
Bao
F
21
Kang
M
23
Qiang
M
21
Tian
M
21
Shi
M
19
Hua
F
19
Hu
M
19
Song
M
21
Fetu
M
21
*Pseudonyms of students
Country
of origin
First
language
Chinese
Chinese
Chinese
Chinese
Chinese
Chinese
Chinese
Arabic
Years of
previous
English
study
9
10
9
5
8
6
9
5
Years of
residence in
English-speaking
country
0.5
1
2
1
2
0.5
3
3.5
China
China
China
China
China
China
China
United
Arab
Emirates
China
Kuwait
China
China
China
China
China
China
China
China
China
Samoa
Chinese
Arabic
Chinese
Chinese
Chinese
Chinese
Chinese
Chinese
Chinese
Chinese
Chinese
Samoan
8
14
8
10
3
10
5
10
7
10
12
5
1
3
1
1
2
3
1
1
1
2
0.5
5
Data Sources and Collection
English composition is a challenging course for students whose native language is
English; it is even more formidable for ESL students who are writing in an L2. The
course at the southwest university requires all students to complete four long writing
assignments. These assignments are not shortened for ESL students nor are the students
given extra time to write the essays. Students need to complete all requirements for the
64
course to pass it (see Appendix C for a syllabus of the course). Each long written
assignment, or essay, in my course was worth between 15-25% of the student’s grade. In
addition to the essays, students wrote 13 journal posts, which summarized and reflected
on the reading assignments. The essays were also based on the course reading
assignments. An essay was due at the end of each unit, with each unit lasting 4-5 weeks.
The first unit, at five weeks, was the longest in order to give me enough time in class to
prepare the students to write their first essay. The first two essays were Textual Analysis
essays (see Appendices D & E for the assignment sheets). I chose not to change the essay
type for the second essay as it is usually difficult for students to understand how to
analyze a text successfully when they write their first essay. They have a greater
understanding of the requirements of the assignment and what analysis looks like the
second time they write a Textual Analysis essay and, thus, are usually more successful at
it. For the first two Textual Analysis essay assignments, the students were expected to
choose one of the texts that we had reviewed in class and argue for an interpretation of
the text by analyzing how meaning is created through specific patterns and details in the
text. I included the following assignment goals in the assignment sheets (Appendices D &
E):
Demonstrate that you’ve read the text closely, carefully, and critically.
Show a critical awareness of the author’s choices and strategies.
Develop a clear, specific thesis that invites the readers to understand the text as
you do.
Analyze elements of the text that contribute to the overall meaning or effect.
Integrate textual evidence to support your thesis.
65
I spent class time teaching each of the elements necessary to write an essay that would
meet the required guidelines. I covered the following topics, among others: how to read a
text closely, how to write a thesis statement, how to organize a paragraph using “PIE”
(P = (main) point, I = illustration, E = explanation), how to analyze a text, and how to cite
sources.
The required length for each of the first two essays was 1000 words, and there
was a grade penalty for those students whose essay was under the required length. Rough
drafts, which were due a week before the final draft, were required to be a length of at
least 90% of the final draft if the students wanted full credit for completion of the rough
draft. The length requirement for the rough drafts was implemented to encourage students
to bring complete rough drafts to class in order to get more feedback from their peers and
from me. Students were not graded on the content of the rough draft but were instead
given a completion grade for submitting it on time and meeting length requirements.
The third writing assignment was a Contextual Analysis Essay with a length
requirement of 1300 words, making it the students’ longest essay. It was worth 25% of
the students’ grade. Students were to write an essay in which they argued for an
interpretation of a primary text (which was similar to what they were required to do for
their first two essays); in addition, they were to include at least two additional sources
that provided support for their interpretation of the primary text. The goals in the
assignment sheet (see Appendix F) for this essay were the same as for the first two
essays, with the addition of the following goal:
Smoothly incorporate research materials and correctly document them to support
your analysis.
66
The assignment sheet also included these guidelines to support the students in the writing
process:
•
You will need a unique way of viewing the text in conjunction with an in-depth
analysis of the text.
•
You will need to organize your essay in a typical academic manner (e.g., thesis
statement at the end of the introduction, PIE paragraphs).
•
You will need to find and use at least two additional texts that add to your
understanding of the primary text. These texts will introduce historical,
philosophical, theoretical, and/or biographical information that cast(s) the primary
source in a new light. These texts are not necessarily about the primary text.
Instead, they enrich your close reading of the primary text by adding new
contextual information. A dictionary does not count as an additional source.
Students had more difficulty with writing the Contextual Analysis Essay than the
previous two essays, which seemed to be due to the additional task of including two
sources and citing them accurately.
The students gave each other feedback on the rough drafts of each assignment.
Bell (1991) provided a guide for how to incorporate peer feedback in a classroom. As
suggested by Bell, I explained why I was making peer feedback part of the writing
process. ESL students who are concerned that they cannot learn anything useful from a
peer need to be convinced that it is a valuable activity. The students were more positive
about peer feedback after I listed the benefits as shown by research. I shared with my
students the findings of Lundstrom and Baker’s (2009) study, which showed that students
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benefit more from giving peer feedback than receiving it. This convinced the more
skeptical students that it would benefit them even if they were a better writer than their
peers. For the peer review activity, I divided my students into groups of three, as it was
the most time efficient way for the students to be able to provide feedback on two peers’
rough drafts during the class period. I randomly assigned students to a peer review group
by numbering them off and asking them to work with those who had the same number.
During the peer review sessions for the second and third essays, I made sure that they
were not in a group with someone whom they had already worked with since I wanted
them to get feedback from as many peers as possible. In order to motivate the students to
participate in the sessions, I gave them points for completing two peer reviews per essay.
Students brought three hard copies of their rough draft to class on peer review
days. They gave me one copy so that I could write feedback on it. Then, they handed out
the other two copies to the students in their group. I asked the students to write their name
on the essays they were reviewing so that their peers would know who had written the
feedback. They were given the entire 75-minute class period to provide feedback on their
peers’ essays. In most cases, this was enough time, but there were several students who
took their peers’ essays home to finish writing feedback on them. For the first peer
review session, students were given a peer feedback sheet (see Appendix G) to guide
them while they gave feedback to each other. The feedback sheet was modeled after a
peer review sheet from Connor and Asenavage’s (1994) study. The feedback sheet was
designed to encourage them to give collaborative feedback to each other. The directions
on the feedback sheet were as follows:
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Your purpose in answering these questions is to provide your classmate with an
honest and helpful response and to suggest ways to make his or her writing better.
Read the entire essay to get a general idea of what the writer has expressed, and
then respond to each of the following questions. Please give very specific
comments and refer to the essay by paragraph numbers. The main goal is to help
your classmate improve his or her essay.
The feedback sheet asked students to indicate what they liked best about the essay, what
parts of the essay were confusing, and what parts needed to be developed. It also
requested a short letter to the author. The students were not given the feedback sheet for
the second or third essay; however, I wrote the questions on the board so that the students
could reference them if they did not know what to focus on when reviewing their peers’
essays. The majority of the students did not answer the specific questions after the first
peer review session although they continued to include a letter to the author.
Although Hansen and Liu (2005) recommended that the teacher’s feedback not be
given on the same draft as the peers’ feedback since students tend to trust their teacher’s
feedback more and may ignore peers’ feedback, I provided feedback on the same draft.
There was not enough time in the semester for me to give feedback on a different draft,
but I did make the students accountable for the feedback that they received by asking for
a Cover Sheet. Ferris (1997) inspired its implementation in my study, as she suggested
the use of a “revise-and-resubmit letter” to encourage “thoughtful responses to feedback”
(p. 331). Since I knew that the students were likely to prioritize my feedback and pay
less attention to their peers’ feedback, I requested that the students explain in a Cover
69
Sheet why they chose to either incorporate or ignore the feedback given by their peers
(see Figure 1).
COVER SHEET
Review all the feedback that you received from your peers and your instructor.
Explain what actions you took in response to the feedback when you revised your essay.
List the feedback you received and then indicate if and how you used the feedback to
revise your essay. Clearly explain your response to each comment you received. If you
made a change in response to the feedback, discuss how you revised your essay. If you
decided not to make a change in response to a comment, discuss why you didn’t make a
change. You are not under any obligation to change your essay based on feedback you
have received. You are the author of the paper, so it is important that you make changes
that help you achieve your purpose for your paper. All changes should be marked on your
revised essay.
Figure 1. A copy of the Cover Sheet handout portraying the instructions the students
were given for how to complete a Cover Sheet.
The students were instructed to list all the feedback that they were given by me
and by their peers in the Cover Sheet; then, they were to state whether they made a
revision and if they chose not to make a revision, they were to give the reason why. The
Cover Sheet was to encourage students to think critically about all the feedback they had
received and to make a purposeful decision about whether to use the feedback or whether
to ignore it. Having to think about the feedback encouraged students to be more involved
in understanding their peers’ comments yet allowed them the option of not using the
feedback if they disagreed with it. I requested that the Cover Sheet be submitted with the
final draft of each essay and suggested that it be 200 words in length. I did not grade the
Cover Sheets.
During the semester, I made photocopies of the preliminary and revised drafts of
the three essay assignments, with feedback written on them, before I returned them to the
students. Students received my written feedback on two drafts of each of the first three
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essay assignments and peer written feedback on the rough drafts of the three essay
assignments (see Table 3). The fourth writing assignment was a Revision Essay, of either
Textual Analysis Essay 1 or Textual Analysis Essay 2, that was to be turned in along with
a Reflection Essay (see Appendix H). There was no feedback specifically provided for
this writing assignment since the students did not turn in rough drafts, and it was the final
exam for the course. The students were able to look at the feedback provided by me on
their final drafts, of either Textual Analysis Essay 1 or 2, when they wrote the Revision
Essay. The Reflection Essay requested that students explain the decisions they made
when revising either Textual Analysis Essay 1 or 2.
Table 3
Teacher and Peer Feedback Provided on Essay Assignments
Assignment
Teacher feedback
Peer feedback
Textual Analysis Essay 1, Received teacher feedback Received feedback from
rough draft
two peers
Textual Analysis Essay 1, Received teacher feedback
final draft
Textual Analysis Essay 2, Received teacher feedback Received feedback from
rough draft
two peers
Textual Analysis Essay 2, Received teacher feedback
final draft
Contextual Analysis
Received teacher feedback Received feedback from
Essay 3, rough draft
two peers
Contextual Analysis
Received teacher feedback
Essay 3, final draft
Revision Essay &
Reflection Essay
The students’ final drafts were not graded with a rubric; however, the students
were given a self-assessment worksheet to help them understand how they would be
evaluated and what they needed to include in their essays (see Appendix I). In addition,
their assignment sheets for Essays 1 and 2 included information about how they would be
71
evaluated (see Figure 2). If the students wanted to receive a good grade on an essay, the
essay needed to be well organized and include in-depth analysis of the chosen text.
Grading: When I evaluate your essay, I will consider your focus (thesis), analysis (how
well you explain and decipher your points), organization (how the pieces fit together),
strength of proof (persuasiveness), ingenuity (novelty of approach), rhetorical awareness
(the effectiveness of your essay given its context), style (tone/word choice), and
mechanics (grammar and spelling).
A C essay needs to have a title, an introduction, a conclusion, a discernible, debatable
thesis, and a coherent structure. The body paragraphs need to have at least minimal
discussion and examples. The essay needs to adhere to the assignment, meet the
minimum length requirement, and demonstrate an adequate use of mechanics.
A B essay needs to have a title that reflects the thesis, an organized introduction that has
a balanced length, a logical conclusion, a discernible, interesting, and manageable thesis,
a forecasting statement, a purposeful structure that is easy for readers to follow, multiple
examples and associated analysis (PIE paragraphs), appropriate tone and style, a fairly
accurate use of mechanics, and a mix of sentence structures. The essay also needs to
match the assignment and meet the medium length requirement.
An A essay needs to have an unusual but logical title, a balanced and organized
introduction that engages readers in your topic, an innovative thesis that is debatable and
manageable, a forecasting statement, a purposeful structure that is crystal clear, in-depth
analysis in the form of extended PIE paragraphs, an accurate use of mechanics, a mix of
sentence structures, and accurate, college-level vocabulary. Your essay also needs to
match or stretch beyond the assignment and demonstrate a deliberate and appropriate
use of tone and style.
A D essay fails to satisfy one or more expectations for a C essay. An E essay
misinterprets the assignment or the depth thereof or is riddled with errors.
Figure 2. An excerpt from the assignment sheet of Essays 1 and 2 portraying how student
were to be evaluated.
I created three similar questionnaires (see Appendices J, K, L) for the students to
complete in class on the day they submitted the final draft of each essay, with each
questionnaire adjusted for the specific essay it was following. I wanted the students to
complete the questionnaires as soon after they had received the feedback as possible so
72
that the information would be still be fresh in their minds. When designing the
questionnaire, I included some questions used by Hedgcock and Lefkowitz (1994) and
Hyland (1998) in their surveys. Each questionnaire contained open-ended questions about
the feedback and revision process. Although there were more questions on the
questionnaire, I focused on the students’ answers to the following questions:
•
Did you find your peers’ feedback to be helpful? If yes, what comments were
particularly helpful (please provide examples)? If no, why did you not find the
feedback helpful and what comments were particularly unhelpful (please provide
examples)?
•
What comments from your instructor did you find most helpful? (Please provide
examples.)
•
What comments from your instructor did you find confusing or difficult to
understand? (Please provide examples.)
•
Why were the comments confusing or difficult to understand?
•
What did you do when you did not understand a comment?
I used the questionnaires to better understand the students’ reactions to the feedback they
were receiving. I wanted to determine if certain types of comments were particularly
helpful or unhelpful. I chose to use open-ended questions so that I could get more specific
answers from the students. I stated in the questionnaire that I wanted their answer to be as
specific as possible; however, the students tended to rush through the questionnaires and
did not always provide me with detailed information. They were also hesitant to state
which of my comments they had found confusing or difficult to understand, and many of
73
them stated that none of my comments were confusing. Since the students put their
names on the questionnaires, I suspect that they were not as critical about the instructor
feedback as they may have been if the questionnaires were anonymous.
The data that I collected for this study included all of my teacher feedback written
on 111 student essays, all of the peer feedback written on 97 student essays, the Cover
Sheets included with the final drafts of the first three essays, and the questionnaires
completed after each of the first three essays (see Table 4).
Table 4
Data Collected for Study
Sources of Data
Teacher feedback
Teacher comments
Peer feedback
Peer comments
Cover Sheets
Questionnaires
Quantity
55 rough drafts
56 final drafts
978 marginal comments
366 end comments
97 rough drafts
499 marginal comments
435 end comments
53 Cover Sheets
56 questionnaires
Data Analysis
The study was longitudinal in that I tracked the feedback given over the course of
the semester. While I read through my feedback and the students’ feedback on the
students’ essays, I numbered each marginal and end comment on the paper. As Ferris
(1997) pointed out, it can be a challenge to determine where one comment ends and
another begins since the comments do not always break down based on phrases or
sentences. Analogous to what Ferris (1997) did in her study, I separated comments based
74
on the intention of the comment. For example, the following comment is one sentence but
had two different intentions: “This paragraph has many ideas, and it is not focused on
proving the thesis.” I analyzed it as containing two comments: one pointing out the
multiple ideas in the paragraph and the other addressing the lack of focus on proving the
thesis. In many instances, a comment made in the margin would be repeated in the end
comments. In those instances, I counted the comment twice: once for its appearance in
the margin and another time for its appearance in the end comment as I had separated
marginal and end comments. Usually, the end comments were different from the
marginal comments and were more summative, so I felt as if I needed to consider them
separately.
After I had numbered each separate marginal and end comment for each rough
and final draft, I needed a method to categorize the comments. I found that the categories
used by Straub and Lunsford (1995) most closely aligned with what I found in my own
data. I modified their categories to conform to my study and used the following
categories: corrections, criticisms, commands, praise, qualified evaluations, advice,
questions, and reflective statements. I also used Straub and Lunsford’s definitions to
determine which comments belonged in each category. Table 5 sets out the categories I
used in my study, a definition of each category (Straub & Lunsford, 1995, pp. 167-170),
and examples from my feedback.
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Table 5
Comment Categories, Definitions, and Examples
Type of comment Definition
Correction
A change was made on the paper.
Criticism
Command
Praise
Qualified
evaluation
Advice
Question
Reflective
statement
Example
“Works Cited” [added
to text]
The comment appears to be a general
“This isn’t text
criticism about the writing.
analysis.”
The comment requests a change usually
“The essay should prove
either with a command or a statement that your thesis.”
indicates that there is no choice for the
author.
Anything positive about the writing even “This is nicely
words such as “yes.”
organized.”
The comment criticizes the paper but
“I feel like there are too
qualifies the criticism showing it’s the
many different ideas in
reader’s view of the writing—not
this paragraph.”
necessarily everyone’s view.
The comment recommends a change or
“I’d like to see more of
suggests a change but leaves some choice a focus on analysis.”
up to the reader.
The comment uses a question to indicate “Is this the main idea of
a problem in the text. The questions don’t the paragraph?”
ask for a change directly but indirectly
drew attention to something that isn’t
working.
The comment presents a reader response
“Wow! You have an
to what has been written in the text.
interesting idea of the
mother being nonhuman!”
Similar to what Straub and Lunsford (1995) did in their study, after I had
established the categories, I analyzed each comment given both in the margins and at the
end to determine what type of comment it was. I used the constant comparative method
(Glaser, 1969) when deciding which category the comment belonged to. I compared
comments that I had already categorized with comments that I was attempting to
categorize to make sure that all the comments in the same category had the same
characteristics. For several comments, I had difficulty in deciding if the comment should
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be categorized as a criticism, a command, or advice. For example, in one student’s essay,
I wrote the following comment in the margin: “This essay should focus on just the short
story.” I had to determine whether I was criticizing the inclusion of other information in
the student’s essay, commanding the student to only include information about the short
story, or suggesting that the student change the text. I went back to the definitions of the
categories to make my final decision on the comment’s category. As the comment was
requesting a change, albeit, indirectly, and as the wording, “should,” does not suggest this
is optional, I categorized it as a command. Initially, I also had difficulty categorizing my
comment “page#” as I wrote it in the right hand corner of the paper to remind students to
include page numbers. I often included this comment on the first page of student papers. I
decided it was a command as it was not optional. For some students, I wrote “page#?”
and included a question mark. In those instances, it was considered a question as the
question mark softened the command. When I was in doubt about how I had categorized
a comment, I would check the other comments in that category to make sure that they
shared the same traits. Almost one year after I categorized each comment, I categorized
each comment again to ensure that I agreed with my earlier decisions. Intrarater
reliability was .94, which allowed me to feel confident in my analysis.
After I had categorized each comment, I had to decide which stance each
comment category represented. As my goal was to determine whether the stance I had
taken in giving feedback was appropriative and as the collaborative stance is not
considered to be appropriative, I wanted to discover if my comments and the students’
comments could be categorized as collaborative or not. Studies by Mangelsdorf and
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Schlumberger (1992), Lockhart and Ng (1995a, 1995b), Villamil and de Guerrero (1996),
and Min (2008) all included the collaborative stance as one of their stance categories.
Like Villamil and de Guerrero (1996) did in their study, I decided to consider two
categories of stance--collaborative and noncollaborative--as part of my focus was to learn
whether I assumed the collaborative stance. While those who take the collaborative
stance work with the author to help the author achieve her purpose for the text, those who
take the noncollaborative stance try to control the writing task and achieve their purpose
for the text. I adapted the characteristics of stances used by Mangelsdorf and
Schlumberger (1992, p. 247) when determining the characteristics of the collaborative
and noncollaborative stances (see Table 6).
Table 6
Characteristics of Stances (Adapted from Mangelsdorf & Schlumberger, 1992, p. 247)
Collaborative
Noncollaborative
•
•
•
•
•
•
Positions self with author of text
Tries to see text through author’s
eyes
Does not try to change author’s
focus or argument
Points out problems the reader will
have
Makes suggestions to the author
Does not impose form
•
•
•
•
•
•
Distances self from author
Interested in creation of personal
meaning
Has preconceived idea of what
essay should be
Reacts to perceived inaccuracies in
content
Identifies faults and/or fixes them
Tends to put form before meaning
As the noncollaborative stance is taken when the reviewer tries to control the
writing task and as Straub (1996, 1997) listed criticisms, commands, and corrections as
the most controlling types of comments, they represent the noncollaborative stance in my
study (see Table 7). When taking a noncollaborative stance, the reviewer requests that the
author make changes to the text based on what the reviewer views as correct. The
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reviewer has preconceived ideas of what an essay should be and identifies faults. The
comments stick close to the text, and there is no conversation with the text.
Since qualified evaluations, advice, praise, questions, and reflective comments are
less controlling and because those types of comments are more likely a result of the
reviewer leaving the choice of how and whether to make a change up to the author, they
represent the collaborative stance (see Table 7). The reviewer suggests changes that she
considers will improve the text, but she leaves the choice of whether to make the changes
or how to make the changes up to the author. The reviewer reacts to perceived
inaccuracies in content, but comments are hedged and responsibility for the text is placed
on the writer. The reviewer tries to help the writer meet the assignment guidelines
without dictating what the writer must do. While the comments point out problems a
reader might have with the text, they are qualified evaluations (e.g., uses “I think”/ “I
feel”) and criticisms are mitigated. The reviewer uses questions to prompt change.
Comments provide a direction for the writer by suggesting changes while allowing the
writer control over making changes.
Table 7
Comment and Stance Categories
Comment categories
Correction
Criticism
Command
Qualified evaluation
Advice
Praise
Question
Reflective comment
Stance
Noncollaborative
Collaborative
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Lastly, I took a qualitative approach in my analysis of 53 Cover Sheets and 56
questionnaires that had been completed by the students. I read the Cover Sheets and
questionnaires and looked for instances of critical evaluation of the feedback they
received, either from me or from their peers, in both the use of feedback and the rejection
of feedback. I wanted to discover the ways they demonstrated authorship in their
response to the feedback. I found that I could separate the respondents into three
categories: Acceptors, Semi-evaluators, and Evaluators. These categories are adapted
from those used by Radecki and Swales (1988) in their study, in which students were
categorized as Receptors, Semi-resistors, or Resistors based on their openness to teacher
feedback and their willingness to revise their writing. Whereas Radecki and Swales used
a questionnaire given early in the semester to determine the students’ feedback and
revision preferences, I placed students into categories based on their responses in their
Cover Sheets and questionnaires. As revealed in their Cover Sheets, the Acceptors
appeared to accept all feedback they received from me and from their peers without
evaluation of the feedback. They did not critically engage with the feedback; instead,
they simply made the changes suggested. The Semi-evaluators accepted my feedback
without questioning it; however, they evaluated the feedback that they received from
their peers. The Evaluators evaluated the feedback that they received from me and from
their peers. They determined whether to accept or reject the feedback dependent on
whether it helped them revise their paper.
The questionnaires were helpful in providing additional information regarding the
students’ opinions about the peer feedback and teacher feedback that they had received.
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For example, they were beneficial when it was difficult to determine whether a student
had evaluated the feedback received from peers. One of the students only addressed the
feedback that he received from me in his Cover Sheets. I could not deduce whether he
had evaluated the feedback he had received from his peers until I saw his questionnaires,
in which he stated that he did not trust his peers’ feedback. As he had evaluated his peers’
feedback as untrustworthy and therefore did not accept it, I categorized him as a Semievaluator. The Semi-evaluators and the Evaluators demonstrated ownership of their text
through their critical evaluation of the feedback that they received.
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CHAPTER 4: RESEARCH FINDINGS
While research has found that teacher and peer feedback are beneficial to
students, it has also found that teachers can appropriate students’ texts in their feedback,
taking away authorship in the process (Brannon & Knoblauch, 1982; Goldstein, 2004).
As the response stance taken when providing feedback is a determiner of the level of
control the feedback conveys (Straub & Lunsford, 1995), I set out to investigate the
stance that I took while providing written feedback to my ESL composition students and
the stances that the students took while writing feedback to each other. Inasmuch as my
goal was to avoid text appropriation, I wanted to learn if I was successful in taking a less
controlling stance in the feedback that I gave to my students. In addition, I wanted to
discover whether the stances my students took while giving feedback would change over
the course of the semester. Further, I examined the responses of the students to the
feedback since I wanted to determine if my students thought critically about the feedback
they had received. The students demonstrated critical evaluation of the feedback when
they felt comfortable ignoring or rejecting the feedback that did not help them achieve
their purpose and when they scrutinized the feedback that they decided to accept. In order
to understand my students’ response to the feedback, I analyzed their Cover Sheets and
questionnaires looking for instances of evaluation of the feedback received.
Teacher Feedback Stance
In order to determine the type of feedback that I had given my students on their
rough and final drafts for each essay assignment, I examined the comments written on
each student essay. I calculated the number of comments written for each essay
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assignment, both rough drafts and final drafts. I separated the marginal and end
comments for the reason that I tended to give different types of feedback in the margins
and at the end of the paper. The total number of comments I wrote amounted to 978
marginal comments and 366 end comments. The majority of my feedback was given in
the margins while the end comments were quite short. I provided the most feedback on
the rough drafts of Essays 2 and 3 because the students were to revise them; thus, I
expected that they would pay attention to the feedback. I provided the least feedback on
Essay 3, final draft, as they would not be given the opportunity to revise it (see Figure 3).
Teacher Feedback
Number of Comments
400
350
300
250
200
150
100
50
0
Essay 1,
rough
draft
Essay 1,
final draft
Essay 2,
rough
draft
Essay 2,
final draft
Essay 3,
rough
draft
Essay 3,
final draft
End comments
76
49
75
53
61
52
Marginal comments
89
138
288
150
276
37
Figure 3. Bar graph depicting the number of marginal and end comments that I wrote for
each essay assignment.
I provided handwritten comments on each student essay (see Figure 4). When
giving feedback, my goal had been to avoid controlling feedback, so I primarily asked
questions in my marginal comments and then provided an end note summarizing my
advice or the revision of the essay.
83
84
85
86
Figure 4. A copy of Ai’s Textual Analysis Essay 2, rough draft displaying my feedback
on it. *Pseudonym of student
87
In order to analyze the comments, I had to determine the category of each
comment I had written on each student essay. I examined the marginal and end comments
and then categorized each comment based on the same categorizations and definitions
used by Straub and Lunsford (1995). The categorization of each comment written on the
student essay (see Figure 4) and an explanation of the reason for the categorization is
shown in Table 8.
Table 8
Categorization of Comments
Marginal Comments
Categorization
“Page #?”
Question
“This doesn’t sound
like a question”
Qualified
evaluation
“It is nice to include a
short summary of the
text in the intro.”
“Who is the author?”
Advice
“Who are you talking
about?”
“analysis is not
discussing what
should have
happened”
Question
Question
Criticism
Explanation
When I wrote the comment without a question
mark, I considered it a command, but when I
included the question mark, it changed from a
command to a question. The question mark
softens the request, and the request appears to
be optional. I only wrote the comment on the
first page, but I expected the student would
add page numbers for the entire essay.
Students frequently left off the page numbers
on their rough draft, so this was a actually a
reminder.
This comment is a qualified evaluation as I
used the word “sound,” which softened the
criticism and made it appear to be my own
personal opinion.
This comment suggests a change, but the
choice is left up to the writer.
I used a question to point out that it is
important to include the name of the author.
I used a question to draw attention to the need
to include names.
I felt that this comment could be considered
either a criticism of the student’s analysis or
advice about what to avoid. I chose to
categorize the comment as criticism since I
was pointing out a negative in the student’s
paper.
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End comments
“Ai, As I was reading
your essay, I felt like
you were trying to
teach a lesson rather
than analyze a text.”
Categorization
Qualified
evaluation
“I feel like there are
some very important
parts of the text that
aren’t even
mentioned such as the
relationship between
the daughter and the
father.”
“To me, this text is
not about a
marriage.”
“See if you can find
the message”
Qualified
evaluation
Explanation
This comment is a qualified evaluation as it
includes the words “I” and “felt” in discussing
a problem in the text. I wanted to make sure
that Ai knew that this feedback was my
personal opinion rather than a general
criticism of the text.
I began the comment stating “I feel” and then
referred to a problem in the essay.
Qualified
evaluation
I started the comment by stating that it was
my opinion.
Advice
“and then focus on
analysis of the text.”
Advice
“Good job organizing
the information.”
“Sonja”
Praise
I recommended a change to the author but left
the choice up to her with my use of the words
“See if.”
This comment was a continuation of the
previous one, so the “See if” also refers to this
comment.
This comment was something positive that I
noticed about the paper.
I ended the note with my name to make the
note seem personal; also, including my name
indicates the note is subjective.
The comments that I categorized as corrections, criticisms, and commands were
more controlling comments and thus were classified as demonstrative of the
noncollaborative stance. The remaining categories of comments, consisting of qualified
evaluations, advice, praise, questions, and reflective comments, were less controlling
comments that communicated a collaborative stance. In order to determine if my stance
changed dependent on location of the comments, marginal or end, or assignment type, I
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calculated the results for marginal and end comments separately and for the rough drafts
and final drafts of each essay assignment.
Textual Analysis Essay 1 Feedback, Rough and Final Drafts
I analyzed the feedback written on 15 rough drafts of Textual Analysis Essay 1, as
only 15 students returned their rough drafts to me for analysis. On those drafts, I wrote 89
marginal comments and 76 end comments (see Table 9). The majority of my marginal
comments were questions, with the questions asked in my attempt not to be controlling in
my feedback. I did not write any questions in the end comments; instead, the majority of
the end comments were qualified evaluations and advice. In the marginal comments,
there were only four comments that were corrections, which is not surprising considering
my goal was to avoid the type of comment that is considered the most controlling, that is,
corrections (Straub, 1996). The corrections in my feedback were instances when I
inserted missing information, such as “Works Cited” on the page listing the sources used
in the essay. More than 11% of my marginal comments and almost 20% of my end
comments were commands, which are controlling; however, the majority of my
comments in both margins and the end were less controlling. The stance I took in my
feedback was collaborative with 73% of my marginal and end comments considered
collaborative.
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Table 9
Teacher Commentary on Textual Analysis Essay 1, Rough Draft
Marginal
Marginal
End
comments: comments: comments:
Number
age
Number
Noncollaborative stance
Correction
4
4.5%
0
Criticism
10
11.2%
5
Command
10
11.2%
15
Subtotal
24
26.9%
20
Collaborative stance
Qualified
7
7.9%
21
evaluation
Advice
7
7.9%
22
Praise
1
1.1%
12
Question
50
56.2%
0
Reflective
0
0.0%
1
comment
Subtotal
65
73.1%
56
Total
89
100%
76
End
comments:
Percentage
0.0%
6.7%
19.7%
26.4%
27.6%
28.9%
15.8%
0.0%
1.3%
73.6%
100%
I wrote feedback on 19 final drafts of Textual Analysis Essay 1, with a total of
138 marginal comments and 49 end comments (see Table 10). In the end comments, I
only asked one question, as my questions were usually intended to indicate specific
places in the essay where information was missing, thus, they worked better in the
margins. I used the end comments to give advice and an overview of any problems that I
found in the essay. I also used the end comments to praise the parts of the essay that I
found to be successful. The marginal comments were more specific while the end
comments required the student to think of the essay as a whole. As in the rough drafts, I
assumed the collaborative stance in my feedback for the final drafts; however, the
percentage of collaborative feedback was higher with more qualified evaluations and
advice in my marginal comments and more praise in my marginal and end comments.
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Table 10
Teacher Commentary on Textual Analysis Essay 1, Final Draft
Marginal
Marginal
End
comments: comments: comments:
Number
Percentage Number
Noncollaborative stance
Correction
0
0.0%
0
Criticism
24
17.4%
4
Command
11
8.0%
3
Subtotal
35
25.4%
7
Collaborative stance
Qualified
19
13.8%
4
evaluation
Advice
17
12.3%
14
Praise
13
9.4%
23
Question
54
39.1%
1
Reflective
0
0.0%
0
comment
Subtotal
103
74.6%
42
Total
138
100%
49
End
comments:
Percentage
0.0%
8.2%
6.1%
14.3%
8.2%
28.6%
46.9%
2.0%
0.0%
85.7%
100%
Textual Analysis Essay 2 Feedback, Rough and Final Drafts
The essay for which I provided the most feedback was the rough draft of Textual
Analysis Essay 2. I wrote feedback on 20 student essays. The increase in feedback was
due to an increase in marginal comments, as I wrote 288 marginal comments and 75 end
comments (see Table 11). Although I assumed the collaborative stance for the rough draft
of Essay 2, the percentage of collaborative feedback was not as high as it was for Essay
1, with a higher percentage of criticism in the feedback.
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Table 11
Teacher Commentary on Textual Analysis Essay 2, Rough Draft
Marginal
Marginal
End
comments: comments: comments:
Number
Percentage Number
Noncollaborative stance
Correction
1
0.3%
0
Criticism
54
18.8%
16
Command
34
11.8%
7
Subtotal
89
30.9%
23
Collaborative stance
Qualified
41
14.2%
17
evaluation
Advice
26
9.0%
20
Praise
6
2.1%
13
Question
126
43.8%
2
Reflective
0
0.0%
0
comment
Subtotal
199
69.1%
52
Total
288
100%
75
End
comments:
Percentage
0.0%
21.3%
9.3%
30.6%
22.7%
26.7%
17.3%
2.7%
0.0%
69.4%
100%
I provided feedback on 19 final drafts of Textual Analysis Essay 2, with a sum of
150 marginal comments and 53 end comments (see Table 12). I assumed the
collaborative stance in my marginal and end comments. There are differences in the
feedback I provided for Textual Analysis Essay 1 and the feedback for Textual Analysis
Essay 2. I wrote a higher percentage of critical comments in the rough drafts of Textual
Analysis Essay 2 than in the rough drafts of Textual Analysis Essay 1; however, I wrote a
lower percentage of critical comments in the final drafts of Textual Analysis Essay 2
when compared to Textual Analysis Essay 1. In the final drafts of Textual Analysis Essay
2, I wrote a higher percentage of qualified evaluations in the end comments when
compared to Textual Analysis Essay 1. I assumed a higher collaborative stance in my end
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comments for Textual Analysis Essay 2 than in any other essay, with more than 96% of
my comments as collaborative.
Table 12
Teacher Commentary on Textual Analysis Essay 2, Final Draft
Marginal
Marginal
End
comments: comments: comments:
Number
Percentage Number
Noncollaborative stance
Correction
2
1.3%
0
Criticism
22
14.7%
1
Command
16
10.7%
1
Subtotal
40
26.7%
2
Collaborative stance
Qualified
14
9.3%
14
evaluation
Advice
14
9.3%
11
Praise
22
14.7%
26
Question
60
40.0%
0
Reflective
0
0.0%
0
comment
Subtotal
110
73.3%
51
Total
150
100%
53
End
comments:
Percentage
0.0%
1.9%
1.9%
3.8%
26.4%
20.8%
49.0%
0.0%
0.0%
96.2%
100%
Contextual Analysis Essay 3 Feedback, Rough and Final Drafts
The students had additional requirements for Contextual Analysis Essay 3, which
required the use of two additional sources and a higher word count. This was a more
challenging essay for them to write, yet I provided less feedback (albeit, only a little less)
than I had provided for their Textual Analysis Essay 2, rough draft. I wrote 276 marginal
comments and 61 end comments for 20 essays (see Table 13). I wrote a higher percentage
of commands on this rough draft than I had on previous rough drafts, with most of the
commands addressing citation issues. I used commands because there is less chance of
misunderstanding the comment, and it was important that the students understand the
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topic of citation when writing their final draft. Students had difficulty with in-text
citations, and the difficulty continued when they wrote their final drafts. Similar to the
first two essay assignments, I took a collaborative stance in my marginal and end
comments.
Table 13
Teacher Commentary on Contextual Analysis Essay 3, Rough Draft
Marginal
Marginal
End
comments: comments: comments:
Number
Percentage Number
Noncollaborative stance
Correction
1
0.4%
0
Criticism
32
11.6%
5
Command
57
20.7%
12
Subtotal
90
32.7%
17
Collaborative stance
Qualified
31
11.2%
9
evaluation
Advice
29
10.5%
22
Praise
10
3.6%
12
Question
116
42.0%
1
Reflective
0
0.0%
0
comment
Subtotal
186
67.3%
44
Total
276
100%
61
End
comments:
Percentage
0.0%
8.2%
19.7%
27.9%
14.7%
36.1%
19.7%
1.6%
0.0%
72.1%
100%
I wrote feedback on 18 final drafts of Contextual Analysis Essay 3. Since the
students would not be rewriting the final draft of Essay 3, I wrote the fewest comments
on this essay: 37 marginal comments and 52 end comments (see Table 14). Unlike for
previous essays, I did not write many marginal comments, and the majority of those
comments were commands. Many of the commands dealt with citation of the additional
sources, which was still a challenge for the students. This essay was the only essay for
which I wrote more end comments, with the end comments providing summative
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feedback. While I assumed the collaborative stance in the end comments for the final
draft of the essay, I assumed a noncollaborative stance in the marginal comments. It was
a surprise to discover that I had taken a noncollaborative stance, especially since it was
my goal to avoid controlling comments. However, as I had written a higher percentage of
commands and a lower percentage of questions than in previous essays, the feedback was
less collaborative.
Table 14
Teacher Commentary on Contextual Analysis Essay 3, Final Draft
Marginal
Marginal
End
comments: comments: comments:
Number
Percentage Number
Noncollaborative stance
Correction
0
0.0%
0
Criticism
4
10.8%
5
Command
17
46.0%
1
Subtotal
21
56.8%
6
Collaborative stance
Qualified
3
8.1%
6
evaluation
Advice
4
10.8%
8
Praise
3
8.1%
30
Question
6
16.2%
1
Reflective
0
0.0%
1
comment
Subtotal
16
43.2%
46
Total
37
100%
52
End
comments:
Percentage
0.0%
9.6%
1.9%
11.5%
11.5%
15.5%
57.7%
1.9%
1.9%
88.5%
100%
Research Question #1
1. What stance did I, as an instructor, take toward the students and their texts when
giving written feedback? Did my stance change over the course of the semester?
My first research question asked what stance I assumed in the written feedback
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that I had provided. I had set out to avoid text appropriation when giving feedback to my
students by writing less controlling comments. On the continuum of control, the
collaborative stance is less controlling than the noncollaborative stance. When I analyzed
the comments, I separated the marginal and end comments to determine whether I
assumed a different stance dependent on where my comments appeared. My marginal
and end comments were primarily different, as I wrote more questions in the marginal
comments and more advice and praise in the end comments. Nevertheless, I found that I
took the collaborative stance for both marginal and end comments for the first two
Textual Analysis Essays. For the first Textual Analysis Essay, I assumed the
collaborative stance more than 73% of the time (see Figure 5).
Teacher Feedback Stance
90
80
Percentage
70
60
Essay 1, rough draft, marginal
50
Essay 1, rough draft, end
40
Essay 1, final draft, marginal
30
Essay 1, final draft, end
20
10
0
Collaborative
Noncollaborative
Figure 5. Bar graph depicting my feedback stance for the rough and final drafts of
Textual Analysis Essay 1.
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Similarly, for Textual Analysis Essay 2, I took the collaborative stance at least 69% of
the time, with a high of 96% in my end comments for the final draft (see Figure 6).
Teacher Feedback Stance
120
Percentage
100
80
Essay 2, rough draft, marginal
Essay 2, rough draft, end
60
Essay 2, final draft, marginal
40
Essay 2, final draft, end
20
0
Collaborative
Noncollaborative
Figure 6. Bar graph depicting my feedback stance for the rough and final drafts of
Textual Analysis Essay 2.
For the Contextual Analysis Essay 3, I also assumed the collaborative stance for the
rough drafts. However, while I took the collaborative stance in the end comments of the
final draft of Essay 3, I assumed a noncollaborative stance in my marginal comments for
that essay assignment (see Figure 7). There are several reasons that my stance was
noncollaborative in the marginal comments of the final drafts. First, I did not write many
questions, which was unlike what I had done for all previous assignments. In addition,
the majority of my comments were commands that were aimed at helping the students
understand how to cite sources correctly. I wanted students to understand that the style
used to cite sources was not optional; if I had used advice or questions in those
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comments, the students may have been given that impression. I assumed the
noncollaborative stance in a situation in which I felt that I needed to provide more
controlling feedback in order to prevent misunderstanding and to emphasize the
importance of the topic.
Teacher Feedback Stance
100
90
80
Percentage
70
Essay 3, rough draft, marginal
60
Essay 3, rough draft, end
50
Essay 3, final draft, marginal
40
Essay 3, final draft, end
30
20
10
0
Collaborative stance
Noncollaborative stance
Figure 7. Bar graph depicting my feedback stance for the rough and final drafts of
Textual Analysis Essay 3.
The second part of my research question asked if my stance changed over the
course of the semester. I primarily took the collaborative stance in my feedback;
however, I found that my stance changed when I provided feedback for the final draft of
the Contextual Analysis Essay 3. I assumed two different stances, a noncollaborative
stance for the marginal comments and a collaborative stance for the end comments. As I
knew that the students would not be revising the final draft of Essay 3, I provided
minimal feedback in the margins, but 46% of the comments were commands. When the
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collaborative stance did not seem effective, as was the case for Essay 3, rough draft, I
took a noncollaborative stance to ensure that my feedback would be understood.
Peer Feedback Stance
In order to determine the type of feedback that my students gave each other on
their rough drafts for each essay assignment, I examined the comments written on each
essay. I calculated the number of comments written for each essay assignment and
separated the marginal and end comments. The students wrote a total of 499 marginal
comments and 435 end comments on the three essay assignments. They wrote slightly
more feedback in the margins than in their end comments. They provided the most
feedback on Textual Analysis Essay 1, and their feedback decreased as the semester
progressed (see Figure 8).
Peer Feedback
400
Number of Comments
350
300
250
200
150
100
50
0
Essay 1, rough draft
Essay 2, rough draft
Essay 3, rough draft
End comments
153
152
130
Marginal comments
186
173
140
Figure 8. Bar graph depicting the number of marginal and end comments that students
wrote their peers for each essay assignment.
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Textual Analysis Essay 1 Feedback, Rough Drafts
Nineteen students participated in the feedback session for the first Textual
Analysis Essay. They wrote 186 marginal comments and 153 end comments (see Table
15). They wrote a high percentage of advice and praise in both the marginal and the end
comments. The students assumed the collaborative stance in approximately 70% of their
marginal comments and 76% of their end comments. This was a surprising discovery, as
the students had not been trained to give collaborative feedback.
Table 15
Peer Commentary on Textual Analysis Essay 1, Rough Draft
Marginal
Marginal
End
comments: comments: comments:
Number
Percentage Number
Noncollaborative stance
Correction
0
0.0%
0
Criticism
34
18.3%
15
Command
22
11.8%
22
Subtotal
56
30.1%
37
Collaborative stance
Qualified
28
15.1%
18
evaluation
Advice
38
20.4%
38
Praise
43
23.1%
47
Question
14
7.5%
0
Reflective
7
3.8%
13
comment
Subtotal
130
69.9%
116
Total
186
100%
153
End
comments:
Percentage
0.0%
9.8%
14.4%
24.2%
11.8%
24.8%
30.7%
0.0%
8.5%
75.8%
100%
Textual Analysis Essay 2 Feedback, Rough Drafts
Nineteen students participated in the peer feedback session for Textual Analysis
Essay 2. By the time the students gave feedback on this essay, they had received
feedback, from me and from their peers, on their first Textual Analysis Essay. This had
101
an impact on the type of feedback that they gave for the second essay. One student, Jiao,
gave a significant amount of feedback on the first essay. She took her peers’ essays home
with her to finish responding to them and brought back typed letters for each peer (see
Figure 9 for one of her letters).
Dear Song:
I read your paper several times, and I found that you had a very interesting view of the
story. Even though I had a totally different view from you, you still made a good
argument trying to support your opinion. I kind of like your idea.
Also, I found several mistakes that you might need to pay attention to when you write.
First thing, which is not easy to notice for us non-English speaking people, is to keep the
tense consistent. When you talked about the story, you used past tense firstly, so
basically, you should keep the tense consistent through the whole paper. But it seems
that you forgot sometimes. Anyway, I understand it is hard, and I always make same
mistake. I think it might be good for you to re-read the whole paper and think about it
after you finish writing. It might be helpful. Another thing is the transition of voice. I
noticed that sometimes you used the first person voice instead of third person voice in
your writing by mistake. Again, it might be good to read it loudly after finish writing,
and you will find those mistakes easily. I think it might also be good for you to think of
the organization of your paper deeply. You had a clear thesis as your first paragraph,
and two developing paragraph to support your idea, which is good. But I did not find the
conclusion paragraph. It might be good for you to add several ending sentences to make
a final conclusion. Good job! Jiao
Figure 9. Copy of Jiao’s peer feedback end comments for Essay 1, rough draft displaying
her long end comment.
After she received minimal feedback from her peers and from me, the amount of
feedback she provided her peers for Essays 2 and 3 dropped significantly (see Figure 10
for one of her end notes). Her stance also shifted from a collaborative stance to a
noncollaborative stance.
Bao:
I like your ideas very much, but there still have some problems in your body paragraph.
1. You have lot of summary. 2. Write more analysis.
Figure 10. Copy of Jiao’s peer feedback end comments for Essay 2, rough draft
displaying her short end comment.
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Although some students wrote less feedback for the second essay, there were still
173 marginal comments and 152 end comments (see Table 16). The students, as a group,
took a collaborative stance in their feedback.
Table 16
Peer Commentary on Textual Analysis Essay 2, Rough Draft
Marginal
Marginal
End
comments: comments: comments:
Number
Percentage Number
Noncollaborative stance
Correction
1
0.6%
0
Criticism
27
15.6%
19
Command
28
16.2%
17
Subtotal
56
32.4%
36
Collaborative stance
Qualified
22
12.7%
11
evaluation
Advice
23
13.3%
31
Praise
46
26.6%
62
Question
20
11.6%
1
Reflective
6
3.4%
11
comment
Subtotal
117
67.6%
116
Total
173
100%
152
End
comments:
Percentage
0.0%
12.5%
11.2%
23.7%
7.2%
20.4%
40.8%
0.7%
7.2%
76.3%
100%
Contextual Analysis Essay 3 Feedback, Rough Drafts
Seventeen of the students provided peer feedback for Contextual Analysis Essay
3. They wrote 140 marginal comments and 130 end comments (see Table 17). Students
assumed a collaborative stance when providing feedback for the third essay; however, the
percentage of noncollaborative feedback was higher for this essay than for previous
essays. The difference was especially noticeable in the end comments with an increase
from 24% noncollaborative comments in the first two essays to 40% in the third essay.
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Table 17
Peer Commentary on Contextual Analysis Essay 3, Rough Draft
Marginal
Marginal
End
comments: comments: comments:
Number
Percentage Number
Noncollaborative stance
Correction
0
0.0%
0
Criticism
24
17.1%
22
Command
29
20.7%
30
Subtotal
53
37.8%
52
Collaborative stance
Qualified
10
7.1%
10
evaluation
Advice
20
14.3%
30
Praise
19
13.6%
28
Question
34
24.3%
3
Reflective
4
2.9%
7
comment
Subtotal
87
62.2%
78
Total
140
100%
130
End
comments:
Percentage
0.0%
16.9%
23.1%
40.0%
7.7%
23.1%
21.5%
2.3%
5.4%
60.0%
100%
Research Question #2
2. What stance did my students take toward their peers and their peers’ texts when
giving written peer feedback? Did their stance change over the course of the
semester?
My second research question asked what stance my students assumed when
giving written feedback. Although I had set out to avoid text appropriation when giving
feedback to my students, my students had no knowledge of my goal nor did they share
the same goal. Therefore, it was interesting to discover that for all of the essay
assignments, as a group, they took the collaborative stance when providing feedback.
Their stance did not change based on the location of their comments; rather, they wrote
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similar types of comments in the margins and at the end of the essay. It is probable that
the peer feedback worksheet that they used when providing feedback on Textual Analysis
Essay 1, and to which they access for the second and third essays, had an impact on the
stance they assumed. The worksheet had been designed to encourage collaborative
feedback. It did not encourage error corrections; rather, the worksheet requested
suggestions and explanations from the reviewers and it asked for a letter to the author of
the essay. Those students who followed the directions in the peer review worksheet were
being guided to give more collaborative feedback to each other.
I also addressed the question of whether there was a change in the students’ stance
over the course of the semester. I found that my students’ stance category stayed
consistent over the course of the semester. However, as a group, their collaborative stance
percentage decreased slightly as the semester progressed (see Figure 11).
Peer Feedback Stance
80
70
Percentage
60
50
Essay 1, marginal
40
Essay 2, marginal
30
Essay 3, marginal
20
10
0
Collaborative
Noncollaborative
Figure 11. Bar graph depicting students’ feedback stance in their marginal comments for
the rough drafts of Essays 1, 2, and 3.
105
Similarly, the stance the students assumed in their end comments became less
collaborative over the course of the semester (see Figure 12).
Peer Feedback Stance
90
80
70
Percentage
60
50
Essay 1, end
40
Essay 2, end
Essay 3, end
30
20
10
0
Collaborative
Noncollaborative
Figure 12. Bar graph depicting students’ feedback stance in their end comments for the
rough drafts of Essays 1, 2, and 3.
In order to determine the cause of the decrease in the collaborative stance, I
looked at the changes in the type of comments given by the students in each of the essay
assignments. I found that there was an increase in criticisms and commands with each
essay assignment, which increased the noncollaborative stance (see Figure 13). It is
possible that as the students became more comfortable with each other and with the
writing process that they stopped using the mitigated qualified evaluations and advice and
provided feedback that was more direct. In addition to the change in the number of
criticisms and commands, I found that there was an increase in the number of questions. I
was not surprised to discover that the students were using more questions in their
feedback as my marginal comments to them were predominantly questions.
106
Peer Feedback Comments
30
Percentage
25
20
Essay 1
15
Essay 2
10
Essay 3
5
0
Criticism, end
Command,
marginal
Question,
marginal
Question, end
Figure 13. Bar graph depicting peer feedback comment categories that increased for each
essay assignment.
Not only was there an increase in the use of certain types of comments over the
course of the semester, there was a decrease in the use of other types of comments. I
found that students used fewer qualified evaluations and reflective comments and gave
less advice and praise (see Figure 14). It appears that instead of qualified evaluations,
they wrote more criticisms, and instead of advice, they wrote more commands. Qualified
evaluations are considered to be less direct criticisms while advice is considered to be a
less direct command. Those less direct comments tend to be less controlling. The
decrease in praise and reflective comments may have been a result of the lack of those
types of comments in my feedback to them. The decrease in the collaborative comments
resulted in a decrease in the collaborative stance as the semester progressed.
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Peer Feedback Comments
30
Percentage
25
20
15
Essay 1
Essay 2
10
Essay 3
5
0
Qualified
evaluation,
marginal
Advice, marginal Praise, marginal
Reflective
comment, end
Figure 14. Bar graph depicting peer feedback comment categories that generally
decreased for each essay assignment.
Student Response to Feedback
I wanted my students to feel that they are the authors of their own essays, so I
attempted to convey that message when I gave them feedback by asking them questions
instead of telling them what they needed to change in the paper. I gave them more advice
than commands, more qualitative evaluations than criticisms, and I left a majority of the
decision making up to them. Their peers also primarily provided collaborative feedback.
As the students received a high percentage of collaborative feedback, I wanted to
discover if they critically analyzed the feedback they received. In order to determine how
they responded to the feedback that they received, I analyzed their Cover Sheets and
questionnaires from a qualitative perspective. When examining the Cover Sheets, I found
108
that the students could be divided into three categories based on their responses to the
feedback they received: Acceptors, Semi-evaluators, and Evaluators.
Acceptors
The Acceptors appeared to accept all feedback given to them by me and by their
peers. They did not appear to critically evaluate the feedback; instead, they indicated an
acceptance of the feedback and a willingness to make changes. Liang was an example of
an Acceptor. In each of his Cover Sheets, he did not question or evaluate my feedback or
his peers’ feedback but instead made all suggested changes. He stated, “[I]t is essentially
important for students to accept the feedback from others and revise the paper
accordingly” (see Figure 15). His conclusion also indicated that he felt that feedback
should be accepted: “[W]e should think highly of the feedback receiving from our peers
or instructors and revise our paper accordingly in order to make our paper more complete
and better” (see Figure 15).
COVER SHEET
To a certain extent, it is essentially important for students to accept the feedback from
others and revise the paper accordingly, at least in my point of view. I followed the
direction and changed the paper structure and contexts in accordance with the feedback
after I had received it from my instructor.
The first direction when I had gotten my paper back was “Can you provide a unique
title?”, so that I changed my title “Corrie” into “Are you willing to pay for love?”.
Meanwhile, according to the feedback, there are too much summary and quotations
included in my previous paper, so I changed the structure and reduced a number of
quotations accordingly. Besides, there is no analysis in my previous paper according to
the feedback, so I emphasized the analysis of Corrie and put into my understanding.
As for my type setting, it was said that “the margins look bigger than 1 inch” which
turned into being right when I reset it. Also the main points were missing in my previous
paper, so add the thesis of my following paper. Besides, the instructor also pointed out
the mistake of my written style. After carefully read Rules for Written, I got a better
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understanding and reconstructed my paper following MLA style.
In conclusion, we should think highly of the feedback receiving from our peers or
instructors and revise our paper accordingly in order to make our paper more complete
and better.
Figure 15. Copy of Liang’s Textual Analysis Essay 2 Cover Sheet illustrating he is an
Acceptor.
Of the twenty students who participated in the study, I categorized four of them as
Acceptors. The Acceptors indicated in their questionnaires that they found my feedback
helpful; however, when they did not understand a comment, they would still attempt to
follow my advice. One of the students (Kang) responded in Essay 2 Questionnaire that
when he did not understand my comment he would “agree” with it. The Acceptors were
accepting of all peer feedback received, too. In response to the questions on Essay 3
Questionnaire asking if the feedback from the peers was helpful, and if so, what
comments from the peers were particularly helpful, one of the Acceptors responded, “Yes
they told me what I need and what I don’t need” (Tian). There was no indication that the
Acceptors had critically evaluated the feedback received.
Semi-evaluators
The Semi-evaluators appeared to accept all of my feedback but critically
evaluated the feedback that they received from their peers. Ai was an example of a Semievaluator. She was interested in getting a good grade in the class, so she did her best to
make all changes requested by me; however, she evaluated the feedback that she received
from her peers to determine whether to make the requested revisions (see Figure 16). She
wrote a detailed Cover Sheet explaining her revisions. In the Cover Sheet, Ai described
my feedback and how she made all the changes that I requested. Then, she described the
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feedback from her peers. She did not make all the changes requested though as she
recognized that her peer had given her incorrect advice regarding a source citation. She
did accept some of the peer feedback given though and made changes when she agreed
with the feedback.
Details of Revisions
With the instructor’s feedback and peer feedback, I learned a lot of what is an
analyzed essay. And I changed a lot of my draft. According to the chapter five in
textbooks, my revision is a kind of global revision. Except some phrases in the first two
sentences, other parts of paper have been rewrote with a new perspective. Therefore, the
hook is different. The thesis is different, and the topic sentence in each body paragraph
is different.
First, I will introduce changes in the context. The instructor commented in the first
paragraph that “It is nice to include a short summary of the text in the introduction”, so I
followed this idea and inserted a short summary in the first paragraph. Then the
instructor said that “who is the author?”, so in thesis statement, I wrote the author’s
name. Then the instructor said “analysis is not discussing what should have happened”,
so I tried my best to reduce the same thing happened in the paper. At last, the instructor
concluded that my essay she felt like I were trying to teach a lesson rather than analyze a
text, so I changed all context in my draft, and write a new one. I cannot guarantee that
this time my essay is an analyzed essay, but I feel it better than the draft. She also
commented “I feel like there are some very important parts of the text that aren’t even
mentioned”, thus, I rewrite it and choose some important parts of the story and used
them in my essay. For example, Joanie’s regret, Sasha’s bad marriage, peter’s marriage
and so on. I used those contexts to prove my body sentences and thesis statement.
For peer feedback, [Fetu] said that “not enough quotation” in my body paragraph, so
I inserted more quotation from the story. Also, he said, “do not forget to put the ‘pg’
before the number”, but I think it is wrong if I do that. [Lan] said that “maybe you
should offer more interesting details”, so I wrote more details in revisions. Also, she
said “you can work on tense and grammar”, I have try my best to correct the mistakes in
the grammar, but I know there are also some mistakes that I could not realize.
Second, I will introduce some changes in format, the instructor said the paper do not
have page number, so I follow the textbooks and add the page number in the right corner
of each page. And she said the date is incorrect, so I change it.
Figure 16. Copy of Ai’s Textual Analysis Essay 1 Cover Sheet illustrating she is a Semievaluator.
Lan was another example of a Semi-evaluator. She appeared to evaluate my
feedback by giving a reason as to why she accepted it; however, she “accepted” all of my
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feedback for all three essays, but when given the same feedback by a peer, she did not
accept it (see Figure 17). In my feedback to her, I requested that she focus on text
analysis as she had focused on her opinion of the story. She noted that she accepted that
feedback, yet when her peer gave her that same feedback by stating that her paragraph
did not follow “PIE,” she “did not accept” the feedback because she stated that the
paragraph was not about analyzing the story.
COVER SHEET
Comments from teacher:
Comment: Come up with a unique title (I just use a simple title “the reflection of ‘A
Birth in the Wood’”)
Accepted, because an interesting can attract more audience.
Comment: The thesis is supported be a message of the author’s (I just wrote my own
opinion.)
Accepted, because it an essay which analyze the story, so the thesis is supported be what
the author want to tell the readers.
Comment: Focus on text analysis (I just focused on my opinion rather than what the
author wants to tell the readers.)
Accepted, because it an essay which is in order to analyze the story, I should focus on
the author’s concepts which were written in this story and find the evidences to proof
them.
Comments from other students:
Comment: Question about one of my evidence. (I mentioned that the family in this story
gets food from the real society, because they have some kinds of food like jar of honey,
in order to prove that living totally out of the society is impossible. And a classmate said
maybe they got the honey from the forest bees)
Do not accept, because what they have is jar of honey, they could not produce jar by
themselves.)
Comment: The fourth paragraph does not follow “PIE” (There are not specific topic,
illustration and example.)
Did not accept, because this paragraph is not really about analyzing the story, it is a
paragraph which emphasize my opinion.
Comment: Some grammar problems. (There are some sentences are fragment and some
of them do not make sense.)
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Accepted, because I do have some grammar problems, and correct them can help me
improve my essay’s quality.
Figure 17. Copy of Lan’s Textual Analysis Essay 2 Cover Sheet illustrating she is a
Semi-evaluator.
I categorized eight of the students as Semi-evaluators. Of those eight, I
categorized two of them as Evaluators for Textual Analysis Essay 1 and as Semievaluators for Textual Analysis Essay 2 and Contextual Analysis Essay 3. They were the
only two students I placed into different categories for different essay assignments. While
they appeared to stop evaluating my feedback after the first essay assignment, they
continued to evaluate their peers’ feedback. In the questionnaires, the Semi-evaluators
were more critical of their peers’ feedback than they were of mine. For example, in Essay
2 Questionnaire, when asked whether the peer feedback was helpful and if so, what
comments were helpful, Lan wrote, “The feedback which from teacher told me that I
need to inject main idea which is topic sentence in every paragraph. This is really helpful.
And feedback from classmates are not as helpful as teacher’s but also helped me to
correct some grammar mistakes.” The student had not even been asked about my
feedback in that question, yet she drew a comparison between my feedback and her
peers’ feedback. As a group, the Semi-evaluators tended to be more critical in their
evaluation of their peers’ feedback.
Evaluators
The third group of students, the Evaluators, critically evaluated the feedback that
they received from me and from their peers. In some instances, they would accept all the
feedback received and make the suggested revisions, but they demonstrated in their
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Cover Sheets that they were evaluating the feedback. Jie was an Evaluator during the
revision process. When he agreed with the feedback, he would make the requested
revisions to his essay. He had no problem disagreeing with some of my suggestions, and
he would then explain why he chose to leave the essay the way it was originally. He
emphasized in each Cover Sheet how he would read his essay “again and again” (see
Figure 18). He seemed to evaluate feedback and his essay carefully and only make those
changes that helped him achieve his purpose.
Cover sheet
When I received the feedback from the teacher and peers, I see a lot of problems on my
essay. There are a lot of grammar mistakes on my essay. Therefore, I read my essay again
and again, and then I find some grammar mistake and fix them. After I read my essay
many times, I ask my friends to read it since they may find another mistake. Corrie is a
simple title that cannot let reader interesting in my essay. Therefore, I change my title to “
Love and Lie.” Instructor give me this feedback on my second paragraph” I feel there are
lots of examples but no much analysis.” I think I need these examples to prove my own
opinion. Topic sentence cannot use a question. If I wanted to quote from book, I had to
write page number. On some paragraphs, I cannot explain my main point very clearly.
Therefore, I re-write my topic sentence. However, I disagree with instructor this
comment” There seem to be many ideas in the paragraph.” I wrote these ideas to describe
how poor Corrie is. Although I disagree with some comments, feedback is really helpful
for revising the essay.
Figure 18. Copy of Jie’s Textual Analysis Essay 2 Cover Sheet illustrating he is an
Evaluator.
Hu was another example of an Evaluator. He evaluated the feedback to determine
if revising the essay according to the feedback would achieve his purpose of a readerfriendly essay. When he determined that revising his essay, based on the reviewer’s
feedback (i.e., my feedback), would confuse the reader, he made the decision not to make
the suggested changes to his essay (see Figure 19).
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Cover Sheets
1. Feedback: film in italics
Revise: Sarah’s Key
2. Feedback: Please use in-text citation for your sources
Answer: I have already revised it.
3. Feedback: provide even more in-depth analysis.
In fact, I also want to provide more in-depth analysis. Whereas, I am worried
about the reader will confuse about what my essay write because it is difficult for
me to describe in-depth analysis. Then, the content of my essay is fuzzy for
reader to appreciate so I choose to quit it.
Figure 19. Copy of Hu’s Contextual Analysis Essay 3 Cover Sheet illustrating he is an
Evaluator.
Hu also demonstrated that he was an Evaluator in his Essay 2 Questionnaire with
his answers to the following questions:
Q: What comments from your instructor did you find confusing or difficult to
understand? (Please provide examples.)
Hu: “For example, ‘How does this prove your thesis?’ It is confusing to me.”
Q: Why were the comments confusing or difficult to understand?
Hu: “Because I think I have already used some sentences to prove my thesis.
Maybe my structure make you so confused that you don’t understand my
point.”
Q: What did you do when you did not understand a comment?
Hu: “When I read and check that paragraph again, I still think I have already
prove my thesis.”
In the above example, Hu determined that he had met the assignment guidelines, and he
was satisfied with his essay, so he did not revise his essay based on my feedback. He
assumed that his sentence structure had confused me and that I did not comprehend that
he had already proven his thesis statement. In this example, however, he had
misunderstood my feedback to be a request to prove his thesis when actually I was
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indicating that a part of his essay did not prove his thesis and thus should not be included
in the essay.
The largest category of responders was the Evaluators as I placed ten of the
students in that category for Essay 1; however, for Essays 2 and 3, two of the students
who started out as Evaluators became Semi-evaluators. It was a surprise that as many as
half of the students were comfortable critically evaluating my feedback since I was also
the evaluator of them. The Evaluators demonstrated in their Cover Sheets and in their
questionnaires that they had critically engaged with the feedback that they had received
and had revised based on what they felt would make their essay better.
Research Question #3
3. In what ways did the students respond to the feedback that they received as
demonstrated in their Cover Sheets and questionnaires?
My third research question inquired as to the ways that my students responded to
the feedback that they received. I found that they responded as Acceptors, Semievaluators, or Evaluators (see Figure 20). The four students who were Acceptors did not
appear to evaluate any of the feedback that they received, rather they seemed willing to
accept it all and revise accordingly. The Acceptors were students who were not confident
in their writing skills, and their final grades in my class were lower than the grades for the
other categories of responders. Two of them got a B in the class, one got a C, and one got
an F. (Final grades do not include a plus or a minus at that university). The Acceptors did
not want to take authorship of their own writing because they did not seem to trust their
writing skills. They visited the Writing Center or asked their peers for help when writing
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their essays (as noted in their questionnaires) and were appreciative of all help and
feedback.
For the first essay, six of the students responded as Semi-evaluators, but for the
second and third essays, eight of the students were Semi-evaluators. I found that while
the majority of my students responded the same way for all three essays, two students
(An and Bao) were Evaluators for the first essay and Semi-evaluators for the next two
essays. Both students were anxious to get a good grade in the class, and neither one was
happy with the grade received on the first essay (An got a C- and Bao got a B). In reading
their Cover Sheets and questionnaires, I inferred that they had decided that accepting my
feedback would be beneficial for their final grade. By the end of the semester, they had
both brought their final grade up to an A. The Semi-evaluators got the highest final
grades in my class: seven received an A and one got a B in the class. Their willingness to
revise based on my feedback had a positive impact on their final grade. Even the student
who got a final grade of B raised his grade in my class, as his grade for his first essay was
a C-, and his essay grades improved with each essay that he wrote. Yet, I did not identify
the connection between teacher feedback acceptance and the students’ final grades until
analyzing the Cover Sheets one year after the course had finished. The Semi-evaluators
critically evaluated the feedback that they received from their peers. They did not always
trust their peers’ feedback, and often they were more confident in their own writing skills
than they were in their peers’.
I found that there were ten Evaluators for the first essay and eight Evaluators for
the second and third essays. I was surprised that so many students were Evaluators in
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their responses. As I gave out the grades, it is risky for students to reject my feedback
even when they do not agree with it. The Semi-evaluators appeared to care more about
their grades in my class than the Evaluators, and their final grades were higher. The
majority of the Evaluators (six) got a final grade of B, and the other two received an A in
the class. The Evaluators critically evaluated all the feedback that they received and only
made revisions if they felt that the revisions would help them achieve their purpose. At
first, they appeared to be the group that was the most determined to maintain authorship
over their essay, and they were willing to reject my feedback if they did not agree with it.
However, when they did reject my feedback, it was usually because they did not
understand it. I presume that by taking a collaborative stance in the Cover Sheet handout
(see Appendix A) and in my feedback, I gave students the impression that they did not
have to accept my feedback and make revisions if they did not feel that it would improve
their paper. When they were confused, they would just ignore the feedback. Both the
Semi-evaluators and the Evaluators demonstrated authorship in their responses to the
feedback when they critically evaluated the feedback received and made a choice about
which feedback to accept and which feedback to reject.
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Student Response to Feedback
12
Number of Students
10
8
Acceptors
6
Semi-evaluators
Evaluators
4
2
0
Essay 1
Essays 2 & 3
Figure 20. Bar graph depicting student response to feedback for Essays 1, 2, & 3.
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CHAPTER 5: DISCUSSION AND IMPLICATIONS
I began this study with the goal of avoiding text appropriation when providing
written feedback to my ESL composition students. I desired for my students to feel that
they had power over their own papers, that they could choose how they wanted to revise
their papers. I had decided to make an effort to give the type of feedback that would
allow students to take ownership over their own writing and in the process help them to
become independent writers. I incorporated peer feedback into the class because the
students needed feedback from people other than myself. My intention was for the
students to think critically about the feedback they received and to feel comfortable not
making changes suggested by me or by their peers if they felt that the changes would not
help them achieve their goals. I wanted my students to have confidence in themselves as
authors of their own texts.
Teacher Feedback Stance
1. What stance did I, as an instructor, take toward the students and their texts
when giving written feedback? Did my stance change over the course of the
semester?
While I was providing feedback to my students, I attempted to avoid
appropriating students’ texts by writing comments that were considered less controlling
such as questions, qualified evaluations, and advice. In agreement with the findings by
Hyland and Hyland (2001) that ESL students can misunderstand indirect feedback they
receive, I found that my students did not always understand my indirect feedback. In
order to help the students with organization, I asked the student a question in the margin
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if I felt that something essential was missing. The question was intended to raise
awareness without telling the student how to fix the paper. My student Bao was a hard
working student, but initially, she had difficulty understanding my feedback. She
understood my feedback to be requesting a signal of her main point when my intention
was to request that she add a main point (see Figure 21).
Figure 21. Excerpt from Bao’s Essay 2, rough draft, page 1, displaying my feedback
requesting that she add a main point to her paragraph.
Bao did not change the sentence into a summary sentence of the paragraph, which is what
my feedback was indirectly requesting. Instead, she signaled what she intended to be the
topic sentence of her paragraph (see Figure 22).
Figure 22. Excerpt from Bao’s Essay 2, final draft, page 1, displaying Bao’s revision of
my request that she add a main point to her paragraph.
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It would have been easier for Bao to revise her paper if my feedback had been
more direct. After she understood what the question was requesting of her, the feedback
was no longer simply making her aware of a missing component; instead, it was telling
her what to do. In my attempt to be less controlling in my feedback, I actually provided
feedback that confused my student. I was able to give feedback on the final draft of Essay
2 to clear up the misunderstanding, and after that, Bao seemed to understand the
questions I used in my marginal comments. For students, like Bao, who wanted a good
grade and who wanted to make all the revisions I requested, it did not matter whether my
feedback stance was collaborative or noncollaborative. The students would make the
revisions that they assumed I was requesting. I found that in those cases, it would have
been easier for the students if I had provided them with direct feedback so that they did
not have to first interpret my feedback and then revise according to it. My study verified
the finding of Baker and Bricker (2010) who, after comparing direct and indirect
feedback, concluded that it is difficult for L2 learners to understand indirect feedback.
Indirect feedback, such as questions, can be confusing because the students do not know
what they are being asked to revise. As Tardy (2006) argued, teachers need to find the
balance between “over-directive feedback” and “hands-off feedback” so that they can
provide feedback that provides assistance without taking away ownership of the paper (p.
74).
In this study, I had set out to provide less controlling feedback in my marginal and
end comments. For Essay 1, Essay 2, and the rough draft of Essay 3, the stance I assumed
in my comments was collaborative. However, for Essay 3, final draft, I assumed a
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noncollaborative stance in my marginal comments and a collaborative stance in my end
comments, thus revealing the potential of taking two different stances for one essay
assignment. My marginal and end comments were different even for the essays in which I
assumed the same stance, with my marginal comments tending to be questions and my
end comments primarily offering the students advice. I found that when analyzing teacher
feedback, it is important to consider both marginal and end comments and to consider
them separately, as they have different purposes and contain different types of feedback.
While the stance I took when providing feedback for all but the last assignment
was collaborative, I am not convinced that it was better than a noncollaborative stance.
As both Straub and Lunsford (1995) and Severino (1993) have stated, one stance is not
superior to another. If assuming a collaborative stance results in misunderstandings, the
benefit in providing feedback that encourages students to take more ownership of their
writing will be lost if the student either does not attempt a revision or revises the paper as
Bao did. When I provided feedback on Contextual Analysis Essay 3, rough draft, I tried
to help my students understand the problems they had with citing the multiple sources
required for that assignment. My collaborative feedback was not clear enough, however,
since the students had the same problems with sources in their final draft. For the final
draft, I assumed a noncollaborative stance in my marginal comments because I needed to
make sure the feedback would be understood. The collaborative stance may not provide
enough assistance for the ESL student. ESL students can misunderstand questions,
qualified evaluations, and other types of mitigated feedback. Students may prefer less
collaborative feedback that provides them with direct commentary for revising the paper.
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I found that rather than regarding one stance as the ideal stance for a teacher to assume,
the stance taken should be the one that will provide the most effective help for the student
on that assignment. As Elbow (1999) stated, “The right or best comment is the one that
will help this student on this topic on this draft at this point in the semester” (p. 198).
Peer Feedback Stance
2. What stance did my students take toward their peers and their peers’ texts when
giving written peer feedback? Did their stance change over the course of the
semester?
In addition to my feedback stance, I also analyzed the stance the students took
while giving feedback to each other. I found that my students’ stance stayed consistent
over the course of the semester. They assumed the collaborative stance in their marginal
and end comments for all of the essay assignments. As a group, their collaborative stance
percentage decreased slightly as the semester progressed. I was more interested in their
group stance than in their individual stance since I had more data to work with, could see
trends, and could feel more confident about the results of the stance assumed. Their
individual stances were more difficult to determine as the majority of them did not give
much feedback to each other; therefore, it was challenging to base a stance on, at times,
one or two marginal or end comments. It was also difficult to assign a stance if the
student wrote one collaborative comment and one noncollaborative comment. When this
happened, I would assign the students a category of both, realizing that if I had more
comments to analyze, the student would likely either take a collaborative or
noncollaborative stance. I did not find any patterns when I looked at the individual
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students although most of the students assumed a collaborative stance (see Appendix M
for a list of each student’s stance).
It was surprising to find that the students as a group assumed a collaborative
stance, especially in light of other work such as studies by Mangelsdorf and
Schlumberger (1992), Lockhart and Ng (1995a; 1995b), and Min (2008) in which a
collaborative stance was not taken by the majority of the ESL students. The collaborative
stance taken by my students was likely a result of the collaborative worksheet they used
when providing feedback (see Appendix G) and because of the instructions they were
given in class not to provide error corrections. Additionally, they did not receive error
corrections from me (other than my highlighting their errors on one page of their essay),
which likely had an impact on their infrequent use of error corrections.
One finding of interest for educators is that the students’ feedback became more
like my feedback as the semester progressed. They asked more questions in the margins
and wrote more criticisms and commands for the second and third essay assignments.
They also provided less praise and reflective comments. When I read the feedback they
provided each other, I found instances when it sounded exactly like my feedback. They
would ask the exact same questions that I would ask (e.g., “Where is your thesis?”) and
write the same criticisms (e.g., “There are too many ideas in the paragraph.”). As
Baumlin and Baumlin (1989) pointed out, students learn how to provide feedback on
their peers’ papers by reading the comments their teachers provide them. Educators can
train their students in effective peer review through examples and through guided
worksheets and training sessions.
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Student Response to Feedback
3. In what ways did the students respond to the feedback that they received as
demonstrated in their Cover Sheets and questionnaires?
In order to determine whether the students critically evaluated the feedback that
they received, I analyzed the Cover Sheets and questionnaires that the students submitted.
I found that the majority of my students were either Semi-evaluators or Evaluators and
thus demonstrated that they had taken ownership of their paper in some form. They had
critically evaluated their peers’ feedback or both my feedback and their peers’ feedback.
The Semi-evaluators tended to trust my feedback more than their peers’ feedback, a
finding that supports Tsui and Ng’s (2000) argument that students have more confidence
in their teacher’s feedback. For the first essay assignment, ten of my students were
Evaluators and were critical of my feedback, too. Students who seemed to critically
evaluate my feedback were less likely to have understood what I was asking them to
revise. Further, it was easier for them not to accept the feedback than to determine how to
revise the paper. As Ferris (2001) found in her study of “strong” and “weak” writers,
weak writers are more likely to ignore feedback or delete problem areas in their paper
rather than revise the paper. The Evaluators were not as strong writers as the Semievaluators were, nor did they do as well in my class.
I found an association between the students’ response to feedback and their final
grade in the class (see Figure 23). The Acceptors got the lowest grades in the class. They
did not critically evaluate feedback because they did not have confidence in their own
skills as writers. Two of the Acceptors indicated on their questionnaires that they
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frequently used the Writing Center and asked their friends to help them with their papers,
which benefitted them as they both got a B in the course. The other two Acceptors
demonstrated self-doubt in their writing ability and gave up any attempt to get a good
grade. The majority of the Evaluators got a B in the course, which was an average grade
in the class, while the majority of the Semi-evaluators got an A in the course. Two of the
students who were Evaluators on the first essay and who did not get a grade they were
satisfied with on Essay 1 changed how they responded to my feedback. For Essays 2 and
3, they accepted my feedback and revised accordingly, and both of their essay grades got
progressively higher. The students who evaluated their peers’ feedback, to determine
which feedback to accept, and who chose to accept my feedback were the students who
got the highest grades in the class. While I was initially surprised to see this connection, it
is understandable as the teacher is a more experienced writer and therefore able to
provide feedback that will strengthen the paper. Additionally, the teacher asks for
revisions that reveal what she views as good writing, and she ultimately assigns a grade
to the paper.
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Students' Final Course Grade
8
7
6
5
4
3
2
1
0
Acceptors
Semi-evaluators
Evaluators
A
0
7
2
B
2
1
6
C
1
0
0
F
1
0
0
Figure 23. Bar graph separating students by response category and displaying students’
final grade in the course.
In this study, my goal was for students to take ownership of their own papers.
They demonstrated this ownership by critically evaluating feedback that they received
from reviewers. However, I found that those students who appeared to evaluate all the
feedback that they received, including mine, did not always understand the feedback that
I had given them, and they were unaware of the problems in their papers. They ignored
feedback that I gave in order to help them write a stronger, more reader-friendly paper.
As Ferris (2007) pointed out, ESL students may not view questions as suggestions and
they may be ignored. From the study, I found that rejecting or ignoring feedback is not
equivalent to critically evaluating feedback, nor does it indicate that students are taking
ownership of their papers. At times, the decision not to revise reveals that either the
writer does not comprehend the feedback or the writer is not aware of the weaknesses in
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her paper. Those who are less experienced writers need to be slow to reject feedback
given to them by a more experienced writer who knows the conventions of the genre.
Implications and Suggestions for Future Research
I think back to that doctoral student, teaching English composition for the first
time at an American university, who spent more time writing feedback on student papers
than she spent writing her own graduate papers. I think of other composition teachers,
like her, who struggle in providing helpful feedback to students. How can providing
feedback become less formidable for teachers and more beneficial for students?
Educators may want to consider the following suggestions:
1. Teachers need to be trained in the feedback process. As Ferris (2007) pointed out,
every teacher has an “approach” to providing feedback (p. 167). Without training,
the teacher’s approach may not be intentional or effective. The teacher may spend
an hour providing feedback, such as I did, without providing the kind of help the
student really needs. Teachers should reflect on their approach, or stance, to
understand the type of feedback that they give. They also need to determine if that
stance is the best stance for their students.
2. Teachers should be clear and specific when giving feedback because students are
more likely to use feedback that they understand. It may be difficult for an ESL
student to interpret indirect feedback. Although indirect feedback may encourage
critical thinking, it becomes an exercise in frustration if the students
misunderstand it. If a teacher decides to use indirect comments, the teacher may
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want to spend class time explaining how to understand indirect comments so that
ESL students understand the pragmatic functions of the comments.
3. Teachers might want to request that their students include a Cover Sheet with
their revised essay. The Cover Sheet encourages students to pay more attention to
the feedback they have received from their teacher and peers. It also provides
teachers with valuable information about how well the students comprehended the
feedback.
This preliminary study only looked at one teacher’s feedback and one classroom
of students, so the results cannot be generalized to other contexts. One direction for future
research would be to analyze the feedback of more ESL teachers in more composition
classrooms to determine the stance they take and how the students respond to the
feedback they receive. Further, in order to have a better understanding of the students’
responses, students could be interviewed about their revision choices. The research could
include both quantitative comparisons across classrooms and ethnographic descriptions
of the teachers and students. Another direction would be to study the feedback of two
groups of teachers, one group which is trained in the feedback process and a control
group which receives no training, and then to compare the results to determine what type
of feedback is given and how the feedback is received.
To conclude, the goals of my study were lofty, and despite the apparent success in
achieving my objectives, I found that my students did not always understand my indirect
feedback, and it did not have the desired results of increasing students’ independence as
writers. Instead of the students taking ownership of their own papers by using my
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comments as a starting place and then revising to achieve their own purpose for their
papers, students sought to interpret my feedback and then revised accordingly. Once they
interpreted the indirect feedback, it had the same impact as direct feedback. Other
students appeared to critically analyze my feedback; however, when I examined their
Cover Sheets and questionnaires, I found that they had misunderstood my feedback and
had rejected it, as they could not understand why I was asking them to make the revision.
At the end of the study, I discovered that my intention to only provide feedback that was
not considered controlling was too idealistic and that at least for ESL students, it is easier
to understand feedback if it is more direct and controlling.
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APPENDIX A: COVER SHEET
Sonja Fordham
English 107
Review all the feedback that you received from your peers and your instructor.
Explain what actions you took in response to the feedback when you revised your essay.
List the feedback you received and then indicate if and how you used the feedback to
revise your essay. Clearly explain your response to each comment you received. If you
made a change in response to the feedback, discuss how you revised your essay. If you
decided not to make a change in response to a comment, discuss why you didn’t make a
change. You are not under any obligation to change your essay based on feedback you
have received. You are the author of the paper, so it is important that you make changes
that help you achieve your purpose for your paper. All changes should be marked on your
revised essay.
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APPENDIX B: STUDENT INFORMATION SHEET
Sonja Fordham
English 107
Please answer the following questions.
1. How old are you?
2. What is your first language?
3. What country do you come from?
4. What languages, other than English, do you speak?
5. How many years have you spoken English?
6. How many years have you studied English in a classroom?
7. How many years have you lived in the U.S. or another country in which English
is spoken as the first language?
8. Before you entered ENGL 107, what writing classes had you taken? List all
writing classes you have taken even those taken in your mother tongue or another
language.
9. What grade did you get in the writing classes you took before entering ENGL
107? Enter the grade next to each writing class.
10. How were you placed in ENGL 107 (e.g., a test score, a writing placement
exam)?
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APPENDIX C: COURSE SYLLABUS
English 107: Spring 2013
Instructor: Sonja Fordham
Required Course Work
Essay 1: Textual Analysis (due Feb. 19)
Essay 2: Textual Analysis (due March 26)
Essay 3: Contextual Analysis (due April 23)
Essay 4: Revision & Reflection (due May 3)
Journals
RW Quizzes (Feb. 28, April 30)
Drafts of Essays and other homework
20%
20%
25%
15%
10%
5%
5%
Late Policy
Assignments are due at the beginning of class on the due date. Late work will not be
accepted without penalty unless students make arrangements for an extension before the
due date. For each day an essay is late a reduction of one-third of a letter grade will
be applied when the assignment is graded. Journals turned in after class begins on the
day they are due will not receive a grade higher than a “check”.
•
•
•
Additional Course Policies
The instructor will not evaluate an essay or assign credit for it until it has been
submitted in the D2L dropbox.
Journals should be turned in at the start of class on the day they are due. The
journal should be between 250-300 words. It should be typed and double-spaced
with a word count and a title. Usually, a journal is a summary of the assigned
reading as well as a personal reflection of the reading. Journals will be graded for
both content and completion.
RW quizzes will be given to test students on the material covered in Rules for
Writers. There will be two quizzes, and the questions will be taken directly from
the exercises in the text. Students should attend class on the day a quiz is given. A
zero will be recorded for a missed quiz.
Course Calendar
SG = A Student’s Guide to First-Year Writing
PHS = The Pen/O. Henry Prize Stories
RW = Rules for Writers
Date
Preparation Before Class
Thur. 1/10
In Class
syllabus,
introduction to
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D2L, self
introduction
Tue. 1/15
Thur. 1/17
Tue. 1/22
Thur. 1/24
Tue. 1/29
Thur. 1/31
Tue. 2/5
Thur. 2/7
Tue. 2/12
Thur. 2/14
Tue. 2/19
Thur. 2/21
Tue. 2/26
Thur. 2/28
Tue. 3/5
Thur. 3/7
3/12, 3/14
Tue. 3/19
Thur. 3/21
Tue. 3/26
Read SG chap. 3
Bring SG & RW to class
Read “Uncle Rock” (3-10)
Bring PHS & RW to class
Read SG chap. 4, 6.4
Bring SG to class
Read “A Birth in the Woods” (79-95)
Bring PHS, SG, & RW to class
Read “Naima” (96-118)
Bring PHS & RW to class
Read SG chap. 8.1, 8.2
Bring SG & RW to class
Read “Things Said or Done” (131-156)
Bring PHS & RW to class
Read SG chaps. 5, 14.2, 14.3
Bring laptop, SG, & PHS to class
Bring 3 hard copies of essay 1 (complete
rough draft) to class. Also submit essay on
D2L
Bring laptop to class
Bring rough drafts & final draft to class
in a folder. Also submit essay on D2L.
Read PHS “The Vandercook” (11-27)
Bring PHS & RW to class
Read PHS “The Woman Who Lived in the
House” (371-391)
Bring PHS & RW to class
Prepare for RW quiz
Read PHS “Corrie” (392-409)
Read SG chap. 6
Bring laptop, SG, & PHS to class
SPRING BREAK
Bring 3 hard copies of essay 2 (complete
rough draft) to class. Also submit essay on
D2L
Bring laptop to class
Bring rough drafts & final draft to class
in a folder. Also submit essay on D2L.
Journal due (“Uncle
Rock”)
Journal due (SG
chap. 4)
Journal due (“A
Birth in the
Woods”)
Journal due
(“Naima”)
Assignment sheet
Journal due
(“Things Said or
Done”)
Journal due (SG 5),
work on essay 1
Essay 1 rough
draft due, peer
feedback
Work on essay 1
ESSAY 1 FINAL
DRAFT DUE
Journal due (“The
Vandercook”)
Journal due (“The
Woman Who Lived
in the House”)
RW QUIZ 1, film
Journal due
(“Corrie”), film
Journal due (SG 6),
work on essay 2
No class
Essay 2 rough
draft due, peer
feedback
Work on essay 2
ESSAY 2 FINAL
DRAFT DUE, film
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Thur. 3/28
Tue. 4/2
Thur. 4/4
Tue. 4/9
Thur. 4/11
Tue. 4/16
Thur. 4/18
Tue. 4/23
Thur. 4/25
Tue. 4/30
Thur. 5/2
Fri. 5/3
Read SG chap. 9.1, 9.2
Read PHS “Kindness” (192-261)
Bring laptop, PHS, & RW to class
Read SG chap. 2
Bring RW to class
Read PHS “East of the West” (157-181)
Bring laptop, PHS, & RW to class
Read PHS “The First Wife” (58-78)
Bring laptop, PHS, & RW to class
Bring 3 hard copies of essay 3 (complete
rough draft) to class. Also submit essay on
D2L
Bring laptop to class
Bring rough drafts & final draft to class
in a folder. Also submit essay on D2L.
Read SG: chaps. 13.1, 14.12
Bring laptop to class
Bring laptop to class
READING DAY
Bring rough drafts & final drafts to class
in a folder. Also submit essays on D2L.
Film
Journal due
(“Kindness”)
Journal due (“East
of the West”)
Journal due (“The
First Wife”)
Essay 3 rough
draft due, peer
feedback
Work on essay 3
ESSAY 3 FINAL
DRAFT DUE
Work on essay 4
RW QUIZ 2, work
on essay 4
No class
ESSAY 4 DUE
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APPENDIX D: ESSAY 1 ASSIGNMENT SHEET
Essay One: Textual Analysis
Assignment Goals:
Demonstrate that you’ve read the text closely, carefully, and critically.
Show a critical awareness of the author’s choices and strategies.
Develop a clear, specific thesis that invites the readers to understand the text as you do.
Analyze elements of the text that contribute to the overall meaning or effect.
Integrate textual evidence to support your thesis.
Assignment: Choose one of the four texts listed below. Write an essay in which you argue for an
interpretation based upon a close reading; analyze how that meaning is created through specific patterns
and details in the text. Spend a minimum amount of time summarizing the text and a maximum amount of
time analyzing it.
Texts:
•
•
•
•
“Uncle Rock” by Dagoberto Gilb
“A Birth in the Woods” by Kevin Wilson
“Naima” by Hisham Matar
“Things Said or Done” by Ann Packer
Audience: Write your analysis for me, for your classmates, and for other readers who are at least
somewhat familiar with the text you have chosen to analyze.
Length: 1000 words. Include a word count on the essay. For each 10% your essay is under the required
length, a reduction of 1/3 of a letter grade will be applied when the assignment is graded.
Format: Use 12 pt. Times New Roman font with 1-inch margins. Follow MLA manuscript format
instructions carefully. You will find these instructions in Hacker’s Rules for Writers section 59. The sample
manuscript on pages 527-532 of Rules for Writers provides you with a model of what your essay should
look like. I do not want a separate title page. Please number your pages and staple them together.
Grading: When I evaluate your essay, I will consider your focus (thesis), analysis (how well you explain
and decipher your points), organization (how the pieces fit together), strength of proof (persuasiveness),
ingenuity (novelty of approach), rhetorical awareness (the effectiveness of your essay given its context),
style (tone/word choice), and mechanics (grammar and spelling).
A C essay needs to have a title, an introduction, a conclusion, a discernible, debatable thesis, and a coherent
structure. The body paragraphs need to have at least minimal discussion and examples. The essay needs to
adhere to the assignment, meet the minimum length requirement, and demonstrate an adequate use of
mechanics.
A B essay needs to have a title that reflects the thesis, an organized introduction that has a balanced length,
a logical conclusion, a discernible, interesting, and manageable thesis, a forecasting statement, a purposeful
structure that is easy for readers to follow, multiple examples and associated analysis (PIE paragraphs),
appropriate tone and style, a fairly accurate use of mechanics, and a mix of sentence structures. The essay
also needs to match the assignment and meet the medium length requirement.
An A essay needs to have an unusual but logical title, a balanced and organized introduction that engages
readers in your topic, an innovative thesis that is debatable and manageable, a forecasting statement, a
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purposeful structure that is crystal clear, in-depth analysis in the form of extended PIE paragraphs, an
accurate use of mechanics, a mix of sentence structures, and accurate, college-level vocabulary. Your essay
also needs to match or stretch beyond the assignment and demonstrate a deliberate and appropriate use of
tone and style.
A D essay fails to satisfy one or more expectations for a C essay. An E essay misinterprets the assignment
or the depth thereof or is riddled with errors.
Percentage of Course Grade: 20%
Rough Draft Due Date: February 12, 2013
Final Draft Due Date: February 19, 2013
Due: Turn in all rough drafts, the cover letter, and the final copy of essay 1 at the beginning of class on the
due date. Please use a folder. In addition, submit a copy of your final essay to the dropbox on D2L.
138
APPENDIX E: ESSAY 2 ASSIGNMENT SHEET
Essay Two: Textual Analysis
Assignment Goals:
Demonstrate that you’ve read the text closely, carefully, and critically.
Show a critical awareness of the author’s choices and strategies.
Develop a clear, specific thesis that invites the readers to understand the text as you do.
Analyze elements of the text that contribute to the overall meaning or effect.
Integrate textual evidence to support your thesis.
Assignment: Choose one of the four texts listed below. Write an essay in which you argue for an
interpretation based upon a close reading; analyze how that meaning is created through specific patterns
and details in the text. Spend a minimum amount of time summarizing the text and a maximum amount of
time analyzing it.
Texts:
•
•
•
•
“The Vandercook” by Alice Mattison
“The Woman Who Lived in the House” by Salvatore
“Corrie” by Alice Munro
“The First Wife” by Christine Sneed
Audience: Write your analysis for me, for your classmates, and for other readers who are at least
somewhat familiar with the text you have chosen to analyze.
Length: 1000 words. Include a word count on the essay. For each 10% your essay is under the required
length, a reduction of 1/3 of a letter grade will be applied when the assignment is graded.
Format: Use 12 pt. Times New Roman font with 1-inch margins. Follow MLA manuscript format
instructions carefully. You will find these instructions in Hacker’s Rules for Writers section 59. The sample
manuscript on pages 527-532 of Rules for Writers provides you with a model of what your essay should
look like. I do not want a separate title page. Please number your pages and staple them together.
Grading: When I evaluate your essay, I will consider your focus (thesis), analysis (how well you explain
and decipher your points), organization (how the pieces fit together), strength of proof (persuasiveness),
ingenuity (novelty of approach), rhetorical awareness (the effectiveness of your essay given its context),
style (tone/word choice), and mechanics (grammar and spelling).
A C essay needs to have a title, an introduction, a conclusion, a discernible, debatable thesis, and a coherent
structure. The body paragraphs need to have at least minimal discussion and examples. The essay needs to
adhere to the assignment, meet the minimum length requirement, and demonstrate an adequate use of
mechanics.
A B essay needs to have a title that reflects the thesis, an organized introduction that has a balanced length,
a logical conclusion, a discernible, interesting, and manageable thesis, a forecasting statement, a purposeful
structure that is easy for readers to follow, multiple examples and associated analysis (PIE paragraphs),
appropriate tone and style, a fairly accurate use of mechanics, and a mix of sentence structures. The essay
also needs to match the assignment and meet the medium length requirement.
An A essay needs to have an unusual but logical title, a balanced and organized introduction that engages
readers in your topic, an innovative thesis that is debatable and manageable, a forecasting statement, a
139
purposeful structure that is crystal clear, in-depth analysis in the form of extended PIE paragraphs, an
accurate use of mechanics, a mix of sentence structures, and accurate, college-level vocabulary. Your essay
also needs to match or stretch beyond the assignment and demonstrate a deliberate and appropriate use of
tone and style.
A D essay fails to satisfy one or more expectations for a C essay. An E essay misinterprets the assignment
or the depth thereof or is riddled with errors.
Percentage of Course Grade: 20%
Rough Draft Due Date: March 19, 2013
Final Draft Due Date: March 26, 2013
Due: Turn in all rough drafts, the cover letter, and the final copy of essay 1 at the beginning of class on the
due date. Please use a folder. In addition, submit a copy of your final essay to the dropbox on D2L.
140
APPENDIX F: ESSAY 3 ASSIGNMENT SHEET
Essay Three: Contextual Analysis
Assignment Goals:
Demonstrate that you’ve read the text closely, carefully, and critically.
Show a critical awareness of the author’s choices and strategies.
Develop a clear, specific thesis that invites the readers to understand the text as you do.
Analyze elements of the text that contribute to the overall meaning or effect.
Integrate textual evidence to support your thesis.
Smoothly incorporate research materials and correctly document them to support your analysis.
Assignment: Choose one of the texts listed below. Write an essay in which you argue for an interpretation
based upon a close reading; analyze how that meaning is created through specific patterns and details in the
text. In addition, use at least two additional texts that enrich your understanding of the primary text. Spend
a minimum amount of time summarizing the primary text and a maximum amount of time analyzing it.
Texts:
• “Kindness” by Yiyun Li
• “East of the West” by Miroslav Penkov
•
Sarah’s Key by Gilles Paquet-Brenner
Audience: Write your analysis for me, for your classmates, and for other readers who are at least
somewhat familiar with the text you have chosen to analyze.
Task:
•
•
•
You will need a unique way of viewing the text in conjunction with an in-depth analysis of the
text.
You will need to organize your essay in a typical academic manner (e.g., thesis statement at the
end of the introduction, PIE paragraphs).
You will need to find and use at least two additional texts that add to your understanding of the
primary text. These texts will introduce historical, philosophical, theoretical, and/or biographical
information that cast(s) the primary text in a new light. These texts are not necessarily about the
primary text. Instead, they enrich your close reading of the primary text by adding new contextual
information. A dictionary does not count as an additional text.
Thesis Statement: A strong thesis statement serves as a guide to your essay for your reader. Typically, the
thesis statement comes at the end of the introduction to an essay and is one or two statements. It makes a
claim that a reasonable person could disagree with—it is not a statement of fact. This means that the thesis
statement is arguable and must be supported with evidence from the text. It is NOT a summary of the
author’s essay you are analyzing.
Example Thesis Statements:
• In “The Unicorn in the Garden,” Thurber argues that men are so dominated by women that they
must resort to cruel tricks to find peace.
• Through “A Very Short Story,” Hemingway suggests that since the nature of love is transitory,
waiting around for true love leads to desperation and loneliness.
141
Length: 1300 words. Include a word count on the essay. For each 10% your essay is under the required
length, a reduction of 1/3 of a letter grade will be applied when the assignment is graded.
Format: Use 12 pt. Times New Roman font with 1-inch margins. Follow MLA manuscript format
instructions carefully. You will find these instructions in Hacker’s Rules for Writers section 56. The sample
manuscript on pages 527-532 of Rules for Writers provides you with a model of what your essay should
look like. I do not want a separate title page. Please number your pages and staple them together.
Percentage of Course Grade: 25%
Rough Draft Due Date: April 16, 2013
Final Draft Due Date: April 23, 2013
Final Draft: Turn in all rough drafts and the final copy of essay 3 at the beginning of class on the due
date. Please use a folder. In addition, submit a copy of your final essay to the dropbox on D2L.
142
APPENDIX G: PEER FEEDBACK SHEET
Draft written by ______________________________
Feedback written by ___________________________
Your purpose in answering these questions is to provide your classmate with an honest and helpful
response and to suggest ways to make his or her writing better. Read the entire essay to get a general idea
of what the writer has expressed, and then respond to each of the following questions. Please give very
specific comments and refer to the essay by paragraph numbers. The main goal is to help your classmate
improve his or her essay.
1.
What do you like best about the essay? Choose the most interesting idea and explain why it
captured your attention.
2.
In your own words, state the focus/thesis/topic of the essay.
3.
What paragraphs or parts of paragraphs should be developed more? Mark those parts of the essay
with the letter D. Explain why you think this part should be developed more and make some
suggestions for improvement.
4.
What parts of the essay are confusing? Mark those with the letter C. Explain why you think that
part of the essay is confusing and make some suggestions for improvement.
5.
Choose the response you agree with:
_________ Each of your paragraphs discusses only one idea and everything in it is related to that
topic.
_________ Some of your paragraphs are confusing because they seem to be about more than one
idea. I marked them with an X.
_________ Your writing seems to be all in one paragraph. I can’t tell where you start discussing a
new idea. Please help!
6.
Write a short letter to the author explaining how his or her essay can be improved. Be very
specific. Be sure to sign your letter.
143
APPENDIX H: FINAL EXAM SHEET
Spring 2013
Final Exam for English 107: Revision and Reflection
Even professional writers constantly strive to improve their work. As beginning college
students, you should endeavor to learn as much about your own writing as possible. Your
expertise with writing will affect everything from your college classes to your job
applications to your entire career. This assignment will help you in this process.
To complete your exam, you need to complete the following:
1) Revise either Essay 1 or Essay 2.
2) Write a Reflection Essay explaining the decisions you made to successfully revise
your work. You might also want to include an explanation of the things that went well in
your original essay and your overall growth as a writer this semester. Do your best to
show what you have learned about writing this semester.
3) The day of the final exam, submit your originally graded essay or a photocopy of it,
your revision with new material indicated through “track changes” or highlighted, and
your Reflection Essay.
•
To show as much progress as possible, revise the essay with the most serious
problems.
•
To complete your revision, carefully consider your instructor’s comments on your
originally graded essay and make changes accordingly. Also consider your peers’
comments. Scrutinize your essay to find other areas to analyze and rework.
•
Note that your Reflection Essay needs to have an intro (with a thesis), organized
PIE paragraphs, and a conclusion. It needs to be edited. It needs an appropriate
title.
•
Your Reflection Essay should cover various aspects of writing. Your essay
should include an analysis of several of the following:
a) your intros (old and new), including your thesis/forecast
b) your organization, including topic sentences
c) the development of body paragraphs, including your use of proof
d) new points you added to enhance your essay
e) your use of language: tone/style/voice/word choice
f) nuts and bolts: mechanics/grammar (including punctuation)
144
g) your conclusions
h) your overall writing process
•
You need to write detailed PIE paragraphs that thoroughly explain specific
changes you made to your old material to create newer, more effective material.
You should quote brief passages from your essays. For example:
When writing my first essay, my thesis was weak and uninteresting: “You can’t
judge a book by its cover.” The idea wasn’t even original! This started me off on
the wrong foot because….. My revised thesis is “When we judge people by their
appearances, we often fall into a trap. Instead we need to consider appearance
along with all other factors. We see this through Molly’s relationships with the car
salesman who sincerely loves her, the bar bouncer who takes advantage of her,
the jewelry story manager who tricks her, and the handsome thief who sends her
to prison.” This thesis is more effective because……
•
To analyze your language, look at specific sentences. In particular, look for
patterns. For example, you might write something like:
When I started English 107, I was unaware that I needed to place a comma after a
long introductory clause (Hacker 32a). For example, I wrote: “Even though
Molly knew it was a mistake she decided to go on a road trip with the handsome
thief.” Because I omitted that comma, my peers got confused when they started
reading the sentence. What’s worse, I made the same mistake fourteen times on
the first page of my essay!
•
Demonstrate your writing voice and personal style. If appropriate, add humor. ☺
For example, “My Writing and Other Disasters” is a better title than “My Progress
This Semester.”
•
Your Reflection Essay needs to be 1000 words.
•
Note that your final is due on May 3 (room TBA). Submit the original essay, the
revised essay, with changes marked, and the reflection essay in a folder. Also,
submit the revised essay and the reflection essay in the dropbox on D2L.
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APPENDIX I: SELF-ASSESSMENT WORKSHEET
Self-Assessment Worksheet: Textual Analysis Essay
Format
My essay is correctly formatted (title centered, first line of every paragraph indented, 1-inch
margins on all sides, double-spaced, page numbers included, 12 pt. Times New Roman font)
yes
no
Mechanics & Grammar
I have checked for punctuation, capitalization, spelling/wrong word, and grammatical errors.
yes
no
Documenting Sources
My in-text citations are accurate according to MLA guidelines.
My Works Cited page follows MLA guidelines.
yes
yes
no
no
yes
no
yes
yes
yes
yes
yes
yes
no
no
no
no
no
no
yes
yes
yes
yes
no
no
no
no
yes
no
yes
yes
yes
no
no
no
yes
no
Content & Organization
My title is logical.
Introduction:
My introduction begins with an attention-getting hook.
My introduction introduces the text and author.
My introduction briefly summarizes the text.
My introduction has coherence (move between sentences is logical and smooth).
My introduction concludes with my thesis statement.
My thesis statement is arguable, complex, and applicable to life.
Body:
The body of my essay proves my thesis statement.
Each body paragraph begins with a topic sentence that supports my thesis.
Each body paragraph includes evidence to support the topic sentence.
I use a signal phrase to introduce each quotation.
Each body paragraph offers an interpretation or explanation of the evidence that has been
provided (approximately 70% of my paragraph).
Each body paragraph discusses only one main idea, and there are no sentences that are “off
the topic”.
Each body paragraph has coherence (move between sentences is logical and smooth).
I use transitions to link paragraphs.
Conclusion:
My conclusion restates my thesis and the most persuasive arguments, and it makes a
connection to my introduction or to the larger world.
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APPENDIX J: ESSAY 1 QUESTIONNAIRE
Name:
Please think about the process of writing essay 1. You may refer to essay 1 to answer the
following questions. Please be specific with your answers. Thank you for taking the time
to answer the questions thoughtfully.
1. How long did it take you to write the rough draft for essay 1? Please be as specific
as you can._________________________________________________________
2. How long did it take you to write the final draft for essay 1? Please be as specific
as you can. ________________________________________________________
3. What help did you receive when writing the rough draft of essay 1? For example,
did you get help from a writing tutor, the writing center, a friend, the Internet? If
you did (which is fine), what kind of help did you get?______________________
__________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________
4. What help (other than peer feedback and teacher feedback) did you receive when
writing the final draft of essay 1? ______________________________________
__________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________
5. Did you find your peers’ feedback to be helpful? If yes, what comments were
particularly helpful (please provide examples)? If no, why did you not find the
feedback helpful and what comments were particularly unhelpful (please provide
examples)? ________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________
6. What comments from your instructor did you find most helpful? (Please provide
examples.) ________________________________________________________
147
__________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________
7. What comments from your instructor did you find confusing or difficult to
understand? (Please provide examples)__________________________________
__________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________
8. Why were the comments confusing or difficult to understand? _______________
__________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________
9. What did you do when you did not understand a comment?
__________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________
10. Do you feel satisfied with essay 1? Do you think you achieved your purpose in
writing it? If not, why not?
__________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
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APPENDIX K: ESSAY 2 QUESTIONNAIRE
Name:
Please think about the process of writing essay 2. You may refer to essay 2 to answer the
following questions. Please be specific with your answers. Thank you for taking the time
to answer the questions thoughtfully.
1. How long did it take you to write the rough draft for essay 2? Approximately,
how many hours?___________________________________________________
2. How long did it take you to write the final draft for essay 2? Approximately, how
many hours?_______________________________________________________
3. What help did you receive when writing the rough draft of essay 2? For example,
did you get help from a writing tutor, the writing center, a friend, the Internet? If
you did (which is fine), what kind of help did you get?
__________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________
4. What help (other than peer feedback and teacher feedback) did you receive when
writing the final draft of essay 2? ______________________________________
__________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________
5. Did you find your peers’ feedback to be helpful? If yes, what comments were
particularly helpful (please provide examples)? If no, why did you not find the
feedback helpful and what comments were particularly unhelpful (please provide
examples)? ______________ _________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________
6. What comments from your instructor did you find most helpful? (Please provide
examples.) ________________________________________________________
149
__________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________
7. What comments from your instructor did you find confusing or difficult to
understand? (Please provide examples.)
__________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________
8. Why were the comments confusing or difficult to understand?
__________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________
9. What did you do when you did not understand a comment? __________________
__________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________
10. Do you feel satisfied with essay 2? Do you think you achieved your purpose in
writing it? If not, why not? ___________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________
11. Do you think that your writing improved between essay 1 and essay 2? If so, what
areas improved? If not, why do you think your writing has not improved? ______
__________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________
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APPENDIX L: ESSAY 3 QUESTIONNAIRE
Name:
Please think about the process of writing essay 3. You may refer to essay 3 to answer the
following questions. Please be specific with your answers. Thank you for taking the time
to answer the questions thoughtfully.
1. How long did it take you to write the rough draft for essay 3? Approximately,
how many hours? If you wrote it in several sessions, try to describe the length of
each of these
sessions.__________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
2. How long did it take you to write the final draft for essay 3? Approximately, how
many hours? If you wrote it in several sessions, try to describe the length of each
of these sessions. ___________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
3. What help did you receive when writing the rough draft of essay 3? For example,
did you get help from a writing tutor, the writing center, a friend, the Internet? If
you did (which is fine), what kind of help did you get? _____________________
_________________________________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________________________________
4. What help (other than peer feedback from our course and teacher feedback) did
you receive when writing the final draft of essay 3? ________________________
__________________________________________________________________
5. Describe the strategies you used to write your essay? _______________________
__________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________
6. Describe any difficulties you encountered in writing your essay and how you
overcame them. ____________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________
7. Did you find the feedback from the peers in the course to be helpful? If yes, what
comments were particularly helpful (please provide examples)? If no, why did
you not find the feedback helpful and what comments were particularly unhelpful
151
(please provide examples)? ___________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________
8. What comments from your instructor did you find most helpful? (Please provide
examples.) ________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________
9. What comments from your instructor did you find confusing or difficult to
understand? (Please provide examples.) _________________________________
__________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________
10. Why were the comments confusing or difficult to understand? _______________
__________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________
11. What did you do when you did not understand a comment? __________________
__________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________________________________
12. Tell me which part of your essay you are the most pleased with and why. ____
_________________________________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________________________________
13. Do you feel satisfied with essay 3? Do you think you achieved your purpose in
writing it? If not, why not? ___________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________
14. Do you think that your writing improved between essay 2 and essay 3? If so, what
areas improved? If not, why do you think your writing has not improved? ______
__________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________
152
APPENDIX M: STUDENTS’ FEEDBACK STANCES FOR ESSAYS 1, 2, AND 3
Students*
Essay 1,
marginal
comments
Ai
Non.
Fang
Coll.
Cheng
NA
Jie
NA
Liang
Coll.
An
Coll.
Jiao
Coll.
Akram
Coll.
Lan
Coll.
Lutfi
Coll.
Guo
Non.
Bao
Non.
Kang
Non.
Qiang
Coll.
Tian
NA
Shi
Coll.
Hua
Coll.
Hu
Coll.
Song
Coll.
Fetu
Coll.
*Pseudonyms of students
Essay 1,
end
comments
Coll.
Coll.
Coll.
NA
NA
Coll.
Coll.
Coll.
Coll.
Coll.
NA
Both
Non.
Both
Coll.
NA
Coll.
Coll.
NA
Coll.
Essay 2,
marginal
comments
Coll.
Coll.
NA
Coll.
NA
Coll.
Both
Coll.
Non.
Coll.
Non.
Both
Coll.
Coll.
Both
Coll.
Coll.
Coll.
Coll.
NA
Essay 2,
end
comments
Coll.
Coll.
Coll.
Coll.
NA
Coll.
Non.
Coll.
Coll.
Coll.
Non.
Coll.
Coll.
Coll.
Coll.
Coll.
Coll.
Coll.
Coll.
Coll.
Essay 3,
marginal
comments
Coll.
NA
Coll.
Both
Coll.
Coll.
Non.
Both
Coll.
Coll.
Non.
Coll.
Both
Coll.
Coll.
Coll.
Coll.
NA
Coll.
NA
Essay 3,
end
comments
Non.
NA
Coll.
Non.
NA
Coll.
Coll.
Both
Non.
Coll.
Coll.
Coll.
Coll.
Coll.
Coll.
Non.
Coll.
NA
Both
NA
Coll. is an abbreviation for the collaborative stance; Non. is an abbreviation for the
noncollaborative stance; NA is an abbreviation for not available and indicates that the
student either did not give peer feedback or did not submit the peer feedback to the
instructor; Both is an abbreviation for both the collaborative stance and the
noncollaborative stance, which were equally assumed in the feedback.
153
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