Responding to Our Response: Student Strategies for Responding to Teacher Written Comments.


A study investigates the responses of students of English as a Second Language (ESL) to teachers’ written comments on essay drafts. Subjects were 15 students in intensive college ESL courses. The students wrote essay drafts, which were turned in to teachers for graded comments. The students were then interviewed within three days after receiving the graded final papers. Open-ended interviews focused on the changes students made in successive versions of their essays. Questions elicited an explanation of why each change was made, and how the student decided to make each change. Teacher comments (which could consist of implicit comments, explicit comments, direct corrections, or pointing out an error by underlining, etc). The focus of the comments (content, organization, lexicon, syntax, orthography, punctuation) and student changes (addition, deletion, rearrangement, substitution) were tabulated and analyzed. Results yielded three main conclusions: (1) students did read and use teachers’ comments to edit and expand compositions, but did not always understand the need for revision or substantially improve the compositions; (2) teacher comments did not do a good job of intervening in the writing process; and (3) comments often appropriated meaning and the students tolerated the appropriation. (MSE) * Reproductions supplied by EDRS are the best that can be made * * from the original document. * RESPONDING TO OUR RESPONSE: STUDENT STRATEGIES FOR RESPONDING TO TEACHER WRITTEN COMMENTS Ruth Chapin and Marjorie Te:dal Portland State University “PERMISSION TO REPRODUCE THIS MATERIAL HAS BED GRANTED BY Terdai TO THE EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES INFORMATION CENTER (ERIC).” U CMPARTMENT OF EDUCATION Offic of Educational teeseetce end anofirallawat EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES INFORMATION CENTER (ERIC) Xfir document Oes been mproduCed as weld from the 0011011 Of oroerulahon oturnating C Minor changes have OW made to imams* reproduebon OueMy Points of mew or COMM* stated in the dacemant do not necessarily fecoasent official OEM posalon of policy AB STR ACT This article reports the results of a research project that investigated the responses of fifteen lower-intermediate ESL writing students to their teachers’ written comments on their essay drafts. It was found that the majority of comments focused on form rather than content or organization. The changes made by the students mirrored their teachers’ comments. Most of the changes were made as a result of direct corrections, which comprised more than half the comments. It is suggested that these written comments led students to edit or to expand their essays by adding details or explanation, rather than to revise by changing or developing meaning. Interviews with students revealed that they did not always understand the comments made by their teachers, even when they made the appropriate change. Students tended to make the changes suggested by their teachers even if those changes altered their intended meaning. It is proposed that requiring multiple drafts and providing strategies for developing meaning on early drafts is mote likely to help students revise than is focusing on grammatical problems ana directly correcting student writing.