Responding to Student Writing

In a piece called “ABOUT RESPONDING TO STUDENT WRITING,” Peter Elbow writes:

The fact is there is no best way to respond to student writing. The right comment is the one that will help this student on this topic on this draft at this point in the semester — given her character and experience.My best chance for figuring out what is going on for any particular student at any given point depends on figuring out what was going on for her as she was writing.

I found this document on our schools website under “Teaching Resources” on the Provost Office page. It sounds like pretty good advice.

It also sounds different from the advice I find on another page of the institution’s website. On that page I find a “rubric” for assessing student learning in essays. It gives me six categories (overall impression, argument, evidence, counter evidence, sources, citations) and wordy descriptions of different levels of achievement in each. It’s pretty unclear from the document how it is intended to be used, but basically, it’s a grading scale.

Here’s my question: which kind of teaching students to write does my boss want me to use?

Author: Dan Ryan

I'm currently an Academic Program Director at I've been a professor at University of Toronto, University of Southern California, and Mills College teaching things like human centered design, computational thinking, modeling for policy sciences, and social theory. I'm driven by the desire to figure out how to teach twice as many twice as well twice as easily.

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