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Adjunct College English instructor

Lauren, you have posted a lot

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Lauren, you have posted a lot of information that is helpful to instructors. I wonder if you know this about your instructors, though: roughly 65% of them were probably adjuncts. Adjuncts receive very low pay and most teach at multiple locations. The demands on their time in relation to their pay scale are monumental. My natural tendency is to give students as much and as detailed feedback as possible. If I do this, I lose sleep, get sick, and become angry and depressed. I have far too many students, too many administrative responsibilities (completely different ones in each school) and too little time to do for students what I want to and know I should do. I believe students should join with adjunct faculty and protest their horrific treatment by colleges and universities across the country. The demands administrators place on us negatively impact our students' learning experiences. This is especially true for writing teachers, as the grading process is very time intensive.

In case you don't know this either -- we are paid roughly half of what full-time instructors are paid, we receive no health care benefits, and often no retirement benefits, and we drive further and have more email addresses to check on a daily basis, as each school insists we keep one for their campus.

English teacher loves this!

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I am so moved by your post. I agree that feedback needs to be meaningful for students, particularly when writing. The fact that you are so aware of this is a testament to your knowledge of yourself as a learner. I wonder if you are going into teaching and will change this dynamic. I think the main barrier to providing this type of feedback is time. It takes much time to do this, but I think if we can even focus on one part of the writing and give good, quality feedback it is worth it. Did you ever use writing groups to develop your writing? These are also very effective.

Feedback definitely needs to be a part of effective writing assessments.
Thank you.

High School English Teacher

Hi, Lauren, Thank you so much

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Hi, Lauren,

Thank you so much for sharing your experience with different types of writing assessment grading. As a current 6th year English teacher, I find your comments helpful as I grade my students' writing. Like you I see the pros and cons to rubrics. I tend to use them a lot circling not just the point values but also the elements missing or deficient. However, I also try to always make a point to write at least a few positive and a few constructive comments in the margins, too. Authentic feedback was always most helpful for me as well.

I really like your insights into Word's "track changes" feature or GoogleDoc's comments function. I just started experimenting with both in my classes this fall (I know -- a little behind the curve!). The kids seem to love the instant feedback of gDocs and being able to access documents from anywhere.

With online grading I find myself writing more quality comments than when I grade on paper. However, I have trouble showing grammar and mechanical errors online. Do you (or anyone else!) have any solutions that work well for this (other than the give comments online and grade mechanics on paper suggestion)?


NBCT, science educator

Quality feedback, that is

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Quality feedback, that is timely and specific to the learning task[s] can have a positive effect on learning. I'm glad you shared your experience with us and the value in using technology to enhance the feedback!

Thank you so much for your

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Thank you so much for your thoughtful post; I agree with you in that you are very aware of the feedback you have received throughout the years and I hope you continue this process of reflection.

Senior English Teacher in West Chester, PA

Audio Comments

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I enjoyed reading your post about feedback. I think you will have a wonderful time with your students because you are well prepared to provide feedback to them. Your post was helpful to me in that I follow a lot of the "rules" you offered. My handwriting gets tired after a while and I don't have much to say after several papers in a row.

There are two things I'd like to further suggest to you. First is that you might enjoy using audio comments. I read an article by Sara Bauer in English Journal about this and I have been hooked ever since. I read student papers and then record a 3 - 5 minute commentary on their work. It's great because I can flip through and find specifics for them. I use a program called "Audacity" which is free, I believe. I then post my mp3 comments onto google docs and share with the student in question.

I forget what the other thing I was going to say was. Sorry!

Hope that helps.


Writing students need the

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Writing students need the detailed feedback in order to hone and sharpen their writing skills. Taking the time to motivate students is where the difference is made between an instructor just there to earn the pay, and the ones who really care about their students progress and future. Keep up the great work Lauren, I predict you will be the instructor that your future students will never forget!

I am the principal of El Crystal Elementary School

Principal San Bruno California

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This article was posted in the Education section of Zite, a personalized online magazine operated by CNN. I really appreciate your thoughtful perspective. Giving meaningful, timely feedback to students about their writing is one of the most difficult yet essential activities in a successful classroom and learning environment. I applaud your effort to bring this level of awareness to all educators.

11-12 English and 9-12 Drama/Forensics Teacher from Nebraska

Providing Feedback is Labor-Intensive Work

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I favor high-level feedback over timely feedback, but at the end of the year, I gave my senior students the option -- get your explications and mimetic poetry back QUICKLY or with detailed feedback -- because I knew I couldn't realistically provide both (unless it was at the expense of my children being able to feel as though they have a mom and my husband being able to feel like he has a wife). At this point in the year, the majority of the students chose QUICK feedback over COPIOUS feedback. It worked out well.

As a student, I would've chosen copious feedback.

When I taught online classes, I was able to use some of the above-mentioned digital methods for feedback and it worked very well. Next year our district is going 1:1 so I'm hoping to take advantage of providing efficient (but detailed) digital feedback.

I thrive on feedback, even as a veteran teacher, so I can only imagine my students do too. BUT, providing both timely and heavy feedback is SUCH a challenge.

Thanks for the food for thought.

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