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Teachers’ written comments and their effects on students’ revisions Wilson, Jennifer Ruth

Abstract

This study examines effects of teachers' written comments on students' writing, specifically the number of revisions students make in response to teachers' comments. The two teachers involved in this study were colleagues and had completed a study together previously. Analysis of teachers' comments (whether content-based or convention-based) and differences between high-, medium- and low-level writers' (ability rating based on teachers' assessment of written work) revisions are included. Teachers' written comments on students' (n=52) narrative writing (n= 139) from two grade-seven classes were categorized and coded, as were students' revisions made in response to their teacher's comments. Results of descriptive and correlational analyses show there are certain written comments that teachers make on students' writing that elicit a greater number of revisions from students than others. Although the teachers had worked together previously presenting workshops on writing instruction and had discussed commenting practices at length, differences between commenting styles became evident. Teacher 1 's comments were largely content-based, with the greatest percentage of student revisions relating to content-based questions, and for Teacher 2, whose comments were mainly convention-based, convention-based statements resulted in the greatest percentage of student revisions. Findings also reveal that the number and type of revisions made by students is strongly related to the types of comments teachers most often make, and that teachers' commenting emphasis, on either the content or conventions of writing, remain relatively consistent over the seven month term of the study. An examination of the differences between the comments made on high-, medium-, and low-level writers' papers indicate there is a tendency for the teachers to focus more on conventions of writing when responding on the lowlevel writers' papers than on medium- and high-level writers' papers. In addition, the number of associated student responses to teachers' comments varies depending on students' writing level, student-teacher relationships, and teacher expectations.

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