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Guidelines for Responding to Student Writing

The following guidelines are adapted from the research of Richard Straub and Ronald F. Lunsford who studied how twelve leading figures in the field of writing instruction responded to their own students’ writing (Chris Anson, Peter Elbow, Anne Gere, Glynda Hull, Richard Larson, Ben McClelland, Frank O’Hare, Jane Peterson, Donald Stewart, Patricia Stock, Tilly Warnock, and Edward White).

  1. Respond to student writing in well-developed marginal and/or end comments.
  2. Focus your comments on a limited number of concerns in a given paper.
  3. Concentrate on large conceptual issues in early drafts, not sentence-level concerns.
  4. Respond to student writing at various stages in the writing process.
  5. Balance positive and negative comments.
  6. Mark relatively few grammatical and mechanical errors, and save treatment of error until late in the writing process.
  7. Individualize your comments to the text at hand.
  8. Allow your developing sense of the students' identities to personalize your comments.
  9. Focus on the students as learners as well as on the texts they are producing.
  10. Ask more questions and give more descriptions of your reading process; be less directive and evaluative.

*Adapted from Richard Straub and Ronald F. Lunsford, Twelve Readers Reading: Responding to College Student Writing (Cresskill, NJ: Hampton, 1995), Print.

For more information, email Jon Olson