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Title:Teachers' written comments and students' responses: A socially constructed interaction
Author(s):Williams, Sue Ellen
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Walker, Jerry L.
Department / Program:Education
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Education, Language and Literature
Education, Curriculum and Instruction
Education, Higher
Abstract:The purpose of this study was to investigate what happens when successful and less successful writers in first-year composition read instructors' written comments on their papers. It attempted to illuminate writers' interpretations and reactions to written comments, discover influences affecting students' responses, and define successful and less successful writers in this context. A qualitative case study approach was used where four successful and four less successful writers in first-year writing courses at one college provided the basis for this investigation. The research methods used in this study included interviews, observations, and document analysis.
The results of this study reveal that participants interpreted more written comments as their teachers intended than not, but both groups had difficulty in understanding comments couched in jargon. Student writers were also willing to negotiate change in response to written comments even when they did not understand them. Although they were aware that writing teachers belong to a discourse community that they are to imitate, they did not necessarily know how to access the discourse. The findings also indicate that students valued instructional comments that modeled revision strategies and ones that any reader might make. Whereas less successful writers valued positive comments for revision, successful writers thought otherwise. Students in this study claimed that comments fostered improvement on subsequent papers, but the final products did not demonstrate it.
Multiple influences also affected students' responses to written comments. Previous school experiences and present social influences such as personal priorities, writing assignments, and ideological conflicts created dissonance between students' responses and teachers' intentions. In addition, whether in the computer networked class, the interview with the researcher, or peer conference, the environment influenced the students' interpretations. These findings support reader response theory.
Finally, this study reveals that labels such as successful and less successful are ill-defined. Even though the participants for each group were selected according to established criteria, the successful - less successful distinction was obscured when considering participants' similar responses to written comments, their graded papers, or their self-reports about writing ability. Discussion about successful and less successful writers is context bound.
Issue Date:1996
Rights Information:Copyright 1996 Williams, Sue Ellen
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9702714
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9702714

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