Best Practices-Providing Feedback
What Are Best Practices for Providing Feedback in the Basic Writing Classroom?
“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson
The struggle in the basic writing classroom lies within, where the student seeks his or her voice. As instructors, our contribution to this concept of self as a writer can be substantial, depending on the way we provide feedback.
Most scholars in the composition field support a balanced approach to providing feedback on content and errors, with an initial focus on building on the positive. Through the revision process, feedback can progress to incorporate structural suggestions, discussion of errors, weak spots and organizational issues. Where student confidence is tenuous, instructor feedback can diminish fear or cement a mindset of failure. Basic writing students respond best to feedback that nurtures existing strengths, helps new abilities surface, and raises students’ expectations of themselves.
Instructor feedback that builds confidence, encourages exploration and risk-taking, and focuses on ability and strength rather than disability and weakness is paramount to helping students find the voice within.