Why Student Writing Feedback Is a Continuous Process | Jeannette Lee Parikh | 8 Min Read

According to Greek mythology, Sisyphus was forced to ceaselessly roll a big stone up a hill. If we, English teachers, get feedback wrong, grading student essays can feel like a Sisyphean punishment, not to mention demoralizing for our students. 

To sidestep this frustration, when responding to student writing, we need to be clear on what the learning goals of the assignment are and what skills and knowledge we want students to master. We need to structure courses so that the assignments’ learning goals reflect the larger learning goals of the class.

You see, feedback begins long before an essay is graded and even assigned. It begins with class discussion. Our role in class discussion already discloses to students how we will interact with their essays. As teachers, if we can partner with students to structure class discussions so they are truly exploring their thinking, speaking to one another and not only to us, then students are on their journey to finding their voices without ours dominating the discussion. We must practice restraint, so students do the work to keep the conversation going. Students finding their voices is really the purpose of effective feedback. Students need to have confidence in…

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Jeannette Parikh

Jeannette M E Lee Parikh, Ph.D., is the assistant editor for Intrepid Ed News as well as the chair of the English department and head of community reading at The Cambridge School of Weston (CSW). Before CSW, where she has been since the fall of 2010, she taught at the college level for six years. She is an ISTE Certified Teacher and OER advocate. She is an experienced practitioner of integrating department-wide academic technology that serves pedagogical and curriculum goals. Her teaching philosophy exists at the intersection of the science of learning and cultivating creative thinking, joy, curiosity, playfulness, and self-awareness in all learners. She has presented at conferences on the importance of deep reading, critical listening, authentic discussion, and strategic writing in the 21st-century classroom.