“Comments to Comments”: Helping students understand how to use feedback in revision

I participate in an online instructors’ forum and I always enjoy the resources, advice, and ideas people contribute. One post recently introduced me to the article “Comments to Comments: Teachers and Students in Written Dialogue about Critical Revision” by  Chrystine Berzsenyi.

In the article, Berzsenyi outlines the way she gets her students to engage in the revision process and respond to her feedback, turning the feedback and revision cycle into a meaningful experience for the students:

  1. Students write a first draft.
  2. Berzsenyi returns their drafts with feedback (marginal and end comments written directly on the paper).
  3. Students transcribe, verbatim, each piece of feedback, and then reply to each prompt. They must “respond with discussion about their choices, justification for agreeing or disagreeing with [her] interpretation of their writing, interpretations of the assignment, questions, challenges, and so forth. What results is a written document that resembles a play script of dialogue between teacher and student about the student’s text.” (Students receive a grade for completing the Comments to comments assignment.)
  4. Berzsenyi responds a second time in writing; after this, the conversation can continue in person if the student wishes.

I think this sounds like a very interesting idea and I may try implementing it in future. It seems she just does this once, at the beginning of the semester, but the dividends pay off throughout the semester later on.

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