Economics: Efficient and Effective Feedback – A Lesson Study Investigating Students’ Responses and Follow up to Feedback on Their Writing

Title: Efficient and Effective Feedback: A Lesson Study Investigating Students’ Responses and Follow-up to Feedback on Their Writing
Authors: Taggert Brooks, Elizabeth Knowles, James Murray, Laurie Strangman, Department of Economics; Bryan Kopp, English Department; University of Wisconsin – La Crosse
Discipline / Field: Business Communications, Research Methods
Submission Date: August 1, 2013

Abstract:  
We developed and implemented a systematic and efficient approach to give feedback on student writing in a business research methods course. In this lesson study, we investigate how students respond to this feedback. The lesson takes place at mid-semester, after students have spent some time developing their research question and reviewing the literature. At the time of our classroom observation, the students receive the first feedback of their first draft of the introduction section of their final paper. We observed their conversations upon receiving the feedback and noted how it influenced their revision plans. We conducted our lesson study over two semesters, Fall 2012 and Spring 2013.

To make the process of giving feedback efficient, we developed a database of comments on student writing which were specific to the objectives of the assignment. There are seven goals of the introduction assignment, some of which are specific to an introduction section of a research project, such as “State the purpose of your research project”, and some of which are very general, such as “Communicate in a clear and meaningful way.” Using these goals as the traits for a rubric, we developed a set of feedback comments that align to each goal suggesting improvements or noting when the objective was met. While the comments are specific enough to address specific goals of the
assignment and common writing problems, they were general enough so that they could be used for any student’s writing for the given assignment. We use text expanding software (Breevy for Windows, TextExpander for Mac) that allows the instructor to quickly populate a letter to each student with a set of comments appropriate for their submission.

Our classroom investigation revealed some challenges in giving feedback that effectively guides students on how to revise their work. One significant example concerns how students communicate purpose. While students may have attempted to communicate a specific purpose in one part of their introduction, often the introduction as a whole lacked focus. Even after receiving feedback, students were largely unable to recognize this problem or understand what kind of revision was appropriate.

Efficient and Effective Feedback – A Lesson Study Investigating Students’ Responses and Follow-up to Feedback on their Writing (Full Report)