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Open Access Publications from the University of California

An Annotated Bibliography of Writing Assessment: Teacher's Written Responses to Student Writing

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Because it is difficult, time-consuming, vexing, rewarding, and fundamental to the teaching of writing, teachers' written responses to student writing has been and continues to be a topic of great interest to those in any field where writing is assigned, responded to, and graded. Although assigning and grading writing are closely related to response, the focus for this issue of the bibliography is response. Likewise, as Mathison-Fife and O'Neill remind us, student writers receive valuable feedback and response to their writing in other forms and from other sources--peer feedback, student-teacher conferences, workshops, and so on--yet the responses that teachers write to students on their essays constitutes some of the most important formative feedback and evaluative opportunities teachers have. Not surprisingly, much of the empirical research on response is textual analysis of teachers' comments or revisions students make to their writing after reading teacher feedback. Other research includes case studies of teachers and/or students in the dialogic process of teacher response and subsequent student writing. One of the biggest questions that remains is whether teachers' response styles are consistent with the emerging themes in modern composition studies; in other words, do teachers' responses reflect such important shifts as dialogue, processes, students' rights to their own language, and so on, or is response largely negative and devoted to criticizing and correcting student prose. These and other relevant, pedagogically minded questions continue to fuel the literature on teachers' written responses to student writing.

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