To Fix or Not to Fix?

Essay by nana06College, Undergraduate November 2014

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March 10, 2012

EN: 102- Nardacci

Final Paper-Sommers

To fix or not to fix?

In the article "Responding to Student Writing" by Nancy Sommers, she reviews the purpose and effects of teachers' comments on student papers. The article talks about teachers often-giving student conflicting (contradictory) messages, but this article also offers teachers useful perspective on responding. Sommer provides two examples of student writing. Even though some students prefer that teachers comment on ideas, and not on grammar, sometimes the comments are confusing. Teachers without intention give students confusing messages and students don't know how to interpret what the teacher is looking for.

In both student examples the teacher corrects the errors in the paragraphs to make it look like a final draft, but on the first example the teacher gives the student a "contradictory messages" (Sommers 150) to correct errors in the paragraph and on the margin adds comments to expand and "[develop] more" (150).

The comments in the paragraphs and the marginal comment signify two different tasks for the student. While the inner comments focus on editing the text as a final piece the marginal notes recommend that this paper is a work in progress and that the student will need to do further research to develop his/her paper.

Often students "make the changes the teachers want to see" (149) rather than learning something from feedback because comments are vague. In most cases teacher comments encourage students to revise, but the problem is how students

perceive the comment. Students often perceive comments as not being able to tell what is "important and what is least important" (151). By students following every comment and fixing all errors as told so, the real revision that teachers want to see remains untouched. Students change what is "requested but do not take the...