Feedback Focused on Revision

Lori Rand is a guest contributor this week. She has been providing writing support for UNE students since 2009 and has taught English Composition courses for over 15 years. In her current position as an online writing tutor, Lori uses web conferencing to help students practice independent revision and editing.

Today’s post relates to one of the most important ways tutors provide feedback on student writing.

Feedback Focused on Revision

Assessing students on two levels – comprehension of content and communication of ideas through writing – is challenging. Content feedback is usually concrete, but as Olga has written in a past post, giving feedback on writing is not as straightforward. Initial feedback focused on revision vs. editing can significantly help students improve the quality of their writing and thinking.

Instructors who provide feedback on early drafts know the benefits, especially if the writing project is weighted heavily in the final grade. Reviewing even a partial draft can help you catch comprehension and writing problems so you connect students to extra support if they need it.

However, reading those first drafts can be discouraging. Sometimes a paper has so many issues, it’s hard to know where to begin. It’s easy to gravitate toward commenting on grammar and formatting errors in that situation, but that is more editing, which occurs towards the end of the writing process.

Students also often come to us initially with requests for help with grammar and APA formatting. We do work with them to identify error patterns and show them editing strategies, but first we focus on “higher order concerns” or “global revision areas.” Focus, development and organization are three revision areas you are probably already familiar with, and tutors review initial drafts with these questions in mind:

  • Focus – Does the introduction include a thesis statement to address the assignment’s main objective? Does each paragraph explain one idea, and is this idea introduced clearly with a topic sentence?
  • Development – Does each paragraph address part of the assignment prompt with specific information, evidence, appropriately cited? Is more analysis needed?
  • Organization – Are ideas grouped in logical ways? Are transitions used to show relationships between ideas?

These questions may help you provide feedback as well when you are reviewing early drafts.

Feedback focused on revision first can point students in a more specific direction for improving the quality of their writing. As a result, final papers will likely be more thoughtful and better aligned with assignment expectations.

If you have a student who needs help with any phase of the writing process, please direct them to this link:

Feel free to contact Lori Rand at for any questions related to student writing.

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