Student Self-Reflective Comments A way of promoting instructor-student dialogue in paper drafts Naomi Silver
Instructions for Inserting Self-Reflective Comments• Once you’ve written your proposal, take a step back and think about any questions or comments you have about what you’ve achieved in your writing. Use the “comment” function in Word to insert 3 to 5 questions or comments in the margins of the paper. This is your opportunity to communicate with me “backstage” about the choices you’ve made. You might note places where: – you’ve tried to draw on key concepts from your research materials, – you think you’ve expressed an idea or summarized a point particularly well, – you feel uncertain about whether you’ve gotten your point across, – you are struggling with or confused about a particular concept.• Make sure your questions and comments offer enough information to allow the reader to know how to respond to you—e.g., explain why you’ve used the concepts you’ve chosen, refer to specific ways you think you’ve expressed something well, and so on.
Include examples• Here are two examples – one of a “good” (i.e., appropriately specific) question for this activity and one of a “bad” (i.e., overly broad) question:Good Question• Here’s an example of an appropriately specific question: “I’m not sure that the connection I’m making between these two pieces of evidence is clear enough. Can you see here how x relates to y?”Bad Question• Here’s one that is too broad: “Do you understand the argument I’m making about this article?” (Since this is the type of thing that I will address in my overall comments to you anyway, asking it here doesn’t let me offer you more specific feedback.)
Student example: preliminary research proposal
Student comment #1Comment: Should I profile eachleader for these factors as well, ifpossible? Or is this adding toomuch to the research?
Student comment #2Comment: This is my claim thusfar, I cannot qualify it any furtherwithout looking at Ho Chi Minh’smotive levels, since this is not onlytwo individual studies, but acomparative study as well. Is mygoal for my research clear?
Student comment #3Comment: I know that you had initially wanted me tonarrow down my research, but since Johnson’s motivelevels are extremely average across the board (on a 100point scale, where 50 is average, SD of 10, he scored48, 54, 54 in the power, achievement, and affiliationcategories, respectively) I think it would be beneficial tolook not only at Lyndon Johnson’s presidency, but theUS leadership as a whole. Do you agree with thisconclusion? Motive level scores are already given byWinter (2002) for the presidents; I think it would behelpful, but research-wise, a stretch to also motive-profile their Secretaries of State
Some takeaway points• These comments were responded to orally, in scheduled conferences• Written responses could be inserted right into the student’s comment bubble, with my initials attached• These comments gave me a much deeper sense not only of my student’s knowledge of the material, but also of the specific issues he was struggling with in narrowing down his research focus