Tutoring Writing Week #11
Responding to Student Writing, Responding
to Language Diversity,
Responding to Errors
• “Responding to Student Writing” CCC (1982).
• Her research questions:
1) What comments do teachers make on
student papers? (How does our theory of
responding compare with actual practices?)
2) How do students feel about these comments.
(Which comments motivate substantive
• Team of three researchers.
• Analyzed comments by 35 teachers from 2
schools (NYU and U of OK) along with
comments generated by computer program.
• Interviewed a sample of teachers and
In class exercise:
Are the results of this study true today?
• As I review the three main results of this
study, please take notes about how your
experience compares with their results.
• I will pose a question for each result to get
• We will discuss your answers.
• “…the calm, reasonable language of the
computer provided quite a contrast to the
hostility and mean-spiritedness of most of the
teachers’ comments” (149).
• Have you received mean-spirited comments
on your writing?
• “teacher’s comments can take students away
from their own purposes in writing a
particular text and focus that attention on
the teacher’s purpose in commenting” (149).
– “Contradictory messages”: teachers mark both HOC’s
– Students thus have trouble prioritizing which
comments to attend to when they revise.
• What types of comments help/hinder you?
• “most teachers comments are not text-
specific and could be interchanged, rubber-
stamped, from text to text” (152).
• Do you get generic comments on your
• Address students’ reasoning first, which may
push writers back into the messiness of
making meaning rather than the tidiness of
• Base comments on the students’ stage in the
• Create connections between comments and
goals of the writing class.
Implications for Writing Center Work
• “As a means for helping students, they
[written comments] have limitations; they are,
in fact, disembodied remarks—one absent
writer talking to another” (155).
• How can writing tutors intervene here?
In class exercise
• Pretend that a student comes to you with
their paper marked as the paper Sommers
presents on page 150-151.
• How would you respond to this student?
• Take about 10 minutes to discuss this in small
Lunsford and Lunsford’s Top Twenty
• "'Mistakes are a Fact of Life': A National
Comparative Study." College Composition and
• Updates Andrea Lunsford and Robert Conner’s
1988 paper “Frequency of Formal Errors in
College Students Writing: Or Ma and Pa Kettle
Lunsford and Conners 1988
• Note conflict:
o The process approach deems the marking of
errors as outside the work of college writing
o Teachers (and other readers) notice errors.
• They aim to determine the errors teachers
mark and the errors students make.
• Collect 21,500 papers from 300 teachers.
• Select representative sample.
• Develop taxonomy of errors.
• Create team of 50 readers.
• The errors teacher mark vary.
• Teacher mark fewer than half of the errors in
• The numbers of errors remain constant, but
the types of errors have changed, reflecting
what Lunsford and Conners call “visual
Lunsford and Lunsford
• Types of writing students complete growing
• Types of error:
o 1 computer: wrong word
o 7 punctuation: 2, 7, 11, 13, 15, 16, 20
o 2 pronoun: vague, lack of agreement
o 3 documentation: quotation, format, integration
o 5 mechanics: spelling, capitalization, missing word
o 2 other: sentence structure (syntax), verb tense
Lunsford and Lunsford
• What are the implications for writing center
• What are the implications for attention to
Language Diversity: Victoria Osgood
• She reviews the work of Peter Elbow, Geneva
Smitherman, Lisa Delpit, Erica Lindemann,
Stephen Parks to argue for a both/and
position: a position that values students’
dialects and also helps them gain facility in
• What are the benefits of this position?
• How might it be more complicated than
In class exercise-
to be finished on the blog for homework.
• Review Victoria Osgood’s essay. Note where you
agree and disagree with her.
• Join the group with your name on the blog and
offer about a paragraph of feedback for Osgood.
Where might she improve her argument?
• Read and comment on your group members’
feedback. In what ways is your feedback similar?
How does it differ? How do your positions on
language variety compare?
• What lessons can you apply when your write your