Reading Room 10/16- Student-teachers Across the Curriculum Learn to Write Feedback Does it reflect on their writing?

Journal:  The Journal of Effective Teaching

Feedback is extremely crucial in the writing process and all writers need noted elements to improve on.  However, there are often times where people may not give the best feedback and it doesn’t constructively respond to authentic learning.  In the Journal of Effective Teaching article “Student-teachers Across the Curriculum Learn to Write Feedback Does it reflect on their writing?” by Esther Cohen-Sayag, Cohen-Sayag focuses on feedback on quality writing (more than themes and language aspect of writing).  Feedback is very crucial for teachers in their classrooms.  But do many teachers truly practice accurate methods to give/receive feedback?  Cohen-Sayag looks beyond the English teachers in this study and based off of other subjects.  Sayag gives an overview of this study by looking over how feedback changes with writing competency.

Writing down feedback is one of the ways a teacher-student relationship creates a conversation with their work.   In other words, the teacher may give quality notes on how the student could improve their writing or possibly the teacher will give questions for the student to think about on this assignment.  Feedback enables the students to have a chance to put more effort into their work and truly dive into the material.  What seems to be the challenge with receiving feedback on writing is that students want to appease their teacher and not writing based on authentic learning.  The intentions are not clear for students that feedback should be a consistent conversation between a teacher and student to express the writing.

In this article, Cohen-Sayag delves into the complexities with feedback, “The complexity of feedback writing depends on the context of the writing circumstances, teachers’ perceptions and goals and on the writing assignment” (Cohen-Sayag, 6).  The teacher’s goals on this writing assignment shouldn’t be highlighted during the feedback process.  If the goals truly do not match the feedback given by the teacher, the student is not authentically learning.  However, this is where Formative feedback comes in handy for students.  Formative Feedback relies solely on looking at the goals they want with their writing and how could they project their writing to the readers.  They would need to forget about on all the spelling mistakes and everything relating to syntax as well.

The resulting effects of feedback from the teacher in this study found behaviors and methods was very crucial for these student writers.  Second language writers felt feedback on condensed writing qualities was more helpful than non-condensed notes on their writing.  Second language writers found it extremely challenging to find those spelling/grammar mistakes and that their feedback had to be directed at their writing.

Other problems with writing feedback can cause so many challenges for teachers.  This one has to do with teachers look at specific lines they point out in an assignment and ignore the importance of comprehending the writing process each student uses.  The other one has to do with a teacher being extremely critical and do not give too much positive feedback on their writing.  Lastly, teachers are too bogged down on the technicalities of writing and completely disregard the ideas included in the assignment.

The course for teachers to practice accurate feedback and make sure they are ready to give notes for their future teachers.  The feedback should give the teachers to look back at their writing themselves.  However, it gets very tricky when it is strongly stressed this process is very formal.  The teachers should authenticate their learning by giving feedback in order to read the children writing.  All of this will be based on the child’s point of view in the writing.  The teachers need to read the writing aloud the written text with their colleagues so that accurate discussion is met in this course.

I found this article to be relative to my experience as a graduate instructional assistant in the creative writing program because it helps pose questions for me when I give feedback.  I have had creative writing professors tell me to always give positive notes and where they could expand in regards to craft.  However, in my practicum seminar, I hear my peers tell me it is challenging to continue to praise the students’ work all the time because not every paper they turn in will be great the majority of the time. In addition to that, I have to continue to stop myself from giving them formal notes on their writing and look more at their ideas.  How could their ideas be improved on by using craft elements?  To me, that is authentic learning inside the classroom because as an instructor, you are interested in their ideas.  We are taught by our former instructors/teachers that we have had in the past to put emphasis on grammar.  Correct grammar and spelling should be crucial for a student because you do want the writing to follow, but are we too engrossed in that aspect?  Shouldn’t we be fixated on their concepts that work with their writing?  That is something that I learned with this article.  It is something I need to continue to work on as a graduate instructional assistant.

Teaching in An Online Environment

In Marsha Carr’s article The Online University Classroom: One Perspective for Effective Student Engagement and Teaching in an Online Environment, several universities are moving forward with a new design in online teaching.  What this means is that students are in favor of an online option for that specific course within their major.  Some of these reasons students are opting for online classes is because they either have a family or work-related responsibilities.  Carr warns that educators should consider how to present their online classroom to the students in an appropriate fashion and more importantly, shape the layout of the class to be formatted on an online interface.  Online courses go down a different route compared to the traditional classroom on campus and it is crucial to understand what the main takeaway is for students taking the course.

 

When taking on this new role as an online teacher, it is their responsibility to design the course based on the goals within the course, social aspects, and last but not least the information for the correct category.  The social interaction requires an idea for setting up sections for emails, online videos, and of course group work inside this internet classroom.  In order to successfully interact with the students, the instructor must have consistent updates, certain lectures each week, and discussion forums to answer questions about the course.  For some students, this is a new way to complete a course and approach a new way of learning through an online course.  However, for others, this is a daunting task to take on during a semester and some students drop the course due to the unfamiliarity of online education.   This is where the instructor posts a tutorial video on the online interface such as blackboard.  Blackboard is an online interface that encompasses forums, specific modules for the instructor to install on each section of the course, video conferencing (or an option to use Skype just in case a student needs to talk to the instructor face to face).  With all of these special tools required for an online course, it is the instructor’s responsibility to ensure all of the students respond in the course appropriately in an academic setting.  These courses should be easily accessible to all students enrolled in the class and the instructor needs to install the correct link for students to submit their work online.

 

As someone who has had experience not only as a student taking online courses but also working directly with instructors as an assistant, I truly understand the pitfalls.  When I TA’d last fall in a creative writing class with 100 students, I can fully comprehend some of the disadvantages of working with students online.  Several questions came up as I was reading this article and reflecting on my experience with online learning: how do you assist a student when they are confused with a concept?  What sort of comments would be easily comprehensible for an online class when discussing their writing?  However, online classes will improve as time goes on and eventually, create a successful method to obtain the same goals an instructor would achieve in a campus setting.  After all, Marsha Carr said this, “Online course delivery is a valuable method of teaching but it requires an organized course format and delivery; an instructor who is knowledgeable in the environment; and students that are aware of the responsibilities and additional demands of the online setting” (108).

https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1060450.pdf

Teaching Philosophy

Teaching philosophies are a forever changing narrative for faculty members at a university.  According to Mary Bowne’s article “Developing a Teaching Philosophy” in the Journal of Effective Teaching, the philosophy is constructed to be both a reflective reminder; as well as a mantra to get them through the good and bad days as a teacher.  A teaching philosophy is a chance for faculty members to find ways to grow and make note of their specific ideologies used in the classroom.  For example, Mary Bowne makes note of the self-reflective process with a teaching philosophy, “This self-reflective process provides opportunities for faculty to continually self-examine their teaching and the learning take place within and outside the classroom”(60).  With this reflective process, several groups may participate in the teaching philosophy with the faculty member.  Some of these members could include students, supervisors, or even fellow educators.  This teaching philosophy is a tool for future educators wanting to teach someday because they look at the teacher’s philosophy so they can find their own narrative in the classroom.

As a first-time graduate student, reading this article really opened my eyes to teaching philosophies because I have only understood parts of the philosophy.  From my understanding, I have been under the impression that teaching philosophies reflect on the faculty instructor’s theories and lessons inside the classroom.  However, it astonishes me to read that a teaching philosophy encompasses a larger audience group.  It not only broadens my scope on what to expect when writing a teaching philosophy.  At the same time, I assure myself to not go into this process blindly and really seek out a second pair of eyes when I develop my own philosophy.  As Mary Bowne points out in the article, “Educators need to show humility, acknowledging that they don’t know everything about teaching and are willing to learn more, thus reflecting on past processes and experiences and adapting to new ones, showcasing a self-reflective, developmental process of one’s teaching”(62).  Mary Bowne shares the truth behind treating a teaching philosophy as a learning because the philosophy will always be a revision process.  As a writer and a student, I have learned that my work is going to be improving throughout my life.

https://www.uncw.edu/jet/articles/Vol17_3/Bowne.pdf