“They Said I Have a Lot to Learn”: How Teacher Feedback Influences Advanced University Students’ Views of Writing

Dana R Ferris
University of California, Davis

Published Apr 2, 2018



This study examines the relationship between students’ memories of feedback received from teachers about their writing and their attitudes toward/enjoyment of writing.  Over 8500 survey responses were collected from advanced undergraduate students in a large university writing program. A question about the characteristics of teacher feedback received by student respondents was examined both quantitatively and qualitatively (optional verbal comments were categorized according to themes), and then responses to a different survey question about students’ attitudes toward writing were statistically compared with their memories of teacher feedback. Responses to the teacher feedback and writing attitudes questions from different student subgroups (analyzed by first language backgrounds and by when they matriculated at the university) were also compared statistically. Results showed that students have had a wide range of reactions, some positive and some negative, to teacher feedback, and that there is a strong relationship between their self-reported enjoyment of writing and how they have experienced teacher feedback. It was also clear that multilingual students (both bilingual and second language English writers) have more negative attitudes towards writing in general and less positive experiences with teacher feedback.