Composition Students’ Opinions of and Attention to Instructor Feedback

Jennifer M. Cunningham, Kent State University

Published in 2019



Reading and attending to feedback has long been established as an important part
of the writing process and much pedagogical research discusses how to best provide feedback (Hillocks, 1982; Lipnevich & Smith, 2009; Poulos & Mahony, 2008;
Sommers, 1982). Little research exists, however, that investigates the frequency
with which students actually read their instructors’ feedback. Guided by three research questions, this study includes empirical survey data collected over two
years on a regional campus of a large, Midwestern university with an eight-campus
system. This study asks (a) if college composition students read their instructors’
feedback, (b) what might encourage them to read their instructors’ feedback, and
(c) what do they find helpful or useful about their instructors’ feedback? Students
were invited to participate via email or by an internal online recruitment. Qualitative
responses were coded topically, employing content analysis informed by grounded
theory. Overall, this study finds that students who earn As and Bs in their college
composition classes do read instructor feedback. Additionally, although mostly grade-driven, students are interested in feedback to help them improve their
writing and feel encouraged to do so when allowed to revise and when feedback
is clear, individualized, and positive. This research concludes that m