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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 the most instructors are providing feedback and, further, that students are reading it.
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