Composition Students’ Opinions of and Attention to Instructor Feedback

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Jennifer M. Cunningham


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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How to Cite
Cunningham, J. (2019). Composition Students’ Opinions of and Attention to Instructor Feedback. Journal of Response to Writing, 5(1). Retrieved from
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Author Biography

Jennifer M. Cunningham, Kent State University

Dr. Jennifer M. Cunningham is an associate professor of English at Kent State University. Focusing much of her teaching and current research on online writing instruction (OWI), she has developed and taught fully online undergraduate courses such as College Writing I and II, Composition Theory, and Gender & Language. She also teaches a hybrid graduate course for all new teaching assistants in the English department who will be teaching composition classes. Among other scholarly activities, she works with the Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC) OWI Standing Group and is currently investigating the Community of Inquiry (CoI) framework as it applies to OWI.