Vol 4 No 1 (2018)

Published: 2018-04-02

Editorial Section

Editorial Introduction

Grant Eckstein, Betsy Gilliland

Featured Articles

Peer Reviews and Graduate Writers: Engagements with Language and Disciplinary Differences While Responding to Writing

Kate Mangelsdorf, Todd Ruecker

Although peer review as a method of writing response has been examined extensively, only limited research exists on peer review at the graduate level. This study examines graduate students’ peer review interactions in a writing workshop in which first- and second-language students from different disciplines were enrolled.  The researchers focused on how students engaged with language and disciplinary differences as they peer reviewed.   Data were collected from two separate writing workshop classes over two semesters and included videorecordings, observation notes, writing samples, and end of semester surveys.  The researchers found that some students could provide only limited assistance when working with peers from different fields.  The peer review groups’ effectiveness was strained when there were large gaps in academic levels.  However, peer review groups were generally productive when students from different language backgrounds worked together.  The peer reviews were effective in raising students’ rhetorical awareness and strengthening their understanding of genre conventions.  Students showed an openness to language differences, and in their discussions they helped each other navigate the challenges of graduate school. Implications for using peer review in writing interventions for graduate students are discussed. 


Second Language Teachers’ Written Response Practices: An In-house Inquiry and Response

Joseph J. Lee, Farzaneh Vahabi, Dawn Bikowski

This in-house inquiry explores the response practices of a group of L2 writing teachers in our specific program to gain a better understanding of these teachers’ feedback practices and to bring about purposeful change within our local context. Data consists of 4,313 electronic feedback (e-feedback) items given by six writing teachers to 36 L2 students on six writing tasks in a first-year writing course for international students. Using Ene and Upton’s (2014) e-feedback framework, each feedback instance was coded for feedback target, directness, explicitness, charge, and location. Although some variations exist, results show that these teachers overwhelmingly focused on form across writing tasks. Findings also show that the e-feedback was primarily corrective, direct, explicit, and within-text. Following a discussion of our programmatic response to this internal investigation, we conclude by arguing that programs can establish philosophies of response grounded in their specific context based on examination of local practices.

The Genre of Teacher Comments from Hard-Copy to iPad

Jennifer Grouling


Although scholars have advocated for new technology to be used when responding to student work, there has been little study of how commenting genres vary across technology. Using a combination of artifact analysis and interviews, this study shows how the commenting styles of five writing instructors varied between hard-copy and iPad-collected papers. Comments were coded for focus and mode based on previous work by Straub and Lunsford (1995). The overall focus, mode, and length of comments remained consistent across technology. However, participants made significantly more imperative/command comments using the iPad, particularly in marginal comments. Interviews showed a significant difference in comfort and tactile experiences with the iPad, which may account for this difference.

Teaching Articles

A Conversational Approach: Using Writing Center Pedagogy to Comment for Transfer in the Classroom

Elizabeth Busekrus

While some studies hint at how teachers’ written comments help students transfer writing skills across contexts (Wardle, 2007), the literature on feedback’s role in the transfer process has yet to be fully explored. Within this article, a mixed methods pilot study, based in a college writing class at a Midwestern university, is used to explore the correlation between transfer and teacher feedback. In this study, quantitative measures consisted of coding each comment by type (subject of the comment) and tone (connotation behind the comment). Types became coded into one of the following groups: content, grammar/mechanics, clarity, formatting, and general, and tone was coded into general impressions (positive, negative, or neutral feedback) and style (directive, suggestive, or other). The students’ writings were evaluated and compared against the comments to note any trends. development. Qualitative data consisted of interviewing and surveying two students throughout the semester. Findings from this initial study validated previous research; transfer, overall, was not integrated into this classroom. To rethink this process, this article discusses how writing center principles can be applied to commenting for transfer. Writing center feedback, in its individualized, student-centered approach, can reframe transfer in the classroom because of its intentionality and scaffolding in goal setting and dialogue.  

Full Issue