Commenting Study

The purpose of this research study is to determine whether a “feedback file” method is as effective as the current practice of providing individual feedback on student drafts.


Current practice in writing studies focuses on providing students individual feedback on drafts of papers and projects. In technical and professional communication, we have long followed this model that we borrowed from composition studies. Some research, most notably Still and Koerber, have noted that in technical and professional communication, students to not read the individual comments on papers. This prompted us to ask the question is there another model of providing feedback that would be just as effective?

This big question led us to ask what can we put in place of individualized feedback that would still give students some guidance on how to improve their writing and the effectiveness of the documents.

We settled on providing students a general document that addresses common issues and problems across the assignment. So in lieu of individualized comments, students only receive this general document (called a feedback file).

Our hypothesis is that the test section (where no individual comments are given) will perform equally as well as the control section (where individual comments were given)

The project proposed here could alter the way that writing is taught and open up the possibility that students do not need individual feedback to learn how to write effectively.

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