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Advice on providing better feedback…

May 3, 2014 Filed under Blog, Featured, Potpourri, Writing 

Nick McPhee: Red Pen
Our advisors coated the drafts of our writing in red ink. And, we, in turn, coat the drafts of our students’ writing in red ink.

Does the volume of red ink challenge students to improve their writing, or do they just shrug it off (for any number of reasons)?

I was just reading an article in Physics Today about improving physics teaching, and this little gem stood out.

“I have high standards but I believe you have the potential to meet them, so I am providing this critical feedback to help you meet those standards.”

As the article says, “That simple assurance increased, from 17% to 72%, the number of African American students who chose to revise their essay when encouraged to do so.”

So, for all you advisors out there providing written comments on manuscripts, personal re-assurance that your critical feedback is there to encourage students to meet higher standards will help them succeed.

This lesson could also be applied to the peer review process. Reviewers who encourage authors to meet higher standards might see the authors be more willing to go the extra mile toward improving their manuscripts.

Image from Nick McPhee

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