Responding To Student Writing: Motivate, Not Criticise

Ravichandran Vengadasamy


This paper proposes the idea that a teacher can motivate students in the writing class through the type of feedback he or she provides to students written works. This idea, which is partly based on findings of previous studies and partly on the writers classroom experience, report that students feel better motivated to engage in writing activities when they perceive their teachers to be more interested in what they have to say than in their language accuracy. The paper contends that too many error corrections can be discouraging to the learner writer. It supports the notion that teacher response should focus mainly on content. Two major approaches of responding to content are discussed. The first is directive feedback, which is generally felt to be ineffective in promoting autonomous learning. Instructional and evaluative comments are examples of directive feedback. The second and the desired approach is facilitative feedback. In this approach, teachers give comments in the form of ideas, opinions and suggestions all of which portray the teachers as interested readers. Such an approach is learner-centred and promotes autonomous learning, thereby increasing the level of motivation in the students.

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