International Journal of Arts, Humanities &Social Sciences

ISSN 2994-6417 (Print) , ISSN 2994-6425 (Online)
Less Can Be More: Thoughtful Feedback to Promote Student Growth


All instructors provide feedback to students on their writing, but much of that feedback is unread or unacted upon. Students often fail to make substantial revisions to papers-in-progress or transfer the feedback to future writing tasks. The following study examined the effects of three different types of feedback (corrections, criticisms, and suggestions) on student writing in a first-year developmental college writing class in a public university in America. The instructor provided feedback on essays the students submitted, and we examined the frequency of revisions that were made, if any, on the final drafts based on each instructor comment in an effort to determine feedback practices instructors should follow or avoid. Students were most likely to make changes based on surface-level corrections rather than deeper revisions indicated by criticisms or suggestions. Also, the more corrections the instructor made, the less likely students were to make revisions, suggesting that many of the instructor’s comments were detrimental to improvement. This suggests that instructors should be mindful of the type of feedback they use to focus on the most important issues in a student’s writing.