Fall 2020



Degree Name


Primary Advisor/Dissertation Chair

Joe Lewis

Secondary Advisor/Reader One

Kathryn Tabke

Peer-Reviewer/Reader Two

Jacob Skerletts


The research question addressed in this study was: how can I improve feedback on student writing in order to help students improve their writing skills? Topics explored in the review of the literature include standards, assessment data, writing instruction, written feedback, surface- and content-level feedback, conferences, text-specific feedback and question asking. Students from two sections of Ninth Grade English at a large suburban high school were divided into two groups. Both groups completed two writing assessments. Each assessment was submitted twice. After the first submission of each assessment, each group received feedback from their teacher on their writing. One group received written feedback and the other group participated in student-teacher conferences. Both groups received both types of feedback over the course of the study. A mixed-methods approach was used. The quantitative data for this study was the average change in scores on rubric criteria from the first submission to the second. The qualitative data was taken from student questionnaires, asking for student opinions on the effectiveness of each type of feedback as well as preferences for one type of feedback or the other. Assessment score data revealed no significant difference between the effectiveness of two types of feedback. Responses to the student questionnaires showed a shift in student preferences from written feedback to conferences over the course of the study. Responses to the student questionnaires also showed a shift in student opinions regarding the effectiveness of each feedback method—from a belief that written feedback is more effective to a belief that conferences are more effective. Ultimately, the results of this study suggest that both written feedback and conferences are valid and effective strategies for providing feedback on student writing and that, if possible, both should be used by teachers. Limitations of the study and ideas for future research are discussed.








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