"Needs Improvement": Student Perceptions of Formative Feedback on Writing in a High School English Program
Lesinski, Nicole M.
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The purpose of this collective case study was to discover how students in a rural/suburban high school with a new portfolio initiative felt about the various forms of feedback that they had received on their writing, specifically in their secondary ELA classes, throughout the progression of their varied high school experiences. Data collection in this study included surveys, interviews, and artifact collection, along with archival record documents. Surveys were administered to the entire junior class to obtain the broad view of students’ perceptions on the types and frequency of writing feedback that they had received throughout their high school ELA experiences. Six student participants were then interviewed about their overall experiences with writing in various ELA classrooms in order to gain knowledge of their perceptions of the usefulness of the various modes and methods of feedback which they had received within their high school careers. Additionally, written artifacts were collected from each of the six student’s junior year writing portfolios, including several drafts of one student-selected piece and a final/end of year written reflection on his/her growth and overall performance as a writer. These artifacts were then used to gauge the growth, if any, in individual writing skills based upon the specific method, or methods, of feedback received by each student. In order to understand what students perceived to be the most effective methods of feedback that they felt most improved their writing skills as ELA students, this study was framed by three research questions: 1. Which writing feedback modes and methods do these high school ELA students currently receive? 2. Of these methods, which, if any, do these high school ELA students perceive to be the most helpful and least helpful in supporting their writing development? 3. To what extent, if at all, do students’ perceptions of feedback coincide with improvement in their writing throughout the progression of drafts in their portfolios? Findings indicated that these high school students perceived one-on-one, dialogical writing conferences to be the most effective method of feedback, and the analysis of their revisions of written work from their portfolios supported that assertion. Students preferred writing pieces from different genres, but all described a personal connection that led to a felt-purpose in that writing. All wished for more creative writing opportunities. Implications of this study for educational programs in the Common Core era are discussed.