Many writing teachers spend hours providing written feedback on students’ first drafts of essays. After doing so, we hope students will apply the feedback to their other writing. However, sometimes students fix only the mistakes that are marked and do not apply it to the rest of their writing. It seems that one step is missing in order for students to apply what they learned to other writing. In order to help students bridge this gap, here are several suggestions:
1. Encourage students to keep an error log. In the log (download an example), students will write down 4-5 mistakes that they made in each essay. One simple way to keep a log is to print out tables with four columns:
|(a) sentence with a mistake||(b) description of the problem and the solution||(c) corrected sentence||(d) type of problem (e.g., adverb clause, punctuation, word form, etc.)|
It is helpful to give examples of completed error logs to students before they do it on their own. Students can use the log to notice patterns in their own writing.
2. Ask students to read the essay out loud. Students can read it to themselves, to a friend, or to a tutor. Many times, students can identify some of their mistakes (especially subject-verb agreement) when they hear it.
3. Highlight specific problems and refer students to the tutoring center. If there are specific and consistent problems in your students’ essays (e.g., informal vocabulary in academic writing, incorrect use of verb forms), you can highlight all the instances of the problem in the essay and refer students to a tutor. You can write a note to the tutor to explain what the issue is for that student (here’s an example). If your school does not have a tutoring center, you can use the specific problems in individual conferences with students.