How to Give Supportive and Effective Feedback on Writing

By Olivia Rowland, WIC GTA

WIC began the spring event series on April 14 with a workshop by Patti Sakurai on effective feedback. Sakurai first shared how she structures and gives feedback in her WIC course, ES 350: Public Discourse and Writings on Race. Sakurai explained the importance of giving students feedback early on in the writing process. In her WIC course, she responds to students’ freewrites about possible paper topics to make sure they align with the assignment prompt and checks in with students frequently during in-class writing sessions. Once students reach the drafting stage, faculty and/or feedback peer is linked to discussions about revision strategies.

Sakurai then discussed in detail her strategies for giving written feedback. She noted that having discussions about writing conventions and strategies in class can reduce the amount of feedback students need later on. Sakurai also explained how faculty can make their feedback more efficient by using abbreviations in comments on drafts and giving students a key to decode those abbreviations. Her feedback emphasizes higher-order concerns like argumentation, analysis, structure, and evidence over lower-order concerns like style and grammar.

The workshop concluded with a list of sample comments Sakurai has given on student papers. Overall, she emphasized the value of assuming that students have something they want to say and using feedback to bring their ideas forward.

Watch the workshop recording here.

Applying WIC Principles: A Cross-Disciplinary Discussion by Faculty New to WIC

By Olivia Rowland, WIC GTA

On Friday, April 21, WIC hosted a roundtable discussion with a group of 2022 Faculty Seminar graduates. Bori Csillag (Business), Phil McFadden (Biochemistry & Biophysics), Kim Rogers (Kinesiology), Vaughn Robison (Fisheries, Wildlife, & Conservation Sciences), and Alex Ulbrich (Electrical Engineering & Computer Science) talked about their experiences as new teachers of WIC courses.

Each panelist began by identifying a teaching practice that has been particularly effective in their course. Multiple participants touched on the importance of flexibility, whether that be in assessment, late work policies, or the use of class time. Rogers and Ulbrich advised making time for students to write and workshop their writing in class, while Csillag has found success by implementing a four- to seven-day grace period for students to turn in assignments.

The discussion then turned to challenges panelists have faced in teaching WIC courses. One theme that emerged from their interactions was a tension between wanting to give students explicit instructions to set them up for success, and wanting to encourage students to challenge themselves to make their own writing decisions. Ulbrich and Csillag discussed the importance of letting students know at the start of the course that they will have to embrace ambiguity in the writing process. McFadden and Robison also suggested normalizing struggle by telling students that they are not alone, and that their peers face similar challenges in writing.

The event concluded with Robison discussing the importance of building students’ confidence in their writing abilities and Rogers explaining the benefits of focusing on progress over the final product in students’ writing.

Watch the workshop recording here.

WandaVision and the Trauma-Informed Classroom

By Casey Dawson, WIC Graduate Intern

For the last event of the term, Sydney Elliott hosted a WIC workshop titled “WandaVision and the Trauma-Informed Classroom,” where she shared how she incorporates superhero stories and narrative-based learning techniques into her writing classes. She discussed how superhero narratives, like those found in Disney’s WandaVision TV series, can be implemented across the curriculum to give students accessible tools to explore their personal traumas and narrative structures, while also cultivating safety, community, and fun within the classroom.

Elliott also used the story of Marvel’s Scarlet Witch character to highlight the complex ways that trauma can manifest in one’s actions and self-image, helping faculty to recognize how trauma can manifest in the classroom and better preparing them to navigate these student relationships with care and empathy. Workshop participants then offered insights on how they incorporate both pop culture references and emotional well-being into their classrooms and assignments. 

Watch the workshop recording here.

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