Center for Faculty Excellence

Responding to Student Work

Options for Responding to Student Writing


  • conventional written responses to drafts—in addition to distinguishing between different kinds of comments and roles, there are many other ways of focusing response: see me for a copy of Elbow and Belanoff’s Sharing and Responding.
  • conferences—incorporate response into one:one office time.
  • email—tailor template responses via email.


  • ask students to respond to your responses; in other words, encourage dialogue. Letters written in response to our comments help us monitor whether or not students understand our constructions of their efforts.


  • compose a single letter to the class, responding to several issues emerging in a batch of drafts.
  • in class, orally address several issues emerging in a batch of drafts.
  • respond to end-of-class letters.
  • respond through group conferences, in or out of class.respond via Canvas/distribution lists.


  • ask partners or small collaborative groups to respond to one another’s work over the semester, perhaps guiding their responses according to specific textual or content issues. These responses can be conducted in class, out of class, or via email.


  • incorporate self-assessments into assignment sequences that involve writing, perhaps guiding these efforts as well, according to specific textual or content issues (again, see Elbow and Belanoff’s Sharing and Responding for many ideas).

Read additional suggestions on grading and responding to student work 

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