Tag Archives: writers

Writing and Feedback: A Partnership for Growth

In the articles assigned for this week, John Bean’s “Writing Comments on Student Papers” and Nancy Sommers’ “Responding to Student Writing” both delve into the significance of providing constructive feedback on students’ papers.

Receiving feedback as a writer is an essential and invaluable part of the creative process. It serves as a mirror reflecting not only the strengths but also the weaknesses in our work. Constructive criticism helps writers refine their craft by identifying areas that require improvement, be it in style, clarity, or storytelling. Furthermore, feedback offers a fresh perspective, often revealing nuances and insights we might have missed due to our proximity to our own work. It also helps writers understand their audience better and adapt their writing to connect more effectively. Additionally, feedback builds resilience, fostering the ability to handle rejection and criticism, which is inevitable in the world of writing. Ultimately, feedback is a compass guiding writers toward growth, refinement, and the creation of impactful and resonant pieces of literature.

During my elementary school years in my English classes, I vividly remember embarking on the writing journey, which consisted of prewriting, drafting, revising, and editing. This process frequently appeared as the most daunting aspect of writing, yet it has consistently served as an indispensable cornerstone for my writing abilities throughout my life.

At times when I didn’t receive constructive, guiding feedback, I felt like I was tailoring my work to meet the teacher’s expectations for a grade rather than advancing as a writer. This crucial feedback, or lack thereof, can make or break a writer. When students receive thoughtful and instructive feedback, it acts as a springboard for growth and fosters a deeper understanding of the craft. However, without such guidance, students may stagnate, only ticking boxes for grades without internalizing the art of effective writing. The impact of a teacher’s feedback can fuel a writer’s evolution or hinder it, making it a pivotal factor in one’s writing journey.

In the article by John Bean, he urges teachers to enhance their grading practices. To underscore the significance of this aspect of grading, Bean draws a comparison to butterflies. He suggests that the concluding comment on a draft is akin to a butterfly before undergoing metamorphosis – at this stage, it resembles a caterpillar. However, through effective feedback and revision, it can transform into a beautiful butterfly. I found this analogy to be a brilliant representation of the writing process.

Moreover, in Nancy Sommers’ article, she claims it is crucial to differentiate comments on drafts from those on final essays. On rough drafts, it should assess where the draft is now and offer encouragement of where it could go. In the draft stage, teachers can push students to strengthen and possibly reframe or reorganize their arguments. However, on final drafts, comments should assess the strengths and weakness of the paper, but focus on transferrable lessons for future assignments like, “In your next paper, you might want to try…” or “Before writing your next paper, ask yourself…”

Sommers makes a valid point when she mentions,

In commenting on our students’ writing, however, we have an additional pedagogical purpose. As teachers we know that most students find it difficult to imagine a reader’s response in advance, and to use such responses as a guide in composing. Thus, we comment on student writing to dramatize the presence of a reader, to help our students to become that questioning reader themselves, because, ultimately, we believe that becoming such a reader will help them to evaluate what they have written and develop control over their writing.

Sommers’ perspective highlights the transformative potential of thoughtful feedback in the writing process. By helping students become more aware of their audience and writing choices, educators can empower them to become more effective and self-reliant writers in the long run.

I found both articles to be valuable guidance not only for educators but also for individuals in professions involving the evaluation and feedback of student papers. These articles underscore a perspective that resonates deeply with me: the belief that teacher feedback should function as a guiding path for students and individuals alike, empowering them to reach their utmost potential in their writing journey.

The role of teacher feedback should extend far beyond the correction of errors. It should catalyze growth and improvement. Teacher comments should possess the transformative power to inspire students, instilling a sense of purpose and motivation to revise and refine their papers. When a teacher provides effective feedback, it can ignite a desire for mastery, encouraging students to take pride in their work and view the revision process as an opportunity for enhancement and self-discovery.

Is the rise of Open AI’s chatbot, ChatGPT, a threat to the livelihoods of human writers?

Photo by Om siva Prakash on Unsplash

For this week’s pathfinding session, the article assigned, Will ChatGPT Replace Human Writers? by Peter Biles, explores whether artificial intelligence (AI) can replace human writers, given the development of technologies like OpenAI’s DALL-E and ChatGPT. Sean Thomas of the Spectator World argues that writers are “screwed” and recommends they quit the craft entirely.

However, Christopher Reid, an academic translator, takes a more balanced approach, suggesting that creative workers will “post-create” by using machines to generate initial ideas that they then refine. However, Reid is concerned about copyright issues and believes AI technicians need to develop a way for human creators to receive dividends when AI mimics their work. The article then goes on to question the reductionist view that writing is merely “algorithmic,” as language serves a two-fold purpose: to convey reality and establish a relational connection with others. Bile suggests that the personal and conversational element of language makes it uniquely human and that AI may never be able to replace human creativity. While AI can generate facts and pretty sentences, it cannot engage in dialogue and lacks a mutual commitment to reality. 

Some critics, such as Sean Thomas, argue that AI will soon be able to outperform human writers in all areas. He suggests that writers should quit the craft entirely, as computers will do it better. However, the article challenges this view, arguing that writing is not simply an automated algorithmic process. The purpose of language is to convey reality and establish a relational connection with other people. AI may be able to generate text, but it cannot engage in real communication because it is not interested in reality and lacks a mutual commitment to truth. AI-generated writing cannot replace human writing, because it does not have the interpersonal and personal element that makes it uniquely human.

The article notes that AI will reduce the cognitive load of creating, allowing creative workers to post-create instead of create. A machine can generate an initial idea, and the artist or writer can then tinker with it to produce a final product. However, the article also raises concerns about copyright issues, particularly for artists, and calls for AI technicians to develop a way for human creators to receive dividends when AI mimics their work.

While AI has an impact on creative work, it will not replace human writers and artists. Instead, the impact is somewhere in the middle, where AI can aid and complement human creativity but never be able to replicate the personal and interpersonal nature of human communication.