I gave comments that focused on the most pervasive issues in the paper as well as the most successful areas. The most important issues I saw were the vagueness of the thesis, the clarity and complexity of arguments, and the use of successful idea quotes. To help the improvement of these issues, I generally offered questions for expansion, or indicated why a fact quote is not successful in a particular area. Beyond that I found that the student had clear topic sentences and some strong arguments that were left underdeveloped but indicated a deeper thought to be expanded upon. I think overall the paper was close to a B, but a C+ was more appropriate because a B- is not a valid grade.
I find that it is essential to point out at least one strong moment on each page as a means of encouragement. Too much negative feedback reduces the strength of any one comment. The paper’s end comment is also important to summarize the most comments and explain what the writer could do. I wrote this comment as though I were expecting the student to revise so that they could more clearly connect the comments to a future paper.
I found that most of the comments instructors gave were useful and pointed out the most troublesome issues. Reading the comments helped me as a tutor to guide the writer in the right direction and to improve the biggest problems. There was one instructor who wrote something borderline offensive and totally critical with no constructive air. This discredited all his other comments to the student and really upset her. I think this made the class much worse for her and rather than gaining an appreciation for reading and writing, harmed her outlook.