Commenting/Grading

I tried to make comments that would encourage the student to think about their arguments more in depth and maybe reconsider points that were overlooked in writing the first draft. A lot of times I felt that the student had had a great idea but had not followed through with it as much as he could have, so I tried to point out places where something could be extrapolated or elaborated on. I also tried to encourage the student to go back over the quotes that he chose to integrate into the paper and consider how or what those particular quotes contributed to their argument, both for the paragraph and the essay as a whole. Often during tutoring I found that my students would simply pull out random quotes that only loosely related to what they were arguing, and then they would have no answer for questions like “What are you going to say about this quote?” or “How does this support your argument?”

I think in terms of instructor comments, the most useful ones are the most specific, especially when they are trying to address issues of argumentation or interpretation. It may seem like enough to just ask “Why?” or “What?” about a bit of underlined text, but sometimes it’s hard to tell from just that much just what needs to be explained or examined further. I remember in high school I had a teacher who would simply write a bit L over sections of text that he thought were too poorly analyzed or reasoned, and while that did encourage us as students to look back over our own text ourselves, this kind of commentary is also a bit too vague. The same goes for instructors who simply write “No” or “Wrong” next to a bit of text. Not only is this very discouraging for the writer, but it also provides no help at all and no advice for improvement. A more helpful comment would include an explanation of why a particular train of reasoning isn’t the most useful or logical, as well as a question to consider or a bit of suggestion for how to approach the idea from a different angle or discuss it a different way.

Overall I gave the paper a C+, because it did not present a clearly articulated thesis and lacked adequate transitions between the major paragraphs. Furthermore there were a number of ideas that the writer did not elaborate on, but which could have made the paper much more effective. The student didn’t take very many interpretive risks with the paper, and left out, on several occasions, details which would have been helpful to clarify and hone the argument. The paper shows promise, but not enough of that promise is realized to warrant a true B.

Maryna Sidykh

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