Two's Company, Three's a Conversation: A Study of Dialogue Among A Professor, A Peer-Writing Fellow, and Undergraduates Around Feedback and Writing
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A single teacher’s comments on student writing may feel less like a readerly interpretation of a text than directive instructions for writing “better,” closing possibilities for conversations about writing. Instead, when an instructor opens a space for feedback from multiple voices, the resulting dialogue could gesture toward the plurality of readings possible for one text and create a space for a writer to exercise and articulate choice. As a writing fellow in an art history class at an urban, private, religiously-affiliated university, I worked with the professor to provide feedback to student writers that modeled a multiperson conversation around their writing. Using Microsoft Word’s “Review” function, the professor and I commented on both student writing and each other’s comments. At the end of the semester, I reviewed these comments and noticed an interesting record on the page. These collaborative comments, along with e-mails and my logs from conferences with students in the University Writing Center, reveal the development of a conversation that recognizes a multiplicity of readerly interpretations. This method of feedback has the potential to invite students and teachers to enter into an interactive and stimulating discourse that re-positions the authority of both, encouraging students to more freely discuss their writing as authors.