Tasks and Feedback

An Exploration of Students' Opportunity to Develop Adaptive Expertise for Analytic Text-Based Writing

Published in: Assessing Writing, Volume 55 (January 2023). doi: 10.1016/j.asw.2022.100689

Posted on RAND.org on January 18, 2023

by Lindsay Clare Matsumura, Elaine Lin Wang, Richard Correnti, Diane Litman

In this study, we apply a cognitive theoretical lens to investigate students' opportunity to develop their analytic text-based writing skills (N = 35 fifth and sixth grade classrooms). Specifically, we examine the thinking demands of classroom text-based writing tasks and teachers' written feedback on associated student work. Four text-based writing tasks with drafts of associated student work were collected from teachers across a school year. Results of qualitative analyses showed that about half of the classroom text-based writing tasks considered by teachers to be challenging guided students to express analytic thinking about what they read (n = 73). A minority of student work received written feedback focused on students' use of evidence, expression of thinking, and text comprehension; or received feedback that provided guidance for strategies students could take to meet genre goals. Most teachers provided content-related, instructive, and/or localized feedback on at least one piece of student work. Only a small number of teachers, however, consistently provided content-related, instructive or localized feedback on their students' essays. Overall, results suggest that students have few opportunities to practice analytic text-based writing and receive feedback that would be expected to advance their conceptual understanding and adaptive expertise for writing in this genre.

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