How do students usually understand revision?
Unless they are explicitly taught otherwise, students commonly assume that:
- Most changes will be at the surface level
- Revision “corrects mistakes”
- They need to address exactly and only issues that have been marked and labeled explicitly
- They are working towards a cleaner, clearer version of their first draft
- Revision happens once
What kind of revision can I expect from students with sufficient time and instruction?
Students need to be taught how to develop a more professional pattern of revision, which includes:
- Rethinking the central concepts, premises, use of evidence, and organization of their ideas.
- Following through with the logical consequences of local changes.
- Reorienting from writer-centered prose (the writer as primary audience) to reader-centered prose (the readers as primary audience), including developing stronger introductions, orienting and contextualizing information, and logical transitions.
- Reworking their syntax for clarity and concision, throughout the essay and not just in a few sentences.
- Ensuring that their evidence is clearly framed and introduced, and cited correctly and completely.
How can I teach students to produce more professional revision?
- Provide models of what professional revision looks like, discussing the thinking and work behind specific revisions, in order to make the expectations for, and processes of, revision clear.
- Discuss your own revision practices with your students, and how your own ideas on a project have developed over time.
- Provide revision-centered comments.
- Offer students opportunities for peer review.
- Encourage or require students to meet with a WRAP lecturer, writing advisor, or course instructor, or to
visit the Writing and Communication Center .
- Ask students to attach a cover letter to revisions, explaining what they’ve revised and why.
- Provide sufficient time between when you will return assignments with comments, and the revision due date (usually a week is necessary)