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Help Students Revise Effectively

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)