Giving and Receiving Feedback

Strong academic writing is the result of collaboration. In the Writing Seminars, close collaboration is built into the course work as students practice giving and receiving feedback at every stage of their writing assignments. These exchanges benefit from using a Writing Lexicon and happen in the margins, discussion boards and response letters, and in student-led conversations with each other and their instructor, both in and outside of class. 

Generally students will have had four draft conferences with their instructor during the semester to discuss their writing and ideas, as well as their next steps towards each revision. (Learn more about the Writing Seminar Assignment Sequence.) The first will be a 45-minute individual conference about their draft of Essay #1. The second will be a 60-minute conference, where students are put in pairs to join their instructor in discussing each other’s drafts of Essay #2. This paired conference is designed to give added perspective on writing by having students work with a partner to develop an agenda for the discussion. Students build on this experience in the final unit of the semester, when they participate in a 90-minute conference to discuss drafts of their research papers with their instructor and writing group (typically a triad of students). Students also meet 1-on-1 with their instructor for a brief conference about their research proposal.

Students receive written feedback from their instructor in the form of marginal notes and an overall response letter on their drafts and revisions, as well as notes on certain low-stakes assignments like research proposals or annotated bibliographies. 

Before submitting a final revision of one of the three major papers, students also exchange critical, constructive feedback with one another in a series of guided workshops that read drafts in progress. The seminar typically spends two days every unit workshopping drafts, sometimes as a class, and sometimes in smaller groups. This means that everyone will have at least one paper workshopped in class during the course of the semester. At the same time, students may be assigned two peer review partners to exchange written feedback on their drafts, which ensures the benefit of peer feedback even if their draft isn’t being workshopped that cycle.

This combination of focused feedback and big-picture responses on their writing is designed to give students practice entering into an intellectual dialogue with their colleagues. It’s this kind dialogue that’s at the heart of both the First-Year Writing Seminar and the liberal arts education provided at Princeton. By immersing students in this community of writers they will give and gain honest, generous, and respectful insights about their growth as critical writers and researchers.

In the Spotlight: “Giving and Receiving Feedback, Some Guiding Principles”