Thursday, June 24, 2010

Revision Logs

I'm teaching a composition class over the summer and right now I've begun grading my class's first set of papers. With this class, I decided to try something I haven't tried before. Along with the final draft of their papers, I had them turn in a revision log. For this log, there are two parts:

Part 1: They had to create a list of feedback they have received on their paper. They needed to include feedback they received from their peers in the class, feedback from me, and feedback from anyone else (like a tutor, friend, or family member) who helped them work on their paper.

Part 2: They had to create a daily log of what they did on their paper that day and, if applicable, whose feedback that change was in response to.

I had a couple of ideas behind the log. One was to help students look at their feedback comprehensively and see if there were trends where more than one reviewer pointed out the same strength or weakness. Another principle was that if they wrote down the specific steps they took to revise their paper, they would be more aware of their writing/revising process, which is something I put a very big emphasis on in my classes. One of the most important things anyone can learn about writing is what works best for them, and being aware of process is where that all starts. Last, my practical impetus behind the revision logs was to help hold students accountable for their revision. Sometimes, when I read a final draft, I find a student has ignored feedback, or made minimal changes. In a few of the very worst cases, I've read final drafts that were identical to the rough draft, save for a change in font, because students are nothing if not optimistic that I'm not paying very much attention.

So, I thought I would try an experiment where students had to write down what work they had done on their papers and when. Then, when I return the graded final drafts, I hope that by looking at their revision logs along with my comments on their rough and final drafts, students will be better able to see how effective their revisions either were or were not.

At this point, I haven't yet read the papers themselves. I decided to start by looking at the revision logs. It makes for interesting reading. Not surprisingly, I'm noticing a correlation between students who wrote detailed revision logs and students who are strong writers overall. Students who struggle with writing overall also struggle with their revision logs. As we continue through the semester and students get more practice with writing and revising, I'll be curious to see how the revision logs evolve.

Here are a couple of audience participation questions: When it comes to revision, have you ever done anything like a revision log? How do you handle going from getting feedback to compiling/implementing it?


Debbie said...

I try to keep one notebook for each book I'm working on. Any new ideas, inspirations, etc. regarding said book go there. As do the feedback I get from the group. Then I can see who said which about what and if there is agreeance or disagreeance about it. Then I get the deciding vote.

Camille said...

I don't think I've ever even though about my revision process (this is just when writing school papers, since I'm not a writer like you and most of your readers!)... I know I do a lot of changes, moving stuff around, then a read-through to make sure the information flows correctly.

I've never kept a log or even thought about it. :)

Jenny said...

Right now I think I'd hate you if you were my teacher....

I'm still learning about my revision process for fiction. I've only revised one big thing, and the more I think about it, I didn't really revise that strongly. I think I need space and time to figure out what to do with a book. Plus breathing room to re-energize. Feeback can be contradictory and I have a tendency to pick the things to change that are easier, but not necessarily right. I'm lazy. It's something I've learned about myself.

Ali said...

Deb - you are the organizational queen.

Camii - cool.

Jenny - it's always nice to be loved... wait... :p