Date of Award

Fall 2012

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

First Advisor

Christina Ortmeier-Hooper


Much research on teacher written feedback has focused on the teacher's role in giving the written commentary. What these studies fail to provide is a description of if and how students are reading, interpreting and using this feedback in their revisions. Some research has explored how students feel about the feedback they receive, but few studies have investigated the interplay between teacher and student in the actual process of feedback and revision. Those studies that have looked at feedback and revision in the classroom context are few in both first and second language writing research. Further, these few studies fall short of making explicit connections between student revision and student learning. This dissertation argues that the key to describing how and why students revise is determining the level of understanding with which students read and interpret teacher comments. This level of understanding is then also essential when considering what students have learned versus what they have just copied from the teacher.

I conducted a qualitative case study of four first-year writing students and two writing instructors at a two-year college with a diverse population of students. Two of my participants were non-traditional students, one was a non-native speaker of English and one was a 'traditional' student. This diversity gave the study a rich look at both what about teacher feedback promotes student learning, and what may confuse students. Using Bloom's Revised Taxonomy, I described the different levels of cognitive processes students experienced as they read the feedback and revised. The taxonomy helped me differentiate between students' automated revisions and students' metacognitive awareness of the revision strategies they employed. Also, these cases evidenced the interplay of teacher appropriation and student agency in the process of feedback interpretation and revision. These findings suggest that teachers may need to explicitly train students to read feedback, and may need to open up new avenues for feedback negotiation in the writing classroom.