English Ph.D. Dissertations


Reconsidering Teacher Commentary As Interactive And Collaborative Dialogue: Implications For Student Writing And Revising

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


English (Rhetoric and Writing) PhD

First Advisor

Lee Nickoson (Advisor)

Second Advisor

Melissa Miller (Committee Member)

Third Advisor

Kristine Blair (Committee Member)

Fourth Advisor

Sue Carter Wood (Committee Member)


This dissertation focuses on teacher commentary as formative assessment and as collaborative dialogue that actively engages both teacher and student writers in conversations about the writing. Student voices are emphasized throughout this teacher research study of two classes at a Midwestern community college, a study that explores what the FYC student writers want and value in teacher commentary as they write and revise. With a particular research project acting as the contextual “center” of the dialogue, multiple data collection instruments were employed, including: student-generated texts and self-assessments, pre-and post-project questionnaires, personal interviews, and personal observations and reflections from teacher and students. Analysis of this data draws upon feminist theory, grounded theory and an ethnographic perspective to discover, describe, and assess the multiple and varied contexts surrounding student writing and revising as well as student values within these complex contexts. I argue that students do value the collaborative dialogue, interactions and formative assessment found in commentary that gives the students a voice in their own writing and revising, and I further argue that this intentional and rhetorical response to student writing sends a powerful message to those student writers about what we in the field of Rhetoric and Composition truly value in writing.