Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Philosophy (Ph.D)


Education Specialties

First Advisor

Olivia G Stewart

Second Advisor

Evan T Ortlieb


When entering the university, students from under-resourced schools may not have the same educational experiences as their peers and are more likely to be held back by a lack of instruction in writing. Framed by sociocultural theory and viewing both peer and teacher feedback as dynamic conversations and literacy events, the purpose of this mixed methods action research study was to measure academically underprepared students’ perceptions of feedback and to understand how these perceptions of writing feedback align with the decisions they make about implementing changes to their essays. Focusing on first-year writing students (n=29) at a diverse state university, the researcher attempted to learn how students perceive feedback as a tool for revision. Quantitative and qualitative data consisting of survey data, teacher and peer feedback, open-ended survey responses, peer review surveys, and focal student interviews were collected. The findings of the study suggest that even though academically underprepared students perceived feedback as valuable and helpful, there was also a strong negative emotional component. Students expressed a preference for specific feedback that appears in the margin of the papers rather than end notes. The results indicate that although students perceive feedback as a conversation with their teachers and peers, it is not occurring as such. The major finding of this study is that academically underprepared students are still transitioning from the mentality that teacher is authority to having a role and choice in their development as a writer. For academically underprepared students, feedback mediates the transition from dependence on teacher to becoming an autonomous writer. Included are suggestions for practice that can help this population transition from viewing learning to write as top-down to understanding and engaging in a relationship where teacher is mentor and student is apprentice.

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