More Confident Writers; Students Revise More and Improve Their Essays with New Technology from Turnitin

2/23/2016 3:15:00 PM
One evening last spring when eighth grade English teacher, Chelsea Kordecki, put down her last student’s essay, she smiled. She had just finished pilot testing a new instructional product from Turnitin that promised students would revise more often and write better essays. The product, Revision Assistant, had delivered and Mrs. Kordecki was pleased to see that it had delivered in a big way.

Students in Mrs. Kordecki’s classes at Riverside Middle School in Pennsylvania wrote longer essays that were noticeably better. She found that using the program had helped students develop “a brand new confidence.” She said, “Using Revision Assistant definitely boosted their self-esteem.” In a newly released Turnitin pilot study on Revision Assistant’s effectiveness, results from Mrs. Kordecki’s classes were consistent across all classes participating in the study. Click to Tweet.

Revision Assistant is an instructional writing tool for middle and high schools giving immediate and actionable feedback in the form of Signal Checks to students while they write. The spring 2015 pilot test evaluated Revision Assistant’s effectiveness in inspiring students to write, revise and improve their essays. In all, more than 3,400 students and 164 teachers from 18 schools participated in the pilot. A summary of the results found:

       On average, middle school students wrote eleven drafts before submitting their final essay and 93 percent revised at least one time.

       On average, high school students wrote seven drafts before submitting their final essay and 94.4 percent revised at least one time.

       Essays of middle school students initially averaging 178 words grew to 262 words after using Revision Assistant.

       Based on a trait-based, 1-4 rubric scale comprised of four genre-specific traits, initial average signal checks for middle school students before using Revision Assistant was 2.02 which increased to 2.48 by the fifth draft; and then 2.99 by the final submission.

According to Elijah Mayfield, the Turnitin VP of New Technologies who developed the product, the actionable feedback Revision Assistant gives mirrors what takes place in the classroom by design. “The type of feedback Revision Assistant gives is motivational and specific in where a student can improve. In other words, the feedback is exactly like the feedback a teacher would give with the added bonus of being immediate,” added Mayfield. Watch a conversation with Mayfield on effective feedback here: https://youtu.be/YifrCTxV2us.

Teachers agree that the immediacy of feedback, given in-line and attached to the specific highlighted sentence, motivates students to keep rewriting and improving with each draft.

“That idea that clicking the signal check would highlight some particular sentence that needed work led students to read over their work, instantly trying to make it better in a way that they could never accomplish with my assistance alone. It was a real extension of my reach.” said TC Niemann, 6-12 grade English teacher at Hostos Lincoln Academy, in NYC South Bronx.

“My students responded to Revision Assistant in a way I had never anticipated,” said Mrs. Kordecki. “Getting students to revise, in a meaningful way not just correcting punctuation and grammar, is perhaps the most difficult part of my teaching.”

See more video interviews with teachers and students talking about Revision Assistant here: https://youtu.be/vyzt1TvVWHo.

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