Comp I course teaming with UNI English education majors to provide writing feedback

In English teacher Brenna Griffin’s HCC Comp I class, not only are students receiving feedback from her, but also real college students looking to commence their teaching careers.

The opportunity started during the fall of 2020 when Griffin was teaching sophomores English 10 online. “It was looking like the sections would be quite large that semester. I was trying to problem solve, like how can I make sure that students get enough response to their writing if I’m spread thin. I knew online would be its own challenge, to begin with,” she said. 

Moving forward, pairing students with college students worked out solely numbers-wise because the class has a limited number of students and Griffin is the only Comp I teacher participating in the program. “The number of students was more similar this semester for Comp class. This would be the fourth semester we’ve tried it,” Griffin said. 

Griffin, who has contact with both professors teaching the writing class at UNI, communicated with them on how the peer-reviewing opportunity would be beneficial for both parties. “Getting the experience of responding to real student work has not been a part of that class, and I always think it’s good for students to get more feedback on their writing,” she said. 

Griffin said that so far she is happy with the way things have progressed since the start of the program. “We’re still having some growing pains. Sometimes students aren’t getting their feedback, and sometimes we have technology issues. We’re still working out some of those pieces,” she said. 

Generally, Griffin said she believes students are getting something out of their feedback. From a teacher’s perspective, she said it’s more helpful when students get outside feedback, not just from teachers. “Students make choices on what feedback to take and leave. I think that if it’s just the teacher responding, then it’s like ‘I have to do this.’ If you get some different feedback, then you have to make more decisions as a writer,” Griffin said.

She also said that college students enjoy looking at real student work. Griffin said that part of being an English teacher is time management and understanding how long it takes to respond to work and grade work. “This is what real high school writing looks like, ’cause you can have an idea that might be totally wrong. The more experience they get before entering the workforce, the better,” she said.

UNI students are graded on how well they give feedback in return. At the end of the semester, they put together a collection of their feedback and then write about what they learned.

Junior Breck Rea decided to register for the Hawkeye Concurrent Class: Comp I last February as a sophomore. Rea said, “The class is nice so far. I enjoy the abundance of reading, so this class helps me in that area.”

He said there haven’t been many assignments as of yet; however, the class’ first paper, a commentary, was the most difficult. The commentary was also the first paper the UNI students had the opportunity of reviewing. 

Rea said he enjoyed the feedback he received from his paired UNI student because it helped him revise his paper. “It was nice because I was able to get two perspectives on my writing,” he said.

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