Assessing Writing

Feedback vs. Grading

Grading assigns value to student output, while feedback provides students information about what the instructor found to be well done and where the content or accuracy of the text can be improved.


Feedback should include positive comments and corrections that cover content as well as grammatical/lexical accuracy.

  • Use a separate sheet of paper for your comments instead of writing over students' work, recommends Virginia Scott (1996), so that the "paper is analyzed instead of mutilated" (p. 124).
  • Focus on important errors which hinder comprehension -- these are higher in frequency and may stigmatize the author -- or which are currently the focus of instruction.

Review this feedback sheet, whereby the instructor does not have to "correct" the student's work, but rather guides the student through the revision process.

Writing Feedback Sheet


Grading can provide valuable feedback when the criteria for grading are clearly articulated and shared with the students beforehand.

  • Pre-determine grading criteria: clear expectations.
  • Make sure grading is valid and reliable.
  • If you are concerned about having to read 75 essays/written assignments in three sections of a class, take heart. Giving ONE writing assignment with two revisions or expansion -- instead of three different writing assignments -- will ultimately result in better writing from your students and less time grading for you.

A discussion of grading and giving feedback.

Duration: 06:03

Professor Raizen (Hebrew) does not grade students' writing. Here she shares the reason(s) for her belief.


Professor Raizen on assessment of writing.

Duration: 01:05

Make a short list of pros and cons of grading writing. What is your decision based on these notes? Would you grade writing? Why/why not?