While improving your writing is important, one of the most important things you can do to improve yourself as a writer is effectively utilize the feedback you receive from your reviewers. This is where good writing comes from – using feedback to effectively revise your writing, and that is the skill that will improve your writing.
If you’re looking for the specifics of how to use revision features, the Eli student user guide has plenty of video and screenshots.
However, there’s more to learn then just how to use the technology. Here are some general tips for how to use the feedback you’ve received:
Rate all of your comments for helpfulness – you can rate all of the comments you receive on a helpfulness scale of 1-5 stars (1 being low, five being high). Rating your feedback serves a number purposes:
Deciding what to use – applying a rating forces you to think about how useful that comment will be. Ask yourself “how helpful is this comment in making a revision?” and rate it appropriately. This will make planning for revision easier.
Feedback for reviewers – let your reviewers know whether or not they’ve given you helpful feedback. Doing so will produce valuable information about their reviews that can help them improve.
Feedback for instructors – rating the feedback you get can also help your teacher see how you intend to revise your writing. This can be very helpful for them when it comes time to coach you through a revision.
Check for explanations of rating prompts – when reviewers respond to a rating prompt, they may also be asked to explain the rating they gave. These explanations can often yield insightful ideas about how your writing could score higher on that scale.
Add feedback to a revision plan – when you find a really helpful comment, add it to your revision plan. Revision plans will be explained in detail below.
The Revision Plan is a crucial feature in Eli. Having a plan for how you’ll revise is a crucial component of producing better writing, and being able to create a plan is a skill that often sets expert writers apart from novices. Your instructor may ask you to create a revision plan as part of a revision task, but you can still make one even if it’s not required.
Some things you can keep in mind about what makes a good revision plan:
You can use feedback from any review – you can add any piece of feedback you’ve ever received on any review to your revision plan. If someone left you really useful feedback on a writing task from last semester, for example, you can access that revision report and use the “Add to Revision Plan” option.
Use the most helpful feedback from your reviewers – if your writing has been reviewed, you should have lots of comments from your reviewers. You can access your review reports from your course homepage, where you can get a complete list of all that feedback. Each comment has an “Add to Revision Plan” option, which will let you add only the feedback you find most helpful.
Focus on small, actionable items – classmates may sometimes leave very long comments, from which only one or two sentences might be helpful. When you choose “Add to Revision Plan,” you’ll have option to edit the comment, where you can cut out anything that’s not helpful.
Leave notes for yourself – whenever you add a comment to your revision plan, you have the option of leaving a note for yourself. Consider using this space to write some specific ideas about how you might act on that piece of feedback: what will you write? where will you do research? who do you need to talk to?
Prioritize your revision plan items: You can sort the actionable items in your list to reflect your priorities by dragging and dropping to rearrange them. It is a good idea to focus first on revisions that will have the most significant impact on the overall draft. What are the things that will help you improve most? Give those things high priority. Give minor changes and those that will take less time lower priority on the list.
You can think more broadly about all the feedback you’ve received – the “Additional Revision Notes” section near the bottom of the revision plan will allow you to write anything else you might need to keep in mind as you revise. This space is particularly helpful for addressing things you know you need to deal with but that might not have been addressed in the reviews of your writing. Think about insights you gained from:
reading peers’ drafts
giving feedback to peers
hearing models discussed in class
hearing the most helpful comments discussed in class
hearing the instructor identify revision goals from the trait id checklists and ratings
participating in other class activities
Make sure your note answers any questions your instructor posed in the revision plan prompt. Some instructors reply to your revision plans, so make sure you know when to check back for your instructor’s feedback.