Want students to revise more? Assign more revision. It’s both as simple and as challenging as that.
What does more revision look like? Our team shows these timelines at every presentation because increasing the frequency of feedback and revision is completely within the purview of instructors:
In my classes, my line is:
“I can’t change that you procrastinate; I can change how often you procrastinate.”
Those who chuckle and those who don’t experience routine writing in my course. For many, it’s the first and last time they will be asked to write a little bit, give feedback, get feedback, and use feedback to revise every week. Every. Week. Why? Because the evidence shows that this is what drives learning.
Their routine for feedback and revision starts with our one-page course calendar.
Like most things I do, the calendar is pretty dense, but it’s everything we will do together across 30 classes on a single printed page:
- The weekly count corresponds to the modules in our LMS that have the slideshows, direct links to Eli tasks (learn this hack), and final draft dropboxes.
- Mondays–Writing due. Review begins.
- Tuesday–Review due. Debrief in class.
- Wednesday–Revision plans due.
- Friday–Most weeks, I reply to revision plans with “go!, add!, shift gears!, or meet with me!”
- The points column on the far right helps students understand how their attendance (5 points per day) and peer learning effort (20 points per week) adds up. They can see points in our LMS gradebook too.
This calendar shows what writers should be doing at any given point in the semester. Planning this way has changed the way I pace writing assignments. Now, when I’m setting up the course, I ask, “What is the focus right now?” Before, I thought about how much time students needed to produce a particular draft and timed my course accordingly.
The reality is that the students who most needed my help procrastinated, and they did all-night drafting parties once every three weeks or so.
Now, all my students procrastinate weekly. Even those who only do the bare minimum become more fluent and confident writers because of the practice schedule. I set the frequency; they decide the intensity. With enough frequency, even low intensity moves the needle toward improvement.
So, here’s a blank calendar for Fall 2017 for you to fill with write-review-revise cycles: download MS Word file. Delete rows you don’t need, and fit in as many feedback and revisions cycles as you can.
You’re actually in charge of how often students revise, and revision is half the battle.