While discussing the Keywords project in class the other night, I blanked. I scoured my mind for a term that would resonate with me and that could possibly offer me some professional insight, but nothing came to mind. I think the whole idea of situating the word within the writing subfield of technology/computers made me hesitate, and I somehow felt restricted in my possible choices, since I am relatively new to this subject matter. However, as Derek started listing some keywords on the board, I realized I might be able to extend some of my recent research interests to this particular project as well. I want to give a big shout-out to Joe (http://joetorok.wordpress.com), whom I believe came up with the term “feedback” as a possible keyword. I conducted research for a previous course on the effectiveness of written feedback on L2 learner essays, and completed a couple of mini case studies in my own ESL composition courses that dealt with the issue of written feedback. Due to my current interest in this topic, I intend to examine it in further detail for the Keywords project.
I have done a preliminary search in the journal “Computers and Composition”, and found some potentially useful articles about L2 learners and e-feedback, but I need to investigate more sources that discuss the history of the term “feedback”, and specifically how it has been and continues to be used in the context of Computers and Writing. I’m afraid that setting a Google Alert for “feedback” would turn up a lot of irrelevant information, but I’m considering narrowing down the term (perhaps “computers and written feedback”, or something similar) to try to increase my chances of receiving useful article suggestions.
As for article content, some of my initial thoughts are to try to find pieces that deal with the evolving definition of “feedback” in the writing classroom, from the classic paper-based written feedback to more technologically-based e-feedback for papers submitted in online formats. I am still undecided about whether or not to look at the term strictly in the context of L2 learners, but I am leaning toward keeping it open to a more general population.
Update: I eventually settled on the word “response” for my Keywords project, as it seemed to be a term that was used more often by scholars when discussing teacher input on student writing. I found phrases like “response to writing”and “teacher response to student text” provided me with more helpful search returns than “teacher feedback”. However, it is worth noting that even if the word “response” appeared in the title of certain studies/essays, other words like “feedback” and “comments” were used by authors interchangeably throughout their work, signifying a synonymous relationship among the different terms.
In my research, I discovered that “response” takes on a variety of forms, from pen-to-paper written response to online typed commentary and even response aided by voice recognition technology that does not require the instructor to compose comments by hand at all. Technology is changing the definition of “response” to student writing and is creating new possibilities for collaborative response mechanisms (back-and-forth via email/online commentary, etc.) that may not have been imagined when the term was first employed in composition classrooms.