Effective writing is a process of revision, yet as writers many of us are reluctant to engage in the revision process. In order to encourage students to revise their writing, it's important first of all to collect preliminary as well as final drafts of major assignments. Beyond simply collecting drafts, however, we should acknowledge the improvement we see from one draft to the next. After commenting on a particular area in a draft, we should always follow up on that area in later versions of the assignment. It's also appropriate to note areas not previously addressed in which the paper has improved since an earlier draft. This requires that we keep notes as we comment on drafts and/or ask students to turn in early drafts and attached comments along with the final version of their papers. The encouragement we can offer students more than makes up for the organization this demands on our part. Acknowledging revisions highlights improvement, reminding both students and instructors that even if problems still exist, the evidence of growth indicates a success.
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