Society of African Journal Editors

South African Journal of Higher Education

Responding electronically to student drafts on campus: Dis/encouraging dialogue?

Authors: M Harran, A Knott, C Weir

Journal: South African Journal of Higher Education

This article reports on an investigation into whether writing centre (WC) respondents at an institution of Higher Education (HE) encourage or discourage draft dialogue (a conversation in writing) with students submitting drafts electronically to the WC for feedback. The writing respondents insert local feedback responses or comments directly onto submitted complete drafts using word-processing review functions. The inserted feedback aims to encourage dialogue between students and lecturers by situating the teaching and learning of writing in different genres and disciplinary discourses. The feedback dialogue also aims to promote an understanding of writing as a drafting and responding process. Although the study’s findings indicated that the writing respondents encouraged dialogue during the writing-responding process, most drafts included authoritative comments which do not promote dialogue. The study’s main recommendations are that writing respondents should ensure that feedback phrasing is dialogical to encourage students to critique and explore discourses and for discipline experts to incorporate draft dialogue as a feedback practice into their writing practices.