Grammatical errors: Perceptions and responses of students, first -year composition instructors, and business communication instructors

Michelle Niestepski, University of Rhode Island

Abstract

While most college writing instructors would agree that grammatical errors should not be students' main concern when writing and revising there is little consensus as to how much focus should be placed on grammatical errors and how best to teach students to avoid such errors. This study looks at how and with what frequency first-year writing instructors and business writing instructors indicate errors on student papers and how students view grammatical errors. ^ Instructors at four colleges and universities were given anonymous surveys to fill out. Part one listed ten of the errors found by Chris Anson and Robert Schwegler to be most bothersome to writing instructors and asked instructors to indicate how they respond to these errors when they encounter them in student papers—do they mark them? Ignore them? Correct them? Code them? Part two consisted of five questions such as "Do you include grammar lessons as part of your course?" and "Do you treat errors in ESL students' papers differently than in native speakers' papers?" ^ Student participants were given an anonymous survey to fill out. Sample questions include; "When do you look at the grammatical markings/corrections on your paper?" and "How do you feel when you receive a paper back and your instructor has indicated there are grammatical errors in it?" ^ Results from this study showed that mark, correct, and explain are the preferred modes of response from instructors. Instructors at all four institutions had similar responses with both how they indicate errors and their policies regarding error. Results from the student survey seemed to indicate that students have more concern for grammatical errors than instructors often assume. The overwhelming majority of students reported looking at the grammatical markings/corrections on their papers, often multiple times. Students were divided as to how they feel when they receive a paper back in which their instructor has indicated there are errors with some students being quite upset or embarrassed while others were blasé and did not care at all. ^

Subject Area

Language, Rhetoric and Composition

Recommended Citation

Michelle Niestepski, "Grammatical errors: Perceptions and responses of students, first -year composition instructors, and business communication instructors" (2008). Dissertations and Master's Theses (Campus Access). Paper AAI3314446.
http://digitalcommons.uri.edu/dissertations/AAI3314446

Share

COinS