Anatomy of a Good Comment

*Begin with some praise. Refer to the expectations spelled out in the assignment.

e.g., You do a great job of setting up your problem statement: the consequences nicely spell out what readers have to lose if they continue to believe in the status quo.
*Mention the one or two biggest issues that need revision. Refer to the expectations spelled out in the assignment.

e.g., The next step is to work on developing evidence and acknowledgment and response. Remember from the assignment that the essay needs to include at least two pieces of evidence to support each reason, and at least two moments of a&r.
*For each issue:
* Offer a brief definition of the principle at stake, highlighting why it's important to readers.

e.g., Remember that evidence needs to be accepted by readers as fact; they should be able to look it up if they want to. The more convincing your evidence, the more likely that readers will be persuaded to agree with your claim.

* Cite one or two numbered locations in the paper where the principle needs revision. (And possibly one or two numbered locations where the students has executed the element well.) Be as specific as possible about where and what the problem is.

e.g., Though you do offer some factual pieces of evidence -- as at #4 -- in other places you rely too heavily on your personal experience to prove points about trends in college governance -- take a look at #2, 3, and 6. Your readers -- the University's Board of Governors -- probably won't take this evidence as seriously as they would stats, surveys, or quotations from experts.

* Offer some advice for revision. This advice should be more general: giving students resources or questions to ask themselves, rather than answering the questions for them.

e.g., Go back through your reading summaries and look for evidence from the articles you found to support your ideas. Try to imagine what your audience will accept as fact. 

* Give students a chance to revise. This may take the form of a full-blown rewrite of an essay, or more targeted revisions. A student who had trouble organizing can be assigned to outline her paper and then to reorganize the outline. A student who failed to support a point can be assigned to turn in a list of items that might count as evidence for that point. A student whose paper does not end where it began can be assigned to write a new introduction.
* End with some praise.

e.g., This paper has come a long way since the outline; I look forward to the next version!