Effects of the Red Pen


  • Harriet D. Semke Ph.D.

    1. Westmar College
    Search for more papers by this author
    • 2

      Harriet D. Semke (Ph.D., University of Minnesota) is Associate Professor of German at Westmar College; Le Mars, IA


ABSTRACT A research study, conducted for ten weeks with 141 first-year, third-quarter German students at the University of Minnesota compared the effects of four methods of teacher treatment of free-writing assignments: 1) writing comments and questions rather than corrections; 2) marking all errors and supplying the correct forms; 3) combining positive comments and corrections; and 4) indicating errors by means of a code and requiring students to find corrections and then rewrite the assignment.

Results of this study indicate that student progress is enhanced by writing practice alone. Corrections do not increase writing accuracy, writing fluency, or general language proficiency, and they may have a negative effect on student attitudes, especially when students must make corrections by themselves.