• error correction;
  • foreign language writing;
  • grading L2 writing;
  • writing policy

Abstract: This study describes the effect of grades on second language writing performance. Do students write better when their essays are graded, and what implications might this have for foreign language instruction? This study compares three different types of student writing: graded compositions; for-credit online discussion boards; and ungraded, not-for-credit, essays. Data were collected from writing samples provided by students enrolled in a 4th-semester Spanish class. Each sample was coded for T-units, errors, and clauses and then analyzed to determine the fluency, complexity, and accuracy of the different writing samples. Findings suggested that grades had little effect on student writing, and therefore more frequent and more varied ungraded writing assignments may be a productive pedagogical tool for improving the form and content of student writing.