Skip to main content

Video Transcripts

Applying Feedback to Your Paper: Word Choice Feedback

Last update 3/27/2018

 

Visual: Walden logo at bottom of screen along with notepad and pencil background.

Audio: Guitar music.

 

Visual: “Walden University Writing Center. Your writing, grammar, and APA experts” appears in center of screen. Background changes to a laptop and notebook a person is writing in on a table with the title “Applying Feedback to Your Paper: Word choice Feedback.”

The screen then changes to show a sample paper with the following paragraph. There is feedback in a comment bubble from writing instructor Beth Nastachowski, attached to the highlighted phrasing:

The federal and state laws regarding educating children with disabilities are very complex, and without a proper understanding of them, students who need special education services will not be ensured a free and appropriate public education. Students with disabilities may be found within any race, ethnicity, gender, economic class, or nationality. Students with disabilities should be provided with a free, appropriate public education. Students who are eligible for special education services have individualized educational plans (IEPs) that describe, through goals and objectives, what services are to be provided for these students in the public school setting.

Comment bubble:

This phrasing is an example of passive voice where the “doer” of the sentence isn’t stated or clear in the sentence. For example, in this phrasing, the reader doesn’t know who is responsible for ensuring these students’ access: Are parents responsible for this? Teachers? The school district? All of the above?

This passive voice can make your meaning unclear, so we try to avoid it when possible. Instead we could say something like “…parents will not ensure…” This helps clarify the sentence, although I’m not sure it’s what you meant.

Consider who you meant would “ensure” this here, either using my suggestion or making your own change. Then look for other places to revise passive voice.

Audio: In this video, we’ll focus on how to apply word choice feedback to your writing. This kind of feedback might also be called academic or scholarly tone feedback, APA word choice feedback, or even clarity feedback.

If you haven’t yet, be sure to watch our introductory video, “Applying Feedback Principles,” first.

What might that word choice feedback look like?

Here’s an example: In this first comment, the writing instructor is pointing out an instance of passive voice, explaining what passive voice is, why this word choice can be problematic, and giving an example of how to revise this passive voice. The writing instructor then directs the student to revise this word choice and find other passive voice wording to revise.

 

Visual: The speaker scrolls down in the sample paper to the next paragraph, with the following paragraph and a comment bubble from writing instructor Beth Nastachowski:

The two policies that I chose to research are part of the federal law, PL 108-446 (Individual with Disabilities Education Act, 2004). In the Individual Disabilities Education Act (2004) PL 108-446, the law addresses providing children with a free appropriate public education and guidelines for developing an IEP to meet the needs of students with disabilities in the public school setting. These two policies were chosen because I have 18 years of special education experience in multiple public school settings, and I feel that many court cases evolve from non-compliance with these two policies. I think a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) is something all children with disabilities should be provided access to. Every child with a disability under PL 108-446 should have an IEP that parents and teachers develop annually to meet the child’s educational, social, and emotional needs in the classroom. Thus, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, I think, is one of the most crucial laws for a parent who has a child with disabilities to know and understand thoroughly.

Comment bubble:

I noticed you use the phrasing “I feel” here. I can understand why you did, since you’re reflecting on your own perspective in this paragraph.

However, generally in academic writing we want to avoid “I feel” or “I think” language because this phrasing is more informal and can create a more informal tone. Additionally, usually it’s implied that these are your thoughts or feelings because you’re writing about them, so this phrasing becomes repetitive too.

Instead, an easy way to revise is to remove this phrasing altogether. Try this revision here, then look for other places you can remove “I think” or “I feel” phrasing in your paper.

As the speaker continues, she points out the components of the feedback in the comment bubble.

Audio: Here’s another example: In this comment, the writing instructor is asking the student to revise informal word choice, this “I feel” phrasing. The writing instructor explains why writers should avoid this word choice and gives the student steps for removing the informal word choice.

Note that in this second example, the writing instructor does not explicitly ask the student to apply this word choice feedback throughout the paper. However, the student should still look for other places to apply this feedback and remove other “I feel” or “I think” phrasing; whether the person giving you feedback explicitly asks you to apply the feedback or not, the reality is that we often make similar mistakes throughout our writing. So, even when you aren’t explicitly asked to apply feedback in your writing, make sure you do so anyways.

 

Visual: The screen changes to show the following slide: Appropriate Revision Strategies

Highlighting: underlining, circling

Word’s search function: CTRL + F

Word’s automated spell check: identify potential style issues

Audio: Before we look at how to apply word choice feedback throughout your paper, let’s talk about the revision strategies we recommend you use when applying word choice feedback.

First, try highlighting or some form of highlighting, like underlining or circling. Identify the word choice you need to revise, then read through your draft looking just for that word choice. Mark any other uses of the same word choice you see, then once you’ve gone through your entire paper, go back to those highlights to revise them.

Second, try the search function in Word, which you can also use via the shortcut CTRL+F. Search for the word choice you need to revise, using Word to help you identify the places you need to make changes. This revision strategy may or may not be useful, depending on the word choice you’re revising. For example, passive voice can be phrased in many different ways, so searching for passive voice most likely will not work well. However, you could search for the word “I” to help you identify “I feel” or “I think” phrasing.

Third, you can also use Word’s spell check, which has some word choice features. Under Word’s Proofing options, you can ask Word to identify potential style issues, including things like clichés, passive sentences, and use of first person. However, be sure you only use this automated feature as a guide. Automated programs can assist writers, but aren’t 100% accurate and may either miss errors or misidentify errors.

 

Visual: The screen changes back to the sample paper. The speaker revises the sentence where the writing instructor noted the passive voice error, so the first sentence is revised as follows and then other instances of passive voice are also highlighted, as follows:

The federal and state laws regarding educating children with disabilities are very complex, and without a proper understanding of them, parents, educators, and administrators will not ensure  a free and appropriate public education for students who need special education services. Students with disabilities may be found within any race, ethnicity, gender, economic class, or nationality. Students with disabilities should be provided with a free, appropriate public education. Students who are eligible for special education services have individualized educational plans (IEPs) that describe, through goals and objectives, what services are to be provided for these students in the public school setting.

The two policies that I chose to research are part of the federal law, PL 108-446 (Individual with Disabilities Education Act, 2004). In the Individual Disabilities Education Act (2004) PL 108-446, the law addresses providing children with a free appropriate public education and guidelines for developing an IEP to meet the needs of students with disabilities in the public school setting. These two policies were chosen because I have 18 years of special education experience in multiple public school settings, and I feel that many court cases evolve from non-compliance with these two policies. I think a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) is something all children with disabilities should be provided access to. Every child with a disability under PL 108-446 should have an IEP that parents and teachers develop annually to meet the child’s educational, social, and emotional needs in the classroom. Thus, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, I think, is one of the most crucial laws for a parent who has a child with disabilities to know and understand thoroughly.

Audio: Now that we know what word choice feedback might look like and the revision strategies we might use to revise word choice, let’s apply this feedback in the paper.

Here’s our first comment about revising this passive voice word choice. I’m going to revise this phrasing, using my own phrasing since what I originally meant was “parents, educators, and administrators.” Now I’m going to highlight any other passive voice I see in the paper.  

 

Visual: The speaker now goes through and removes the passive voice, revising these paragraphs as follows:

The federal and state laws regarding educating children with disabilities are very complex, and without a proper understanding of them, parents, educators, and administrators will not ensure a free and appropriate public education for students who need special education services. Students with disabilities may be found within any race, ethnicity, gender, economic class, or nationality. Public school districts should provide students with disabilities with a free, appropriate public education. Students who are eligible for special education services have individualized educational plans (IEPs) that describe, through goals and objectives, what services public school districts provide for these students in the public school setting.

The two policies that I chose to research are part of the federal law, PL 108-446 (Individual with Disabilities Education Act, 2004). In the Individual Disabilities Education Act (2004) PL 108-446, the law addresses providing children with a free appropriate public education and guidelines for developing an IEP to meet the needs of students with disabilities in the public school setting. I chose these two policies because I have 18 years of special education experience in multiple public school settings, and I feel that many court cases evolve from non-compliance with these two policies. I think a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) is something public school districts should provide all children with disabilities access to. Every child with a disability under PL 108-446 should have an IEP that parents and teachers develop annually to meet the child’s educational, social, and emotional needs in the classroom. Thus, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, I think, is one of the most crucial laws for a parent who has a child with disabilities to know and understand thoroughly.

Audio: Now that I know where I need to revise, I’m going to incorporate my revisions, removing passive voice wording from these sentences.

 

Visual: The speaker now revises the second paragraph for the second comment the writing instructor gave, fixing the sentence the writing instructor commented on so it reads as follows: 

I chose these two policies because I have 18 years of special education experience in multiple public school settings, and many court cases evolve from non-compliance with these two policies.

Audio: I’ve revised my paper for passive voice, but now I want to apply this second comment the writing instructor gave me. This comment was about informal “I feel” or “I think” phrasing. First, I’ll revise this phrasing.

 

Visual: The speaker opens Word’s Search function, searching for the phrase “I think,” which Word automatically highlights in the paper. The speaker then removes these “I think” phrases throughout the paragraph, as follows:

The two policies that I chose to research are part of the federal law, PL 108-446 (Individual with Disabilities Education Act, 2004). In the Individual Disabilities Education Act (2004) PL 108-446, the law addresses providing children with a free appropriate public education and guidelines for developing an IEP to meet the needs of students with disabilities in the public school setting. I chose these two policies because I have 18 years of special education experience in multiple public school settings, and many court cases evolve from non-compliance with these two policies. A free and appropriate public education (FAPE) is something public school districts should provide all children with disabilities access to. Every child with a disability under PL 108-446 should have an IEP that parents and teachers develop annually to meet the child’s educational, social, and emotional needs in the classroom. Thus, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act is one of the most crucial laws for a parent who has a child with disabilities to know and understand thoroughly.

Audio: Now I’ll use Word’s search function to find other places I use “I feel” or “I think” phrasing. Each time I find one of these informal word choices, I’ll revise it.

And the process continues! You should use this process as many times as you need to apply word choice feedback you receive throughout your entire paper. Don’t worry—If this process seems complicated, trust us; it’ll get easier with time and practice.

 

Visual: The video ends with the following message: Walden University Writing Center

Questions? E-mail writingsupport@waldenu.edu