Category Archives: 2. Featured Articles

Why Bother if They Don’t Read the Feedback?

As college instructors whose job it is to teach writing for the workplace, we are duty-bound to show our students where they have erred so they do not replicate their mistakes when they leave our classrooms. To attain this result, we laboriously provide feedback, suggesting edits and providing written reminders about writing strategies we have taught. Yet over and over, students come to us asking what they did “wrong” or turning in subsequent work with the exact same errors. It can be pretty discouraging, leading many of us to wonder, Why bother if they don’t even read the feedback?

However, teaching a concept called feedback literacy may help our students not just read our comments but integrate them into future work and deepen understanding. The purpose of feedback literacy is for a student to understand the contexts and components of feedback and therefore help engender future success in whatever process is being taught.

Behind this concept lies the acknowledgement of problems inherent to instructor-led, one-sided feedback. Such feedback may lack crucial detail, for example, leading to confusion rather than clarity. Some feedback may not consider the way learners interpret criticism, which is often with a reaction of resistance and defensiveness. These responses can lead instructors to view their students as unwilling to change or showing disrespect, creating a loop of misunderstanding and leading to the original impression: They don’t read my feedback! 

Carless and Boud’s 2018 article offers a helpful set of features for creating a student feedback literacy framework, summarized below.

Help students understand and commit to feedback.

Before students learn to absorb feedback, they must understand that they are working on improving a skill. This is especially true for writing. In addition, students need to understand that their instructor is on their side and wants them to do well. However, roadblocks to this goal exist. Many students come to our classrooms with prior experiences that can affect their understanding and uptake of instructor feedback. Some students may think, for example, that they cannot improve as writers or blame the instructor for their inability to grasp a concept. Helping students recognize the importance of feedback and its intent is therefore crucial.

Use models to help students accurately judge their own work.

Students are notorious for judging their work as better than it is. To work around this barrier to their accepting instructor feedback, students should have opportunities to self-evaluate their work and receive feedback on it before the instructor sees it. Peer editing using well-executed models that illustrate where the students’ drafts veer off can help student writers more accurately judge their work.

Create positive student-teacher relationships to foster better acceptance of critiques.

Students often react emotionally to teachers’ judgments of their writing. They are more likely to see those judgments as helpful if they believe their instructor is fair and trustworthy. Discussing how to accept criticism prior to students receiving written feedback can help. (See TakingCriticism: A Student’s Guide, which should be discussed with students prior to returning their first assignment.)

Factor in time for students to act on comments.

As writing instructors, we know rewriting is a critical component to success. Students need to be motivated, have the opportunity, and receive support to take in feedback and then implement it. Timely feedback is integral to this goal.

Evaluating student work is laborious. Yet as writing instructors, we must comment on where our students meet or miss the goal. Teaching feedback literacy may help them accept—and read—our time-consuming input.






Social Media and the Job Search: A Dynamic Duo

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a new graduate in search of a good job must possess a carefully managed social media presence.

Although Jane Austen would have cringed to see the first sentence of Pride and Prejudice paraphrased thus, the simple truth is that social media play an oversized role in business and communication today. In fact, a well-managed social media presence has become as critical to the job search as a good résumé and cover letter. Of course a solid LinkedIn profile is mandatory, but knowing how to use other social media platforms to build a career is just as important, and business communication instructors are in a perfect position to prepare students for this key job search tool. Below are pointers to share with students about social media do’s and don’ts.

Using social media as a part of the job search entails cultivating profiles that would be attractive to a future employer. Hiring managers examine applicants’ social media carefully, and any post that could be construed as unprofessional, that puts the individual in a bad light, or that could be misunderstood in a negative way should be removed. Even on platforms that are kept private, savvy users understand how people within a network are connected and that such connections could lead back to the user and expose compromising information.

Although every platform need not be career-friendly, it is wise to analyze what each platform is known for and how presence on that platform could cause a viewer to react. Below are some guidelines to using the most common social media platforms in an effective job search.


After LinkedIn, Facebook is usually the first go-to network hirers will look at. Therefore, job seekers should do the following:

  • Understand the intricacies of Facebook’s privacy policies to ensure that anything they don’t want their grandmas (or a hiring manager!) to see is private.
  • Check one’s privacy measures from someone else’s device.
  • Take advantage of job opportunities posted on a firm’s Facebook pages.
  • Join Facebook groups relevant to career aspirations.


Instagram is known as an excellent brandbuilding network, and, consequently, anything posted can show a hiring manager a lot about an individual. Specifically, Instagram can be used to accomplish the following:

  • Showcase creative portfolios (art, graphics, writing, etc.).
  • State career goals in a short and to-the-point bio.
  • Provide a link to professional presence on LinkedIn.


Using Twitter as it goes through its ever-evolving shake-ups can be risky. Still, it remains a popular network for employers to view how the user behaves online. When using Twitter, take the following steps:

  • Create a professional bio.
  • Indicate skills and interests by linking to legitimate sources.
  • Add original business-related content.
  • Use caution when commenting by showing courtesy and decorum.
  • Follow relevant hashtags and keywords (i.e., companies, industry leaders, etc..
  • Learn about Twitter’s privacy policies.


During the pandemic, TikTok became a great resource for job seekers in addition to offering career-building ideas, inspiration, and advice. TikTok can be useful to achieve the following:

  • Connect with industry leaders.
  • Respond to ads employers have uploaded.
  • Upload job search materials within the app.
  • Obtain information on virtually any topic.

A rule of thumb across all platforms is to demonstrate the ability to communicate clearly and concisely. That means carefully checking for grammatical errors and spelling mistakes before posting anything.

Following these tips just may lead a happy ending—just like in Pride and Prejudice.


Source: Weidinger, S. (2022, December 12.) Career building through social media: Do’s and don’ts. The Washington Post. Retrieved from


The Latest AI Challenge to Teaching: ChatGPT

Since its launch in late November 2022, the new AI tool ChatGPT has college instructors in a well-deserved frenzy. The free (for now) technology introduced by Open AI is an easy-to-use chatbot that can interact with the user to generate serviceable, if bland, prose, among other things. And its product is good enough to have college instructors altering pedagogy and the nation’s largest public school system banning its use entirely.

While the folks at ChatGPT admonish students not to use the technology for schoolwork—going to far as to call use of any automated writing tool “cheating”—instructors are familiar with just how little those constraints mean when students choose to turn in work they have not completed themselves. Validating this perspective, recently conducted a survey that revealed 89 percent of 1000 student respondents reported that they had already used ChatGPT to help with a “homework assignment.”

Business communication is not exempt from this threat. Recently a Business Insider reporter used ChatGPT’s ability to create fictitious résumés and cover letters. While not perfect, these AI-produced documents were chillingly adequate. Hiring managers who saw the job-related documents said they would have given the applicant an interview despite the fact that the letters and résumés “lacked personality.”

Some commentators see good in the situation. What’s the harm if ChatGPT is used to produce a first draft that the student later revises, or vice versa—the student writes a draft that ChatGPT edits? Writers have been using tools to streamline the laborious task of writing for centuries, from the thesaurus to spellcheck to Grammarly. Who among us has not used a citation generator, proponents of AI ask.

One of the advocates is Dr. Cynthia Alby, a professor of teacher education at Georgia College & State University who has written that AI is only going to improve. She suggests that instead of punishing and surveilling students who turn to it, instructors can view the situation as an opportunity to turn their attention to developing students’ information literacy, research and study skills, and metacognition. Dr. Alby envisions a new paradigm in which students develop foundational skills via self-paced AI modules, ultimately enabling them to move to higher level learning situations such as case-based learning and team projects.

Nevertheless, professors around the globe have celebrated a senior at Princeton who recently created a tool that can detect whether a piece of writing has been created via ChatGPT. His GPTZero isn’t a panacea, however. Even he admits that AI writing tools are here to stay but that they must be used “responsibly.”

Still, from a student’s perspective, ChatGPT is not just convenient; it even adapts to the student’s level of understanding and adjusts to create a more personalized experience. But the downsides are numerous: (1) The AI tool furthers students’ reliance on technology and could disadvantage less tech-savvy learners. It is questionable whether the students using AI in this manner are actually learning to write. (2) ChatGPT does not provide any sources for the copy it retrieves. (3) AI has been occasionally proven to be wrong because the algorithms “vacuum” up information available on the Internet without being able to discern their veracity. The tool’s ability to provide up-to-the-minute knowledge about college-level topics is doubtful.

It’s unlikely that this type of AI will replace human instructors anytime soon. The lack of human interaction would be the antithesis of what face-to-face teaching and even distance learning offer, not the least of which is the instructor’s expertise and creativity: working with students and providing individualized feedback—something machines can’t replicate. Yet.

This topic is far from settled, but writing instructors who ignore the latest challenge to classroom teaching do so at their own peril.