PAUSE: A Tool for Academic Writing Feedback

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Brief Abstract

Online subject matter experts are required to provide writing feedback; however, not all instructors have had writing methods training. An acronym will be shared to support writing feedback that is positive, at once, understandable, specific, and encouraging. Participants will take away an idea for providing online writing feedback.


Jennifer Robinson is the Program Chair for BA English Language Learner Studies and an Assistant Professor in the College of Education. She earned a Ph.D. in Education with specializations in Literacy and English as a Second Language from Washington State University, an M.A. in Applied Linguistics and TESOL from Ohio University, and a B.S. in Psychology (specializing in Human Development/Gerontology and Cognition) from Washington State University. Dr. Robinson began her adult-career trajectory as a social worker and fell in love with teaching through her positions as a social worker. She then discovered the field of ESL/Bilingual Education and moved forward into teaching full-time. She received the Outstanding Leadership award for her cohort during the MA program and recently published a chapter in an edited book. Dr. Robinson has taught in Washington, Ohio, and Wisconsin and has presented at US TESOL, MexTESOL, and at the Association for Middle Level Education. She has taught K-12 ESL, elementary and middle regular education, higher education ESL, and undergraduate and graduate school. Her favorite thing about Ashford is how kind and caring the faculty are toward students. They really want all students to be successful in their academics and life outside of school. The faculty model how being guides in education allows students to spread their wings and find themselves through their higher education studies. Her research interests include using professional learning communities in online teaching environments, supporting online students, and English language learners’ reading and writing.

Extended Abstract

Academic instructors are trained as subject matter experts. Those who graduate as subject matter experts may not have taken a course in andragogy, or adult learning theory. Furthermore, if a faculty is not a traditional educator by training, teaching methodology courses may not have been part of the required coursework. Beyond andragogy and learning theory, a subject matter expert may not be in an expert in giving writing feedback in a way that is meant to help the online students regardless of the academic level.

There are many ways that online teaching and learning can benefit and strengthen students’ writing. Likewise, for faculty, the online space can be a place to try new teaching methodology and to consider practices that may not have been possible in the face-to-face environment. While being invigorated by the process and possibilities, online instructors may find themselves in a place of needing to help students with academic writing skills. This realization challenges any assumptions about what students should know about academic writing before they enroll in an online university. The hidden curriculum (Jerald, 2006) of writing can create a frustrating and deflating experience for students who are less than prepared for the intense and high-level writing requirement.

PAUSE creates a framework that will make writing feedback pragmatic for all online subject matter instructors. As stated by Cleary (2011), if universities want to keep and graduate more non-traditional students, a new approach is needed for helping students learn to write successfully. PAUSE is a reminder when providing quality written feedback to help students reach distinguished writing as defined by the subject objectives.

This session will present ongoing research of an acronym that can be used by subject matter experts to provide writing feedback for students that is positive, at once, understandable, specific, and encouraging. Participants in this session will learn the research behind each part and then engage with providing feedback for writing samples, so that they leave with a document of cached feedback to help them get started in their own courses.




Cleary, N.V. (2011). How Antonio graduated on out of here: Improving the success of adult

students with an individualized writing course. Journal of Basic Writing, 30(1). p. 34-63.

Jerald, C.D. (2006). School Culture: The Hidden Curriculum. Washington, DC: The Center for

Comprehensive School Reform and Improvement. It retrieved from