Effects of Peer- Versus Self-Editing on Students
approach and process approach. Improving the course design and assignments could increase students’ knowledge and application of grammar, formatting, and writing skills.
The literature discusses other types of writing exercises (i.e., freewriting, zero draft, journals) that an administrative writing course could incorporate. Freewriting can be a non-graded writing assignment allowing students the opportunity to overcome writer’s block or practice a new grammatical concept, such as using semicolons to combine short, related sentences. Freewriting exercises are less stressful, can last 10 to 15 minutes, and are for the student (Stanford, 1992).
Although the administrative writing course did not incorporate a writing portfolio until the second year, students should create a portfolio and self- reflect on how their writing style and ability change over the semester. As Paulson, Paulson, and Meyer (1991) explain, portfolios allow students to take ownership of their learning experience. Writing assignments and feedback from peers and the instructor are included in the final portfolio. Based on this material, students reflect and self-assess their progress, specifically their growth as a writer. This includes listing writing strengths and weaknesses for them to continue working on after the course ends. Completing a writing portfolio with self-reflection at the end of the semester allows the instruction and assessment to blend (Paulson et al., 1991).
Limitations and Future Research This article had some limitations; namely, the pre- and post-test results
reported on the students’ knowledge of grammar and formatting rules (rules- based approach) and not on the increase in general writing skills (content-based approach). Although the course implemented both pedagogical approaches, future research should measure the effectiveness of students’ use of peer editing and portfolio techniques on their writing skills. This article focused on the creation and initial implementation of an undergraduate public administration writing course, but future research should include intermediate and long-term outcome measures to test changes in students’ writing skills under the rules- based and content-based approaches.
Another limitation was that the brief survey to the program directors did not allow them to elaborate on the learning objectives in the administrative or technical writing course. Future research could study the commonalities and differences in learning objectives and class structure of administrative writing courses implemented in public administration programs. On a related note, a broader research question based on the survey results in this article should delve into the effects of an administrative writing course taught within a public administration program versus in a Business, English, or Communica- tions department.
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FOOTNOTES 1 Grammar and writing resources include Barzun’s Simple & Direct: A Rhetoric for Writers (2001),
Bernstein’s Watch Your Language (1976), William and Colomb’s Style: Lessons in Clarity and Grace (2010), Sabin’s The Gregg Reference Manual: A Manual of Style, Grammar, Usage, and Formatting (2005), Strunk’s Elements of Style (2012), and Simmons’ Grammar Bytes website: http://www. chompchomp.com/menu.htm
2 Obojobo is an interactive online learning system created by the University of Central Florida. For additional information about this system, see https://obojobo.ucf.edu/
3 For additional information on short assignments and providing student feedback, see Bean (2011).
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS Thanks to the public administration, public affairs, and public policy program coordinators and directors who completed the survey. Additionally, I would like to thank Vanessa Lopez-Littleton, David Dadurka, the anonymous JPAE reviewers, and the editor for their valuable feedback.
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Claire Connolly Knox is an assistant professor and coordinator of the Emergency Management and Homeland Security Program in the University of Central Florida’s School of Public Administration. Her research interests include environmental policy and management, critical theory, and environmental vulnerability and disaster response. She has published in the Journal of Public Affairs Education, Public Administration Review, Journal of Environmental Policy and Planning, and Journal of Emergency Management.
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E-mail Survey to Public Administration, Public Affairs, and Public Policy Programs
You are receiving this short email survey because NASPAA lists your under- graduate public administration program on its website. I am conducting research and writing an article about the status of writing course requirements for under- graduate public administration programs in the U.S. Although I was able to answer some questions using your department’s website, I would like to confirm this information with your input. If you could answer the following five questions at your earliest convenience, I would greatly appreciate it.
Question 1: Does your undergraduate public administration program require an administrative and/or technical writing course that is separate from any required lower division general English course? (If yes, please continue to question 2. If no, please stop here and email your survey response back to me. Thank you for your time.)
Question 2: Is this administrative and/or technical writing course listed as a core requirement or as an elective in your program?
Question 3: Is this course taught in the Public Administration Department? (If yes, continue to question 4; If no, continue to question 5).
Question 4: What is the name and number of the course offered in your department? For example, PAD 3XXX—Administrative Writing
Question 5: What is the name and number of the course offered in a different department? For example, ENG 4XXX—Technical Writing or BUS 4XXX— Business Writing
Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.