This is why students do not re-read what they write (and what to do to motivate them to do so) –

How many times have parents heard teachers repeat that their children they do not re-read the theme just written? There are so many errors in spelling and grammar, as well as a row of repetitions, which would have been caught looking at the text before delivery. Yet, not so much for lack of time as for lack of motivation, the rush to return the task prevails the desire to get a good grade for a task well done. Numerous researches indicate that the habit of looking at what is written has a positive impact on the quality of what is written. However, young people are generally reluctant to review their papers. Why? The additional effort deemed too tiring and those who try it maybe do it in a superficial way with mediocre results. The reasons for the bad habit are not to be completely discharged on the younger ones.

Digital natives

The reasons are also to be sought externally. The boys, digital natives, perceive a technological overcoming of writing, often considered superfluous and replaced by a voice message on whatsapp reflects Fabio Celi, clinical psychologist, psychotherapist and professor of clinical psychology at the University of Pisa. Social organization has also accelerated: speed, efficiency, arriving at the result as soon as possible are the most sought after qualities, that discourage per revision, an activity that is anything but fast and certainly not multitasking. When you reread it takes time and concentration, it doesn’t fit in with other tasks to be done at the same time. Writing is closely connected with reading, which has also taken a back seat in recent years. Today there are many competitors in reading, starting with comics, which also have a written part, up to films, TV series, video tutorials, podcasts and audio books. But if reading, which presupposes the existence of a writer, loses importance, writing will also be seen as something less fundamental, says Celi. And the fact that school does not stimulate writing activity, preferring other types of skills, does not help. Sometimes it is the teachers themselves who, despite themselves, do not encourage the activity of reading, writing and revision to be able to follow the programs. By adopting a series of didactic-emotional-relational strategies, excellent results can be obtained in terms of re-reading. He writes about it Narmada Paul, an educational psychologist at the University of Kentucky (United States), who has dedicated a series of studies to the subject. The researcher offers five tips to teachers to overcome the frustration of correcting texts that look like drafts, motivating students to work better: reduce anxiety, select topics of interest, build trust, focus on improvement, rethink evaluation practices.


Anxiety, accompanied by negative thoughts and physical discomfort, can lead to a loss of concentration in the student during work and make children reluctant to review the work. Anxiety, in all human circumstances – confirms Celi – produces if not treated avoidance, and a normal phenomenon. If a child perceives that his writing performance is strongly judged, paradoxically he will try to work as quickly as possible to free himself from the problem, leaving out what wastes time and generates discomfort: rereading. How can you prevent students from being overwhelmed by anxiety and consequently running away? An overly judgmental attitude should be avoided. The teacher should accept the assignment as it is done, inviting the student to discuss together how they can improve. In this way it is more likely that the next time it will be put into practice the revision suggests Celi.


Organizing enjoyable writing experiences in the classroom can make students more motivated to review. Writing and rereading a text that somehow arises from the interest of the boy or child or following a totally imposed track is not the same thing as the psychotherapist stresses. Starting from something captivating, the motivation to do a good job (and therefore to reread it) also grows. At a later time you can move on to different topics.

Building trust

Building student confidence in their writing skills (but applies to all subjects) is the key to encourage them to do better and better. How you do it? Proceeding with gradualit without neglecting the gratification. You can first propose simple, affordable jobs to build confidence in your abilities. If a child is able to jump 80 centimeters – Celi proposes as a comparison – it is useless to put the jump pole up to 120 centimeters because either he trips or passes under it. Students should be asked as much as possible and the bar should be raised slowly, gratifying the improvement from 80 to 85 centimeters instead of giving a four if it does not reach 120 centimeters. And this naturally applies to written texts: breaking the work into many simpler parts helps the child to experience success and then he will be more motivated even in rereading if he understands that the revision contributes to the excellent result. If, on the other hand, every time a student delivers a text the teacher lists everything that doesn’t work, once again our boy scapper remembers Fabio Celi. Instead, we should proceed in small steps, gratifying the positive aspects and being satisfied with what the student can slowly do. Better to focus on improvements, recommending changes on the aspects that still do not add up, and not just point out the negativities: this way students are more motivated to improve.


According to research by Narmada Paul, students who focus on learning and improving their writing skills tend to revise texts more than those who are concerned with comparison with others. The choice of one or the other path depends very much on what messages, direct or indirect, students receive from teachers. If in primary schools the comparisons between children are less sought (in some schools children are forbidden to say or ask their peers for grades) in high schools things are more complex because comparisons are inevitable.


The raw numerical grade as a rating is not very suitable for reducing anxiety. If a student takes a four the next time, he will also accept a two in order to hurry up. On the other hand, assessment practices that go beyond numerical marks and provide for targeted feedback on individual skills such as form, spelling, grammar, absence of repetition, originality of a text are very useful for achieving learning objectives and effective in reducing anxiety encourage review.

June 17, 2021 (change June 17, 2021 | 18:00)



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