What is feature spotting? Why is it flagged up as a problem in numerous examiners’ reports and amongst English teachers generally?
Feature-spotting is when student isolate a technique, a feature, such as alliteration, but then do not explore why the feature is there and fail to discuss its effects.
Feature-spotting can be a problem when teachers ‘over-teach’ terminology; when they ‘drill’ the terminology rather than encouraging students to read for meaning.
It is easy to encourage feature-spotting when teaching to the test; telling students to cram their answers with terminology. The way around this is to encourage reading for meaning.
Look at this examiner’s response to a script, p. 5 of this PDF, in which an examiner points out the problems of feature spotting: http://filestore.aqa.org.uk/resources/english/AQA-77011-CEX.PDF
The slide below shows some typical features students ‘spot’ without exploring their effects.