Using Peer Review to Improve Student Writing

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Faye

    This is interesting as I am proposing this innovation to my nursing research course, but I was discouraged as this was tried by previous nursing research course instructors, and they have found that peer reviewers, or Paper Partners, as you call them, can be very punitive when correcting or editing papers. How would you lessen the chances of this happening?

    1. Trish

      I have my students read their papers aloud to a small group (usually 2) of listeners. This way the listeners can't see typos and can focus on the ideas. It also helps the author because he/she can hear where a sentence falls flat or becomes convoluted. Of course this does rely providing class time.
      I've never thought of using Google Docs before for this, so I'm eager to try it out. I also like the idea of being able to peek in and see what sort of comments students are giving each other.

    2. John Orlando

      Hello Faye:

      By "punitive" do you mean that the editor used harsh commentary? This is interesting, as I haven't found that problem in my experience. In fact, I've found the opposite, that editors were not willing to identify enough mistakes. I had to emphasize to the class that paper partners are not doing the student any favors by being nice and not pointing out mistakes, as the student pays for that during grading. I also emphasize that even professors need their work looked at by an outside eye before sending it out. This might help students not take offense to critical comments.


    3. Jen

      This is a very important issue. Some students won't be harsh enough, while others might be too harsh. I find the best way to help moderate this is to give the students a rubric to work from. This will help them to structure their peer reviews and it will help them interpret reviews from others. Keep in mind that how you word the rubric can really help to produce more constructive and less destructive criticism. Another way to help with this is to ask the students to include in the review one compliment and one helpful hint (notice the friendly wording).

      Also, it is really important that there be a followup assignment were the student has to make changes based on the review. If they never have to use the review they will likely never read it. You need to encourage students to see the value of the writing process: draft, review, rewrite.

  2. thomas

    This is like comparing chalk and cheese. Although i agree that students should peer review, I think that the preamble is not a suitable axiomatic basis for the argument which follows. These are two entirely different paradigms. There may be a few parallels but not enough to warrant the comparison made. One is not the consequence of the other. That said.

    I have been thinking of ways to introduce peer review in my teaching but it would be a modified version of what is being proposed. I think it is a brilliant idea. It is student focus. My problems however. Is there a reward/compensation for students who peer review. rather, is there a penalty for not peer reviewing. the usual problems of group dynamics must be considered. So students approach the task with enthusiasm, other could not care less. matching a good student with a poor one may be a disaster for the good one. Matching two poor ones may benefit neither of them.

    Another problem is workload of the teacher: the constant monitoring of students, resolving groups disputes, … I need time for me. Where does my responsibility ends and that of the student start? How do we make this "thing" practical and useful. THE DEVIL IS IN THE DETAILS.

    just a thought

Comments are closed.