Running Effective Peer Writing Workshops Bibliography: Edward White. Assigning, Responding, Evaluating: A Writing Teacher’s Guide. Bedford/St. Martin’s Press, 2007. Robert Connors and Cheryl Glen. The St. Martin’s Guide to Teaching Writing. St. Martin’s Press, 1992. Erika Lindemann. A Rhetoric for Writing Teachers, 3rd ed. Oxford UP, 1995. U of Wisconsin WAC Program Website, 2002 (Green Beilfus, Jamesen, and Schwartz); University of Minnesota Writing Center Web Resources
Why do peer review? • Forces students to make decisions about their writing, and forces them to think like writers—to become active in the writing process. • Gives students opportunity to learn from each other—provides them perspective other than their own or their instructors on their writing.
Why do peer review? • Increases student stake in writing process, in that they may be feel the need to create better work if it is evaluated by peers. • Gives students opportunity to participate in an aspect of real life that nearly everyone faces: providing and receiving critiques of writing. • Gives the students feedback before they get a grade.
How Do You Make Peer Review Work? Plan: • Set realistic goals for peer review session, and give narrow goals for each session. • Explain goals fully to students. • Ask central questions and make students respond to focused tasks
Reinforce • Circulate during the peer group session. Encourage both honest responses and constructive advice. • Avoid being the one with all the answers—ask other students to answer questions directed at you. • Observe group work and coach students on becoming better reviewers and writers.
Respond • Give students a clear format for peer review and require written reviews (either a worksheet or a letter to the writer). • Give some sort of grade/stake in peer review process. • Require that students turn in peer reviews, and use these responses as you grade. Show how student response matches your response. • Help your students see the difference between revision and editing.
Repeat • Do peer review more than once. • Not every peer group session will work for each student. Vary: • Subjects covered (thesis statements or central ideas, organization, use of sources) • Size of peer group (pairs to groups of five to seven) • Students in groups (connect because of topics and interest, random)
Potential Obstacles to Successful Peer Reviews • "What's my job?" Students may not understand what a peer review is or what they are expected to do as a reviewer. • Spend a discussion section early on in the semester going through the steps to a successful peer review; perhaps do a peer review of a sample paper as a class to illustrate the kind of things they should be looking for when doing reviews. • Provide a cover sheet or list of questions for the reviewer to consider as he/she reviews a paper to help guide their review process.
Potential Obstacles to Successful Peer Reviews • "But I don't want to be mean!" Students may need guidance about ways in which they can give feedback in a non-negative way. • Suggest using "I statements" such as, I had a difficult time understanding what your main point was here" (vs. "you are unclear here"). • Emphasize that without the criticism, nobody's papers get better. Make a point of commenting on specific improvements in drafts so the students get the message.
Potential Obstacles to Successful Peer Reviews • "I don't know what they need to include!" Students can get hung up on content and not feel able to pay attention to good writing. • As appropriate, spend a discussion section going through key points that the students need to cover in the paper as a way of "holding their hand" through the content portion of a paper, enabling them to pay more attention to the writing. • Provide detailed lists of questions for the peer reviewers to answer about the subject paper.
Potential Obstacles to Successful Peer Reviews • "Peer reviews don't help me!" Students may see the peer review as "busy work" that they don't take seriously if they don't perceive that it helps them. • Grade the reviewer on the quality/helpfulness of their review(s). • Ask each student to evaluate (grade) the reviews they received from their fellow students.