Archive for October, 2012
Guest post by Jessica Campbell
Over three years of teaching 100-level composition, I’ve held peer review about five different ways. No method is perfect, but this one has been largely successful. This peer review happens a day or two before a “final” draft of a paper is due to me; students bring in their rough drafts. I have done this with the major papers in all classes and also with shorter assignments in 109/110.
Here are the directions I give the students:
1. Get in groups of 3.
2. I will collect everyone’s rough draft and then redistribute the drafts to other groups.
3. Each person individually and silently reads one paper, marking the paper with questions, comments, and edits.
4. After 5 minutes, pass the paper to the group member on your right. At this point, everyone reads a second paper. In marking a paper for the second time, insert your own questions, comments, and edits, but also respond to those that the first reader made.
5. Again, take 5 minutes, and then repeat the process a third time.
6. When all group members have read all 3 essays, begin to discuss them as a group. Your group will fill out one Peer Response Sheet for each paper. That means that the three of you need to reach agreement about the paper’s strengths and weaknesses. Remember that this response sheet will go to the writer of the paper and will help him/her in identifying further revisions to make for the final draft.
The Peer Response Sheet mentioned in these directions is the product of a discussion held in class the previous day, during which we all look at the prompt and determine what would be the most useful questions to ask about the rough drafts. These questions vary depending on the assignment, but a generic example is below:
R.A.G.s Peer Response Sheet
Readers’ Names _______________________________________________________________
Paper Written By ______________________________________________________________
1. What are the strengths of this paper? What works?
2. What are the weaknesses of this paper? What does not work?
3. Does the paper have a complex claim? To what extent does it reflect the body of the argument?
4. Does the paper use quotations effectively? Does the writer provide sufficient analysis of the quotations to show how they contribute to the main point of the paragraph and the paper as a whole?
5. (Writer of paper: insert your own question here)
To me, this method has two major advantages. (1) The students participate a great deal in producing the questions that they and their peers will pose during the peer review. They therefore get practice in evaluating and editing their own work. (2) All the students, as part of reviewing groups of three, participate in discussions about writing. I have been amazed at the high level of discussion I have overheard from students in their conversations about each other’s papers. Since the writer of the paper is not part of the reviewing group, students feel more liberated in their constructive criticism.
One pitfall of this method is that reviewers sometimes give very short, unhelpful written answers to the questions on the Peer Response Sheet. It may be helpful to require full sentences and/or remind students that they need to be detailed and to give the writer guidance as to how to address an issue, rather than simply pointing the issue out.
(e.g. will be offering periodic posts on a teaching topic throughout the quarter. To kick off this new series, Lilly Campbell discusses a peer review activity she has used in classroom.)
Rhetorical Peer Review
Guest post by Lilly Campbell
In this activity, I have students bring in a paper from my class or another class that they are planning to rhetorically analyze for their next assignment. This is usually a short paper (3-5 pages). Prior to this activity, we’ve built up a rhetorical vocabulary to work with (each student has written and shared an extended definition of a rhetorical concept) and we’ve also read “How to Recognize a Poem when you See One,” and discussed the idea of tacit knowledge.
I set this activity up, then, with the goal of helping students to recognize the rhetorical strategies they used in writing a paper that might not have been obvious to them because of their tacit knowledge of writing strategies. What’s useful about a rhetorical peer review, then, is getting an opportunity to hear from another student how their writing has an effect prior to doing a rhetorical analysis of their own work.
We start off class with a discussion of how rhetorical peer review will be different from the other peer reviews we’ve done so far and the goals of this review. Then, I divide students up into pairs and give them 15 minutes to read their peer’s draft and answer questions on the attached worksheet. After that, they have 10 minutes to share their reading experience with their peer. Finally, we end class by going around and each sharing one thing that surprised us about a peer’s experience of our writing – something we were doing without necessarily realizing it. This helps students to hear from their peers about a range of tacit knowledge that affects their writing approaches.
Overall, this activity prepares students to critique their own writing by offering an outsider’s view of their work and also fosters meta-cognition about the rhetorical effects of the writing they produce.
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