Debby Ellis Writing Center

Planning & Leading Peer Review

Benefits of Peer Review

How does devoting class time to peer review help student writing?

  • Peer review builds student investment in writing and helps students understand the relationship between their writing and their coursework in ways that undergraduates sometimes overlook. It forces students to engage with writing, and encourages the self-reflexivity that fosters critical thinking skills. Students become lifelong thinkers and writers who learn to question their own work, values and engagement, instead of simply responding well to a prompt.
  • Making the writing process more collaborative through peer review gives students opportunities to learn from one another and to think carefully about the role of writing in the course at hand. The goals of the assignment are clarified. By assessing whether or not individual student examples meet the requirements, students are forced to focus on goals instead of getting distracted entirely by grammar and mechanics or by their own anxiety.
  • Studies have shown that even strong writers benefit from the process of peer review: students report that they learn as much or more from identifying and articulating weaknesses in a peer’s paper as from incorporating peers’ feedback into their own work.
  • Peer review provides students with contemporary models of disciplinary writing. Because students often learn writing skills in English class, at least in high school, their models for “good writing” might be entirely general or ill-suited to your class. Peer review gives them a communal space to explore writing in the disciplines.
  • Peer review allows students to clarify their own ideas as they explain them to classmates and as they formulate questions about their classmates’ writing. This is helpful to writers at all skill levels, in all classes, and at all stages of the writing process.
  • Peer review provides professional experience for students having their writing reviewed. Peer review is the process by which professionals in the field publish, it’s how managers and co-workers provide feedback in the workplace, and it’s a skill with practical application.
  • Last but not least, peer review minimizes last minute drafting and may cut down on common lower-level writing errors.

 

Next: Integrating Peer Review

Sources:

Cho, Kwangsu, Christian D. Schunn, and Davida Charney. “Commenting on Writing: Typology and Perceived Helpfulness of Comments from Novice Peer Reviewers and Subject Matter Experts.” Written Communication 23.3 (2006): 260-294.

Graff, Nelson. “Approaching Authentic Peer Review.” The English Journal 95.5 (2009): 81-89.

Nilson, Linda B. “Improving Student Peer Feedback.” College Teaching 51.1 (2003): 34-38.

“Using Peer Review to Help Students Improve Writing.”  The Teaching Center.  Washington University in St. Louis. n.d. Web. 1 June 2014.