Debby Ellis Writing Center

Planning & Leading Peer Review

Teaching about Peer Review

Like other forms of teaching writing in the classroom, teaching peer review is infinitely adaptable.  You might consider trying the following:

Offering Clarification on the Peer Review Worksheet

  • Ideally, you’ll be able to review the peer review worksheet a class or two before peer review. That allows students to check their own papers against the peer review and make any changes inspired by the class discussion. You might even ask students to bring in a portion of their draft in progress to practice peer review.
  • It can be helpful to provide specific examples and models of varying quality as you talk about the peer review worksheet. If your review worksheet asks students to rephrase the thesis, for example, you can provide them with an unclear thesis to practice on. If they have trouble rephrasing it, you can discuss why as a class and work together to improve the thesis.
  • You might also use this time to address any student questions about the worksheet itself – it may be that some questions are unclear, or that some terms need defining.

Modeling the Process of Reading for Review

  • Simply reading through a paragraph from a student or course text and responding aloud for students can be a valuable lesson.
  • Asking them to respond, and encouraging them to elaborate on their responses (“What in the previous paragraph made you expect that the paper will next turn to _______?”) can help clarify the level of detail and engagement you expect in their peer review responses.

Demonstrating Ways to Give and Receive Feedback

Opening this discussion by asking students about past experiences with peer review can help you segue into a discussion of helpful vs. unhelpful feedback.

  • To help students better understand what kinds of feedback you expect them to write on the peer review form, you may want to give them examples of different types of comments.  We’ve attached a handout with sample student peer review comments that you might review with your class.  By discussing which comments are most appropriate and helpful, and what makes them so, you can offer students a model of the kinds of responses that will be most productive for their classmates.
  • We’ve never had a peer review go badly, but sharing writing can certainly make students feel vulnerable, and it’s worth being aware of that fact. Using a poorly written paper to model a few peer review questions can create an opportunity to discuss keeping feedback constructive.
  • We may be overcautious, but we also find it helpful to provide students with a stock answer, as well, in case they’re unsure how to respond to a reviewer. “Thanks, I’ll consider that” seems to work fine.

 

Next: Keeping Peer Review Incentivized and Communal

Sources:

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

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