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Peer Review Strategies

Peer review is a feature not just of writing communities, but of academia and of many professional enterprises, as well. It is, therefore, a good practice to engage students in group exercises that provide opportunities to: learn and refine important skills for collaboration and personal expression; improve ideas and drafts; practice proper revision principles; and more. Below, you will find some helpful suggestions and resources for conducting peer review activities in any classroom.

Preparation

  • Schedule specific dates for peer review sessions prior to the beginning of the semester. You might also include a mock session on the calendar before the actual peer review session(s) to acclimate students to the activity.
  • Give focused, actionable directives for the sessions. It is strongly advised to have students fill out some kind of peer response form, examples of which can be found here.
  • Instruct students to bring 2 hard copies of their piece to class on the scheduled day.
  • Consider if and how you might offer credit for peer review activities. Some instructors require students to include completed peer response forms with evidence of how feedback was incorporated as part of their final grade.

Session Conduct

  • Allow one full class session (50-75 minutes) for the activity.
  • You might consider structuring the time during the session (e.g., 15 minutes of reading quietly, 15 minutes of critique, 10 minutes of response, and so on).
  • Place students into groups of 3 – 5.
  • Have students offer both written and verbal feedback to each other, in turn. After the students have read papers, allow time for readers to give impressions and for writers to respond.
  • Monitor groups and gently offer any guidance necessary to promote a productive session.
  • Take notes on group (and group member) activities.

Follow-Up

  • Dedicate time during the next class to evaluate the session collectively. Offer your observations and inquire about student impressions so that the sessions can be refined in the future.
  • Give feedback on students’ peer response forms.

Additional Resources

Washington University in St. Louis – Planning and Guiding In-Class Peer Review

University of Colorado – Effective Peer Review

University of Minnesota – Peer Workshop Procedures

Stanford University – Facilitating Effective Peer Review Sessions

Brandeis University - Sample Peer Review Sheets


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