Engaging in peer review fosters important skills for both the student doing the review and the one receiving the review. By serving as a reviewer, students learn how to make judgments about their own work as well as how to support another student to improve their work.
Slides from this video presentation (PDF)
In this brief video, we'll talk about using rubrics for peer review.
If there is one message to take away from this section, it is that peer review is not something that happens automatically. Students must be trained, practiced, and prepared to use a rubric to do peer review. This means that you should be very clear about the task. What should students do and not do during peer review? Focus them by using sample products for training. You might even you do a norming session in which all students read the same paper using the rubric and then you discuss their ratings and come to consensus about how it is you should read a piece of student work. You should remind students that it is the writing and not the writer that they are evaluating, and that it often makes people feel vulnerable to share their work with others. Peer review should not only focus on what needs to be improved but also what is done well and there is a great link in the text giving you more information on how to do this. Also that reviewing is not editing: peer reviewers should avoid correcting grammar punctuation and other errors. You should guide students to good approaches for commenting on each other's work. I might also recommend that students do a self-assessment using the rubric first before they use it on a peer– a peer's work. And finally, though this is the first message, that you should use your peer review for formative feedback only and not for grading. There are some ways that we can think about how the peer review process could feed into grading, but the student's scores should not be the basis for a summative grade for another student. So how can you facilitate peer review? You can create a feedback form with your rubric and add specific questions to guide their review, and there is a link in the content where you can see more information about how to do that. You can also provide additional instructions on specific actions that they need to take in the review. You can use class time to model how to provide productive feedback. It's really important that students learn that they can help each other improve and that it is not their job to punish or to grade another student's work. You can do in-class peer review workshops so that you as the instructor can monitor what is happening in uh, in the review workshops. You can listen, you can provide feedback, and you can help. And if you do this online it's pretty easy in a Zoom session to pop in and out of breakout rooms and do the same kind of feedback. Now you might also ask pairs of students to trade papers and then each paper receives a collaboratively created review. And this option is from John Bean from his Engaging Ideas book and this is included on the website content accompanying this recording. And finally, Canvas offers a tool that can support peer review and I've included a link to that as well.
Okay after peer review, what should you do with students? Here are a few options. The first is that students could summarize the feedback they received and note the changes they made in their revised document. So this might happen in the review panel of a Microsoft Word document or even in a Google document; they could know where they made changes.
Another idea is to have students do a self-assessment of the revised work and write a cover memo addressing the changes they make as a result. Now you can remind students here they do not have to follow all of the comments, but they should read the comments and consider them. And then it's important to provide time to debrief so that students can make sense of these changes. So the second option then promotes, uh– it's kind of like when you submit a paper for a journal and you need to respond to the reviewers' comments. Students might not choose to make all of those changes but they need to talk about why. A third option is to have students do a self-assessment before the peer review and compare their own observations to the peer feedback in written form. And finally, students can discuss the peer feedback with their instructor to help develop strategies for improvement. This is common in a conference style where you might meet with the student for 15 to 30 minutes to talk about their work.
A few essentials
- Use peer review for formative feedback only
- Be clear about the task: what should they do and not do
- Make sure students are trained and practiced at using the rubric
- Use sample products for training—possibly even a norming session
- Remind them that it is the writing and not the writer they are evaluating, but that it often makes people feel vulnerable to share their work with others
- Peer review shouldn’t focus only on what needs to be improved, but also what is done well
- Reviewing is not editing; reviewers should avoid correcting grammar, punctuation, etc. Guide students to good approaches for commenting on writing
- Have students do a self-assessment using the rubric first
- Create a feedback form with the rubric and specific questions to guide their review
- Provide additional instructions on specific actions to take in the review
- Use class time to model how to provide productive feedback
- Do in-class peer review workshops
- Use peer review for formative feedback, and not as a basis for grades; alternatively, you can ask them to come to consensus about how to handle peer review for grading
- Canvas offers a tool that can support peer review
Classroom Procedure for Advice-Centered Reviews (Exhibit 15.4)
John Bean suggests the following procedure in Engaging Ideas (2011), on page 298:
- Divide the class into pairs, and have each pair exchange drafts with another pair. (If the class has an odd number of students, I have a pair of students exchange with a single student whom I consider a strong writer.)
- The two students in each pair collaborate to compose a jointly written review of the two drafts they have received. I ask pairs to create a written review of each draft, guided by the rubric. To sum up their reviews, I ask reviewers to do the following:
- Write out at least two things that you think are particularly strong about this draft.
- Identify two or three aspects of the draft that are currently weak, problematic, or ineffective.
- Make two or three directive statements recommending the most important changes that the writer should make in the next draft.
- The pairs then return the drafts to the original writers, along with their collaboratively written reviews. If time remains, the two pairs can meet jointly to discuss their reviews.
After Peer Review: Some Options to Encourage Metacognition
The review work has been done; now what? How can you help students integrate what they have learned in the review process and improve their work? A few options for how to proceed:
- Students summarize the feedback they received and note the changes they made in their revised document
- Students do a self-assessment of the revised work and write a cover memo addressing the changes they make as a result
- Students do a self-assessment before the peer review and compare their observations to the peer feedback
- Students discuss the peer feedback with the instructor to help develop strategies for improvement
Bean, John C. (2011). Engaging ideas: The professor’s guide to integrating writing, critical thinking, and active learning in the classroom (second edition). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
George Mason University Writing Across the Curriculum: How to Help Students Give Effective Peer Response
George Mason University Writing Across the Curriculum: Tips for Commenting on Student Writing
Stevens, D. D., & Levi, A. J. (2013). Introduction to rubrics: An assessment tool to save grading time, convey effective feedback, and promote student learning (second edition). Sterling, VA: Stylus.
WAC Clearinghouse. (2006, April). Creating effective peer review groups to improve student writing (Tip Sheet).
Technology Tips: How do I create a peer review assignment in Canvas?