Peer Reviewing- An Everyday Conundrum

15 Nov



Of late, I have been trying to wrap my mind around why my current ENC1101 class is struggling with the peer reviewing process. I am constantly hearing students requesting more opportunities for peer reviewing, however I am consistently bombarded with student concerns that they are not getting any feedback at all.

In my two drafts prior to a final submission process, I try to allow my students at least  3-4 peer review experiences. I provide two in-class peer review activities, one is  based on the grading rubric, and the other is based on the students’ use of rhetorical appeals given the type of paper they are working on. The remaining two peer-reviews I set up, are typically conducted following draft submissions and are completed on  on-line class forums.

Regarding how peer reviews are matched, I have tried to balance both quality with quantity. All peer reviews are paired, however pair group members are rotated for every peer review session. During in-class peer reviews, the class is divided into two peer review blocks where students must exchange papers after a set time frame, and conduct another review. By the end of peer review classes, student leave with two peer reviews of their most recent paper draft.  What this means, is that for each paper a student gets a minimum of 6 different perspective peer reviews per paper, without detracting from their writing goals. In addition, peer review participation is weighted in the grading of the final paper within a 10 point writing process grade allotment. By actively participating in the peer review process a student not only gets beneficial feedback on their writing, but it allows them to earn a full letter grade bump towards their paper.

Although this system has actually worked well in previous classes, I have come across a new type of student that makes this process almost ineffective. In my current class what I have observed is:

1) attendance during peer review sessions are relatively high. Class culture during in-class peer reviews are casual, dialectic, and students appear to take the activity seriously.

2) On-line peer reviews typically have a lower submission rates, and students will for the most part take the time to upload their most recent drafts, but never return to carry out their peer reviews for other people.

I find the second issue most frustration. To go on-line, submit a paper but not return to do the peer review? Even through a Darwinian lens, the lack of desire to give another person beneficial feedback  should be overshadowed by the 10 potential points you earn by following through on the process. So what to do?

 I have decided to implement a new rule in my syllabus as I move forward.

All peer reviews count as a two-point deduction if you do not complete them.  Incomplete or hastily completed peer reviews will result in a one-point deduction.

I will keep you posted on how this works. If anyone has any suggestions be sure to let me know

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Posted by on November 15, 2012 in Uncategorized



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