Peer review is familiar to most faculty members; it’s how students (and academics) build knowledge together. It is also an occasion for teachers to reinforce critical skills and content from the course and give students the opportunity to see their work from a new perspective. However, it can be challenging to create a peer review process that is productive and effective for students.
Developing an Effective Peer Review Process
- Use peer review to accomplish the goals of the assignment.
Peer review is generally more productive when the instructor is clear about the goals of both the assignment and the review. Consider what you want students to learn from this writing assignment about content, genre, audience, or the writing process. Consider, too, how to structure the review to reinforce knowledge, deepen critical thinking, and build skills.
- Teach students how to give feedback.
Guide students to be thoughtful readers who consider multiple perspectives and solutions. Early peer reviews might focus on developing ideas or finding appropriate resources. Reviews occurring after a first draft might concentrate on the clarity of analysis or the use of evidence or data. Later reviews might consider sentence-level issues or format.
- Provide structure.
Students should have guidance on what to look for in their peers’ writing before they begin peer review so they don’t try to grade instead of offering constructive feedback. Other ways to provide structure include modeling feedback, demonstrating expectations, adopting a rubric, and creating written guides (e.g. worksheets, prompts).
- Consider logistics.
In what ways should students prepare for peer review? Will peer review be conducted in person or online? In class or out of class? In pairs or larger groups? How much time will be allotted for peer review? How will you motivate students to provide helpful feedback?