Peer Editing Helpful Addition to Writing in the Sciences

Peer Editing Helpful Addition to Writing in the Sciences

Instructor: Kristin Sainani
Department/School: Health Research and Policy / School of Medicine
Course: Writing in the Sciences (HRP 213) Fall 2012
Audience: 11 Stanford Students
Teaching and Learning Approach: Flipped Classroom

Goals: Kristin Sainani wanted to reach more students across campus and facilitate interactions between students from different disciplines and backgrounds in order to underscore the importance of making writing clear for general audiences.

Approach: The flipped classroom format is well-suited for teaching writing because students have the opportunity to get guidance, feedback, and editing practice during class time. Sainani incorporated content from the MOOC version of the course into her Stanford class. Stanford students enrolled in the course for credit additionally met with the instructor for one to two hours per week for interactive exercises, team-based work, and one-on-one editing.

  • Writing Exercises: Sainani prompt students to write in class to give them practice writing “on the spot.”  

  • Peer Evaluation: Students brought hard copies of their papers to class; then they swapped essays in pairs and edited each others’ work.

In-class Strategies:  Active Learning Exercises, Application, Peer Evaluation, Discussion

Online or Out-of-class Strategies: Students watched short lecture videos, took online quizzes, and completed interactive editing exercises.

Lessons Learned:  Students were enthusiastic about the course’s flexibility. On a survey administered at the conclusion of the course, 77% of students agreed or strongly agreed with the statement “I think that watching the lectures outside of class and then using class-time for in-class activities helped me to learn this topic better than a traditional lecture-based course would have.” Sainani found peer grading activities particularly useful, saying that they were “much more valuable than a take-home editing assignment.”

Plans for Next Iteration of Course: Sainani will continue to offer her Writing in the Sciences Course using a flipped classroom model. She will add a component to allow the entire class to focus on, discuss and workshop an individual student’s work. Sainani offered a MOOC version of the course on OpenEdX in Fall 2013.


Prof. Kristin Sainani

Kristin Sainani (née Cobb) is a clinical assistant professor at Stanford University and also a health and science writer. After receiving an MS in statistics and PhD in epidemiology from Stanford University, she studied science writing at the University of California, Santa Cruz. She has taught statistics and writing at Stanford for a decade and has received several Excellence in Teaching Awards from the graduate program in epidemiology.


Sainani's Faculty Forum Presentation: Creating Online and Blended Teaching Materials -- a Production Primer, March 11, 2013

*Adapted from Kristin Sainani's Flipped Classroom Report on the Coursera Flipped Classroom Field Guide