Conducting Effective Peer Review Sessions

PWR is committed to the use of small-group writing workshops.  While some students doubt the value of peer group work, when well executed these groups can be both effective and enjoyable.  While some instructors keep students in the same small groups all quarter, other instructors create new student groups for every assignment. Both strategies have merit.

Peer Review Group Suggestions

  • Pay attention to the way you present the concept of peer review to your students.  Explain clearly the rationale for doing this activity and demonstrate your commitment to it. 
     
  • Make the work count. You may assign points for it as a part of your class activities and informal writing component of your grade; remember that you need to be transparent in your evaluation criteria for anything that you are “grading,” including group work.
     
  • Prepare clear and specific Peer Response Guideline Sheets for each peer response session.
     
  • Spend some time with each group.  Take notes on the activity, on how well the group is working; who is contributing strong, focused responses; who needs to improve, etc.
     
  • At the end of the session, remind the students to turn in all their peer responses with their revised essays.
     
  • Take time to respond briefly but cogently to each peer response, noting areas of strength and weakness and ways in which the responder can offer more explicit and helpful advice.
     
  • Take time in the next class to refer to some of the most useful comments made in peer response and specify why they are more helpful than others.
     
  • Be patient.  Experienced instructors say that getting the groups working well together takes several weeks; with persistence and encouragement from you, they will get there.
     
  • Consider changing the peer response structure. For instance, have the peer groups act as the editorial board of a journal.