However, those that are evaluative should put the emphasis on the reader’s impressions and responses and should not require the peer-reviewer to pronounce a judgment on the paper as a whole (Nilson 2003).
Remind students that the process of producing academic and professional writing generally involves three steps: drafting, revising, and editing.
Peer review is often most helpful to student writers when it is utilized between the drafting and revision stages, or after each student has produced a complete draft, but while there is still time to make substantial changes.
These might include reading skills (discerning a writer’s main point, locating key points of support or relevant data, etc.), writing skills (writing clear, specific comments and questions), and collaboration skills (phrasing critiques in a descriptive, constructive way).
Articulating what you see as the core skills involved in peer review will help you develop a coherent plan for integrating peer review into your course and will make more clear the specific instructions your students will need as they learn how to review a peer’s paper and how to use the comments they receive during peer review. Teach peer review as an essential part of the writing process.
Defining the role of the peer-reviewer as a reader will also help you underscore the fact that it is up to the writer to decide whether and how to make changes to the paper through revision.
In other words, the writer should think about all of the reviewers’ comments, but may decide to ignore some of the comments and to make changes in response to others. Especially at the beginning of their undergraduate work, students are likely to assume that it is only the instructor’s feedback that “counts.” 5.Even when they take seriously feedback provided by their peers, students often do not know how to incorporate that feedback when they revise their papers.Many students feel uncomfortable with the task of having to pronounce a judgment on their peers’ writing.This discomfort may be the result of their maturity level, their desire not to hurt a peer’s feelings (perhaps made more acute by the fact that they are anxious about having their peers read and judge their own writing), or simply their inexperience with providing constructive criticism on a peer’s work.Develop guidelines for peer-reviewers that ask them to complete specific tasks: examples include indicating the strongest part of a paper; identifying or rephrasing the thesis; listing the major points of support or evidence; and indicating sentences or paragraphs that seem out of order, incompletely explained, or otherwise in need of revision. Some of these tasks are descriptive and others are evaluative. (This handout presents a specific mode of approaching peer review.For tips on how to organize and run peer review in your course, see “Planning and Guiding In-Class Peer Review.”) Many instructors who have incorporated peer review into their courses report less than satisfying results.A vaguely positive response allows them to avoid a socially uncomfortable situation and to create an environment of mutual support (Nilson 2003). If students are not given clear guidance from their instructors, they may not know how to comment on one another’s writing in a specific and constructive way.In addition, it should be noted that students may not understand how to comment on their peers’ writing because over the years they have not received helpful feedback from instructors who have graded their papers.