Looking at someone else’s work gives students a sharper eye for nuance, potential misreadings, and mechanical flaws. It also helps them see their own writing through others’ eyes. Students in Writing Flag courses (all UGS 302s and some 303s) must have an opportunity to read one another’s work and offer constructive criticism. Most first-year students won’t produce brilliant criticism, but they can learn a great deal from seeing how their peers approach the same writing problems they tackle.
Peer feedback can convince a student to take an instructor’s comments more seriously. If, for example, two or three peers agree with the instructor that an explanation is unclear, the student is less able to rationalize criticism as coming from “a really picky professor.”
The following have all been used successfully in Signature Courses.
Whatever method of peer review you choose, ask students to think about the grading criteria as they respond to peers’ writing. Don’t have students evaluate papers with one set of criteria, while you use another set to grade them