Author Topic: Critique of Non-structured Peer Review  (Read 2226 times)

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Offline msfrank

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Critique of Non-structured Peer Review
« on: March 31, 2015, 02:05:56 PM »
I would like to address the following quote about peer feedback from Ferris and Hedgcock (2013):
“Although peer response enthusiasts agree that providing students with guidance for peer review sessions is critical, some proponents disagree about the extent to which teachers should structure peer review activities. Advocates of a less structured approach have argued that, if the teacher establishes an overly directive or prescriptive means of generating peer feedback, students’ interactions will reflect the instructor’s intentions and priorities, rather than their own independent thoughts and reactions—another form of teacher appropriation of the writing process.”
The author then goes on to say that this is probably more true for advanced students, but that less proficient writers may benefit from more structure.
While I understand where the “advocates for a less structured approach” are coming from in regard to not giving students enough freedom to interact with their peers’ material, I disagree that guiding student feedback is somehow an “appropriation” of students’ work. It would then follow that any sort of writing guidelines are an appropriation. However, we obviously have to have guidelines in order to teach our students a skill and provide a valid assessment. I would then argue that giving students a guided way to give feedback, such as a Rubric, is actually very beneficial even for more “advanced” students in a writing class. These students may be proficient in their speaking and overall language abilities, but may not yet be advanced writers. The guidelines provide them with criteria to judge the work by. It also reminds them of what the criteria to keep in mind are for their own writing. It then reinforces the writing skills taught in class. Otherwise students may use their own ideas of writing that are not applicable to the relevant academic audience.
References:
Ferris, Dana R.; Hedgcock, John (2013-10-01). Teaching ESL Composition: Purpose, Process, and Practice (pp. 258-259). Taylor and Francis. Kindle Edition.

Offline Nagi

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Re: Critique of Non-structured Peer Review
« Reply #1 on: April 06, 2015, 09:00:18 AM »
I totally agree with you that guidance is needed for even advanced students. As you mentioned, having some kind of guideline such as a rubric would be a great benefit for students. By having a rubric, students can understand what specific areas to focus while giving peer feedback. To add a little to your discussion, I think it is a good idea for a teacher to first explain the rubric as well. Although teachers try their best to make questions sound clear on peer feedback rubrics, written questions can easily cause misunderstandings. It is a good idea for a teacher to give a quick presentation on a sample peer review. It is also a good idea to give a peer review on a already familiar text (sample work a teacher used as a class in a previous lesson, for example)- this way, students can construct a better idea of what is expected in peer feedback (length, overall quality, etc.), what kind of language is typical (e.g. Don't say "you are awful at this!"- instead, it is a good idea to be nice... "you could probably use different phrasing like this..."), etc.
Another point I've heard is from one of the discussion at a conference I attended. It is a good idea to clearly point out that the purpose of peer review is solely to help each other, and has nothing to do with grading! Some students misunderstand that peer review will go back to teachers (in that case, teachers should indicate that is the case, and explain why), so their feedback is "too nice." It is a good idea to say teachers will never see what is written on peer feedback.

Offline Kierski

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Re: Critique of Non-structured Peer Review
« Reply #2 on: April 07, 2015, 02:42:00 PM »
Both excellent points. I do think that if teachers are not evaluating the peer feedback in some way, it may not encourage students to give "good" feedback to their classmates. I suppose if the students are all highly motivated then they will give each other good feedback. But if peer review is being used in more of a beginning writing class, then it may not be seen as something that is very valuable. So unfortunately, grading / evaluation may be necessary.

Offline msfrank

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Re: Critique of Non-structured Peer Review
« Reply #3 on: April 07, 2015, 02:54:52 PM »
Nagi, I agree with the point about training students to peer review. I think that's very important. We do this in the writing service courses. Sometimes students think it is a little childish when I tell them the types of language to use in providing feedback, but in the end it ensures that everyone knows how to give criticism constructively and give specific feedback.

However, as Julie mentioned, I think it's a good idea to collect the peer review forms, so that there is some accountability. Otherwise, students may not put effort into the peer review. It also gives the instructor a way to give feedback on the peer review if students are giving feedback that is not constructive or not being specific enough in their feedback. It further ensures that students understand how to do peer review.