Using Peer Feedback
Peer feedback is the process in which feedback is given on a scholarly text with the purpose of improving it and it is a process which most scholars are familiar with. It is also a useful tool for teaching students academic writing.
Participating in peer feedback sessions can help students
- Take the step from writing for themselves or their teacher to writing for a broader audience.
- Develop their critical reading skills as it encourages them to reflect on and evaluate the text they read.
- Develop their writing skills, both as it gives them the chance to learn from good examples presented by their peers and because they practice expressing their responses to a text in a clear, focused, and coherent manner.
- Practice giving and receiving constructive feedback.
- Practice evaluating the feedback they are given and implementing this feedback when they revise their own text.
- Become aware of and consider the assessment criteria.
In order to be successful, a peer feedback session should be carefully planned, both as to timing and content or aims. A common mistake is to assume that students already know how to provide feedback on another student’s work and that all that is needed is to tell students to do a peer review. Peer feedback is a skill that needs to be practiced and clear guidelines are required for it to work successfully.
- Consider at what point during the writing process it would be most fruitful for the students to get peer feedback.
- Peer feedback sessions are often more productive if the members meet to have a discussion, in addition to giving each other written comments.
- Communicate to your students what the aim of the peer feedback is. What should they focus on in their comments?
- To practice, let students give feedback on a text written by someone who is not part of the class, e.g. an article or a student text. Discuss it together as well. This way, students can practice giving feedback without feeling that they expose or attack anyone in the group and they can learn what they should focus on in their feedback.
- Ask students to hand in a short reflection on how they used the received feedback when revising their text, together with their completed assignment.
Examples of Feedback Questions
- Is the purpose of the text clearly stated in the introduction?
- What do you consider to be the author’s main point in this text?
- Which parts of the text interest you the most? Why?
- Do you understand how this project contributes to existing research? Underline sentences where you think this is communicated.
- Are there any parts that you think need to be developed or rephrased? Why?
- Are there any parts that you think are unnecessary or irrelevant? Why?
- Are there passages in which the logic is hard to follow? Give examples and try to explain why you had trouble following the line of reasoning.
- Are there enough examples to support the discussion? What do you feel is the strongest example? Why?
- Does the conclusion sum up the text?
- Did the subheadings provide a clear idea of the content of each section? Give an example of a subheading that you find especially strong and/or one that could be improved and explain why.
- Does the content of each section reflect the subheading?
- Does each paragraph present an idea and develop it? Point out especially strong paragraphs and explain what makes them strong. Also, if there are paragraphs that need to be reorganized point out which ones and explain why.
- Are the paragraphs organized in a logical manner and linked to each other? Point out any sections where the paragraphs could be organized differently and explain why.
- Has one reference system been used consistently?
- Have sources been correctly documented?
- Is it clear in the text where the author’s own ideas are presented and where other sources have been used? Give examples of when references have been used successfully and/or where they could be improved.
- Are there places that are missing references? Explain why one is needed.