WIC Survival Guide Chapter 8A: Making Peer Review Work

What's So Good Abour Peer Review?

When you read your peers' papers you can...

  • Understand the assignment better
  • See how other writers responded to the assignment
  • Pick up writing strategies from other writers
  • Get to know someone better through their writing

When another student reads your paper you can…

  • Bounce your ideas off another person before they go to the teacher for grading
  • Step outside yourself to see your own strengths and weaknesses as a writer
  • Write for an audience larger than just the teacher
  • Hear where you need to clarify or develop your ideas

TIPS for Achieving a Successful Peer Review:

  • Respond in pencil—you may need to erase.
  • Ask the writer what he/she would like feedback on: a section they had trouble with, the introduction, conclusion, etc. Tell your reviewer the same.
  • Read the paper through once without a pencil in your hand, just to get the big picture. Then read it again.
  • Identify what was done well, what you liked about the paper, not just the problems. If you see a great sentence or idea, say so!
  • Ask yourself, “What two things would improve this paper most?” Then suggest them to the writer.
  • Remember that being too nice is not helpful, nor is being too harsh. You can be honest, but always be kind.

Group Peer Review from Hell:

A face to face group peer review can be a challenge. Here are some possible difficulties that can arise and means for troubleshooting them:

  • You can’t make sense of the paper.

    Try making an outline of it to help you see how the ideas are (or aren’t) connected.

  • The student who read your paper merely edited it by marking up grammar, spelling and punctuation. 

    Tell your reviewer that you aren’t concerned with the surface stuff—you can fix that later. You want help with the larger picture: organization, transitions, content.

  • You forgot the suggestions your group made.

    Take notes while they comment on your paper.

  • You hate peer review—that’s all there is to it. 

    Be fair to your classmates; go in with a positive attitude. Your comments could really help someone become a better writer. 
    Realize that giving feedback on writing is part of many careers. You need practice.