Peer to Peer Advising Worksheets and Overview

Seth Ward

 

Contents:

INTRODUCTION

PEER REVIEWER: A WORKSHEET

PEER REVIEWER: FOUR AREAS FOR DISCUSSION

 

INTRODUCTION

A. Summary of requirements:

 

1. All term papers are to be “peer reviewed” before submitting to the course.

 

This means that you must have a classmate look over your paper, and give you feedback about it, before you hand it in or submit it electronically.

 

2. All students must review at least one classmate’s paper

 

This means that you must review a paper written by a classmate and provide feedback about it to your classmate.  

 

3.  Each student may be asked to report to the instructor that he or she received a review from at least one classmate, and that he or she reviewed at least one classmate’s  paper (and successfully delievered the review to the classmate).

In undergraduate courses, the main purpose of peer review is to advise and assist classmates. Nevertheless, you may be asked to communicate any concerns to the classroom instructor. Classroom realities may require that the review given to a classmate follow a detailed format, or that report to the Instructor will have a detailed format even if no standardized format is required for the feedback given to your classmate, or that you give your instructor a copy of your report to your classmate.

Please make sure you understand the requirements of your specific course.

B. How and What to review

 

Expect to spend time on each paper you review. Comment on the overall coherence of the paper, the degree to which the promise of the opening paragraph is met by the paper as a whole, and whether the conclusion is convincing. Students should also check for academic integrity issues—your timely advice to a classmate about plagiarism or related issues might prevent unhappy results later.  Spelling, grammar, “voice” (both passive vs. active and “suitably academic” voice), academic references and clarity are also issues you should consider.

 

Two rubrics are given below—the “Peer Review Worksheet” or “Paper Assessment Questions”—which can be used as a guide for the review, and/or reviewer can make corrections on the paper.  Other useful rubrics are at http://www.writingcenter.emory.edu/writing/peeredit.html  and  http://www.westmont.edu/~work/material/peerreview.html (Last checked April 2009). There are many more such rubrics posted on the internet. (These do not necessarily reflect the specifics of the Peer Advising exercise adopted for your class).

 

In an ideal situation, the papers delivered to peer review would be the finished product, not a “rough draft.” In a writing course, it may be possible to insist on this but practically speaking, papers may be in different stages when they come to the peer reviewer, and it may not be possible to address all these points exactly so deviate from the structure as necessary.  If your paper is not a finished draft when peer-reviewed, please send a copy to the peer reviewer when you do have the finished draft, with enough time for the reviewer to respond.

 

Two rubrics below will give you some ideas of what to look for. Most students with the ability to meet in person will probably opt for “corrections on the paper” with an oral discussion of the paper. Those who cannot meet in person can still do so electronically, with discussion in person, via email, or on the telephone.  If you are commenting electronically, you can use, the Comment feature in your word processor (MS Word 2003 or Google Docs: Insert > Comment), or the Markup or Track Changes feature (MS Word 2003: Tools > Track Changes, not yet available in GoogleDocs), if both student and reviewer have it and both agree that this will work.

 

Or you can use some sort of symbol such as [[   ]] for your comments, with your initials (e.g., [[OMIT THIS SECTION—SW]] ). Many word processors allow you to use strikeouts or colors for things you want to comment about or recommend to delete.

 

In many professional circumstances a peer process is instituted both to guarantee quality as well as to improve quality. Unless you note otherwise, it is assumed that your review indicates that the draft you have seen meets standards for an academic paper to be submitted to the course, or will do so with various improvements. If you feel the paper is not acceptable, please note this graciously but firmly in your comments to your classmate.

 

C. Who reviews whom

 

Unless otherwise directed in class, students select their own peer reviewer. It is not necessary for students to “pair up” in the sense that each student is the reviewer of the other, although that may be the easiest way of completing this requirement. In some classes, small groups of students working on similar topics may provide the framework for peer review groups. Ideally, students will send their peer reviewer reports about the progress of the paper and their ideas as they develop, and develop a rapport which will allow for both enthusiasm and constructive criticism. Students are encouraged to “bounce ideas” with fellow students before the paper is fully written. Computer communications, either within a course shell (such as Sakai, eCampus or ECompanion), or via email, may make peer review much more effective.  Students able to do so can meet in person but it is assumed that students will always be able to exchange drafts via internet. The deadline for submission of first drafts of papers to peer reviewer is a guideline—students will have to work this out with their classmates! However, you should agree to a deadline for getting the paper to the peer reviewer which leaves enough time for the peer reviewer to comment, and for you to submit the (revised) paper to the course. Your course may not prohibit you from using a reviewer who is not a student in the class, and your Instructor probably encourages students to use the Writing Center: the University of Wyoming and most other universities have Centers that basically offer highly-trained reviewers to do the kind of thing classroom peer reviewers are being asked to do. Your class probably requires, however, that you work with at least fellow student in the class to offer a review, and to offer a review to you.

 

It is possible that one student might be the peer reviewer of many papers if the student agrees to do so.  Three students might decide, for example, that each will submit their papers to the other two. The responsibility for getting a Peer Reviewer rests on the student. However, I am requiring all students to submit a review they have written on a fellow student’s paper, so it should be possible to get a peer reviewer.

 

D. Two rubrics

 

The first rubric below is cut up from materials I found in several websites designed for Middle School and High School, where it is probably best for students and teachers to follow very careful guidelines. Most is from http://webserver.stjoe.k12.il.us/7c/envpeerreview.htm with some from another website (http://home.earthlink.net/~degani/researchpeersecond.html) which has since left the web. (last checked April 2009).  I have done some editing of these rubrics, and left in some material that may be simplistic but often is important in college papers. It may be less important to be as simplistic in college, but the guidelines are very reasonable.

 

The second rubric lends itself to a more narrative report than the first, rather than filling out a checklist. It is also a good summary of the things I look for when I read student papers.

 

Even if you do not use one of these rubrics, the questions will be helpful in getting conversation started.

 

 

 

PEER REVIEWER WORKSHEET

PEER REVIEWER: FOUR AREAS FOR DISCUSSION

 

-----------------------------------

 


PEER REVIEWER WORKSHEET

 

Author: ______________________    Reviewer(s): _______________________

 

           Have a positive attitude. 

           Tell the author exactly (specifically) what works or what doesn't work in the paper. 

           Prase what is well done, but make sure to make positive suggestions with phrases like "you might consider."

           Look at the structure and content of the paper.  Address grammar and style, but don’t allow this to prevent considering the overall paper.

           Ask yourself, "Has the author structured the essay so that it is both unified and coherent?"

 

 

1. Write the thesis statement from the paper you are reviewing below.  (This sentence is often the last sentence of the first paragraph.)

 

2. Can the thesis statement stand alone?  If not, have author rewrite the thesis statement to make it more clear to the reader.

 

How does the author grab your attention in the opening sentence of the introductory paragraph?

 

3. Is the problem clearly defined in the paper?  What portion of the problem does the reader need more information about? Is the problem important, or in what context is the problem important? Explain why, according to the author, the problem is important.

 

What are the topic sentences for each paragraph or section?  Does each sentence in each paragraph link to and expand the topic sentence of the paragraph? Does each paragraph link to the topic sentence of the section?

 

4. Is there a solution to the problem in the paper?  This should be found at the end of the paper.  Note it here if you can’t find the solution to the problem at the end of the paper.

 

5. Write a summary of the solution to the problem below. Your summary will necessarily be simpler than the paper itself, but if you cannot easily summarize what you believe to be the main points the paper makes about the problem it raises, the paper may not be sufficiently clear.

 

 

6. Does the writer use proper grammar?  Correct the mistakes you found on their paper, then write the number of mistakes you found in the blank. _______

 

7. Did the writer use proper and consistent documentation?  Do they have the author’s last name (or title of web page article) and page number listed for every reference?  Make corrections on their paper and comment below.

 

8. Does the student quote more than 1/3 of the paper directly from sources (this is too much), or more than 2/3 combination of direct quotation and paraphrase without analysis? (Also too much). 

 

9. Is the paper the right length?

 

10.   Do they have a Works Cited or use references correctly? Can the reader easily find the sources referenced from the information given?

 

11.  Is every source used in the paper listed properly in the Works Cited or given a full reference the first time cited?

 

12.   Have they used proper form for their references?  List any suggestions for improvement below.

 

13.   Does the paper include summary/paraphrases and analyses of research works cited? Of primary sources? 

 

14.   Does the paper include at least three direct quotes? Are “ text” quotes handled correctly?

 

15.   Please list any other suggestions below.

 

16. What are the strengths of this exercise, and do you have, from your experience here or in other classes, any suggestions for a better set of guidelines for peer-to-peer advising?

 

 

 


PAPER ASSESSMENT: FOUR AREAS FOR DISCUSSION

 

A. Thesis, Problem, and Analysis.

Thesis: Is the thesis of the paper clear? Is there a “thesis sentence” in the first paragraph and a conclusion that shows how the promise of the paper has been fulfilled? Is the problem the paper addresses clearly defined in the paper? 

 

Problem and solution: What portion of the problem does the reader need more information about? Is the problem important, or in what context is the problem important? Explain why, according to the author, the problem is important. Have you been convinced that the problem is important? Is there a solution to the problem in the paper?  This should be found at the end of the paper.  After reading the paper, can you easily summarize the problem posed by the paper’s author, and the solution proposed to resolve it?

 

Can you poke holes in the analysis? Does the reasoning offered in the paper lead you to the same conclusions?

 

 

B. Writing Style:

1. Does the author grab your attention in the opening sentence of the introductory paragraph?

 

2. What are the topic sentences for each paragraph or section?  Does each sentence in each paragraph link to and expand the topic sentence of the paragraph? Does each paragraph link to the topic sentence of the section? Can you follow the organization of the paper? What recommendations can you make if the organization is unclear or problematic?

 

3. Does the writer use proper grammar?  Proper spelling? Proper sentences? Proper conventions for punctuation, apostrophes, spacing, etc.? (Watch for “fragments” that do not have a subject and a verb, and run-ons. Look for excessive use of multiple short “simple sentences” to express a complex idea, and can be merged into a single more complex sentence, or over-frequent use of sentences that are too complex and need to be restated more simply or broken into multiple sentences. In some cases, you may have to recommend a student seek advice from the Writing Center.

 

4. Is the paper the right length?

 

5. What kind of “voices” does the paper present? (These might be academic-analytic, sectarian, ideological, pedagogical, argumentative, etc.). Is it reasonably consistent and is the voicing appropriate for the project?

 

C. Documentation and Resources

 

Did the writer use proper and consistent documentation?  Do they have the author’s last name (or title of web page article) and page number listed for every reference?  Are references listed correctly?

 

Papers should process and comment upon data, not simply cite sources verbatim. Is more than 1/3 of the paper composed of direct quotations from other sources?  A good guide is that there should be both short verbatim quotes of important statements about the subject, summaries or paraphrases of other material from these statements, and comments by the paper’s writer introducing and commenting about these quotations and paraphrases, and that these all should be easy to distinguish.

 

Plagiarism is never acceptable; “assembling” a paper from a number of sources is still plagiarism. Even if the reference is given, reviewers can and should check for this problem.

 

Did the paper use a good mix of books, articles, textbooks, encyclopedia or reference works, web materials, and other documentation? Are there “primary” as well as “secondary” sources? Are there resources which should have been used? For Web resources—did student find the true author or responsible entity for the source used?

 

D. What ideas does the reviewer find most interesting or convincing?

 

What are the strengths of this paper? What ideas caught your interest? Is the thesis trivial or earth-shattering---or more specifically, what is truly important in the paper, or what makes you think and speculate about further research? Do you agree with the author? Are you convinced?