What is Peer Response?
In peer response, students respond to drafts of each other’s writing, usually with some guiding questions from the instructor. Typically peer response groups involve 3-5 students sharing drafts and giving written and/or verbal feedback on “global” issues such as development, organization, purpose, etc. Instructors can have students perform peer editing, with a focus on the surface features of their peers’ writing, although this technique is more helpful for a final draft than a rough draft (which is still in flux). Peer response can be done in class or outside of class through a WebCT discussion board or via email.
Advantages of Peer Response
- Encourages students to see writing as a process that involves revising content, and not just editing the surface features of writing.
- Provides feedback for students during the writing process without overburdening the instructor.
- Creates a sense of classroom community and an opportunity for students to see what their peers are writing.
- Teaches students to become better readers of their own writing.
Advice for Using Peer Response
- Scaffold peer response by discussing a students’ draft as a class or creating your own example draft to respond to as a class.
- Break students into small groups of 3-5.
- Provide 3-5 guiding questions for students to address in each others’ writing, based on the criteria of the assignment. For example, “What did you think were the strengths of the essay?” “Where were you confused or wanted to know more?” “How well does the writer integrate outside sources?”
- Build in some measure of accountability. You could collect responses and give them a holistic score (check,check plus, etc.) or ask students to evaluate their peer as responders and make this part of the class participation grade.
- Ask students to focus on global issues like development, organization, and purpose when they respond to rough drafts to teach them that most experienced writers save editing for the final draft.