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Peer Review Handout

peer-review-handout PDF file

What It Looks Like


Catherine Kalish, Jennifer Heinert, and Valerie Murrenus Pilmaier


The following seven steps outline the process of the peer-tutorial method of peer review:

  1. Group students into pairs.
  2. Provide students with instruction about the peer-tutorial method. In our case, we read the instructions as listed in “Preparing the Students for Peer Review” (below).
  3. As students begin to work, pay attention to how they are working. If students try to “swap” papers, redirect them, and encourage them to look at one paper at a time.
  4. Students will begin to talk about their writing. Listen in! Be sure that students are engaged in conversation. If groups finish early, feel free to jump in. At some points, you may have to model what the process should look like. One way to do this is to read through the introduction together and ask, “now that we’ve read the introduction, what do you think of it? Does it do what it is supposed to?”
  5. Students who are struggling may want to refer to an assignment sheet, a rubric for the kind of writing you expect, or the “Questions Reviewers Can Ask During Peer Review” (provided below).
  6. Students will no doubt have debates about the appropriate way to handle different rhetorical or writing situations. The instructor’s job is to be responsive to these students.
  7. Enjoy the “buzz” of the classroom! Your students are doing good work!

Preparing the Students for Peer Review

We read the following instructions aloud to our students at the beginning of each peer review session. Our instructions give students a structure for how they are to conduct their peer review, but it does not micro-manage them. Rather, it is the students’ responsibility to review each paper together and jointly decide whether or not it successfully fulfills the assignment.

Peer-Tutorial Review Instructions

Today you will be conducting a peer-tutorial method of peer review. Please listen carefully to the following directions. If you have any questions, please ask at the end of the instructions.

  •   You will work with just one person during this session. If there is a group of three, I will discuss with the individual group how you will handle the review.
  •   Each pair should review one paper at a time; do not simply trade papers. You should sit with the paper between you both so that you can each see the text.
  •   As you review each other’s work, be sure to divide the time equally so that each of you has time to receive feedback.

    Reviewer: Your job is to present your thoughts on the paper. You aren’t an English instructor, so you are not expected to fix grammatical or spelling errors (though if you see them, feel free to point them out). Rather, share your thoughts, ideas, and questions with the writer. If there is a section of writing that is confusing to you, tell the writer. If there is an area that you’d like to know more about, point that out. Your job is to tell the writer how you, as a smart reader and fellow member of this course working on the same assignment, react to the paper.

    Writer: Your job is to think carefully about your paper. Keep a pen in your hand and jot down notes when necessary. You are responsible for your paper, so you have the right to accept or reject any suggestions as you revise your paper, though you should carefully consider the feedback the reviewer gives you.

    Finally, I will give you a handout that outlines some questions to ask if you need help getting jumpstarted. If you have any time left when your review is complete, make a to-do list that outlines what you will need to do in order to revise this paper to an “A” level work.

Questions Reviewers Can Ask During Peer Review

Obviously, instructors can alter or add questions relevant to their courses here.

  •   How does the title engage the reader?
  •   Why did you choose this topic?
  •   How are you engaging/accounting for the audience/readers in the introduction? Why (or why not) do you think the readers need (or do not need) background information? Why do you think readers will be interested in this topic and question? How does it explain why the topic is significant or worthy of further examination?
  •   If it’s a topic sentence, does it forecast/encapsulate the paragraph? Which topic sentences could be improved? Which topic sentences work well?
  •   How are you showing when and where information comes from another source? How can you improve this? What information do you think readers should know about the sources you are using? Is the information from someplace else? If so, is it cited? Where do you need to include citations?
  •   If you have a quotation, how do you explain its logical relationship to the idea clearly to the reader?
  •   Where would the writer benefit from attributive tags?
  •   What information is worth including in your attributive tag?
  •   How does the explanation of the quotations (and summaries and paraphrases) support the points?
  •   How does the paper move logically from one idea to the next? Does the paragraph seem fully developed? Is there more information that you’d like to know? How does each paragraph tie back to and support the thesis? Why are the paragraphs /sentences in this order? What is this paragraph/sentence supposed to do? Is that what it does? Do you like it?
  •   Does your sentence/paragraph transition from the previous sentence? Flow to the next?
  •   Is there a logical connection from one idea to the next?
  •   What are you trying to do in the introduction/paragraph/sentence/conclusion? Do you like it?
  •   What does the conclusion do? What does the writer want it to do? Does it simply summarize, or does it go on to forecast the next step in research or the implications of the authors’ ideas? Does it do something else? What is the reader’s reaction to the conclusion?
  •   How does the paper fulfill the assignment? Is there anything that is missing? Which criteria are done particularly well? Which criteria could the writer work at? How?
  •   What holes or gaps do there seem to be? What other information or explanation would help make the paper clearer or stronger? What ideas are clear? Confusing? Exciting? Funny? Thought-provoking? Surprising?

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This entry was posted on October 10, 2016 by in Uncategorized.
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