The Power of Peer Feedback

This post was originally published on Edutopia.

One of the most powerful elements throughout the writing process is peer feedback. Unless students are blogging, they’re mostly writing with the idea in mind that the main audience is the teacher. Shifting this mindset in students will allow them to take on writing with a much larger scope. Students should see their peers as audience as well.

The Benefits of Peer Review

Peer review provides a metacognitive process of learning in that both the students and the teachers are able to receive feedback. Teachers will receive feedback on their pedagogical practice.

Consider the following questions when assessing peer feedback:

  • Does this student understand the task?
  • How is this student’s understanding of the task similar to his/peers?
  • How are the peers working together to give feedback?
  • What kind of feedback are they providing?
  • Does the feedback relate to the assignment outcomes?
  • How can I best communicate assignment outcomes to ensure strong peer feedback?

Students benefit from peer feedback in that they are able to teach other about the tasks and provide feedback that they would consider relevant. In seeing that their peer feedback is relevant, students will be more engaged and invested in working to complete the task successfully. Peer feedback also gives students an opportunity to have their voices heard, and to listen to each other. It is often easier for us to understand concepts from people who are similar in age as we are.

How to Introduce Peer Review

Set expectations from the start of the lesson that peer review is not about judging each other’s work, but helping each other out. Also, remind students that it’s important for the peer feedback space to be safe, judgement-free in order for everyone to truly benefit from the feedback.

  • Have students focus on the positive aspects of the work before pointing out areas of improvement.
  • Show students how they can phrase things constructively, so instead of “I don’t understand the point of your introduction” try this “Your thesis statement can be stronger, can you provide examples?”
  • Provide students with categorize/areas to focus on when giving feedback, for example: Grammar, structure, sentences, creativity, etc.

Many students will not be so keen on the idea of peer review, afterall who wants their peers to read their work and assess it? However, if they can help them see the benefits, and the importance of the process, they will actually enjoy it!

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