Up Next in ENGL 150

CATEGORIES: Foundation Courses
Connor Ferguson
Connor Ferguson

In conjunction with the ISUComm Foundation Courses Program’s 4/3/24 Brown Bag Session, which will focus on ways to improve and innovate peer review, Connor Ferguson has prepared a structure for peer review based on workshop styles in creative writing programs. This approach emphasizes care and collaboration in the writing process, and encourages a discussion based structure to the peer review process; Kenny Cook, the co-director of the Creative Writing and Environment program at Iowa State University, modeled many of the elements of this approach. 

Before Peer Review Day:

  • In the class before peer review day, students will briefly explain the subject/topic of their paper with the class. This brief explanation should include their subject/topic, primary perspectives, and a claim. 
  • Students will be split into groups of three or four (depending on the size of the class roster). Instructor may organize these groups based on:
    • Random assignment, allowing for a wide array of topics in a group.
    • Similar topic groups, allowing for a concentrated focus for the group.
    • Student self assignment.
  • Students will post their completed draft to a discussion board, and prepare 2-3 questions for their peers to keep in mind during their reading/discussion.
  • Prior to peer review day, students will read each of their peers’ projects, making marginal comments and preparing a workshop letter. The workshop letter should follow a describe/praise/question model:
    • Describe: succinctly and accurately describe the project’s topic/subject, claim, and what it uses to document that claim (for example, connecting sources to specific statements).
    • Praise: highlight specific moments in the text that work particularly well, engage the reader, and successfully persuade or articulate a point about their subject (this can relate to technical proficiency, but may also compliment appealing prose).
    • Question: instead of highlighting negatives or failures of the project, students should provide questions for their peer about elements/sections of the project that are not as successful (an unconvincing source, an appeal they don’t understand, or a confusing claim).

Peer Review Day:

  • Students will come to class with their workshop letters prepared and ready to share.
  • For MWF classes, each peer review should last about fifteen minutes. For TTH classes, each peer review should last about twenty-five minutes.
  • Each peer review will begin with the student reading a paragraph or two from their project, so peers can hear the text in the writer’s voice. After reading, the peer reviewed student will remain quiet for the duration of the workshop.
  • Peer review will progress through the describe/praise/question structure of the workshop letter. Students may respond to each other’s comments, discussing common observations, providing explanations, or coming to a common interpretation of the text.
  • Peer review groups may choose to save a few minutes at the end of each workshop to allow the writer to ask any questions that may have emerged during their discussion.

Optional Post-Peer Review Activities

  • Assign a peer review reflection prompt asking students to consider how a discussion based approach improved their understanding of their work, challenged their perceptions of their own work, and how sharing opinions amongst a group of students allowed for generative discourse.
  • Facilitate a class-wide discussion reflecting on the process.