Pedagogy in Action > Library > Peer Review > Examples of Peer Review > Human Impacts on Sharks: Developing an Essay Through Peer-Review on a Discussion Board

Human Impacts on Sharks: Developing an Essay Through Peer-Review on a Discussion Board

Activity based on Examining a Potential Paper Topic from the Northern Illinois University English Department. Assignment modified and Starting Point page by L.A. Guertin , Penn State Delaware County, Earth Science.
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This activity was selected for the On the Cutting Edge Reviewed Teaching Collection

This activity has received positive reviews in a peer review process involving five review categories. The five categories included in the process are

  • Scientific Accuracy
  • Alignment of Learning Goals, Activities, and Assessments
  • Pedagogic Effectiveness
  • Robustness (usability and dependability of all components)
  • Completeness of the ActivitySheet web page

For more information about the peer review process itself, please see http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/review.html.


This page first made public: Apr 5, 2006

This material was originally created for Starting Point:Introductory Geology
and is replicated here as part of the SERC Pedagogic Service.

Summary

Through computer technology, students develop a paper topic (in this case, the human impacts on sharks) that is peer reviewed by additional students answering guided questions. The original student must respond to the comments by the fellow classmates. All of the communication is conducted through an electronic discussion board.

Learning Goals

This exercise assists students in developing electronic communication skills through a discussion board. The electronic peer review of the paper topic provides students the opportunity provide constructive feedback. In addition, the topic of human impacts on sharks is one that encourages students to connect human actions in the natural environment with societal values and priorities.

Context for Use

This exercise should be given as an assignment outside of class with technology facilitating the procedure. Students only require access to a computer connected to the internet and a discussion board program (such as ones found in WebCT and Blackboard). The assignment can be given over a one-day or up to a two-week period. The instructor can log in to the discussion board to review the live electronic exchange of comments or final responses.

Description and Teaching Materials

Provide students with the following assignment:
You will be writing a paper on human actions impacting natural shark populations. You will be choosing one particular current issue with sharks and humans (shark finning and the demand for shark meat as food, overfishing of sharks, humans swimming in coastal waters where shark attacks can occur, etc.) and documenting these actions and the impact on science and society. Before writing an essay on your shark subject, you will further develop your topic with the assistance of two of your peers through an electronic discussion board. Enter the discussion board and answer the following questions (be sure to be as complete as possible so that your peers can do a thorough assessment).
  • What is the concept relating to humans and sharks you will explain in your paper?
  • Who is your intended reader?
  • What particular aspect of human actions and sharks will you focus on?
  • What will your main point be?
  • How will you explain sharks, humans, and have your essay understandable and interesting?

Teaching Notes and Tips

Assessment

Assessment is conducted by the students in the discussion board. After the student has answered the questions relating to his/her paper topic, the first peer reviewer enters the same discussion board, reads the answers to the questions, then types responses to a new set of questions. The instructor should remind the peer reviewers that their feedback is to assist the student writer in the appropriateness of the topic and the approach to the topic.
Student Reviewer #1
  • Does this paper topic and approach sound interesting to you? If yes, in what way? If no, explain what isn't interesting about it.
  • Would you care to read more about this topic? If yes, what would you like to find out?
  • What, if anything, do you already know about humans impacting the natural shark populations?

A second student then conducts a peer review of the same topic of the proposed invasive species paper.
Student Reviewer #2
  • Does this paper topic and approach sound interesting to you? If yes, in what way? If no, explain what isn't interesting about it.
  • Would you care to read more about this topic? If yes, what would you like to find out?
  • What, if anything, do you already know about humans impacting the natural shark population?
  • Do you and the first Student Reviewer tend to agree about the topic? Explain the reasons for your agreement or disagreement.
  • Do you think that your response and the response from the other Student Reviewer fairly reflect what most readers will think/feel about humans impacting sharks? Explain as best you can.

The original student author of the invasive species paper topic is then required to review the peer comments and respond in the discussion board to the following questions.
Original Student Writer
  • Considering the comments, how confident do you feel writing about this topic of humans impacting sharks? Explain.
  • Which, if any, of the comments surprised you?
  • Do the comments make you consider a new approach in any way? Explain why.
  • Considering how much your classmates know (or don't know) about the topic, how much explaining will you need to do in your essay?


References and Resources

Original assignment: Examining a Potential Paper Topic from Northern Illinois University's English Department.

Human-Shark resources

NOAA Fisheries Shark Web Site (more info)

International Shark Attack File (more info)

The Center for Shark Research (more info)

National Geographic News: Sharks (more info)

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