Giving and Receiving Feedback
Giving and receiving constructive feedback doesn't come naturally to many people. It is easy to criticize without providing constructive suggestions, and even easier to take criticism personally, whether it was intended to be constructive or not. You can pre-empt both of these tendencies, to some extent, by addressing them directly before using peer review in your classes.
How to get students to provide useful, constructive feedback
An effective method of teaching students how to peer review is to conduct a mock review of an assignment. In this way, students can go through the process and become familiar with the procedure and what is expected of them before they conduct their first review.
- Hand out a sample completed assignment so that students will get an idea of what the end product should look like. An instructor may want to provide an example written by a student in a previous semester. Instructors may want to provide two examples - one good, one bad - so that students can compare the two for strengths and weaknesses.
- Discuss the peer review criteria with the class so all students will be clear with what is being asked of them.
- Demonstrate to students how to apply the review criteria. Give an example by reading the first paragraph of a sample assignment out loud and show how the criteria can apply.
- Ask students to read the sample paper and review with the peer review criteria provided. This can be completed in or out of class.
- Discuss student responses to the review criteria as a class so that all can benefit from the insights of others. In addition, an instructor will be able to see if there is a weakness in the given review criteria.
How to get students to use the peer feedback they receive
After the students receive their individual reviews, how can you guarantee they examine and use the feedback? Some suggestions of activities follow:
- In writing, students summarize the feedback they received and note the changes they made in their revised document.
- Students submit a cover memo along with their finished product in which they explain how they revised their document in response to the reviews.
- Students fill out a feedback form of their own draft. Then they compare their review with the peer review and comment.
- Students use the feedback forms as a checklist before turning in their next drafts.
- Students discuss the feedback with the instructor or in their journals to help develop strategies for improvement.
The University of Hawaii at Manoa's Writing Center has a web site on Peer Review Groups and Criteria Grids. It is set up like a Frequently Asked Questions page with questions that include: What is Peer Review? How do I set up and facilitate peer review sessions? How do I get my students to use the peer feedback they receive? Access to other parts of their site is also available.