Exploring the relationship between peer review of scientific writing and student self-assessment skills

Monday 11:30am-1:30pm UMC Aspen Rooms
Poster Presentation Part of Geoscience Education Research


Gabrielle Katz, Appalachian State University
Stacey D. Smith, University of Colorado at Boulder
We implemented peer review of writing in a junior level biology class, Plants and Society, in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Colorado Boulder in spring 2015. The 30 person class was divided into permanent groups of three students each for conducting peer reviews. Individuals with different initial writing skills (based on an in-class assessment) were grouped together. Students conducted peer reviews for three writing assignments (a press release, a pro/con essay, and a persuasive essay) during the semester. For each peer review session, students brought two copies of their draft papers to their small groups. The peer review session consisted of three steps: students provided written comments on ("marked up") the two other group members' papers, answered questions about each paper on a feedback worksheet tailored to each assignment, and discussed each paper as a small group. Students were guided to provide feedback as readers, not to grade or edit the papers. After each peer review session, students had one week to turn in a final revised version of the assignment. All drafts, marked up papers, feedback worksheets, and final papers were uploaded digitally. There are many benefits of participating in peer review in undergraduate science classes. Reviewers practice thinking critically about the work of their peers, and communicating feedback in a productive form. Recipients of reviews obtain information about how their work is perceived by their peers, and have the opportunity to revise their work in light of the feedback received. It has also been suggested that engaging in peer review may benefit student learning by enhancing student self-assessment abilities. We explored this question by asking students about how engaging in the peer review process affected their writing. We will present mid-semester and end-of-semester survey data to address whether peer review impacted self-assessment.