How many class periods have you spent going through a classmate’s essay and answering prompted questions given to you by your instructor, wondering whether the advice you’re giving is of any use? Peer review is something we’ve all been asked to do in the classroom but have never been taught to do.
You may think that the more input you provide the better your critique will be, but in my experience as “your friend the English Major,” I have been asked to do complete overhauls of essays, essentially rewriting the essay without the writer’s input. However, after realizing how counterproductive this method of revision can be, I can suggest that allowing the writer to guide the direction of the review session can prove as a more practical peer-review strategy.
What is the Writer Worried About?
By asking the writer questions such as, “What are your concerns with the assignment, so far?” you are giving control to the writer. Writing down potential concerns the writer may have or would like you to focus on specifically throughout the session can allow the writer to address these concerns.
Don’t Just Mark up the Essay
Often, it is difficult to conduct a peer-review session because you struggle with deciding how much to correct or add to the writer’s existing work.However, be sure to take a backseat as they make choices about what to say and how to say it. Listen to their thoughts and feelings on the work, offering a nod here and there to encourage the writer. Sometimes taking a backseat during sessions allows the writer to develop thoughts naturally and it also allows you to learn from the writer’s work.