How do I Give Peer Review?
Peer Review is one of the mechanisms for feedback and improvement in writing studies. This is because as classmates you are all in the same boat—trying to meet the expectations of the same assignment/instructor and having similar levels of experience with writing— you are each highly qualified to give helpful feedback on this and other assignment.
As you review, please tell writers:
- what you understand/don’t understand about their work
- what you think meets/doesn’t meet the goals of the assignment; and
- what seems missing or irrelevant.
Helpful feedback must also have a respectful tone. When you comment, remember that you are writing to other learners—people who did the best they could and who want to do better. With that in mind, you can make moves like these in your feedback:
Focus on the writing, not on the writer — don’t suggest that problems in the draft are caused by failings in the writer. Talk about what can change in the draft to make it stronger, not what the writer needs to do better.
Affirm what the writer saw trying to accomplish and the work they did. This affirmation move is especially important because it lets us give feedback in a non-judgemental way. And for the writer, hearing an idea restated back to them can help them know whether or not they are meeting readers’ expectations:
Tell writers when they need to make big changes. Don’t feel badly about giving good advice, and be sure the soften the blow too by explaining something you admire.
Keep your focus on how the draft meets or fails to meet the criteria. Make the feedback personal by being kind.
Be specific. Statements like “It was good” or “I liked it” are kind but unhelpful. These comments don’t give writers the insight they need to make improvements in this draft or in future drafts. Whether you are offering praise or criticism, be specific and mention how the writer’s draft met the goals.
If you forget all of this, remember this simple pattern:
- Describe- say what you see as a reader (so the reader knows what they accomplished)
- Evaluate- explain how the text meets or doesn’t meet criteria established in the prompt (so the writer references assignment goals)
- Suggest- offer concrete advice for what the writer must to next to improve their writing