Using Peer-Review Effectively in Large, Diverse Classes

By Deirdre Flynn.

Published by The Humanities Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

As composition classes grow larger and more diverse, writing instructors face new challenges. This presentation outlines the challenges of using peer-review in large, diverse classes. It summarizes various problems traditionally associated with peer-review (such as time consumption, skill differences, learning style differences), then focuses on two problems that are magnified in larger, more diverse classes: variant language skills and negative preconceptions of students. Taking into account the perspectives of five writing instructors and 150 students at the University of Toronto, this article offers three practical strategies for addressing these problems: 1) a carefully considered distribution of credits based on content, coherence, and clarity; 2) a rigorously organized process for peer-review; 3) clearly articulated expectations for peer comments. Sample evaluation criteria sheets and peer-review guidelines are included at the end of the article. By approaching these problems practically, writing instructors can, this article shows, enable both students who use English as an additional language (EAL students) and students who speak English as their primary language to improve their writing. A practical approach can also increase students’ appreciation of one another’s diverse strengths. Instructors across the Humanities can adapt these guidelines to help their own students write more effective essays.

Keywords: Composition, Writing, Diversity, Peer-Review

The International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 5, Issue 12, pp.65-72. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 738.566KB).

Prof. Deirdre Flynn

Assistant Professor, English Department, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Deirdre Flynn holds a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the University of California at Berkeley. She is currently an Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto, Canada, where she teaches courses in Effective Writing, Technical Writing, and Modernist Literature. She has published several articles on the writing processes of Modernists such as Proust, Woolf, and Joyce. She is currently co-authoring the Canadian version of the New McGraw Hill Handbook. As her classes have grown larger and more diverse, she has grown increasingly interested in finding an effective balance between product-oriented and process-oriented approaches to teaching writing.

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