Peer Review Guidelines for Faculty

Peer Review in Any Class

For in-person classes, hard copies work best! For synchronous, remote classes, breakout rooms are perfect.

Guidelines for Faculty

Students in a peer review session are not responding to each other's writing as teachers or editors. They are not grading anyone's paper or "fixing" anything. Instead, they are reading as readers. This means students are reading for overall clarity, concision, development and significance. The more you underscore this approach, the more empowered students become both in providing feedback and in recognizing the writing process as recursive, which also helps students strengthen and develop their own writing.

Nuts and bolts: First, decide on an order and an amount of time. For instance, if you have three writers in a group and an hour on the clock, each student gets 20 minutes. If students have not read each other’s essays in advance (which is fine) you might advise that they take 10 minutes to read and 10 minutes to discuss each essay. Make sure everyone has the assignment guidelines on hand.

Encourage your students to read each essay all the way through and describe their overall first impressions. Suggest making checkmarks by clear, interesting passages. This helps both the reader and the writer identify what's "working" well and could help a writer reorganize the essay. Similarly, you might suggest that students make squiggly lines under anything unclear or awkward. Encourage students to have frank conversations about how they understand one another's main ideas, use of specific examples, and the organization or structure.

Why Take the Time?

There are many benefits of Peer Review, but it’s important to clarify — for everyone — that this is not about evaluation. If a student says "I like it" or "it's good," and leaves it there, no one will find the activity worthwhile. However, the more you — as the professor — underscore the work of description (describing what's already happening in the essay) rather than prescription (telling one another what to do), the more you will empower all the students to engage with the clarity, relevance, and reflectoin of their own ideas.