As the title implies, John Bean’s Engaging Ideas has been quite engaging. The style is easy to learn from and a lot of valuable information that will help our students can be reviewed in a short time.
I already incorporate the use of draft submissions for my most high stakes assignments and learned from chapter 13 ways to make this process of greater benefit to the student. Peer reviews of a rough draft can often provide benefit to both the reader and the writer. Though Bean states on page 222 that results can be disappointing, I have found the opposite to be true. I have found that often students are thoughtful yet appropriately critical of developing their peers writing. I make sure the papers are anonymous and that students work in pairs to review one submission.
Though I have found success with this style of draft review I have yet to try it with first year students. Has anyone else had similar results or has anyone used peer review of high stakes writing with first year students?
I use a sheet of questions when I want students to review each others’ formal work. It is less about judgment and more about saying back what the reader understood, or if that reader was able to identify certain required elements in the essay. It always takes much longer than I expect, and it becomes very difficult when only a portion of students have drafts on peer-review day. Has anyone found a good way to ensure full student participation?
I should also say that on days when we are set to do peer review, often students who have drafts have questions, and that answering those questions can take away time from peer review. Pedagogically I know that students can get to the answers–or at least identify the most important questions–through working together, but I understand their impulse to seek answers about graded material from me, the grader. It’s hard to imagine a way to convince students to allow the process to be decentralized.
I like Bean’s suggestion in Engaging Ideas that the professor distribute essays of varying degrees of success and have students grade them (86). This would encourage students to be more aware of what matters in a successful project.
Regarding your comment about full student participation, I have two suggestions.
First, submitting a rough draft could be part of the grade final project grade.
Second, knowing that an impact on the final grade will not always work, I have the students who do not submit a rought draft to work together on the project while in class. They then have to provide me with a copy of the work they did in class that day while the other students are conducting the peer review.
Let me know if you think the suggestions might work for you.