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Peer Review From A Student Perspective

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

Programmatic Issues in Physics or Engineering Physics

Tagged Division

Engineering Physics & Physics

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.950.1 - 14.950.13



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Paper Authors

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Teresa Larkin American University

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Peer Review from a Student Perspective


Writing has been shown to serve as an effective tool to improve the quality of student engagement and learning. This paper will provide a strategy in which writing can be used to enhance student understanding within the introductory physics classroom. This strategy has been previously reported and involves having students research, write, and present a paper at a formal class “conference” held at the end of the term. Throughout this process, students are exposed to all aspects of preparing a professional conference paper including the submission of an abstract, preparation of a paper for review, participation in a rigorous peer review, and presentation of their final paper at the conference. A significant focus of this paper will be to expand upon the discussion of the peer review process. The rubrics developed and used during the peer review process will be shared. Following the completion of the spring 2008 semester, students in a second-level introductory physics course who had completed the writing tasks in their entirety were given a questionnaire. Highlights from the results of this questionnaire will be shared. Of particular interest is how the students made use of the peer review process as they were engaged in the writing task. Of additional interest is how the peer review experience has translated into other areas of their academic endeavors. It is anticipated that an understanding of peer review from a student perspective would be valuable for educators who are interested in, or who are currently engaged in, similar types of writing activities in their own classrooms.


For educators, a primary goal in teaching is to facilitate student learning. However, traditional teaching methodologies, particularly in science classes have clearly been shown to put students in a role of passive rather than active learning [1]. Traditional instructional methods have also been shown to be very inadequate in terms of promoting deep learning and long-term retention of important concepts. Students in traditional classrooms acquire most of their “knowledge” through classroom lectures and textbook reading. A troubling fact is, after instruction, students often emerge from our classes with serious misconceptions [2 - 6]. Research on the constructivist approach to learning (i.e. the learner must construct their knowledge) reveals that when students are actively engaged with the material, learning is clearly enhanced [7]. The active process of writing within a science classroom has great potential for making the learning experience for students richer and more robust. In recent years, a number of writing techniques have evolved that make use of various writing-to-learn strategies within the domains of engineering, mathematics, and the sciences [8 - 21]. The use of writing in introductory classes for non-majors (and majors alike) may be an effective vehicle for allowing students to enhance their critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Writing can also assist students with the identification and confrontation of personal misconceptions [22]. Science classes are seen by many students to be threatening and intimidating places to be. Tobias [23] has been critical of introductory college science courses and has argued that typical classrooms are “… competitive, selective, intimidating, and designed to winnow out all but the ‘top tier’ … there is little attempt to create a sense of ‘community’ among average students of

Larkin, T. (2009, June), Peer Review From A Student Perspective Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--5485

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