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Two Perspectives On Peer Review

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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

Communication and Collaboration

Tagged Division

Liberal Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.1287.1 - 14.1287.19



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Paper Authors


Julie Sharp Vanderbilt University

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Julie E. Sharp is Associate Professor of the Practice of Technical Communication in the Vanderbilt University Engineering School. She designs and instructs combined engineering lab/technical communication courses and a technical communication course for engineering majors. A communication consultant, she has clients in industry and educational and professional organizations. She has published and presented numerous articles on communication and learning styles, including for ASEE and FIE conferences. In 2004, she earned ASEE Southeastern Section's Thomas C. Evans Award for "The Most Outstanding Paper Pertaining to Engineering Education." She is also a member of the Middle Tennessee Chapter of the Society for Technical Communication (past president and senior member), the National Council of Teachers of English, and the Association of Professional Communication Consultants.

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Marilyn Dyrud Oregon Institute of Technology

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Marilyn A. Dyrud has taught in the Communication Department of Oregon Institute of Technology since 1983 and regularly teaches courses in technical and business writing, public speaking, rhetoric, and ethics. She is active in ASEE as a member of the ETD Board and compiler of the annual†Engineering Technology Education Bibliography A past chair of the Pacific Northwest section, she is a regular presenter at annual conferences, a member of the executive committee of the Engineering Ethics Division, and a recent ASEE Fellow. She is also active in the Association for Business Communication and the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics.

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

Two Perspectives on Peer Review Abstract

Peer review is a professional obligation: most of us have engaged in reviewing articles or textbooks for publication or evaluating professional presentations. In a classroom setting, peer review is a useful pedagogical tool to help students develop communication skills. This paper examines peer review in two different contexts: written communication and group dynamics.


Peer review is a versatile tool for the classroom teacher. Creative instructors can use it to improve students’ written communication, evaluate individual student contributions to a group project, improve the quality of student interactions, or diagnose and solve group dynamics problems. Regardless of the application, peer review allows instructors a glimpse into the workings of students’ minds and affords students a preview of a professional practice.

A perusal of the literature about peer review yields information from academic fields as disparate as law, science, medicine, music, and engineering as well as peer review on a professional level; for example, design review in the software industry1 or general performance evaluations by supervisors and peers.2 Many sources indicate, as Keith Topping notes, “positive formative effects on student achievement and attitudes. These effects are as good as or better than the effects of a teacher assessment.”3 Although some researchers may disagree, McGourty, Dominick, and Reilly also conclude that “student self and peer ratings can be consistent with faculty perceptions of student performance.”4 In essence, students, with a modicum of training, can effectively gauge the work of their classmates and benefit from that type of evaluation, especially in the formative stages.

The technical communication course for engineering majors at Vanderbilt University School of Engineering uses student peer reviews to encourage revision of written communication. Using a checklist to rate required components and to write comments, students offer constructive feedback so that writers can revise the assignment before submitting it for grading. Students’ written analyses of each other’s papers can be used in large or small classes to improve writing. This portion of the paper describes effective procedures for including student peer review of writing assignments in the classroom, provides examples of useful checklists for rating students’ written work, discusses possible issues to avoid, and presents students’ assessment of the process.

The civil engineering senior project at Oregon Institute of Technology combines communication and engineering design in a group intensive, team-taught environment. Student teams, however, are not always serendipitous. The most common problem is conflict, usually the result of “social loafing”: students who either ride the coattails of others or do not perform up to group expectations. Unresolved conflict can fester and result in group dysfunctionality. Peer review, as well as judicious faculty oversight, can help alleviate some of the more typical group problems. This portion of the paper explains some common group problems, offers a peer

Sharp, J., & Dyrud, M. (2009, June), Two Perspectives On Peer Review Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--4742

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2009 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015