June 14, 2009
June 14, 2009
June 17, 2009
14.1287.1 - 14.1287.19
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
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