Thursday, October 29, 2015

Reflection: Peer Response Assignment, Jaxon Style

We tried the peer review in class today based on Jaxon's article. Students brought in two copies of their research proposals. I had students write memos to peers on the back of their papers. That took about 25 minutes in the early class and only about 15 in the later class. Then, I made sure they exchanged papers with someone they don't sit near, because we have done some peer editing before, and I didn't want them going to the same folks each time.

I explained that the proposal isn't just a preliminary document to the research paper, but an important stand-alone genre. Then I offered lots of points for the peer feedback. I didn't, as Jaxon suggested, let them bring the assignment home. There was plenty of time in class.

  • Always love it when students help each other. It allows them to feel empowered and important. Their opinions matter, and they put them in writing for an audience (their peers). I read over some of the comments and memos, and they were insightful and helpful.
  • I noticed some students looking back critically over their own papers. Others were asking questions about the memos they received. Everyone I heard seemed to appreciate and value the honest feedback.
  • I was particularly pleased with Peter's use of this collaborative exercise. Peter came out as a member of the LGBTQ community in his research proposal. (I doubt most students would have classified him as belonging to that community had he not disclosed it.) He emailed me regarding his paper, and I reminded him that we would be peer reviewing the papers. He decided to stick to his topic. We were able to absorb the information while treating it as an academic issue, focusing on the proposal. Nicely done, Peter.
  • Some students were talking to each other for the first time, which was nice, because they are freshmen and don't always make social connections easily.
Cons (to tweak for next time):
  • Some students felt like they had to talk with the author to write the response. I wanted them to respond only to the writing without asking the author for clarification; I wanted the writing to stand silently on its own. Besides Jaxon's time constraints, this may be another reason why she wanted the assignment to go home.
  • In the morning class, it took the entire class period for the students to finish. In the later class, they all felt "done" with 15 minutes to spare. Hmmm.
  • Some students didn't understand exactly why they were writing the memo to the student instead of having a discussion. They may have felt this was an "exercise" or busy work. Also, many wanted to write in teen language, texting style, since the audience was a peer. Another reason to make it a take-home assignment?
  • The directions I took from Jaxon's paper were a bit wordy and possibly confusing to use as directions for students. (I don't think she intended them as such, anyway.) I will streamline for next time to clarify my expectations.
I'm interested to see the changes they make to their proposals when they upload the final drafts on Tuesday! In the meantime, I'm going to tweak the process and prepare for a peer review of their first drafts of the research paper.

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