Peer review is the evaluative feedback process of original works of writing by a colleague with knowledge on the subject.  Peer review in the classroom is used to focus writing, evaluate the substantial information, and critque the success of the structure of the writing.  The success of peer review is determined by the credibility and knowledge of the reviewer and therefore is often used by professionals in the fields of biology and other academic research. 

Professional Peer ReviewEdit

Fields like biology and medicine often use peer review of academic research to judge the validity and credibility of the research.  Using the knowledge of colleagues in the field to suppliment their research, professionals build the credibility with other professionals in the field who read their research. Richard Chisholm argues that revision and peer reveiew are essential to the professional writing process.  As an experienced writer, Nancy Sommers argues that experienced writers present more critial feedback and edits as a result of the experince of the writer and knowledge of what edits should be made.

Peer Review in the ClassroomEdit

Peer review can be used in the classroom to better academic and creative writing.  While a teacher provides feedback for a student, the emphasis on a grade often prevents a student from making revisions beyond those changes.  Presently students provide feeback on grammatical changes in the writing of their peers, however when using the guide of the professional peer review, a student can begin to challenge their writing.  Teachers who impliment peer review in the classroom call students to be accountable for their own work in addition the changes and revision of a peer. 

Many scholars agree that teaching peer review and writing is a challenge, and those same scholars debate the effectiveness of different teaching strategies.  Richard M. Chisholm argues that students can be trained with peer review guidelines to providing the best feedback for the author.  Chisholm along with Carrol Hauptle suggest the use of collaborative peer review to instruct and provide an example of successful peer review techniques.  Though collaborative peer review is foreign to many students, it provides them a sense of ownership to the comments as well as encouraging them to provide more consistent feedback.

Gerald Sims states that the use of peer review is helpful to not only the students receiving feeback, but also to the faculty overseeing the project.  Sims utilized peer review to not only assist the students who were receiveing feedback but to evaluate the effective comments provided by peers, giving the reviewer insentive in the classroom to apply more critical responses to peer review.

Implimentation of Peer ReviewEdit

Often peer review appears in the form of written feedback, but research shows that it is important to given auditory feedback too.

Written FeedbackEdit

The most common version of feedback in the form of peer review is written feedback.  Commenting on the changes that a paper should make in regard to both grammatical errors and elaborating or clarifying information that is in the writing.  According to the National Conference of Teachers of English (NCTE), peer review is the primary source of review.  This method of review is problematic on a basic pedagogical level.  Students do not always provide effective comments in peer review.  Often students comments are not critical when they are not given the proper guidance from a teacher.

Peter Elbow defines feedback as "reader-based" and "citerion-based" comments.  While reader-based comments stress the fluidity of the writing, criterion-based commentary assess the written work with a clearer objective. 

Audio FeedbackEdit

Just as it is important and helpful for a reviewer to provide written feedback on a paper, some scholars argue that giving audio feedback about the paper is more beneficial to the author.  Being able to elaborate and clarify the reasons for the changes the peer review has suggested, the author has more of an opportunity to understand what it is that is being suggested for changes to the paper.

Duke University professors Julie Reynolds and Vicki Russell use technology in the classroom to provide audio feedback.  Reynolds and Russell provided students with iPods to record feedback of papers as they read them. In a study on audio feedback, Reynolds and Russell found that audio feedback provided more specific and higher order concerns than written feedback. 

Effectiveness of Peer ReviewEdit

Students who use peer review in the classroom often gain a better outlook on writing according to Joyce Katstra.  It is believed that a student is more influenced by a peer than a teacher, however in traditional grading and evaluation of writing, without peer review, students are accountable for the critques of the teacher first.  Utilizing peer review, students have shown stronger sense of self and as a result have written better. Some scholars have found in research that peer review is not effective for the revision process, however those researchers, including Ricky Lam, found that most students did not know the best way to peer review, and for that reason it needs to be taught in the classroom.

In the pedagocial approach of peer review, scholars including Richard Chisholm articulate the need to utilize Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC) in all academic fields.  Utilizing knowledge of fields such as biology or history will increase a students ability to write in the field and therefore develop a more experienced writer for the professional field.  While some professors utilize questions as a form of guided peer review, the most effective tool to promote successful peer review is practice.  Deborah Clark found the frequent use of peer review in the Biology classroom increased the critical analysis and writing ability of students.

Whether it is on the professional or classroom level, the use of peer review holds a writer accountable for their work as well as the peer reviewer accountable for providing critical feedback.  The best way to make stronger writers is promote peer review and revision of all forms of writing.

Works CitedEdit

Chisholm, Richard M. "Introducing Students to Peer Review of Writing."  Writing Across the Curriculum. 3.1 4-9. Web. 7 Nov 2012.

Clark, Deborah J. "The Use of Peer Evaluations to Foster Critical Analysis of Writing in Biology." Direct From the Disciplines. Portsmouth: Boynton/Cook Publishers, 2005. 28-43. Print.

Hauptle, Carroll. "Liberating Dialogue in Peer Review: Applying Liz Lerman's Critical Response Process to the Writing Classroom." Issues in Writing. 16.2 (2006): 162-183. Web. 7 Nov 2012.

Katstra, Joyce. "The Effects of Peer Evaluation on Attitude Toward Writing and Writing Fluency of Ninth Grade Students." The Journal of Educational Research. 80.3 (1987):168-172. Web. 7 Nov 2012.

Reynolds, Julie etal. "Can You Hear Us Now?: A Comparison of Peer Review Quality When Students Give Audio Versus Written Feedback." The WAC Journal. 19. (2008):29-44. Web. 7 Nov 2012.