Biology: Practice Peer Review Session

This in-class peer review activity was submitted by Dr. Sue Lowery in the Biology department for her Biological Oceanography BIOL 451 class. One of the challenges of making peer review a useful activity is getting students to offer detailed, specific, critical feedback to each other. Oftentimes, students are hesitant to critique each other. And even when they do, students may give vague comments (“I liked it”), unrelated to the writing assignment. The best way to teach students how to give each other useful, constructive criticism, grounded in assignment requirements, is to have them practice.

Dr. Lowery’s in-class peer review practice activity has students assess and critique the work of former students individually and in groups. In groups, students discuss their assessments of example formal student papers with each other, explaining their evaluation in terms of a rubric that Dr. Lowery provides. In addition, Dr. Lowery provides her comments and the draft 2 of the example student papers, so students can compare their own peer assessments with the feedback provided by the instructor.

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