A Case for Peer Review Inclusion in Writing Assessment

A Case for Peer Review Inclusion in Writing Assessment

Melissa R. Bodola (Sultan Qaboos University, Oman) and Stephanie D. Siam (Sultan Qaboos University, Oman)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-6619-1.ch014
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As technology becomes increasingly available for educational purposes, expectations should be to integrate it into pedagogical theory and practice (Garrison, 2011). For native English speakers, the task of reviewing another student's work is daunting (Fordyce & Mulcahey, 2012). Even with step-by-step guidelines, students still fail to take complete advantage of this beneficial component of writing. Many students feel under-skilled to provide self-evaluation, much less for their peers. Moving to the English Language Learner (ELL) classroom, the assignment becomes increasingly problematic (Myles, 2002). During the spring semester of 2013, the researchers conducted a study implementing a technologically-based forum for one of the most important—yet under-utilized—skills in writing development: peer review. This chapter discusses the theory and process of the study, the limitations that inhibited successful results, and how the limitations should be addressed in the future to encourage further realization and growth of both paper-based and online peer review.
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Peer review is a commonly used best practice for process writing and student-centered instruction (Goldstein & Conrad, 1990; Kroll, 1991; Zamel, 1985). There are numerous ways to facilitate face-to-face peer review (FFPR) which promote negotiation for meaning and reflection (Forman & Cazden, 1985; Neman, Griffin & Cole, 1984; Vygotsky, 1978). Such strategies modify the one right answer and task completion attitudes towards writing and promote social constructivist and process-oriented approaches to learning (Min, 2004). Peer review requires one writer to read another writer’s approach to the same prompt, which leads to comparison, reflection, discussion and explanation of choices (Liu, Lin, Chiu & Yuan, 2001). Additionally, it promotes incidental “noticing” of mistakes and vocabulary and grammatical constructions of benefit to the reviewer (Lundstrom & Baker 2009).

Research Rationale

While teaching the use of peer review checklists, the researchers noticed that students in their ESL writing classes required additional support to provide critical feedback to peers (Stanley, 1992). No marks were awarded for the review process in the curriculum, and the researchers observed that some students haphazardly ticked boxes on the checklists provided. Moreover, they often added surface level comments (Leki, 1990), such as “good ideas” and “bad spelling.” Thus, the purpose of this study was to discover and suggest methods to facilitate peer review tasks that scaffold both writer and reviewer into sharing meaningful comments for the benefit of added perspective, while improving critical thinking with content-rich responses to writing prompts. The secondary purpose was to incorporate Online Peer Review (OLPR) methods to heighten learner engagement and lower the affective filter, as students vary in their levels of comfort with regard to face-to-face peer review (FFPR) (Zhao, 1998).

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