Writing Assignment

 Draft post and peer review

Please post your draft of the final essay as a post before you return from vacation. Once you return from vacation and have paired up, please review your partner’s draft and submit as a comment to his/her post. After you have had a chance to meet in class to discuss the comment, you will respond to your partner’s comment with a review/summary of your discussion.

Guidelines for peer review

Below is an overview of the process adapted from the First Year Composition program at the University of San Francisco. As an alternative, you might also look at an overview provided by the publisher McGraw-Hill.

Peer review has always been an important part of the writing process. Using language is inherently a social process. Many people find discussions with trusted colleagues to be an invaluable way to develop and polish ideas. Professionals in most disciplines, for example, attend conferences so that they can discuss ideas with colleagues and leading researchers. Writers in business and scientific contexts commonly work in teams with individuals responsible for their areas of expertise, such as marketing language, audience, finance, research, and editing.  Some authors do not feel comfortable beginning a new project until they have discussed their ideas with others.  Successful writers do not wait until they have completed a project before seeking constructive criticism.  Instead, they share early drafts with critics.
As a peer reviewer, you can’t just say, “I liked it,” or “I didn’t like it.” Instead, you want to give the writer information that will really help to improve what the writer has written. What is important to remember is that while you should not be harsh or personal,  you should be honest. Saying something works when it really does not will not help anyone.
 The ability to get feedback on your writing before the instructor sees it
  • The ability to see your own strengths and weaknesses after reading and responding to another paper
  • A greater sense of audience – it is not just your instructor reading your work
  • The chance to learn new information from your peers about the subject you may also be writing on
  • The opportunity for feedback, feedback, and more feedback!
Your instructor will grade your peer reviews of your classmates’ projects based on three criteria:
1) the quantity;
2) the quality; and
3) the tone of your comments.

Quantity: Compose at least five comments on specific sentences or paragraphs (you may copy a sentence and put it in quotes; for a paragraph, copy and the paste the beginning 5 or so words as well as the ending and use an ellipsis… to indicate that there is text in between) and one substantial summary at the end.
 Quality: Your comments should be specific, textually grounded, accurate, and detailed. You are expected to indicate particular passages in your classmates’ essays, state what is or is not working, and provide clear suggestions for improvement. Avoid simple statements of approval or disapproval, like “this doesn’t make any sense,” or “I liked/did not like this” unless accompanied by a “because” statement.
 Tone: As with all academic writing, you are expected to maintain a tone appropriate to your audience. Your comments should demonstrate respect, support, and empathy for the writer; use formal, academic diction; and avoid racist or sexist language.
5 Local Comments: Your comments should address specific issues. That is, they should indicate particular passages (words, phrases, sentences, or paragraphs) in the essay, and provide specific and thoughtful suggestions for improvement.
A visual way to think about peer review comments:
Screen shot 2012-07-25 at 6.51.16 PM.png
Summary: Unlike the 5 local comments, a good summary addresses global issues. In other words, it attempts to state the reviewer’s overall reaction to the piece, and focuses on how the essay functions as a whole. You should aim for balance: compose 2 comments that talk about what the essay does well and 2 that discuss what the writer needs to improve. In both cases, state why these things work or do not work, and suggest ideas for improvement. Even positive comments can help the writer expand his or her ideas.
Using the FYC Rubric: Use the first three criteria of the FYC rubric to generate ideas for comments. The most helpful comments will address issues of Focus, Organization, and Evidence. Especially between Early and Intermediate drafts, comments on style and format are not as helpful as those that address Focus, Organization, and Evidence. Style and Format comments will not count towards your peer review grade.
 Focus: Does the essay fulfill the assignment? Is the thesis statement clear, concise, interesting, and insightful? Does the essay stay focused on the thesis? Does each paragraph support the main idea?
 Organization: Does the essay have a compelling introduction? Do the topic sentences of each paragraph relate to the thesis? Do the paragraphs flow logically into one another? Does the conclusion answer the “so what?” question?
 Evidence: How credible are the writer’s sources? Does any of the evidence seem questionable? Are the sources relevant to the writer’s thesis? Does the writer distinguish between his or her ideas and those of the sources?
FYC Rubric Videos: Each rubric component is further explained in a series of videos (the My ReviewersVideo Series) aimed at facilitating a deeper understanding of the criteria from a student point of view. Click on the individual criteria below to view corresponding video.
 Focus   |   Organization   |   Evidence   |   Style   |   Format
Your instructor will use this rubric to generate a grade for your peer review comments.
Category Emerging (F) Developing (C)  Mastering (A)
Quantity Fewer than 5 local comments and missing or partial summary Fewer than 5 local comments or missing or partial summary At least 5 local comments and substantial summary
Quality Comments are vague, inaccurate, and/or not textually grounded; comments express simple approval or disapproval without going into detail; summary is unbalanced and incomplete Comments are more useful, but still too general; they may be accurate and go into some detail but fail to fully assess the passage at hand or fail to provide useful advice; summary is either unbalanced or incomplete Comments are specific, considered, and textually grounded; summary represents a thoughtful and balanced assessment of the essay as a whole
Tone Comments are actively inappropriate, (disrespectful and/or unsupportive; racist or sexist language) Comments are not actively inappropriate, but do not adequately demonstrate respect, support, or empathy; comments may be too informal Comments are respectful and supportive and use appropriate diction and style; reviewer has displayed empathy for the writer and maintained a formal, academic tone

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