This week, we’re going to focus on revising our letters or speeches. Plan on spending a lot of time on your project, as well as reviewing the work of others!

By now, it’s hopefully clear why we’re writing in this class (quick reasons: learning to become stronger communicators in our chosen fields & developing a better understanding of our own discourse communities), but some may wonder why we’re bothering using peer review. After all, it only really matters what the professor thinks, right? They’re handing out the grades!

But you don't have to take my word for it™ | Making Book
LaVar Burton

Peer reviewing actually does a few things for participants. I could go on and on about this topic; however, to quote one of my childhood heroes, LaVar Burton, “you don’t have to take my word for it!”

Here’s a list of the benefits, according to professors at Southwestern University (who got help from other sources):

  1. Peer review builds student investment in writing and helps students understand the relationship between their writing and their coursework in ways that undergraduates sometimes overlook. It forces students to engage with writing and encourages the self-reflexivity that fosters critical thinking skills. Students become lifelong thinkers and writers who learn to question their own work, values, and engagement instead of simply responding well to a prompt.
  2. Making the writing process more collaborative through peer review gives students opportunities to learn from one another and to think carefully about the role of writing in the course at hand. The goals of the assignment are clarified. By assessing whether or not individual student examples meet the requirements, students are forced to focus on goals instead of getting distracted entirely by grammar and mechanics or by their own anxiety.
  3. Studies have shown that even strong writers benefit from the process of peer review: students report that they learn as much or more from identifying and articulating weaknesses in a peer’s paper as from incorporating peers’ feedback into their own work.
  4. Peer review provides students with contemporary models of disciplinary writing. Because students often learn writing skills in English class, at least in high school, their models for “good writing” might be entirely general or ill-suited to your class. Peer review gives them a communal space to explore writing in the disciplines.
  5. Peer review allows students to clarify their own ideas as they explain them to classmates and as they formulate questions about their classmates’ writing. This is helpful to writers at all skill levels, in all classes, and at all stages of the writing process.
  6. Peer review provides professional experience for students having their writing reviewed. Peer review is the process by which professionals in the field publish, it’s how managers and co-workers provide feedback in the workplace, and it’s a skill with practical application.
  7. Last but not least, peer review minimizes last minute drafting and may cut down on common lower-level writing errors.

Go ahead and look at our Agenda!