Peer Review, revisited

By all accounts, the peer review we did for the Rhetorical Analysis was fairly successful.  I’m hoping that our work on developing Community Guidelines for peer review helped.  On our pre-peer review survey, I asked you the following:

Please evaluate your past PRE-STANFORD experience with peer review on the following scale with 0=I’ve never had experience with peer review before, 1 = negative experience 2 = relatively negative experience 3 = neither really negative or really positive experience 4 = relatively positive experience 5 = positive experience

Here were the results:

pre-peer review survey resultsIt’s hard to see form the image, but the results ranged from 2.5 to 4.0, with the majority either in the low range (2.5) or at 3.5 (somewhere slightly more positive than a neutral experience).

After our rhetorical analysis peer review, I asked you the same question but related to our own peer review, using the same scale.   Here are the results to that survey:

Survey results from Rhetorical Analysis peer reviewAs you can see, while we still have some people at the slightly-better-than-neutral response, many folks gravitated toward 4.0 “relatively positive experience” and 3 people (1/4 of the respondents) had an even more favorable response.  Clearly, we still have some work to do on making peer review a positive and productive experience for all, but this is a step in the right direction.

In their written feedback, people made comments about the following:

The conversation

  • Appreciated the openness and honesty of their peer review partner
  • How listening to their peer partners helped them understand what points where being communicated strongly and which ones weren’t as clear
  • How their partners helped them find “errors” in their writing (though, personally, I wish we could get away from this idea of right/wrong in writing)
  • Through discussion, got a better sense of how to develop his/her own argument
  • Feeling unable to comment effectively because either the essays s/he read seemed already really polished OR the reader felt s/he needed more background/context to provide good feedback

The composition of the groups

  • Thought the three-person dynamic worked well because it allowed the author to hear two different perspectives on the draft
  • One person wanted to only have peer review pairs, though it seemed like that was motivated by a desire to have more time to really dig into the essay

The logistics of the peer review session (the form and the actual session)

  • Took a lot of time to fill out the peer review form — and then didn’t really refer to it in the discussion
  • Also, at least in one case, it seemed like the peer reviewers only had focused on the parts of the essay related to the sections of the form they had filled out, so that limited the effectiveness of the discussion as a whole
  • Unequal investment of time in how well people prepared for peer review
  • Need more time for peer review so you could go into further detail in the conversation

No one seemed to want to change our community guidelines, so it seems like those are working so far.

As we approached our Texts in Conversation peer review sessions, I have some ideas about how to address some of these concerns.  We’ll see what you think after this week’s sessions.

One question, which I invite you to consider and perhaps even answer as a reply to this blogpost:  What do you think of changing the way we refer to peer review from “peer review” to “peer consultation”?

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This entry was posted in Christine's Reflections, Fall 2016. Bookmark the permalink.

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