The University of Sydney



Integrating the WriteSite into your unit of study

Peer review

You may want to consider asking students to peer review their colleagues' academic writing. The WriteSite can be a valuable resource for students to base their feedback on.

Looking at a text that they did not write themselves gives students the opportunity to focus in an objective way on grammar, writing structure and so on. Initially, they may find it much easier to see problems in the work of others than in their own. In the longer term, the process of developing constructive criticism of others' work may help them look at their own writing more objectively and critically.

Purpose of peer review

The purpose of peer review is to:

  • identify the strengths and weaknesses of the assignment
  • encourage awareness of academic writing requirements
  • encourage reflective writing processes
  • improve student writing prior to submission.

Setting up the peer review process

Plan the process

  • decide whether the Peer Review process is optional or mandatory
  • decide how students will be grouped
  • develop guidelines or a rubric for students to follow
  • build in time for handling student feedback or questions.

Introduce the process

  • Explain the 'rules' and 'how to' to students.
  • Distribute your guidelines and the WriteSite marking key to help students identify areas for improvement in each other's work.
  • Encourage students to keep their comments neutral and objective - avoid judgmental language.
  • Model good practice.

Evaluate the process

Structure formal and informal feedback processes at various stages of the course to gauge how much value students are getting from the peer review process.

These could include formal feedback mechanisms such as:

  • asking students to include the feedback they were given on their draft with their assignment submission
  • feedback forms on the course or on this aspect of the course
  • invitations to email you with comments and the inclusion of a comment section as an appendix to the assignment.

Informal mechanisms include:

  • regular reference to the peer review writing processes as part of lectures and tutorials
  • soliciting individual or group comments in/after classes, etc.

A large number of factors will affect how useful students find the peer-review process but a key one will be your enthusiasm and introduction of this initiative.

You may wish to give the review a small assessment weighting in the unit of study.

Where peer review is seen as desirable, but no formalised system is being set up, you may wish to encourage students to self-organise a peer review system some weeks prior to submission.