What is it about?

The students who are asked to evaluate their peer’s documents (called assessors here) will vary in their own writing performance. Many students and instructors have wondered whether it is useful to have students whose own writing is relatively weak identify problems and give suggestions to their peers. We found that it is more useful to focus on the more specific strengths and weaknesses that each assessor has. It didn’t matter whether a student was overall more or less successful in their own writing performance. Rather, it mattered whether they had mastered the specific issue they were being asked to evaluate. When their own writing had the specific problem that the document they were asked to evaluate had, they provided less useful feedback. Interestingly, however, they were just as able to identify whether there was a problem in the writing; the only effect was on whether they could provide useful advice.

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Why is it important?

Concerns about the capabilities of students as assessors can influence both instructors and students’ willingness to make use of peer feedback. The current study helps to identify the very specific weaknesses that peers will have, showing that there is some foundation to common concerns. However, it also shows that such effects are quite limited; even relatively weak writers can generally provide useful advice to their peers.

Perspectives

Peer review has been widely used for formative assessment in writing instruction, but there remain concerns about whether peer assessors are competent enough to identify problems accurately and provide useful feedback. This study helps us better understand assessor writing performance at different grain sizes and the influence of assessor writing performance on their reviewing performance. It is also our hope that the study will remove prejudice against students at lower writing performance since those students have much to gain from participating in peer feedback activities as a provider of feedback.

Yong Wu
Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications

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This page is a summary of: Assessor writing performance on peer feedback: Exploring the relation between assessor writing performance, problem identification accuracy, and helpfulness of peer feedback., Journal of Educational Psychology, September 2022, American Psychological Association (APA), DOI: 10.1037/edu0000768.
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