Peter Elbow is Professor of English Emeritus at UMass Amherst.
Peter Elbow is Professor of English Emeritus at UMass Amherst. He directed the Writing Program there and at SUNY Stony Brook—and taught at M.I.T., Franconia College, and Evergreen State College. He wrote Writing Without Teachers and Writing With Power. With Pat Belanoff, he is author of a textbook, Being a Writer, and a pamphlet to help writers share feedback: Sharing and Responding. NCTE gave him the James Squire Award \”for his transforming influence and lasting intellectual contribution.\”His recent book is Vernacular Eloquence: What Speech Can Bring to Writing (Oxford UP 2012).
Two Sides of the Workshop
Peer review is a two-way street. During this stage of the writing process, you will be performing two roles. First, you will be reviewing the work of one of your classmates, and you will give your peer feedback that will help your peer begin to draft the paper. Second, you will also be receiving feedback, which will help you begin your own draft. Let us focus on each of these roles a bit more.
Reviewing the Work of a Classmate
You may initially feel uncomfortable critiquing the work of one of your peers—you may worry that your review partner will take your comments personally. But you should not! Do not forget that you are helping your peer write the best essay that your peer can produce. Your feedback, even critical feedback, is an important part of meeting that goal. One of the steps toward becoming a good writer is developing the ability to give and receive constructive criticism.
Perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind when reviewing your classmate\’s work is that your feedback should be as detailed as possible. Simply saying a point or source is \”good\” or \”bad\” will not help the writer much at all. Instead, you should explain your reactions to the writing. Then feel free to make suggestions about how the author might make revisions or better support key points.
Responding to Peer Feedback
You will be receiving feedback from one or more of your peers. Some of that feedback may contain constructive criticism. Keep in mind that this feedback is intended to make your writing as clear and effective as possible.
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