In the workload of instructors. With a heavy

In
social constructivism, in order to learn, we should exchange information, share
our knowledge, and negotiate what we know. The Vygotskyan (1962,1978)
perspective on learning a language strongly supports the use of peer review.
For Vygotsky, learning is not an individual process but rather, it is a
cognitive activity that occurs with the help of social interaction. Hence, peer
editing is really important in the development of writing skills because it
gives students a chance to construct their own knowledge through social
interaction.

 

The
type of approaches to peer review depends on the teachers’ instructions; it
might be open-ended, guided or directed (Rieber, 2006). In an open-ended
review, students are seen as experts and teachers offer no or little guidance
in how to review their peers’ papers. They are assumed to know the assignment requirements.
This approach is mainly used in advanced level classes. The other approach,
guided peer review, as the name suggests, teachers guide reviewers with a list
of general questions to consider while they are reviewing the papers. In the
final approach, directed peer review, teachers give reviewers a complete
checklist covering all assignment guidelines. This is best when students have
limited experience in the subject and don’t have enough writing skills. It is
always good to have a checklist because; first, all papers are reviewed with
the same criteria, second, you cannot miss any point, and last, it really helps
weak learners working with strong learners.

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There
are different reasons for using peer review in writing classes. Firstly,
students like it, 11 out of 12 students in Eschenbach’s class (2001) liked the
peer review sessions and they wanted to continue the same application. Students
react better to peer comments than they do to teacher comments (Rieber, 2006).
When a teacher reads papers, he comments as “right” or “wrong”. But when a peer
reads the paper, he or she mostly comment about how the paper does or doesn’t
need the assignment guidelines, which leads to an improvement in the papers of
both reviewer and reader. 

 

Another
reason is that it reduces the workload of instructors. With a heavy work load,
it is becoming really hard for an instructor to give a detailed feedback.
Thirdly, students write more carefully when they are communicating with peers
and doing better because of the peer pressure than when they are evaluated by
their teachers. Students do not want to appear unintelligent to their peers,
when they know their work will be read and commented on by another student
during a peer review, they are successful to produce a more polished draft for
review (Rieber 2006). Another research by Plutsky and Wilson (2004) also showed
that peer review helped students to be better writers. Survey results by
MacLeod (1999) also revealed that peer feedback were effective in improving
students’ writing skills.

 

Finally,
peer feedback seems to lead a better academic achievement. In his research,
Richer(1992) researched how college students benefitted from peer feedback in
their writing classes. The results revealed that better grades were obtained from
peer feedback group. They also showed lower writing anxiety (Stanley, 1992) and
became to support each other more. Furthermore, one-to-one context may also
encourage students to ask questions that they might be reluctant to ask in
larger classes.

 

With
the advances in technology over years, teachers and researchers started to make
use of technology in education too. A wiki is a powerful online writing tool
with revising and editing functions. In the constructivist approach, students
are actively involved in creating knowledge and Holzinger (2008) states that
when we create knowledge by editing a web page and this is what the
constructivist approach talks about and Franco (2008) states that wikis enable
students to create knowledge in a stimulating and exciting environment. Wikis
give students a floor to integrate their knowledge and technology and share
their ideas with public. Kirschner (2004) suggests that wiki editing
applications improves reflexivity and metacognition in students. Wikis are
great tool for learners, as Ben-Zvi (2007) also states, in that learners can
reach the papers from different locations as long as they can go online.

 

Although
there are many benefits of peer review, in literature there are some concerns
about the quality of feedback. The biggest problem is students may not be
honest while they are giving feedback because of their friendship or gender
(MacLeod, 1999). Or they may not be knowledgeable enough to give any feedback;
therefore relatively weak students may be excited to give feedback to a better
student in the class with the fear of being wrong. So there is uneven quality
of feedback.

 

To
prevent unevenness, Kerr (1995) suggests multiple reviewers or using anonymous
pairs. This way the anxiety level of the students will be relatively low
because they don’t know whose papers they are reading. Kerr (1995) and Robinson
(1999) found that students who can give better feedback are also better
writers. In the literature, one can conclude that the most important side of
having anonymous peer review is that it provokes more critical feedback because
they are relieved from social pressure. So they will be free of interpersonal
factors (Bostock, 2000). According to Robinson (1999) and MacLeod (1999)
anonymity seems to encourage more critical feedback. There is a nice study by
Zhao (1998). In order to explore the effects of anonymous feedback, Zhao
conducted two studies on first and second year students at a college. They
reviewed journals in two conditions, in the first condition reviewers knew that
authors will be given their information whereas in the other condition, they
were made sure that their names will be removed before authors receive their
reviews. The results indicated that the grades assigned by ones whose names are
anonymous to the authors were more critical than the ones who thought they will
be identifiable to the authors.

 

In
spite of many benefits of anonymous peer review, it has some disadvantages too
in the literature. According to the research by Kerr & Bruun (1981) students
showed better efforts when they are identified to authors. They did not really
do their best because they were hiding from the crowd (Lu and Bol, 2007). Some
other researchers like (Allaei & Connor, 1990) claim that there are mixed
degrees of success, because students are not able to spot weakness in their
peers’ papers since they are weak, as well. Since there are differences in
students levels of proficiency in writing in English, student have tendency not
to trust their peers’ reviews (Carson & Nelson, 1996) and they wanted to
get the feedback from their teachers.

 

According
to Flower (1986), students behave in four different ways when they are editing
their peers’ work. Those are authoritative, interpretative, probing or
collaborative ways. Authoritative readers points out mistakes or deficiencies.
The interpretative reader wants to discuss the ideas emerging when reading the
text. The probing and collaborative readers on the other hand take writers
intention into account. The probing reader wants to clarify the text with the
intention of communicating the writer’s intention. In a similar way,
collaborative readers want to enrich the text. So, the authoritative and
interpretative ways are “evaluative mode” whereas probing and collaborative
ways are “discovery mode” (Wilfred & Albert, 2006).

 

There
is quite a lot of evidence for the efficiency of peer review for the writer, in
the same way; some research indicates that tutors have made more gains than
those they have been tutoring (Medcaff, 2004). And this is for the common
belief that if you really want to learn something, you should try to teach it
to somebody else. It is also important to select tutors. Since one can benefit
from a good social contest when edited by a peer, it is better to chose voluntary
reviewers and writers. Researchers like (Dipardo & Freedman, 1988) suggest
that peer tutoring is effective because students feel comfortable during many
peer interactions so that cognitive growth and skills may be more easily
developed than in traditional teacher-child interactions.