Insocial constructivism, in order to learn, we should exchange information, shareour 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 acognitive activity that occurs with the help of social interaction. Hence, peerediting is really important in the development of writing skills because itgives students a chance to construct their own knowledge through socialinteraction.
Thetype of approaches to peer review depends on the teachers’ instructions; itmight be open-ended, guided or directed (Rieber, 2006). In an open-endedreview, students are seen as experts and teachers offer no or little guidancein 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 listof general questions to consider while they are reviewing the papers. In thefinal approach, directed peer review, teachers give reviewers a completechecklist covering all assignment guidelines.
This is best when students havelimited experience in the subject and don’t have enough writing skills. It isalways good to have a checklist because; first, all papers are reviewed withthe same criteria, second, you cannot miss any point, and last, it really helpsweak learners working with strong learners. Thereare different reasons for using peer review in writing classes. Firstly,students like it, 11 out of 12 students in Eschenbach’s class (2001) liked thepeer review sessions and they wanted to continue the same application. Studentsreact 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 peerreads the paper, he or she mostly comment about how the paper does or doesn’tneed the assignment guidelines, which leads to an improvement in the papers ofboth reviewer and reader.
Anotherreason 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 peersand doing better because of the peer pressure than when they are evaluated bytheir teachers. Students do not want to appear unintelligent to their peers,when they know their work will be read and commented on by another studentduring a peer review, they are successful to produce a more polished draft forreview (Rieber 2006). Another research by Plutsky and Wilson (2004) also showedthat peer review helped students to be better writers.
Survey results byMacLeod (1999) also revealed that peer feedback were effective in improvingstudents’ 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 intheir writing classes.
The results revealed that better grades were obtained frompeer feedback group. They also showed lower writing anxiety (Stanley, 1992) andbecame to support each other more. Furthermore, one-to-one context may alsoencourage students to ask questions that they might be reluctant to ask inlarger classes. Withthe advances in technology over years, teachers and researchers started to makeuse of technology in education too. A wiki is a powerful online writing toolwith revising and editing functions.
In the constructivist approach, studentsare actively involved in creating knowledge and Holzinger (2008) states thatwhen we create knowledge by editing a web page and this is what theconstructivist approach talks about and Franco (2008) states that wikis enablestudents to create knowledge in a stimulating and exciting environment. Wikisgive students a floor to integrate their knowledge and technology and sharetheir ideas with public. Kirschner (2004) suggests that wiki editingapplications improves reflexivity and metacognition in students. Wikis aregreat tool for learners, as Ben-Zvi (2007) also states, in that learners canreach the papers from different locations as long as they can go online. Althoughthere are many benefits of peer review, in literature there are some concernsabout the quality of feedback. The biggest problem is students may not behonest 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 betterstudent in the class with the fear of being wrong. So there is uneven qualityof feedback. Toprevent unevenness, Kerr (1995) suggests multiple reviewers or using anonymouspairs. This way the anxiety level of the students will be relatively lowbecause they don’t know whose papers they are reading.
Kerr (1995) and Robinson(1999) found that students who can give better feedback are also betterwriters. In the literature, one can conclude that the most important side ofhaving anonymous peer review is that it provokes more critical feedback becausethey are relieved from social pressure. So they will be free of interpersonalfactors (Bostock, 2000). According to Robinson (1999) and MacLeod (1999)anonymity seems to encourage more critical feedback. There is a nice study byZhao (1998). In order to explore the effects of anonymous feedback, Zhaoconducted two studies on first and second year students at a college. Theyreviewed journals in two conditions, in the first condition reviewers knew thatauthors will be given their information whereas in the other condition, theywere made sure that their names will be removed before authors receive theirreviews.
The results indicated that the grades assigned by ones whose names areanonymous to the authors were more critical than the ones who thought they willbe identifiable to the authors. Inspite of many benefits of anonymous peer review, it has some disadvantages tooin the literature. According to the research by Kerr & Bruun (1981) studentsshowed better efforts when they are identified to authors.
They did not reallydo their best because they were hiding from the crowd (Lu and Bol, 2007). Someother researchers like (Allaei & Connor, 1990) claim that there are mixeddegrees of success, because students are not able to spot weakness in theirpeers’ papers since they are weak, as well. Since there are differences instudents levels of proficiency in writing in English, student have tendency notto trust their peers’ reviews (Carson & Nelson, 1996) and they wanted toget the feedback from their teachers. Accordingto Flower (1986), students behave in four different ways when they are editingtheir peers’ work. Those are authoritative, interpretative, probing orcollaborative ways.
Authoritative readers points out mistakes or deficiencies.The interpretative reader wants to discuss the ideas emerging when reading thetext. The probing and collaborative readers on the other hand take writersintention into account. The probing reader wants to clarify the text with theintention of communicating the writer’s intention. In a similar way,collaborative readers want to enrich the text.
So, the authoritative andinterpretative ways are “evaluative mode” whereas probing and collaborativeways are “discovery mode” (Wilfred & Albert, 2006). Thereis quite a lot of evidence for the efficiency of peer review for the writer, inthe same way; some research indicates that tutors have made more gains thanthose they have been tutoring (Medcaff, 2004). And this is for the commonbelief that if you really want to learn something, you should try to teach itto somebody else.
It is also important to select tutors. Since one can benefitfrom a good social contest when edited by a peer, it is better to chose voluntaryreviewers and writers. Researchers like (Dipardo & Freedman, 1988) suggestthat peer tutoring is effective because students feel comfortable during manypeer interactions so that cognitive growth and skills may be more easilydeveloped than in traditional teacher-child interactions.