Friday, November 19, 2010

Suddenly on paper

For the last two weeks students have been working on their ENG 103 major research paper; the early stages happened online, but as we were getting to a point where I wanted to have conferences with them, I decided to have them print their draft and also conduct a peer review session in the traditional way; of course the fact that we only have the lab once a week meant that by necessity some work would happen on paper at a time when all we focus on is this paper.

Peer review on paper for a class that has done all writing and commenting almost exclusively online this term was a study in student behavior: in previous peer review sessions students focused on global issues--is there a focused argument, does it address the topic, how does the writer use texts etc. All of a sudden on Thursday, however, it was all micro-editing from spelling and commas to margins and fonts. Because we were not at a point in the drafting process where such comments are helpful, the experience was not very productive initially so I had to intervene to get them to leave such comments aside. Yet it did show me that students think of writing differently when printed, which is what I have been reading on a lot of other participants' blogs as well. So I am wondering if there is a way to combine the focus on content they have when blogging with the focus on format they have when facing a printed paper--as in maybe have them do a final peer editing session on paper.

1 comment:

  1. I think it's fascinating that students read text with different priorities when face-to-face vs. online. Might have something to do with the volume our brains have been trained to recall via a lifetime of reading "old-fashioned" print, as opposed to on-screen (personally, I tend to get eye-burn from reading too much on a monitor), or simply with the inherent weirdness of face-to-face dynamics and the perceived distance that online interaction creates.