Monday, May 6, 2013

Update for May 6

It's about a week and half until the connecting activity. In preparation, I had my students do peer review for the first time this semester. I asked them to exchange a "sandwiched" paragraph with a classmate, and I distributed a handout to guide their feedback. It didn't go well. First of all, about a third of my students didn't bring a paragraph for review, although we spent most of the previous class writing in the computer lab (grrr...). Second, I overheard a fair amount of sentence-level editing, despite my explicit instructions to focus on content.  Most importantly, a lot of my students seriously struggled to articulate concrete and specific feedback.  While I'm sure that much of today's difficulty comes from the novelty of the exercise, today's events reminded me of why I've often been a skeptic when it comes to peer review; I just don't think it works with less inexperienced readers. Moreover, many students seem reluctant to provide constructive criticism, especially face-to-face. Perhaps this last factor will be mitigated by the Web 2.0 nature of the connecting activity. Anyway, I hope everything will go a bit more smoothly when we link up with the other ENA101 section. The story continues...

4 comments:

  1. Hey Irwin! Thanks for sharing, and for your honesty. I think that it was a great idea to try the peer review in class first. This way, you can address some of these factors before attempting to implement the connecting activity online. Although it may seem that peer review is not well-suited for less experienced reader/writers, I think that it actually is a skill that needs to be taught early on, and you are probably completely right about the Web 2.0 nature of the activity likely lending itself to the activity (and eliciting better results).

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  2. Your post is also one of my worst fears: to build up anticipation with the activity and then see low participation and/or the student straggle when not following the directions as expected. Thanks for sharing and I hope all smooths out and things get better later. In any case, it seems that this first stage of the connection gave you a lot of insight in the internal dynamic and key factors got the activity to succeed.

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  4. It will be interesting to see if there are changes as students gain more experience, and if you make any changes to the ways you guide them (adjusting prompts, etc.). I also look forward to hearing how this interaction will compare with your online peer critique activity and what you notice about the students’ participation then.

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