Online Peer-Review Writing Workshops and L2 Students

  • Erin Jensen

Abstract

Peer-review writing workshops are widely utilized in college-level writing and English classes.  Such workshops involve students reviewing and evaluating other students’ papers and have become an accepted method of teaching writing and editing skills to students of all age groups and abilities and provide specific help with the revision process (Atwell, 1998; Herrington & Cadman, 1991; Smith, 2000; Weiss & Peich, 1980).  Effective peer-review writing workshops appeal to all students, not just students who know how to write well.  Herrington and Cadman (1991) argue that even students who struggle with their own writing can give “sound advice to their peers,” and they can “profit from the response they receive about their own drafts and from reading the drafts of others” (p.185).  Furr and Bauman (2003) agree that “writing workshops support the considerable needs of all readers” (p. 518).  The benefits of writing workshops are numerous, as students benefit from both the feedback they receive on their papers and from the experience they gain from reading and commenting on other students’ work. Increasingly, peer-review writing workshops are occurring online as the technology to set up such workshops has improved.  At the University of Utah, instructors have access to Canvas, which allows them to set up online writing workshops with ease.  Under the previous learning management tools, it was much harder for instructors to set up such workshops and much more effort was required.  Canvas includes a built-in feature that allows instructors to create an online writing workshop and select from a variety of options for the workshop.  Instructors can also include handouts and set guidelines and criteria for evaluating students’ papers.  Canvas has made it much easier for instructors to create effective online peer-review writing workshops.The research on online writing workshops shows that while they have similar benefits to classroom-based peer-review workshops, they may have additional benefits as well, especially for L2 students (Chang, 2012; Chen, 2012; Guardado & Shi, 2007).  In an IRB approved study that I conducted on the use of online writing workshops, I found that students thought the benefits included being able to complete the reviews on their own time and schedule, having more time to complete the reviews, receiving better comments, and not having to make comments face to face with the writer and being able to remain anonymous.  Part of my study focused on L2 students, and many of them reported that they often felt as though other students were judging them based on their English language abilities. The majority of the L2 student participants in the study emphasized that the online workshop allowed students to be anonymous reviewers, and the participants felt that they were not being judged because of their language ability, the color of their skin, or their name.  L2 students also thought that they received better comments from their fellow classmates and that they were given more substantial comments than just a grammar and punctuation check that they typically received in classroom-based peer review workshops.  L2 students felt more comfortable participating in the online writing workshop because it allowed them to take more time to read, analyze, and comment on the papers, and it did not require that they provide feedback directly to the writers, something they many of them did not feel comfortable doing.Online writing workshops have been shown to improve writers’ papers as well as their overall writing ability, but online writing workshops are mainly used in writing and English classes. With increasing technology, online peer-review writing workshops are becoming more common, especially in Writing and English courses.  They offer many of the same benefits as classroom-based peer reviews, but may offer additional benefits as well, especially for L2 students.  Online writing workshops could also be used in other disciplines to help students with their writing.Keywords online writing workshops, pedagogies, teaching writingReferencesAtwell, N. (1998).  In the middle: New understandings about writing, reading, and learning(2nded.).  Portsmouth, NH: Boynton/Cook.Breuch, L. (2004). Virtual peer review. Albany: State University of New York Press.Chang, C. (2012). Peer review via three modes in an EFL writing course. Computers andComposition, 29(1), 63-78. doi: 10.1016/j.compcom.2012.01.001Chen, K. (2012). Blog-based peer reviewing in EFL writing classrooms for Chinese speakers.Computers and Composition, 29(1), 280-291.Furr, D. & Bauman, G. (2003, March). Struggling readers get hooked on writing. ReadingTeacher, 56(6), 518-526).Guardado, M. & Shi, L. (2007). ESL students’ experiences of online peer feedback.Computers and Composition, 24(1), 443-461.Herrington, A. J. & Cadman, D. (1991, May). Peer review and revising in an anthropologycourse: Lessons for learning.  College Composition and Communication 42(2), 184-199.Smith, C. B. (2000) Writing instruction: Current practices in the classroom.  ERIC Digest D156Weiss, R. & Peich, M. (1980, February). Faculty attitude change in a cross-disciplinary writing workshop.  College Composition and Communication 31(1), 33-37.
How to Cite
JENSEN, Erin. Online Peer-Review Writing Workshops and L2 Students. Proceedings of the Symposium on Emerging Technology Trends in Higher Education, [S.l.], v. 2, mar. 2016. Available at: <http://epubs.utah.edu/index.php/emerge/article/view/1689>. Date accessed: 26 sep. 2017.
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Online teaching; online writing workshops;