I started doing discount peer response in my classes this semester. It’s my first time doing it all the way. In the past I’ve had it along with regular peer response, in a twisted sort of hybrid. But now I have students that never peer respond in class; they do all the work on their own.
My plan was to have them do one round of that, fix their draft, and then bring the draft to class. If DPR didn’t work for them, I’d have them peer respond in class as normal and then go back to the old way, tail between my legs, thinking that maybe DPR is just a good idea in theory.
Thankfully, that’s not what happened. My students told me that they got more out of this type of peer response than they’ve ever gotten out of doing it in class. They asked questions, we dealt with issues, and they’re trying again over the weekend. I still don’t know if DPR works, of course. I won’t even be able to suggest that it can until I see their papers. If they did DPR but got nothing out of it, their papers will show. But thinking back to how my students did it in the past, and how much good it did them, I’m pretty confident.
What’s particularly interesting is that six of my roughly forty students completely started over after getting comments on their draft. They picked a different topic and wrote the entire thing from scratch. They asked if this was okay. What excites me about this is that they were looking at peer response as PART of the process, not as the end. I told them that they absolutely could, and that it counted as a draft (since they need 3 for each paper). I did say that they needed to have at least one additional draft beyond whatever they settled on, but that’s just so that a student can’t write two papers and then download a third (or download three). I want them to be able to actually improve from one draft to another.
<digression>Which brings up an interesting point. When working with peer response, in some ways plagiarism isn’t much of an issue. Yes, if they plagiarize they won’t have written the paper, but they can still learn how to peer respond and learn the value of writing an additional draft. I’m not saying that plagiarism is okay (far from it), but I think it’s interesting to think about peer response draft to draft.</digression>
In other news, I’m trucking through Jakob Nielsen’s Designing Web Usability, and hope to have a review of it up in the next day or so. After that, I have a short reading list before I go ‘fishing’ for more sources. I’m planning to study iteration, and will probably end up asking one of the guys who works at the library to point me to some interesting places. My current reading list (after Nielsen) is as follows:
- Hueretics: The logic of invention by Gregory L. Ulmer
- Applied Grammatology also by Gregory L. Ulmer
- Selected parts of Of Grammatology by Jacques Derrida
Like I said, short list.