Archive for the ‘Discount Peer Response’ Category

I had a meeting on Friday where I described my thesis and my idea of discount peer response. At first, the person I was talking to thought it was a fine name, but when I started going through my ideas and hit Peer Response 2.0, she said that was perfect and that the idea was ‘newsworthy.’

She thinks that the real place to focus is the use of Google Docs with peer response, and to both address how the students use it and how the teachers use it. Showing that it makes revision an active part of the process is a great step. It’s very exciting, and now I have a myriad of sources to investigate before I turn two pages of my thesis into an article length paper.

In about 10 minutes, I’m going to a meeting to discuss my theory of discount peer response. In a few months, assuming I can still get a plane ticket, I’ll present it at CCCC (which was iffy for a bit, until I found I had departmental funding). Somewhere between now and the beginning of the fall semester, I’m going to try to rewrite my thesis into a solid article, and try to publish it in CCC. I’ve already been advised on three major issues: the tone (less as an experienced teacher, more as an exploring one), the references (need more cutting edge stuff), and the name.

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The semester is thankfully nearly over. While I do have about 150 pages of grading to do, I get to start that on Friday, giving me plenty of time to work it all out. And while I do have two major papers, drafts for both are finished (thanks to me forgoing Thanksgiving). There will also be a take home exam, but I’ve seen the questions and they are interesting and thought provoking. Plus I have time to gather quotations and write outline before I know which question I’m answering.

So semester break is rapidly approaching. Only it won’t be a break. Yeah, I’ll take a few days off, and take it pretty easy most of the rest of the time, but I’ve got a lot of work to do. (more…)

Much as I would love this to flow out of me as a fully formed academic argument, complete with support and high enough quality to immediately merit publication (and, as long as I’m dreaming, wide spread accolade), that just isn’t going to happen. So, at best, I can call this a brainstorm that may eventually lead to part of an academic argument.

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I was having some slow-internet problems, so I decided to write this post off line and see if I could get it posted. I don’t know why I tell you this, but, in the interest of full disclosure, there it is.

I find myself thinking a lot about the future lately. (more…)

I’ve finished grading the first set of papers. These papers, remember, were written exclusively with DPR. Not surprisingly, some people got no help at all from the peer edits. In probably half those cases, the reason they got no help was that they ignored the suggestions that were provided. The rest of the time, suggestions remained on the surface.

What was surprising was that, on the whole, the papers were better. I think I graded more harshly because of my own new grading policy (that students who want an A in the course have to rewrite papers until they are of A quality), but even still, the vast majority of my students received a B or better. But that’s not what I mean by the papers being better.

When I graded papers last semester, I was astounded by how many students forgot to do little things, like include a title page. I would say that at least 30% of the students forgot that particular item. Considering that there were only 10 items they were being graded on (which they chose as a class), and that a title page is SUCH an easy thing to do, that was a bit surprising.

This time around, there were 3 papers without title pages. Out of 40, that’s pretty good. But there’s more. (more…)

<edit: I don’t know why the paragraphs didn’t come through. Hopefully, they’re visible now. sorry about that.>

I mentioned already that I tried DPR in class. I wanted to take some time and go into specifics for how I did it, so that any who care to try themselves have a baseline to jump from.I began by asking my class how many of them had done peer response in some form in the past. Virtually everyone said they had. I followed up by asking how many of them had gotten any real help from doing it. The number of hands decreased dramatically.

So I asked those who got help what kind of help they got. For the most part, they could tell me nothing more than help with grammar and spelling. The only other comment was that sometimes it helps to have someone else tell you your paper is good.

I then turned to the rest of the class and asked them why peer response didn’t help them in the past. Some people said they didn’t know what to look for, some said that they just focused on little things because that’s what they were supposed to do, some said they didn’t trust one another, and some said they didn’t know what to look for.

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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.

The paper on discount peer response went, in my opinion, very well. I’m quite proud of it. There are issues that still need to be addressed, and there will be revisions that still need to be made, but for the most part, it’s pretty solid. In terms of my thesis, that word has come down that I can use that paper as the first 50% of it. So I need another 20 pager to round things out; one that focuses on theory and not on teaching. It’s a good point; I do need to examine other things. As much as I want to spend my life teaching, I know that part of the game is theory and publishing, and if I want to get the teaching gigs I want, I need to play the game. Besides, theory is fun. So I have the other 50% to get done.

(actually, doing the math, the first paper is 45%, the second is 45%, and a brief introduction tying the two together will comprise the other 10%)

So I need to figure out what I want to do for the second half. Which means heading back to my list of research interests. For the purpose of this brainstorm, I’m going to go down the list and see what I have immediately to say about each of the items that jump out at me.

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My paper is really coming together. I need to move a few things around, but the essence of it is pretty solid. As I worked through it last weekend, I found that discount peer response just makes sense. I’m kind of amazed no one has ever written about this before. Of course, probably someone has; I just haven’t found it.

There’s a bit of parallel I still need to finalize, but the two (user testing and peer response) map so well onto each other that I’m frankly somewhat amazed.

Today in class I did an informal survey that helped me feel more confident about my findings. All semester, I have allowed students to perform a discount peer response on their papers for extra credit. If they took the papers to someone else and had that someone respond to the paper, then created a new draft based on the response, they gained two extra points. They could do this up to three times per semester. As I intended, those who did this generally didn’t need the extra credit (as a paper written in five drafts will invariably get a better grade than one written in two).

What I asked them today was, of those who did the peer response outside of class, which was more effective? Was peer response more helpful in class or out of class? (more…)