With nearly a decade of experience as a writing instructor, Ann Shivers-McNair (Twitter), PhD candidate in the Department of English at the University of Washington, has spent a lot of time helping students learn from one another, particularly through review. As an instructor first at Hinds Community College, then as a visiting instructor at University of Southern Mississippi, and now in her PhD studies at the University of Washington, Shivers-McNair has dedicated her career and her studies to helping students learn to give and use helpful feedback. In her role as a graduate instructor in the Expository Writing Program program at UW, Shivers-McNair uses peer review to target four of the program’s learning outcomes; specifically:
- Outcome 1: “To demonstrate an awareness of the strategies that writers use in different writing contexts”
- Outcome 1.4: “The writer articulates and assesses the effects of his or her writing choices.”
- Outcome 4: “To develop flexible strategies for revising, editing, and proofreading writing.”
- Outcome 4.2: “The writing responds to substantive issues raised by the instructor and peers.”
Shivers-McNair finds Eli Review to be exceptionally powerful for helping her demonstrate these outcomes, particularly because of the way it gathers and displays student feedback and helps them make informed choices about revision:
Eli not only captures written comments on drafts, but it also allows students to rate those comments and import them into revision plans, and it allows teachers to project a “live feed” of sample comments and highly rated comments during a review session. I like to think of these comments on Eli as interaction artifacts that help students see the process of articulating and assessing the effects of their writing choices (and their peers’), see how both their drafts and their responses to others’ drafts are perceived by peers, and make thoughtful decisions about taking up feedback.
The “live feed” of feedback during review has proven to be a powerful instructional tool, one that Shivers-McNair has found can completely transform how she builds communities in her classroom:
A fellow teacher observed me on an Eli day and was absolutely fascinated with the projection of the “live feed” of review comments and ratings, which I was frequently refreshing during the session. She also noticed that I wasn’t going around to the individual groups and dropping in on their conversations. Instead, I stayed in the middle of the room, and students called me over to their groups when they had questions. But the comments themselves were “public” in the projected feed, in ways that handwritten comments on drafts or even digital comments in a CMS are not. My colleague pointed out that projecting the live feed of comments and ratings seemed to allow me to get out of the way of students–because, let’s be honest, hovering over students or awkwardly dropping in for part of a conversation can shut down conversations–while still reminding them that their review work is public in our class community. And because the teacher’s view during a review session also includes a feed of highly rated comments (which I toggle over to as soon as students start rating their comments), students get recognized publicly for comments that are perceived as helpful.
While peer review has been an important part of Shivers-McNair’s teaching for many year, Eli has been transformative for her: “working with Eli has allowed me to see more possibilities than ever before for recognizing, supporting, and foregrounding the important work students do in peer review.”