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Hacking Eli Review: Shared Review Targets

Instructors often have to find creative hacks to make their tools support their pedagogies. A popular hack for Eli Review is making a shared review target, or a single text reviewed by an entire class (or shared among a group).

Asking students to read and respond to the same text can be useful for a number of purposes:

  • Modeling. Asking students to mark-up and label the parts of a reading or draft gets them to actively engage with the text. This activity emphasizes peer reviewing as a close-reading exercise. It answers the question: “Are readers noticing the same features in the draft?”
    NOTE: Eli Review’s  SAT Curriculum’s “Read-to-Write” assignments use this strategy.
  • Calibrating. Asking students to identify traits and rate a sample draft carefully helps make them more discriminating. This activity emphasizes the level of agreement among reviewers about the presence/absence of traits and the star/Likert ratings. It answers the question: “Are reviewers evaluating the  draft in the same way?”
  • Confidence-Building. Asking students to read and rate a sample draft first before giving feedback to classmates gives them confidence that they know what to look for and how to evaluate the draft. This activity gives students a trial run before they actually give feedback to peers. It helps students answer the question: “Is my feedback on the right track?”

Below are two of our faculty – Bill Hart-Davidson and Melissa Meeks – describing how they hack Eli Review to support shared review targets.


Bill Hart-Davidson: While Eli doesn’t currently support shared review targets directly, we’ve found ways to get around this problem to do shared reviews. Here’s how I do it:

  1. Put a copy of the text you want everyone to review in your LMS, Google Drive, Dropbox, or somewhere else where students can download access it. Ask them to download the file to their computer or open it where they can copy / paste the text.
  2. Create a writing task in Eli Review just like normal, but the prompt is simply for students to copy/paste a version of the file you distributed and submit that. You might also ask them to do some other things – add a short reflective comment at the beginning or end, or add markup to the draft in some fashion – depending on your goal for the assignment.
  3. Create the review task as normal and choose your writing task you created to be reviewed. Since everyone submitted the same copy of your original text for the writing task, they’ll all see the same text when they go to the review they were assigned.

And that’s it! While at first this seemed cumbersome to me, I actually found this process to be quite useful because of the ability to ask students to add to the file as well – for example, bolding a thesis statement or adding other markup during submission. Because each student is working with their own unique copy, you can do this easily. And it gives me a bit more insight into how the students are reading critically (or not).


Melissa Meeks: I follow a process similar to the one Bill describes with two differences:

  1. I put the draft students will use directly in the writing assignment.
  2. When I create my review I make review groups of two students. For shared target reviews where the draft is identical, students only need to respond once. So, for this activity, I use pairs. For the odd group of 3, I tell students which person they need to give feedback and which they can ignore.


Hacks are important because they can reveal where tools aren’t meeting user needs. For us, they are an important form of feedback, and we’re already planning a new version of Eli Review that will support shared review targets.

Have you hacked Eli Review to make it better support your teaching and learning goals? Let us know on email, Facebook, or Twitter and we might address it in a future version of the app!

Hacking Eli Review: Shared Review Targets was published to the Eli Review Blog in the categories Features and Media, Hacks, Interfaces, Pedagogy, Professional Development, Tutorials.

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