Regina Chanel Rodriguez (faculty bio) is an assistant professor in the Department of Education at West Texas A&M University. She teaches the fully online Master’s Level Educational Research course and began using Eli Review with her online students in spring 2016.
Chanel shares her insights into peer learning, particular how Eli Review has complimented her online instruction and her surprise at how it helped grow her online learning community.
What motivated you to try Eli Review?
Fall 2015 was my first semester teaching online, and I was looking for a way to recreate that collaborative communication that comes from class discussions, writers’ conferences, and peer reviews. The only tools I had available at that time were Blackboard and track changes in Word, which were cumbersome and felt like they stifled the reiterative, collaborative process of writing, rather than promoted it.
I came across Eli Review at the NWP conference in November 2015 and fell in love with the idea that I could see the kind of feedback my online students were giving each other and collect a wide array of data on that feedback that could inform my own instruction at the very same time.
How did Eli help you accomplish your goals?
Eli provided a space where I could exercise low-stakes writing practice and build my students’ confidence in research writing by breaking a larger piece of writing into manageable parts with trait checklists, so that I could be there to guide my students through the process instead of “sending them away to write.”
Writers were asked to draft two themes in their literature reviews. This trait identification checklist helps peers read and respond to the first theme in the literature review using the criteria of the assignment.
Theme 1: Check the box if the first theme included the feature or characteristic; if not, leave it unchecked.
- Theme title is written like a headline and encompasses what will be covered in the section.
- The first paragraph introduces the theme and the categories (or sub-themes) that will be discussed in the section.
- Each paragraph in the section connects to the overarching theme.
- Most of the paragraphs follow APA-style writing 1) topic sentence, 2) supporting sentences with citations, 3) concluding sentence
- Few direct quotes are used throughout the section. The majority of the information has been paraphrased.
- The sources are cited from scholarly, peer reviewed journals. (There may be a few exceptions depending on the research topic/field).
- The sources are evenly cited so the information is synthesized, rather than summarized. One article does not dominate the theme.
By allowing me to access their peer feedback in real time, I am also able to see how they are using research terminology to help shape their concepts of what graduate-level research is and how to communicate their ideas to a diverse audience while using academic writing guidelines.
The first time using any new strategy or tool can be difficult. What were your challenges, and how did you work through them?
Eli Review has a user-friendly interface, so learning to create tasks was easy from the get-go. I faced these challenges:
- How do I implement more opportunities for feedback and revision in an already jam-packed schedule?
- How do I get my students to buy-in to the fact that the extra effort they will have to put into peer feedback and revisions will benefit them?
- How do I get my students to give quality feedback so they are helping their peers, not wasting their time?
The most impressive component of Eli Review is that it comes with a fantastic team that answered all of my questions with lightening speed, provide me with individualized training on an as-needed basis, and provided me with quality examples so I didn’t have to start from scratch. Eli offered me the convenience of working with a collaborative team helped mold research-based peer feedback strategies into my course design.
What makes you confident that students are learning more using Eli?
Students come into my class fearful of academic research and writing at the graduate level. Implementing multiple cycles of revision has helped to ease that pressure because there are numerous opportunities to make writing mistakes without penalty, reflect on those writing mistakes, and work to revise the writing so it is more clear to the intended audience.
Has working with Eli changed how you teach?
After reading through the material on the website and working with Melissa, I’ve been able to integrate more feedback and revision sessions into my course. I am able to offer guidance to my online students through the writing process, like I would in a writer’s conference in a face-to-face course. Eli has helped created that sense of community in my online course that was missing the first semester.
What feedback have you had from students or colleagues about your use of Eli?
These are comments students shared with me about Eli:
- I feel that Eli Review is very user friendly, and the peer reviews helped in completing my paper. I used their comments and liked the writing editing part of it.
- Loved it. I have looked into pricing to use it in my high school classroom and with my own courses.
What tip would you give an instructor using Eli for the first time?
Setup time before your semester starts to have the professional development team show you all of the features available in Eli and discuss how Eli can help you achieve your goals in your course.