Questions for Reviewing a Draft Read each draft carefully, making comments as necessary in the margins of the essay. Try to keep a balance between positive comments and constructive criticism (what’s working/what’s not there yet), remembering that too much of the first is useless and too much of the second is harmful. We are all working together to improve our writing; there is always a way to criticize without being hurtful. After commenting on the essay, answer the following questions on a separate piece of paper and attach it to the original draft (or type it at the end of their original draft): ● PURPOSE: What is the writer trying to accomplish in this essay? ● THESIS: Is the thesis of the essay clear from the introduction? If not, what is unclear and how could the introduction be improved? ● TRANSITION: Is there an easy flow to the essay? Does one paragraph move smoothly into the next? ● CONTINUITY: Does the essay stick to the subject, or wander far afield? ● MECHANICS: Are there any mechanical errors that occur frequently? ● RESULTS: Does the essay accomplish what it sets out to do? Most importantly, does it completely answer the given question? Does it SHOW instead of TELL? And… ● Description: Does the writer create a vivid and specific presentation of the scene or people? Are there specific details? Figurative language? ● Dialogue: Does the writer use dialogue? Dialogue lets us infer what people are like from what they say ● Denouement: Personal narratives admit to a range of things: jealousy, pride, embarrassment, joy, panic, failure, success. We all know these feelings, and readers will want to see how you develop them. But in addition to disclosing remembered feelings, good writers can convey the event’s significance and bring the essay to a satisfactory close (denouement=outcome; Old French for "untying"). Personal victories (say, from sporting events) don’t always work well. Defeat is a better teacher. Give specific comments on specific elements, noting areas where you are confused and pointing out sections that work especially well. Be honest. Think to yourself: what would I like to know about improving this essay if it were mine? Methodology Two ways to complete a peer review: 1. Copy and paste the essay into your word processor. 2. If you are using Microsoft, click on the Review tab at the top menu banner. 3. Use the “track changes” button to make changes directly to the text of your peer’s essay. 4. Use the “new comment” button to make comments that directly relate to the text. 5. At the bottom of the page respond to the specific questions for the essay being reviewed. These questions will be in the discussion post for the current essay. OR: 1. Print out the essay. 2. Write your comments directly on the paper 3. Scan and post for the author. WARNING: Suddenly having a scanner break or not work will NOT release you from the responsibility of getting the review comments to the student on time. If this happens, you will need to input your comments through your word processor. Constructive Criticism In order for the peer review process to work, you must be honest. Telling your peers that their essay is wonderful, that you really “like it” and it needs no improvement will not help them create a better essay. However, you also don’t want to be cruel, it is not helpful to tell someone that you do not like their work. It is helpful to point out sections of the essay you find confusing or think could be rephrased for clarity. Use the following guidelines when completing the peer review process. 1. Be polite. 2. Make your criticism constructive. Use the sandwich approach for general comments. ● Start with what is working in the draft. What is going well? Where did you find it the strongest? ● When you find problems with the draft, try to have suggestions ready as to how the author might solve them. However, it is appropriate to say, “I really don’t understand what you mean in paragraph 3” or “I got lost here.” ● Close with the good things in the paper, too. Help the writer see what is working well and how the writer can build on that. 3. Take your time; do not try to rush through this process. 4. It is often good to establish contact to ask questions of the author while you are doing your review, an opportunity to work collaboratively on an essay is valuable to both the author and the peer reviewer.