Academic journal article International Journal of Applied Educational Studies

Peer Review versus Teacher Feedback in Process Writing: How Effective?

Academic journal article International Journal of Applied Educational Studies

Peer Review versus Teacher Feedback in Process Writing: How Effective?

Article excerpt


Writing is both a process and product. It is not only a physical act but also "... the mental work of inventing ideas, thinking about how to express them, and organizing them into statements and paragraphs that will be clearer to the reader" (Sokolik, 2003:88). It is a process in which one generates, organizes, and communicates one's thoughts to the reader. Successful writing requires a series of interactive steps involving prewriting, organising, drafting, revising editing, and publishing. In other words, in the process approach to writing, writing instruction includes "the entire process of writing- invention, drafting, feedback, and revision- and not just the product" (Sokolik, 2003:89). When teaching learners how to write in L2, the language teacher acts as a facilitator, guide, feedback provider, and evaluator when students move along these steps. The learners' task is not an easy one because they have to deal with the text at surface level (e.g. grammar, spelling, punctuation and word choice) and at the deep level (e.g. planning and organisation, adequate support). The teacher's response to a piece of writing is an orthodox method practiced in most L2 writing classes to improve text quality, which, in turn, can leave teachers with too much paper work to evaluate. Since the 1980s, many studies have been conducted to find effective writing strategies to complement and support teacher feedback.

Seow (2002) points out that the teacher's response to students' writing is a significant technique in developing the writing process. However, it is often the case that the teacher responds, evaluates and edits the students' paper at the last stage. This might lead to failure in writing programs because students may have the impression that nothing more needs to be done with their texts. In addition, the feedback from the teacher might deprive the student writer of the initiative of adopting or declining revisions because the teacher is seen as the "expert" and student concerns about "grading" strengthen the authority of the teacher.

Peer review, on the other hand, can help because it gives student writers more options to consider when they revise their papers. Kroll (2001:228) defines peer revision as "simply putting students together in groups and then having each student read and react to the strengths and weaknesses of each other's papers". The purpose of peer review is to generate and receive different points of view and thus raise awareness of rhetorical modes and the composing process. Peer review is meant to complement teacher feedback rather than preclude it. With training, guidance and practice, students can learn to be more specific and helpful in their responses to a peer's essay. It is a powerful way for ESL/ EFL students to improve their writing (Min, 2006).

Peer revision has received increasing attention as a complementary and effective source of feedback in the L2 writing classroom (Villamil and Guerrero, 1998; Tsui and Ng, 2000). Several studies have focused on student roles, perceptions and affective benefits regarding peer review and successful strategies for peer revision (Stanley, 1992; Mangelsdof and Schlumberger, 1992; Mendonca and Johnson, 1994; Hu, 2005; Min, 2006; Nelson and Schunn, 2009). Many studies have concentrated on final drafts to see the extent and types of revisions and on student-talk to get insight into the social dynamics of student interactions during reviews (Nelson and Murphy, 1993; Villamil and Guerrero, 1996). Research also indicates that peer review training helps student writers to shift from a prescriptive stance to a more collaborative one after training (Min, 2008). In their study comparing benefits of peer review to the reviewer and the receiver, Lundstrom and Baker (2009) reported that the reviewing partners improved their writing more than their receiving counterparts.

Supporters of Communicative Language Learning and collaborative learning advocate using peer review in L2 writing classrooms because it provides immediate feedback from a real audience and encourages learner autonomy. …

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