Placing Peer Response at the Center of the Response Construc

Dan Melzer, University of California, Davis

Published Jan 7, 2021



This article reports on a large-scale study of peer and instructor response and student reflection on response. The corpus was collected via ePortfolios from first-year writing courses and courses across disciplines at 69 U.S. institutions of higher education. The following questions guided a qualitative analysis of the comments and reflections in the corpus: (1) What are the similarities and differences in the ways instructors and peers respond to college writing? (2) What perspectives do college students have on the feedback they receive on their writing from instructors and peers? Five themes emerged from a review of the research on peer and instructor response and the results of the analysis of the data: (1) Peer responders are more focused on global concerns than instructors, (2) Peer responders are less directive than instructors, (3) Peer responders offer more praise than instructors, (4) Students learn as much from reading their peers’ drafts as they do from the comments they receive from peer responders or the instructor, (5) Students saw peer responders as interested readers and instructors as judges. The findings support an argument for placing peer response at the center of the response construct, rather than thinking of peer response as merely a complement to instructor response.