Friday, August 07, 2015

#worthassigning: Eli Review's Lessons for Students on Feedback and Revision

I am preparing a faculty development workshop on how to teach students to give good feedback to one another on writing, and how to help students use that feedback to revise.

I just came across a wonderful site by the team at Eli Review that introduces Feedback and Revision to Students. 
Feedback and Improvement: Becoming a Better Writer by Helping Other Writers --
Rethinking and Revising: Using Feedback to Improve Our Writing --

These introductions for students are part of a larger curriculum guide -- -- written for teachers. The curriculum guide explores how to use Eli specifically to enact the ideas presented to students in the introductions above.

Here's what I like about the student materials. First, consider this screen shot from "Feedback and Improvement."

Screenshot showing step two of lesson, "everyone can be a helpful reviewer"
Image 1: Feedback and Improvement Navigation is Clean and Fast
You see that the lines are clean, the space uncluttered. Navigation is clear via the numbered parts navigation top center. Note too the positive assertion -- "everyone can be a helpful reviewer," which is both true and friendly in its assertion.

That emphasis on "you can do this" carries into the prose and videos and images that make up the unit. Here's a sample:
Trust is particularly important because feedback can lead to big changes in our writing. But trust has to be earned. Gaining confidence in the quality of the feedback we get and give occurs over time, with practice. 
SUNY-Albany Professor Emeritus Peter Johnston observed in Opening Minds: Using Language to Change Lives:
If students can provide productive feedback, then collectively they will tend to get more feedback. And it will be more immediate feedback, because, rather than waiting for the teacher, their peers can provide it. More feedback improves learning, and immediate feedback is more effective than delayed feedback.
Even in small classes, instructor feedback is limited by the amount of time instructors have to respond. But more feedback and faster feedback is possible between peers. That feedback can sometimes be more helpful than instructor feedback.
The Eli Review team doesn't skirt the issue at hand -- writers have to trust reviews; and that trust needs to be earned. One of the biggest qualms faculty have about doing more peer feedback centers on this lack of trust: writers don't trust the feedback they get; reviewers don't trust their ability to give good feedback. The pedagogy explored, the advice given to students, gets directly at ways of building that trust, that confidence.

Note too that the piece quotes research from the field. The lesson builds a case for peer feedback, gives students concrete advice, and sites relevant research on the value of making that advice work in practice.

The larger curricular piece for instructors, "Framing Feedback and Revision," written by Melissa Graham Meeks and Mike McLeod, gives instructors a lesson plan sequence, ready to use activities, they can use in Eli Review. But even if you're not using Eli Review, both the two introductions for students and the curricular plan for teachers, can be adapted to other settings and tools. 

And that's what makes the lessons for students on Feedback and Revision worth assigning, and the curriculum guide for faculty worth visiting and adapting.