Guided Peer Editing

One of my favorite activities in my beginning business writing class is peer editing. When I first started the activity, I noticed that several students would frequently provide unhelpful feedback such as “I like it” or “It looks good to me.” It’s not that they were being lazy or apathetic. They really did not know how to articulate what was good about a document or what needed improvement.

To help them, I developed a guided peer editing worksheet. The result has been that students give more and better feedback and are more confident peer editors. In addition, because the worksheet is based on the grading rubric, students look at their own work more critically as they revise their drafts for a final grade.

 Training them to be peer editors, of course, requires more than the worksheet. For starters, I do expect that the draft represents a good effort, even if that effort is truly misguided—that’s what a draft is for. I also tell students that a peer editor is not a “document fixer.” The peer editor’s job is to raise questions and issues the writer may have not considered. Besides, the peer editor may give bad advice. Students need to know that everything in the final document is the result of the writer’s choices, whether or not those choices are the editor’s as well.

I’ve attached my peer editing worksheet for a negative-news assignment. It is easily adaptable to routine messages, persuasive messages, reports, résumés, and cover letters—really, any document.

Enjoy! If you have peer editing activities that work for you, be sure to share them.

Rubrics, Anyone?

As I begin my first week of class and attempt to get organized, I am once again looking my grading rubrics and once again pondering which style and format work best. I switch my style frequently in my quest to find that perfect fit. Rubrics can be a lot of work to create, but experimenting with various assessment styles and strategies has really helped me think about my assessment loop and how my assignments and evaluations meet course and assignment objectives. Though I’m still not sure how a rubric saves a pathological editor time when grading the content and writing of students’ documents, I do think rubrics are essential for efficiently creating a shared understanding between the instructor and student of how well a student’s work meets an assignment’s objectives.

One of my favorite tools for developing rubrics is the rubric generator available at Rubistar. Though primarily meant for K-12 teachers, the site contains a number of customizable templates that work well for creating rubrics for bcom assignments. I developed this Routine Message Rubric using Rubistar. This rubric has a 4, 3, 2, 1, 0 grading scale, but I’ve also used A, B, C, D, and F; or Excellent, Very Good, Good, Fair, and Poor. I’ve also seen scales that assess from an employer perspective: Impresses Employer, Satisfies Employer, etc. As long as the expectations and criteria are clear, any scale would seem to work. Some rubrics may also weight categories in the scale if an instructor wants, for example, to count content more heavily than grammar toward a student’s score.

In addition to assessing the usual written and oral communication assignments, many instructors are also assigning discussion board posts, wiki submissions, blog posts, podcasts, PowerPoints, video projects, and multimedia projects. The Online Professional Development Office at UW-Stout offers excellent rubrics for many of these types of assignments, and my good friends in the College of Business’s instructional design office have shared the following discussion board rubrics with me to share with you:

Discussion Rubric 1
Discussion Rubric 2
Discussion Rubric 3

As always, if you have materials or comments to share, please do. If you have topics that you would like to see us address, please tell us those as well.  I hope your school year is off to a great start.