Effective Peer Group Response

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Peer Group Response can be defined as "the use of learners as sources of information, and interactants for eadh other in such a way that learners assume roles and responsibilities normally taken by a formally trained teacher, tutor,or editor in commenting on and critiquing each other's drafts in both written and oral formats in the process of writing "(Luand Hansen2002:1)

  • Peer Group response has other names like 'peer editing' or 'peer review'.
  • Peer group response helps in generating a rich source of information in matters of content enhances inter cultural communicaton
  • Provides the learners a strong sense of group unity
  • develops values of caring and sharing among students.

The efficacy of peer group response depends upon two factors: Teacher planning and students training. There are certain guiding principles for making peer group response effective. Usually peer group response is introduced during the revision stage when students have already developed their written texts. But ideally it should be developed across all stages of the writing process.Through a brainstorming session the teacher can encourage students to generate the salient topics /points and guide them to discuss these with the peer groups in light of their relevance, importance, difficulty level, merits, and availability of other resouces connected with he main topics.If the outlining may be done by the teacher, then the students may give their responses readind and responding to the outlines and thus this would generate a series of kresponses among the peer group resulting in better interactivity and increased negotiations on the topic.

  • Students should be invited or encouraged to discuss and reflect prior experiences with the peer groups and their patterns of group work . This would help the teacher for a better understanding of students' responses,concerns and attitudes towards the activity.. This will help in negotiation of a better interaction among the peers online, in the class or any cultural setting.
  • The teacher's comments should not be incorporated in the same platform or draft meant for the students. If the teacher's comments are included from the beginning, then the learners become conscious and withdrawn. This will affect the peer group interactions. In an ideal situation, the teacher's comments should be incorporated towards the last phase of any interaction,The teacher may in a positive and friendly way hint at the lapses or discrepancies of the interactions.
  • Modes of response: Trying new modes of peer response may increase students participation and interest levels, motivating them to spend more time and energy on the job.First it may be oral-by reading the paper or giving oral suggestions.Secondly it can be written-write the comments on the back and give it to students .Thirdly it can be written plus oral-write comments and orally discuss them. Fourthly it can be computer mediated communication - by reading papers online and responding through either asynchronous or synchronous modes. If the computers are accessible to both the teachers as well as the students, in and outside the class, then the students can comment on their peers' drafts via an exchange of computer discs through asynchronous modes of CMC rather than a traditional pen and paper format.If the appropriate software like Daedalus Interchange or Blackboard is available and other technical support is provided then teachers can also have students engaged in a synchronous dscussion of their paper rather than an oral format.
  • Create a peer response Sheet: A peer response sheet may be created by the class for a given topic and defined task, which can then be reviewed through discussion or brainstorming sessions.It is also essential that blank spaces may be left on the sheet for students where they can mention their specific requirements/comments based on their needs / difficulty areas.
  • Teacher to help model the peer response process-.Teachers may effectively guide the students with their work and highlight the importance of peer comments.With the guidance of the teacher, the students can work together in groups for revision on a paper and the whole class can together in group discuss different suggestions . These tasks can be taken sequentially so that the responses of students can be taken uniformly.
  • Students to decide on groupings- Students should be give freedom how groups are to be formed , managed and what types of communication rules each group wants to establish. Students can also set rules for how to handle absenteism late coming, nonproducing of papers and other issues.
  • Instruct students to ask the right questions-It is important to train students to ask questions that generate a response from the writer and that are revision oriented so that there is a meaningful discussion about the contents, concepts and themes of the paper.
  • Set up a mock peer response activity- Such activities will give opportunities to students to practise, ask appropriate questions and other related activities.
  • Monitor student and group progress-This can be done in several ways1)the teacher should serve as a peer in the activity and not be a teacher in the group 2) the teacher can sit with each group for part of the session in order to provide support and help them with the communication processes 3) act as a group manager to monitor the group progress and solve other issues raised with the teacher.
  • Regroup students in the Peer response groups to read each other's final draft-The purpose of this is to show students how their comments helped their peers'papers become more effective, thereby reinforcing the process, nature of writing and the value of peer response.
  • Discuss the peer response-Students can discuss the nature of the procedures, the actual events that took place , how students perceived that they benefitted, what worked and did not work, what they would do differently for the next activity.

Thus by observing the above principles teachers may be guided to develop effective peer response activities before, during and after peer response.