115th Annual Conference - Honolulu, Hawaii
Friday, November 10 - Sunday, November 12, 2017

Peer Review Workshops: Helping Students to "See" Their Writing Through Someone Else’s Eyes

Misty Lawrenson, California State University, Fresno

My paper discusses the value of peer review workshops in the First Year Composition classroom.  I argue that through structured and purposeful workshops, students are enabled to see their writings from a new perspective.  They are required to critically think about the rhetorical situation surrounding their writing and are better supported in the task of transferring knowledge.


Peer review workshops have received both praise and criticism within the academic sphere.  The benefits of the workshops consist of creating academically independent students (Paton, Inoue) and producing more advanced writers (Kuhne and Creel).  The cited drawbacks of workshops are: students not being able to access the benefits (Jesnek), students’ hesitancy to give criticism (Hauplte), and both teachers and students viewing workshops as a waste of time (Paton).   These complaints about workshopping along with writing centers becoming more popular and valuable to First Year Writing Programs, leads one to ask if there is still a place for workshopping in the First Year Composition Classroom?

My answer to this question is yes

Drawing upon scholarship as well as my own experiences teaching First Year Composition, I address the negative feelings about workshopping and argue that workshopping allows students to “see” their own work through their peers’ eyes; they learn to view their own drafts from a different perspective.  This new sight granted to students through peer review workshops provides a valuable tool when teaching for Transfer.   Students must be encouraged to discuss and explain both the rhetorical situation of their drafts as well as the rhetorical moves they chose within their writing.   Doing so will produce knowledge that will be situated in a way which will be easier to abstract when encountering new writing situations.  Furthermore, during workshopping, students who encounter a “setback” or “failed transfer” (using terms coined by Yancey et al.) are able to see the point of the setback, and are better positioned to re-examine the writing situation and their own writing practices.  Thus, positioning themselves for successful transfer.