Speakers: John Holland (San Francisco State University), Kirsten Schwartz (San Jose State University), and Stacy Wittstock (University of California, Davis)
Chair/Speaker: Kory Ching (University of California, Davis)
Session L.18: “Disrupting Pedagogies through Digital Peer Feedback” provided an in-depth discussion of the peer-review platform, Eli Review, along with research findings and classroom best practices from professors who have been using the platform in their own classrooms. Presenters Kory Ching (Chair), Stacy Wittstock, Kirsten Schwartz, and John Holland each spoke of their experiences with Eli Review, providing overwhelmingly positive assessments concerning the benefits of integrating the platform in their own teaching and research.
Eli Review’s website explains, “Eli Review’s workflow and features turn the classroom into a studio where instructors can see engaged and consistent peer learning. Instructors can provide students with more practice, more feedback, more revision, and more coaching. In this case, more equals better—better feedback, better writing, better writers.” As Schwartz and Holland claimed, Eli Review is truly “transformative.” The peer review platform is broken down into five steps: Assign and Write Small Bits, Guide and Give Feedback, Process and Debrief Feedback, Guide and Plan Revision, and Analyze and Iterate.
Speakers discussed the various ways in which they used Eli Review within their composition courses, both face-to-face (F2F) and online. Holland, a primarily online instructor who describes himself as “workshop-based,” explained that he has been using Eli Review for over 5 years in his teaching. After giving students a few weeks during the beginning of the semester to practice using the tool, Holland’s students move into using Eli Review throughout their entire composing process. Beyond only submitting a single rough-draft for peer feedback, the students submit their work in small increments, giving them multiple opportunities to provide and receive feedback from peers. In Holland’s case, the use of Eli Review completely replaces the traditional process of peer review. Especially in a fully online environment, using the Eli Review platform streamlines peer feedback and collaboration, which would be much more difficult to organize and manage without the tool.
Schwartz, at San Jose State University, spoke of her use of Eli Review in her institution’s Stretch program. This program is a year-long English course that is broken down into 3-credit hours per semester and allows students to remain with the same teacher and peers throughout the year. The program is designed for multilingual and first-generation student populations and provides additional remediation. Schwartz explained that Eli Review has been used extensively throughout her courses, as it provides students with a framework for increasing their metacognition and, ultimately, lends itself to writing and learning transfer beyond the course that is essential for her students. Students are engaging more, finding the process more meaningful, and placing great value in the feedback that they are receiving.
Moving beyond anecdotes of Eli Review in the classroom, the presenters each shared findings and quantitative data to support those findings. Overwhelmingly, the presenters found that integration of Eli Review into their students’ writing processes (1) improved their drop/fail/withdraw rates, (2) engaged students in the peer review process, both as feedback-givers and feedback-getters, and (3) provided a strong pedagogical framework to guide peer review. Their presentations with their specific findings can be found on the NCTE CCCC 2019 App, under the “Notes” for Panel L.18.
As a platform that encourages multiple drafts, revisions, careful planning and consideration, and peer feedback, Eli Review is a tool that moves beyond use in only the composition classroom. Any discipline where writing is integrated into the curriculum, even slightly, would benefit from the opportunities provided through Eli Review. Whether in a composition, chemistry, psychology, or philosophy course, Eli Review can provide students with a platform to write more often, receive more feedback, and better understand the feedback process through their own role as feedback-givers.
Along with any other technology that is integrated into the classroom, Eli Review supports and enhances collaborative pedagogies already in place through the instructor. Just as a traditional peer review requires guidelines in order to help students provide strong feedback to their peers, Eli Review also requires that such guidelines are put into place. Therefore, it is essential that instructors are able to provide students with examples, guidelines, and practice using the platform so that they can give strong feedback to one another. Eli Review streamlines the process of peer review in a location that is convenient and supportive of continuous revision and collaboration for student writing.
Questions to Consider
After hearing from each of the panelists, I believe that they are multiple questions that instructors must contemplate as the field moves forward in integrating more technology-based resources into their courses, such as Eli Review:
- How does the ability to provide anonymous feedback on Eli Review hinder or support classroom community?
- Should Eli Review be used in addition to ‘traditional’ face-to-face peer review?
- How much time should be dedicated to practicing using Eli Review during the semester?
- Should utilization of Eli Review be graded according to a rubric with point values, or through a low-stakes holistic method?