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International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, v26 n3 p473-484 2014

Although expectations for graduate students' writing abilities are high, their actual writing skills are often subpar (Cuthbert & Spark, 2008; Singleton-Jackson, Lumsden, & Newson, 2009), even though academic writing is considered integral to graduate education and necessary for career preparedness (e.g., Mullen, 2006; Stevens, 2005). Today's scholars in any field must be prepared to communicate findings effectively to a variety of audiences and venues. As such, explicit support in academic writing and communication skills at the graduate level is vital, and yet this area of support is often neglected in graduate level programs (e.g., Pfeifer & Ferree, 2006; Surratt, 2006). Thus, we propose engaging students in the professional peer-review process to nurture this skillset. In this paper, we present support for and practical implications of involving students in the professional peer-review process, where graduate students serve as initial reviewers in double-blind (or similarly robust) review procedures for refereed journals. We discuss theoretical and empirical support for incorporating professional peer-review activities to facilitate growth in graduate students' academic writing skills and productivity, including constructivist theory, examining examples and nonexamples, working within the zone of proximal development to engage in deeper levels of learning, and utilizing general student peer review to improve writing skills. Finally, we present a framework for incorporating this form of peer review into graduate programs across disciplines.

Descriptors: Writing Improvement, Graduate Students, Peer Evaluation, Periodicals, Student Participation, Academic Discourse, Skill Development, Constructivism (Learning), Guidelines, Learning Theories, Sociocultural Patterns, Writing (Composition), Expertise, Feedback (Response), Writing for Publication

International Society for Exploring Teaching and Learning. Web site:

Autor: Chittum, Jessica R.; Bryant, Lauren H.


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