Coaching Students to Revise

Using Portfolios to Evaluate Student Writing

Kirsten Jamen, WAC Program, UW-Madison
Having students collect and submit portfolios--collections of drafts and finished papers--helps students see themselves as developing writers.

Why Use a Portfolio to Evaluate Student Writing?

Sample Student Self-Critique (Cover Sheet) for a Paper

Professor Deborah Brandt, English Department, UW-Madison
To encourage students to think critically about their writing and to encourage students to develop as writers over the semester, some instructors find it very effective to ask students to write a cover sheet (or memo or letter) for each paper, responding to questions like these.  You can, of course, adapt the questions you ask to reinforce the key elements of a particular assignment or genre.  You can use students' self-critiques as a starting point for personalizing your feedback on their work.

Self-Evaluation Cover Sheet


Student Guidelines for Peer Review: Psychology

Professor Colleen Moore, Psychology Department, UW-Madison
Notice that in this peer-review process, reviewers first outline their peer's draft (to help the author see how readers understand its organization) and then offer advice for strengthening the paper.

Psychology 411


Peer Review Instructions

Read the paper, and comment on the draft. Note what isn’t clear, what sentences are awkward, etc.


1. Write an outline (sometimes it helps to number the paragraphs when you do this).


Student Guidelines for Peer Review: History and Jewish Studies

Professor David Sorkin, History and Jewish Studies, UW-Madison
In this carefully designed peer-review process, students do their reviews in class, reading their drafts out loud in a small review group.  Notice how the professor asks students  to offer responses rather than judgments.  And notice that when students submit their revised papers to the professor, they need to include a reflection on what they found helpful in the peer-review process and how they used the feedback as they revised.

Instructions: Please read this sheet carefully in order to know how you are to help your peers.


Bring 3 copies of your paper to class.


Student Guidelines for Peer Review: Intermediate Composition

Janelle Schwartz, English Department, UW-Madison
Especially in introductory and intermediate courses, students do more effective peer reviews when instructors give them explicit guidelines for what to focus on when they read and comment on a draft.  One of the key goals here is to help students internalize these expectations for their own papers.

This is to give you an idea of the type of things you should be looking for and accomplishing in both your own paper and that of your peer(s). Use what follows as a kind of checklist for determining what is working effectively in a paper and what is not.



Student Guidelines for Peer Review: Art Issues Research Paper

Jo Ortel, Art Department, UW-Madison
Here's a sample of guiidlines distributed to students doing peer reviews in a writing-intensive art course.

Art 236


Answer all the following questions for each paper. Write on a separate sheet, not on the draft itself. Include your name and phone number (or e-mail address) on your evaluation. Don’t worry about “surface errors” (spelling, punctuation, etc.); let the author do her own proofreading. Your job is to spot more important problems.


Using a Reverse Outline to Revise

Rebecca Schoenike Nowacek, WAC Program, UW-Madison
Rebecca Schoenike Nowacek describes a technique for helping students improve the organization of their papers by encouraging them to think about the paper more as readers and less as writers.
What is a reverse outline?
If a regular outline is something you write before you draft out your paper, a reverse outline is something you do after you write a

Organization Issues

Professor Robert Hawkins, School of Journalism and Mass Communication, UW-Madison
Professor Robert Hawkins’ handout offers specific advice to students on organizing paragraphs and making transitions. 
Paragraph unity.
Ideally, every sentence in a paragraph should contribute to developing some central idea.

Offering Students Encouragement As They Revise

Ann Burgess, Biocore Program, UW-Madison
In the following email sent to all students in a large course, Dr. Ann Burgess—former director of the Biocore program—encourages Biocore students to keep working on their revisions, even when they feel overwhelmed by criticism.
Re: Enzyme Catalysis Paper

Biocore Students:

Teaching Revision

Rebecca Lorimer, Rebecca Schoenike Nowacek, WAC Program, UW-Madison
Rebecca Lorimer and Rebecca Schoenike Nowacek provide a list of strategies and activities that instructors can use to teach their students what revision is and how to incorporate it as an essential step in their writing process.

Revision, revision, revision: the term is nearly a mantra in Comm-B and Writing-Intensive (WI) courses.

Syndicate content