Peer-supported Writing in Graduate Research Courses: A Mixed Methods Assessment

Michael Lyman
Social Work and Gerontology

Christopher Keyes
Shippensburg University

Peer review enhances student knowledge acquisition and the ability to meaningfully apply that knowledge. Formative assessment is the source of much of the positive effect of the peer review process. This evaluation investigated the affective experiences of graduate students as they navigated the writing of their research proposals. The authors created a mixed-methods, quasi-experimental, pre-test/posttest, comparison and control group evaluation of a peer review process in a graduate research methods class. Students writing a research proposal reviewed each other’s proposals while receiving both formative and summative feedback from their professor. Pretest/posttest findings showed that students experiencing the peer review process reported reduced anxiety and improved scores on an assessment of their experience of the research process. Qualitative findings suggest that the peer review process helped with content mastery and created peer support that reduced assignment-related anxiety. Peer review is recommended as a tool that reduces research anxiety and helps students feel more confident in their abilities, even if they are not enthusiastic about research methods as a topic or a skill.

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