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Stepwise Progression in Student Peer Review
Environmental Inquiry is organized into two levels of inquiry, through which students learn to carry out increasingly sophisticated elements of research. Downloadable forms are available to guide students in planning experiments and engaging in peer review at both levels (Protocol and Interactive Research). We suggest a sequence such as the following for integrating peer review into various stages of student research.

  1. Introduce the idea of peer review. After students have viewed the Peer Review Tutorial, hold a class discussion in which together you critique a sample research report. This will introduce students to ways of giving constructive comments in peer review, and it will help them to begin thinking critically about experimental design and data interpretation.

  2. Carry out an EI Protocol. Introduce students to research using a Protocol such as a dose/response experiment using lettuce seeds. After students have analyzed their results, have them meet in pairs or small groups to critique each other's data analysis and interpretations. Students exchange written feedback using the Data Analysis Peer Review Form.

  3. Students design Interactive Research. Using the research protocols they have learned, students plan their own experiments. Instead of starting from scratch, they can get ideas by reading reports written by other students, such as those published in EI's archive. Have students meet in pairs or small groups to compare and discuss their research ideas, then exchange written feedback using the Experimental Design Peer Review Form.

  4. Students analyze and present their results. After students have completed their experiments, once again they can benefit from peer review by exchanging feedback in pairs or small groups using the Data Analysis Peer Review Form. Ask them to focus on questions such as the following:

    • Do the data seem reasonable? If not, what possible explanations can you come up with for the results you obtained?
    • What can you conclude from your data?
    • Can you think of any other possible explanation for these results?
    • What might you do differently if you were planning a follow-up experiment?

    At the Interactive Research level, students write draft research reports by filling in the Research Report Form. This can be done on paper for use within an individual classroom, or electronically as part of EI's online peer review system. Students may also create posters displaying their research projects.

  5. Students peer review research reports. Once students have written draft research reports, they are ready to exchange detailed feedback with fellow students. You can download the Research Report Peer Review Form to view the questions asked in EI's online peer review system. At poster sessions students evaluate each other's work using the Poster Peer Review Form.

  6. Students revise their research reports. Based on feedback they have received, students may decide to revise their research reports. Using EI's online peer review system, students can edit their draft reports before publishing them in final form on our web-based archive.

  7. Assessment. In addition to the report or poster used for peer review, you are likely to ask students to hand in a research report for a grade. In order to assess their understanding of the peer review process, we suggest that you include questions such as the following in this final write-up:

    • What peer review comments did you receive?
    • Did you agree with these comments?
    • How did you use the comments in preparing your final report?

Peer Review Guidelines for Teachers

Peer Review Home


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