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Peer Review in Student Inquiry
It is common to think of peer review as something that happens at the end of a research project, when students provide comments about each other's presentations or reports. However, it makes sense to build peer review in various ways into all stages of the inquiry process. This can be as informal as students pairing up to exchange comments about some selected aspect of their work, or as formal as the use of a numerical rubric for peer selection of the winners of a poster contest.

Two levels of inquiry
Environmental Inquiry is organized into two levels of inquiry, and peer review is useful at both. At the protocol level, students benefit from informally presenting and discussing their work through "pair review," in which each student or group meets with another to share ideas about their strategies and results. Presenting and discussing their experiments in this informal manner helps students to focus on what they have learned from their work and what they can learn from each other.

At the interactive research level, peer review becomes more rigorous. Unlike in "cookbook labs", students engaged in authentic research are responsible for planning the design of their experiments. Discussing plans with their peers will help students to narrow down and focus their research plans. This is an informal sort of peer review and can be structured using forms on which students write comments about various aspects of the experimental design.

Presenting results
After completion of student experiments, peer review can provide a forum for critical evaluation of research results and help students to improve the quality of their reports and presentations. Although this sort of peer review can take place within individual classrooms, students often become more motivated when asked to present to a broader audience of peers. This can occur at multi-school student congresses or by using EI's online peer review system. After completing their research, students can peer review each other's oral presentations, posters, or written summaries.

Downloadable forms are available to help students plan experiments and engage in peer review at both levels of inquiry.

Peer Review Guidelines for Teachers

Peer Review Home


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