In Spring 2013 I began an ongoing interdisciplinary research project with two colleagues from Engineering Education and Rhetoric and Writing to investigate the efficacy of peer review of writing in a first-year engineering course. An existing writing assignment in ENGE 1104 asked students to identify and write a report about a Contemporary Issue in Electrical and Computer Engineering. We discovered that the quality of the reports was quite variable. When the assignment was first developed, students turned in the report without submitting a rough draft for review because the size of the class made it unfeasible for the instructor to give every student feedback. A literature review revealed that in some cases review of student writing by multiple peers was actually more effective in improving student’s writing that review by the instructor. Given the constraints of typical large common engineering classes, we wanted to evaluate the efficacy of doing multiple peer review in our first-year engineering course. For this project, we:
- Developed an intervention to add peer review of student writing to a Contemporary Issue Report assignment in the course,
- Deployed the intervention with multiple treatment and control groups,
- Investigated the effects on student writing quality when receiving feedback from peers, multiple peers, and experts, and
- Determined best practices of peer review instruction.
This research is ongoing, with initial work presented at the 2013 Frontiers in Education conference. The large dataset resulting from this research was used in my Masters project, with results to be presented at the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) conference in June 2015.