Cultures of Writing and Peer Review


University writing classes often use peer review as a guide to revision, yet they often do not inquire into the criteria on which that feedback is based. This paper discusses research conducted at the University of Colorado on the peer review of non-native English-speaking students’ writing. The research includes interviews with college-level writing instructors, a study of pre-collegiate international student writing, and a survey of first-year native English-speaking students. The purpose of the research was to gauge how native-speaking first-year writing students assess non-native speaking first-year writing students’ writing. In many of our English writing courses, we assign peer-review activities, and often assume that students are familiar with this practice from their high-school years. However, in many of our classrooms, we haven’t discussed explicitly how to comment on peers’ papers for revision. In practice, the results of this study suggest that peer review can be a helpful tool for native-speaker acceptance of multilingual and multicultural writing styles. The study found that other considerations, beyond linguistic conventions, affect peer review, as they do among papers written by native speakers of English. The main concerns of native English-speaking students among the non-native papers were in the use of emotional appeal, bias, and perspective, and they were not as bothered by surface or grammatical differences. A key component to a successful revision is trouble-shooting a text, considering multiple points of view, and presenting a fair-minded picture. This is done by encouraging the habit of critiquing, whether a published text or a peer’s paper.


Andrea Feldman
Teaching Professor of Distinction and International Student Coordinator, Program for Writing and Rhetoric, University of Colorado Boulder, Colorado, United States


Presentation Type

Paper Presentation in a Themed Session


Communications and Linguistic Studies


Peer Review, Writing Studies, Multicultural Rhetoric,Transnational Writing