Reader Response Cycles

Reader Response Cycles

One Format

Note: I use the term "reader response" rather than "peer review/peer evaluation" for at least two reasons: I want students to view themselves as writers, a perspective that implies a relationship with others as readers. Also, I use these cycles primarily as opportunities for writers to get response from colleagues about their work in progress, rather than to judge one another's final work (what the expression using "peer" suggest).

In groups of three:

CYCLE 1 (30-45 minutes, 10-15 minutes per draft)

  1. Writers read aloud while others listen and follow along on draft copy.
  2. Writers take notes while others give oral feedback to each draft in answer to the following questions:
    1. In a sentence or two, how would you sum up the writer's main claim in this draft?
    2. After reading this draft, what are the main unanswered questions remaining for you as a reader? How would getting these questions answered help you?
    3. What part of this draft is clearest/most effective/interesting for you as a reader? Why?
    4. What part of this draft could be strengthened? What specific suggestions can you offer for revising it?
    5. Writer's Question (Only ONE question will be addressed; check the main one.):
      How might I strengthen my focus/thesis/?
      What part(s) need more evidence? Why?
      How might I strengthen connections between ideas?
      How might I make my word choice more concise and precise?
      What main proofreading/format concerns do you see? How might I edit them?

CYCLE 2 (20-30 minutes)

Exchange drafts with a partner in your group; re-read with questions in mind and then write a detailed response memo giving full responses to each of the above four questions.

CYCLE 3 (5-10 minutes)

  • Read reader's responses and then:
    • Do a revising note:
      Based on information received from reader responses, how might you revise this draft? What parts would you keep? Change? Why?
    • Keep responses and revising note for revising possibilities.
    • Later, solicit more responses from more readers, including ones outside this class, such as in the Writing Center.

Note: These cycles can be done inside or outside of class time. If not enough time to do both oral response (cycle 1) and written response (cycle 2), choose one or the other. Students tend to prefer the oral route, but helps to insist that writers take notes so they will have a written record of the responses to use in revising.

~ Carmen Werder