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A Longitudinal Study of Peer Review in High School

DeMartino, Sara M. (2017) A Longitudinal Study of Peer Review in High School. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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This dissertation analyzes longitudinal changes in high school students’ academic writing and peer feedback comments across four years. I analyzed the academic writing of 21 students and the peer feedback of 74 students at two time-points to document changes from 9th to 12th grade. My analysis of student writing focused on changes in the following features of academic writing: responding to a prompt, using evidence, stating ideas, organizing writing, and using academic grammar and language. My analysis of peer feedback comments focused on changes in features of effective feedback such as specificity, explanation, suggestion and a focus on content, not just form. The results of this study indicate that in a high school where peer review was used frequently and little writing instruction took place, students improved as academic writers over time, particularly in the areas of responding to the writing prompt and providing explanations of evidence. Teacher-created writing prompts and rubrics influenced these changes and students’ understanding of academic writing. Students also improved in their ability to provide effective feedback and to provide detailed assessments and suggestions about content and ideas, important characteristics of helpful feedback identified by previous research. Teacher-provided prompts influenced the content and quality of students’ feedback comments. Prompts that asked students to comment on quantity, such as the amount of evidence used, resulted in lower quality comments than prompts that asked students to comment on quality. Additionally, the analysis of feedback comments documented students’ development of metacognitive awareness around academic writing, specifically showing that students moved from thinking about writing as meeting minimum quantity requirements towards understanding the importance of quality over quantity in writing. Additionally, there was a correlation between the type of feedback comments students provided in 12th grade and the quality of the reviewer’s writing, suggesting that stronger writers more frequently provided effective feedback comments to their peers. Implications of the study include the need for teachers to provide more writing instruction that helps students fully explain ideas and evidence. Additionally, students need many opportunities to provide and discuss feedback to become proficient at providing helpful feedback to their peers.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
DeMartino, Sara M.smd94@pitt.edusmd940000-0001-5729-0457
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairGodley,
Committee MemberDonato,
Committee MemberSchunn,
Committee MemberClare Matsumura,
Date: 19 April 2017
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 23 February 2017
Approval Date: 19 April 2017
Submission Date: 27 March 2017
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 168
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Education > Instruction and Learning
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Peer review, writing, secondary students, high school students
Date Deposited: 19 Apr 2017 21:01
Last Modified: 20 Apr 2017 05:15


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