Friday, December 04, 2015

Project Season

It's that time of the semester when pretty much any course that has projects assigned, has them coming due.

I have two courses doing big projects, and one not.

The Intro to Lit turned in their second paper before Thanksgiving, and I've turned it back.  I figure, on average, they've written 12-18 typed pages for my course.  That seems about right for an Intro to Lit course, with a good part of that low-stakes, small assignments, and two papers of 2-4 pages.  They'll have a final exam during finals week.

The writing course has a big project in the works, and they'll start peer revisions (over three days) on Monday.  Today, we're working on brainstorming for the third part, and checking in with everyone on the first two parts.  They won't have a final exam, but will turn in the third part of the final project during finals, and (if all goes well in my grading life) get back the first two parts of the final project that day as well.

My upper level Shakespeare course (using ecocriticism and Shakespeare) did peer revision of their final project on Wednesday.  I've given them today as a "panic day" to work on their work, and then they'll turn in the final project on Friday of next week.  Then they have a final during finals week, when (again, if everything goes well in my grading life), they'll get back their final project.

Next week, the two lit courses will wrap up talking about the lit, review for finals, and voila, be done.


I like having the upper level courses do peer revision.  I think they get a LOT more out of peer revision than they did as first year students.  (But I also think they need to practice as first year students, and in several courses, in order to be really good by their upper level courses.)

The other reason to really like peer revision in the upper level course is that every single one of my students had a rough draft turned in to share with the other students (and which I could see) by Monday of this week.  And now they have until Friday of next week to revise. 

If I'm the only one who uses peer revision to get them to draft early, then that means that they're giving work for my course more attention.  And, yes, I think that's good.

If everyone's using peer revision a week early, then it means they've drafted all their projects for everyone and have a good week to revise and prepare for finals.  And yes, that would be ideal.


The question of the day is: how many people have upper level students either peer revise together or turn in draft stuff ahead of time?

How many of use have upper level students do a proofreading exercise before turning in their paper (or in some other way take class time to proofread their work one last time)?

Why or why not use these practices?


  1. I have my upper-level students do peer workshops for the finals in some classes. There are so many reasons to do it: they (usually) have substantial drafts done earlier; they get more feedback on their papers; they learn about what the other students in the course are researching; they gain practice critiquing academic work, which ideally helps them to self-critique; and, selfishly, I don't have much prep to do! (In a small upper-level class, we all workshop everyone's papers, do I do read and comment on each draft--but in most cases that's far less work than reading half a book and prepping a discussion on it. By the end of the semester, I need that breathing room!)

  2. Right now, I've just moved into the workshop phase of a seminar I'm teaching. The papers are so much better with workshopping or peer response. I recommend it.