Peer review is a collaborative learning process in which students assess each other’s work and provide constructive feedback. It shifts responsibility away from the instructor in order to give the student a more active role in managing their own learning. At MNW, peer review involves students reviewing each other’s weekly assignments and illustrations for their albums. Guided by the trainers and course assistants, this process provides students with an additional opportunity to engage with the presentations and illustrations. The following is a quick look at how peer review is incorporated into our Primary and Elementary Courses.
In Primary, peer review typically takes place in pairs, which include the teaching staff. When reviewing presentation write-ups, students look for a logical sequence of activity, clear descriptions of movements, important notes from the lecture, and detailed illustrations, all of which will reflect if the future guide will be able to accurately present the material and support its aims. If any issues should arise during the review, students can go to the material for guidance or check with staff. This helps students not only create accurate albums for future reference, but also adds another layer of understanding about Montessori principles and practice.
In Elementary, peer review is targeted toward the accuracy of specific language, drawings, and etymology. The reviews take place in groups of four, each of which is overseen by a staff member. These groups will often have practiced presentations together, which helps to confirm understanding of a concept. Initially, peer review is helpful in learning how to write an album as most students have not had experience with doing this. As the students become more seasoned in the review process, they are able to offer more detailed feedback on the accuracy and readability of their peers’ albums. As final exams draw near, peer review sessions offer valuable time to review concepts and solidify practices.
Peer review is not a replacement for staff input, but rather an opportunity for the students to benefit from collaboration with peers, to become more familiar with the concepts presented, and to become more adept at editing and self-correcting. Staff still review the work in more detail after the peer review and offer individual spoken and written feedback on each week's work. It also gives staff the opportunity to spot trends and notice challenges students are having with specific assignments and provides feedback about how the students are receiving the information presented to them.
Since peer review was introduced at MNW two years ago, we’ve witnessed many benefits for students, including:
- Exposure to different approaches to formatting and content
- Clarification and reinforcement of students’ own understanding
- Builds problem solving skills
- Encourages self-reflection and self-assessment
- Increases motivation through responsibility for peers’ learning
- Improves self-confidence
- Provides preparation for professional workplace
At its core, peer review is about students working together to capture the essence of a concept and coming to a consensus about it’s relevance and meaning, creating another layer of learning and a deeper and more fulfilling understanding of this great work they’re embarking on.