Do Writing and Peer Review Take Up Too Much Class Time?


Getting Started

Why include writing in my courses?

What is writing to learn?

What is writing to engage?

What is writing in the disciplines?

Useful Knowledge

What should I know about rhetorical situations?

Do I have to be an expert in grammar to assign writing?

What should I know about genre and design?

What should I know about second-language writing?

What teaching resources are available?

What should I know about WAC and graduate education?

Assigning Writing

What makes a good writing assignment?

How can I avoid getting lousy student writing?

What benefits might reflective writing have for my students?

Using Peer Review

Why consider collaborative writing assignments?

Do writing and peer review take up too much class time?

How can I get the most out of peer review?

Responding to Writing

How can I handle responding to student writing?

How can writing centers support writing in my courses?

What writing resources are available for my students?

Using Technology

How can computer technologies support writing in my classes?

Designing and Assessing WAC Programs

What is a WAC program?

What designs are typical for WAC programs?

How can WAC programs be assessed?

More on WAC

Where can I learn more about WAC?

Writing-to-learn (WTL) activities take very little class time, and most teachers find they can give a quick WTL prompt at the beginning of class while they take roll and as students are settling in. Moreover, many WTL activities can be limited to just a minute or two—the amount of time it might take to answer a student's question about a course concept. Also, because WTL activities are such valuable learning tools, most teachers feel that students use any minutes given over to WTL writing very effectively.

If you decide to give a disciplinary writing assignment (a formal document that students work on over a long period and revise before submitting it for grading), then peer review is an excellent way to assure that students are revising. One way to save class time is to require students to do their peer review as homework outside of class. They will appreciate having class time for peer review, but you can either require that they meet to read, comment on, and discuss each other's draft or that they exchange drafts at the end of one class and return drafts and peer review sheets at the beginning of the next class.

Electronic tools now make out-of-class peer review much easier for students. Web 2.0 tools such as Google Docs allow multiple reviewers to embed comments in texts as they take shape over several drafts. Or if you prefer a more carefully guided peer-review approach, you could consider a tool such as Calibrated Peer Review (see Russell et al., 2004, or visit for description and details) that allows the instructor to note the prompts for reviewing responses to a given assignment. SWoRD simulates a modified journal publication process as its framework for computer-mediated peer review (Cho & Schunn, 2007). Most classroom management software packages also include tools that students can use to exchange and comment on each others' drafts. Even if you want to take advantage of the lowliest high-tech tools, students can exchange drafts over email and embed responses to specific questions/prompts (also delivered electronically) through a comment feature in Word.


Cho, K., & Schunn, C. (2007). Scaffolded writing and rewriting in the disciplines: A web-based reciprocal peer-review system. Computers & Education, 48: 409-426.

Russell, A. A., Cunningham, S., & George, Y. S. (2004). Calibrated Peer Review: A writing and critical thinking instructional tool. In Invention and Impact: Building Excellence in Undergraduate Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Education. American Association for the Advancement of Science.