Peer response of digital and non -digital texts in a composition classroom
The practice of peer response of student texts has long been a staple of the composition classroom, but existing peer response approaches do not easily adapt for use with digital texts (e.g., digital movies or slide presentations). This study uses grounded theory methodology to examine peer response of digital and non-digital, print-on-paper texts in a first-year university writing classroom. Through qualitative and quantitative analyses of response session transcripts, classroom artifacts, and students' responses to multiple surveys, this study focuses on the differences in how peer response is implemented and in the feedback offered when students engage in peer response of digital and non-digital texts.
The results of this study indicate a significant number of differences between the ways students in this classroom responded to their peers' digital and non-digital texts: students offered far more comments in non-digital sessions, and focused those comments more heavily on sentence-level concerns (e.g., punctuation, word choice, phrasing), while in digital peer response sessions, students focused their comments on more global, whole-text concerns (e.g., organization, thesis). Students also seemed to take on different roles in the different peer response sessions, responding as fellow writers in the non-digital sessions but taking on a more passive "audience" when discussing the digital texts. Additionally, students reported the development of fewer and less-detailed plans for the revision of their texts following the digital peer response sessions.
Though neither the digital nor the non-digital sessions can be characterized as entirely positive or negative, my results emphasize the need for approaches to peer response designed specifically for digital texts, and to that end, I conclude with suggestions, drawn from my results, intended to contribute to the development of such approaches.