Peer Editing, a GOOD Idea?
by Zainab Al Balushy
Peer editing is a major process in academic writing for English as a foreign language. It involves students' taking part editing each other's writing highlighting the strengths and weaknesses in their writing. Peer editing helps build students' sense of identity and provides them with chances to learn from each other and enhance their awareness of their abilities and knowledge alike. The paper discusses this issue showing its importance in the learning process and in the development of students' writing as well. It focuses on different strategies i applying peer editing showing various types of forms used in this technique and evaluates their usage and validity. Some suggestions of steps to be followed and tips for better ways of handling peer editing are provided. It also confers results of a survey conducted on students and teachers regarding their application of peer editing and how helpful they find it in their learning/teaching process.
In the field of English language teaching there exist four basic skill areas namely reading, writing, listening and speaking. Each area plays a significant role in the development of the learners. Writing is a major skill area and is considered a productive skill. Donald H. Graves (1994) provides some factors that state the importance of writing in the sense that it contributes to intelligence by requiring analysis and synthesis of information. It also develops initiative, by requiring that the student supply everything him/herself and develops courage, by requiring that the student give up anonymity. Writing also increases the student's personal knowledge and self- esteem and encourages learning in all subject areas, by employing auditory, visual, and kinesthetic systems all at once. Most importantly, writing contributes significantly to improvement in reading skills, vocabulary application, and therefore speaking ability. Peer editing is a step in the writing process that helps students evaluate and improve the quality of their written work in so many ways.
What is peer editing?
Peer editing/editing is the processes through which students respond to and provide feedback on their peers' writing highlighting the positive and the negative aspects in a way to help each other reach better written products. The peer editor does not correct the paper's mistakes, but helps the writer fix their own mistakes by showing the area of the error and therefore making it clearer for the writer. That is because it is easier to spot another person's mistakes than it is to spot your own and it always helps to show your writing to be looked at by another person. It is worth mentioning that the process of peer editing does not replace the teacher's evaluation nor underestimate its value. It is a step between peers in a way to avoid submitting a full-of-mistakes paper.
Benefits of peer editing
Peer editing allows students to share ideas regarding the topics of their writing, the different styles and structures and the editing methods and techniques, Myra L. Karegianes. It also creates an atmosphere of cooperation and enthusiasm among students. They feel equal in one situation where they are helping each other to produce better results. In this regard, peer editing plays an important role in developing students' independence and raising their self esteem and confidence in their abilities. In addition, peer editing enhances students' responsibility by allocating them a role similar to the teacher's to spot mistakes and help fix them. Students in this case benefit by identifying strengths and weaknesses in their own writing as well as their peers'. The process of looking at each others' piece of writing reinforces their editing skills and makes them aware of such criteria the next time they write. They read with a critical eye which helps them develop their critical thinking skills and improve their writing skills by being exposed to different writing types.
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