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The “Craft” of Peer Revision: Part IV

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In this series we’ve looked at a few ways to make the craft of peer revision more “crafty.”  All of these exercises tend to be a big hit in my classes and I usually end up with stronger papers to grade because of this work.

But why?  Why do students do this work so enthusiastically and so well?  I have some theories:

  • Fun Factor.  Most of the students in the writing classes I teach are there because they have to be—the class is required.  Most of them also have a troubled relationship to writing, thinking they’re not very good at it for example.  Introducing craft-based activities introduces an element of fun into something many students find to be very hard work.
  • Nostalgia.  Teetering on the edge of adult responsibilities, students are reminded of a simpler time with these activities, a time filled with nap time and recess instead of exams and papers.
  • Switched Registers.  All of these exercises switch into a new register, allowing students a new perspective on writing, one in which they might see completely different things in their work.
  • Learning Modes.  Similarly, these activities touch on visual and kinesthetic learning in ways that can engage students who tend to learn in those modes.

I suspect there are other factors at play here and I will love to hear your thoughts.  Do you have any “crafty” exercises?  Why do you think they tend to work so well?

About the Author
Barclay Barrios is an Associate Professor of English and Director of Writing Programs at Florida Atlantic University, where he teaches freshman composition and graduate courses in composition methodology and theory, rhetorics of the world wide web, and composing digital identities. He was Director of Instructional Technology at Rutgers University and currently serves on the board of Pedagogy. Barrios is a frequent presenter at professional conferences, and the author of Emerging.