Peer Response 2

Two benefits of peer response: 1) you get feedback from a classmate on your paper before submitting it for a grade; 2) examining the strengths and weaknesses of someone else's writing can help you recognize strengths and weaknesses in your own.

How it works: You read your peer's draft critically, then respond with advice on how the paper might be improved, answering each of the questions below in order.

Get mean:
While you might comment on the paper's strengths, you will help most by focusing on its weaknesses, particularly in the areas of structure, format, logic, and overall development of analysis. Be tactful and considerate in your comments, but critical all the same—do it nicely, but "let 'em have it." Praise and back-patting will not help your peer improve his or her paper.

Important: Indicate your name as the "Peer" and your classmate's name as "Author." Your response should be approximately 1½-2 typed pages, at least.

Instructions: Answer the following questions in order. Your comments are not restricted to these questions alone: any and all advice you can offer that might help your classmate improve the paper is appropriate.


1. Read the paper through once from start to finish and state your initial impression of the paper as a whole.

2. Evaluate the introduction and make suggestions for improvement. Consider:

  • Is the intro a fully developed paragraph? Too brief? Is it at last half a page long, typed, as it should be? If not, suggest how the intro could be developed more effectively: make your suggestions specific: you may want to refer to the section on introductions in my "Writing Tips" at

  • Any places where the intro is choppy? Suggest transitions where needed.

  • Consider whether the paragraph flows smoothly into the central question, which should be the last sentence of the introductory paragraph. Suggest improvements for leading into the question.

  • Suggest improvements in the intro question itself. Does it address the assigned topic squarely, asking how three poems communicate specific aspects or elements of life (option 1) or powerful emotions (option 2), vividly or powerfully?
  • 3. Copy the topic sentence of each body ¶ into your response document. If there is no obvious topic sentence in any body ¶, suggest one. Make suggestions for improving existing topic sentences—note that each topic sentence should answer the central question squarely and directly. Also identify the and evaluate the thesis statement, which should appear in the conclusion.

    4. Consider whether the body of the paper simply explains or illustrates what the poems convey, without primary focus on how the poets convey their subjects with power and vividness. If the paper focuses more on what each poem "says" rather than how the poet "says it powerfully," tell your classmate why you have this impression.

    5a-c (separately). Reread the poems the paper addresses, then point by point (i.e. for all three body ¶s individually), evaluate the author's description of each poem's portrayal of a) fundamental aspects of life, or b) powerful emotion. Note how well you think the author's interpretation of the poems are supported by the poems themselves. Can you offer additional "tweaks" for a better, more precise, interpretation of any of the poems?

    6a-c (separately). Evaluate the author's specific explanation of the poetry's powerful communication of the aspect of life or powerful emotion in each body paragraph (point by point). Can you point to particular poetic elements or devices or other tactics in each poem that the author would do well to consider adding to the discussion?

    7. Suggest improvements in the author's use of quotations. Too many quotes? Too few in any places? Suggest specific lines the author might quote to illustrate better the paper's primary assertions. Suggest improvements in the introduction of quotes (Nugget 3).

    8. Evaluate the effectiveness of the conclusion. If the conclusion is less than roughly half a page in length, suggest specific ways of expanding the paragraph.

    9. Grammar and mechanics—especially "simple stuff," golden rules and nuggets, quotations matters, and "word problems."  Are the poems cited and documented correctly (See Q4)?

    Q4lb ("lb" for "line breaks"): slashes, with one typed space before and after each, between lines of poetry not set off as block quotes.
    Q4b ("b" for "block"): block indention of more than three lines of poetry as they appear in the original source.

    Q4ln ("kn" for "line numbers"): put line numbers, not page numbers, in parentheses for quotations of poetry.