Social Study Guide project draft

I use peer review pretty regularly in my teaching, especially for project work, but I haven’t done much to design it in an online-friendly way. In particular, I haven’t yet used a peer review rubric to give students guidelines on what kind of feedback I’m looking for. (Mostly I’ve been in the habit of checking to see that feedback was given, rather than assessing its quality.)

So here’s a rough outline of a project I’m working on for the upcoming spring semester, and peer review guidelines intended to create some cognitive presence outside my classroom around it. Most of these activities are to happen asynchronously.

Context: MATH 401 Introduction to Real Analysis I. Junior- and senior-level math majors, many of whom are also pre-service teachers. The course is a rigorous development of the foundations of calculus, and is a notoriously challenging required course in the major. In particular, texts in the subject are often difficult for students to read.

Project: Social Study Guide

Objective: Assemble a study guide – like a student-voice textbook – for one of our course’s learning standards. Draw from and remix open educational resources, your classmates’ annotations in our text, and your own original writing. (In subsequent semesters, will also include “last semester’s version of your section.”) Together, we will have developed a valuable alternative textbook to supplement our course materials and to pass on to next semester’s students.


  1. Select your topic from among our course’s learning standards (week 1), and complete the Reflection on Prior Knowledge discussion assignment. Register for your and Pressbooks accounts.
  2. Complete the copyright training assignment (week 2), and locate at least two open-licensed sources for content on your topic, posting them to our Bibliography in Pressbooks.
  3. Moderate the social reading discussion on your topic. As your classmates post their “notice and wonder” annotations, ask follow-up questions. Ensure no question is left unresponded!
  4. Complete your first draft, posting it to your section in Pressbooks (one week prior to exam on your standard).
    • Your draft should explicitly synthesize your classmates’ comments, questions, and answers from the social reading assignment(s) on the topic – do not merely list them but transform them into a subsection on “hints for understanding” or similar. You may wish to transcribe one or two of the most insightful discussions from the social reading, but this is not required.
    • Use a Page Note on the first page of your section to describe to your classmates what you most want feedback on. What do you think are the strongest elements in your section? Where do you want to do the most revision, or where are you most unsure that the writing is understandable to your audience?
  5. Peer review: Annotate the draft sections to provide feedback on them in the week leading up to the exam. See below for guidelines.
  6. After the exam on your standard, respond to both your classmates’ feedback and your instructor’s to revise your section. You may ask me to review your section and suggest revisions at any time, up to once per week. When you’re satisfied with your section, publish it in our Pressbooks. (Final copy due one week prior to the end of classes)
  7. Complete the End-of-Project reflection addressing how your understanding and skill on your standard has changed since the beginning of the project, and providing suggestions for next semester’s students on parts of your section that you think still need the most revision/addition. (Due on the last day of class)

Peer review: Giving and receiving feedback is at the heart of the academic process. It’s the cornerstone of the teaching process, the means by which a community of scholars creates new knowledge, and the way that teams of employees in any organization grow. Since the audience for your social study guide is your peers — fellow math majors taking this course are the ones who most will benefit from reading your completed section — your peers are also the best judges of whether your writing is achieving its goal. (Plus, as a reviewer, your process of giving feedback on your classmates’ work also helps you study their topic for upcoming exams. So everybody wins!)

Here are some general guidelines for making your feedback most valuable for the author.

  1. Each author has posted a specific feedback request in a Page a Note on the first page of their section. In your feedback, you must respond to this request using the Keep It / Change It / Here’s How framework: comment on each in at least 1-2 compete sentences.
    • What in the author’s section, related to their feedback request, worked best for you and why? (“Keep It”)
    • What in the author’s section, related to their feedback request, felt least effective to you and why? (“Change It”)
    • What specific next step would you recommend to the author to make this part more effective? (“Here’s How”)
  2. Then, briefly rate the overall section on each of the following criteria.
    • (Yes/No) An introduction is present that sets up the topic and specifically addresses the reader’s necessary prior knowledge (including prior sections in our Pressbooks where appropriate).
    • (Yes/No) The section is organized with all relevant definitions appearing before their theorems, and both formatted in blockquoted italics.
    • (Yes/No) At least three fully worked examples are present that demonstrate the learning standard, and the examples are each significantly and qualitatively different from one another.
    • (Yes/No) The author has effectively summarized the class’s social reading discussion on this topic into¬†hints, advice, and tips that provide insight for understanding (not merely a step-by-step description of a problem solving process).
    • (Yes/No) Appropriately formatted and easy-to-read math notation is used throughout the section.
    • (Yes/No) Notation used is consistent with the style guide for our project and with prior sections in our Pressbooks.
    • (Yes/No) The section is self-contained: everything necessary to understand the topic is either present in this section or explicitly linked either to prior sections or to online resources.
  3. Provide any written comments on the above checklist that you feel would help the author to revise and improve the section.

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