Carnegie Mellon University

Eberly Center

Teaching Excellence & Educational Innovation

How can I assure that students get the most out of the review?

The stress that public reviews can cause in students can mitigate the value of the review unless they are able to accurately recall comments, criticisms, and suggestions to use in their current or future work. Consequently, think carefully about ways to assure that students actually hear what is being said about their work. For example,

  • Ask students to summarize, in writing, the feedback they received and, if it’s a midterm review, discuss how they will integrate the feedback into their work.
  • Pair students up and have them take notes for each other during the review.
  • Take notes of reviewers’ comments, questions and suggestions.  Provide students with your notes as a model of how to identify and synthesize important feedback (this is most appropriate in the early years when students don’t have much experience with public reviews and are less sophisticated at extracting the important feedback in the review).
  • Ask reviewers to provide students with a written copy of their comments, when appropriate.
  • Debrief with students, especially those who received a lot of feedback so that students learn how to prioritize feedback as they move forward with their work.
  • Explicitly follow-up with the students, particularly those whose projects received consistently harsh reviews or who appeared to be unnerved or distressed about the review.

To assure that all students in the room learn from the review if, indeed, we think of it as an important aspect of our pedagogy, we can:

  • Ask each student to write a one-page summary of consistent comments they heard (either positive or negative) either across reviewers or student projects.
  • Have our students summarize the review of one other student.
  • Ask our students to write a one-page response to a review they disagreed with.
  • Provide a summary of the reviews’ findings both for the entire class (global) and for each student (individual). The latter can come in the form of individual meetings held subsequently.