Guidelines & Checklist for Evaluating Review Drafts (RDs)

Last updated 9/19/19  10:30 AM

Guidelines for Evaluating Review Drafts

Watch the following 4-minute video, “Student-Centered Writing Process for an Online Course, Revised,” for a quick overview of peer review.

For a quick summary of the process, see the Q&A at the bottom of this page.

To do your evaluations:

1. Go to our Laulima discussion forum for submissions of the current RD.

2. Scan the list of posts and click on the ones with the fewest replies. We want to make sure that every student has at least 3 reviews. When you find a post with zero or less than 3, add a comment saying you’ll be evaluating the student’s RD.

3. Next, go to the student’s blog and evaluate her/his RD. Use this format for each of your three reviews:

Reviewer: __________
Writer: __________
___ Meets all requirements.
___ Does not meet all requirements. Major problem(s): ____________
___ Free of errors.
___ Errors detected. Major problem(s): ____________

and post your evaluation in the comment section attached to her draft. (See the checklist and tips below.) Complete a minimum of three evaluations. You have the option to do more than three.

4. If the student’s blog refuses to accept your comment, log in to your WordPress account and try it again. To facilitate commenting, email the student and ask her/him to revise the settings for “anonymous” comments.

5. Be sure to identify your evaluations with a version of your name that I can associate with a name in my roster. For example don’t use “Local Girl” if your name is Mary Brown. “Mary” is fine if there’s only one “Mary” in class. Otherwise, use “Mary B” or your full first and last name. The point is that I need to know who you are to give you credit for your evaluations.

6. Don’t simply repeat what earlier evaluators have said. Your evaluation must include problems that others have not cited. Remember that saying a paper is fine while failing to point out problems is irresponsible and harmful to the writer, who is counting on your feedback to improve her/his draft. See the examples of effective student-written RD reviews. Also see Ten Do’s and Don’ts in Your RD Evaluations. Finally, keep in mind that I read and score all of your evaluations. For your work in each of our first four RD sessions, you can earn a maximum of 50 points, which translates to 200 total for the semester.

7. Finally, copy the 3 evaluations that you wrote and paste them into the Laulima forum for submitting RD evaluations. Include all three in a single post. Don’t paste them in separate posts. In the subject line for your post, be sure to list the names of the writers you’ve evaluated.

evals laulima2List names of three writers you’ve evaluated in the subject line.

Sample of three reviews in a single Laulima post.

Checklist for Evaluating Review Drafts


___1. Does it address the topic or question for the assignment?

___2. Is it complete? Does it have all the parts mentioned in the assignment guidelines? Does it meet the word count requirement? (Paper 1&5: 750-1000 words; paper 2&3: 1000-1500; paper 4: 1500-2000.) Don’t include the works cited section in the count. Also, don’t include direct quotes over three lines long. (It’s OK for a writer to exceed the maximum; however, if the additional material is excessive as well as irrelevant, suggest ways to reduce it.) If required: Does it include a works cited section that follows MLA guidelines?


___3. Is the draft readable? All drafts submitted for review must be free of strange characters and symbols. Text should be black on a white background.

___4. Does it show signs that the writer has put effort into reviewing and revising it before submitting it? Review drafts (RDs) aren’t the same as “rough” drafts. They are as close to final drafts as possible. Thus, they should be complete, show signs of revision, and be as free as possible of mechanical problems. Does it need to be carefully revised for problems such as spelling, capitalization, word choice, run-ons, fragments, subject-verb agreement, punctuation (commas, especially), etc.? To confirm that you’ve reviewed this checklist, email me at by the deadline for submitting the three RD1 evaluations. The subject header must include the keyword rdeval.

IF your answer to any of the first four questions above is “no”

stop your evaluation. In your review, let the writer know that s/he has failed to meet the assignment requirements or is not free of mechanical problems. Don’t go on to the remaining questions.

___5. Does it follow the basic formatting rules?

  • Single-space within paragraphs, double-space between paragraphs.
  • Single space after end punctuations.
  • Omit indent at the start of paragraphs.
  • Use standard fonts – avoid fancy fonts.
  • Avoid using all caps, bold, exclamation marks, etc. for dramatic effects.
  • Don’t use right justification; use ragged right instead.

___6. Does it include the author’s name, date of submission, assignment, and word count in the upper left corner:

Assignment [RD1, FD1, RD2, FD2, etc.]
Word Count= [excluding the list of works cited and quotes over three lines long]

___7. Does it have an original title?

___8. Does it have a thesis statement? And is it bookended with the label “[THESIS]”? The thesis sentence is usually in the first paragraph. It’s one sentence in length and normally the last sentence in the paragraph. (Two independent clauses separated by a semicolon will be considered two sentences.) It tells the reader what the main point of the essay is. In argumentative papers, it clearly states a position or stand. Think of the thesis as the one main point that every paragraph in the body of the paper is developing or supporting.

___9. Does the first paragraph introduce the subject of the paper and the thesis? The introductory paragraph should be brief. It introduces the subject and thesis. That’s it. It doesn’t try to develop or explain important ideas or arguments. That’s saved for the body paragraphs.

___10. Do the body paragraphs develop and support the thesis?

___11. Does the conclusion try to do more than restate the thesis and main points? The concluding paragraph should be brief. It’s used to restate the thesis and briefly (one or two sentences) summarize the main supporting points. It should avoid the introduction of new or different ideas that haven’t been developed in the body paragraphs. If the new thought is important, then suggest that the writer expand her/his paper to include it as one or more body paragraphs.

___12. Does it follow MLA guidelines for quotes and references? It should closely follow MLA guidelines for quoting, citing references, and setting up a works cited section. Make sure that the writer omits unnecessary bibliographic information in the body of the paper, especially if it’s included in the works-cited section.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


1. Keep the problem explanations brief by mentioning critical problems only, e.g., “Missing quote from a classmate,” “Word count below minimum,” “Fail to follow MLA guidelines,” or “Subject-verb agreement errors.”

4. Don’t attempt to do a word-by-word, sentence-by-sentence editing of mechanical errors. If mechanics are a problem, simply point out one or two, e.g., “Awkward sentences and punctuation errors.”

5. Don’t use criteria that I haven’t specified or provide incorrect information.

6. Spend no more than 15-30 minutes on each review.

7. If you have difficulty posting your evaluation in the writer’s comment section, email it to the writer and ask her/him to post it for you. Remember that each RD must have a minimum of three evaluations from classmates. If any are missing, she may be penalized.

8. If the evaluations you receive for your RD are incorrect or fail to point out critical problems, don’t confront the evaluator. Instead, email me (Jim) for help or send an email message to the class or to selected students for additional reviews.

9. If a student responds with anger to your evaluation, don’t reply. Instead, email the message to me ( Responding could ignite a flame war with a student who’s already overreacting.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

APPENDIX 1: Effective Paper 2 Peer-Review Samples from ENG 100, 200, 272Q

ENG 100 Reviewer 4


ENG 100 Reviewer 5

ENG 100 Reviewer 8

ENG 100 Reviewer 11

ENG 100 Reviewer 19

ENG 100 Reviewer 21

ENG 200 Reviewer 5

ENG 200 Reviewer 20

ENG 200 Reviewer 32

ENG 272Q Reviewer 3

ENG 272Q Reviewer 4

ENG 272Q Reviewer 6

ENG 272Q Reviewer 7

ENG 272Q Reviewer 8

ENG 272Q Reviewer 9

ENG 272Q Reviewer 10

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Appendix 2: Email to class re second RD session (spring 2014)

I was impressed with the work all of you did in evaluating our first RDs. Most of you were helpful in pointing out problems that needed to be addressed.

Keep in mind that my scoring is based solely on the Checklist. Thus, it’s critical that you read it carefully. It will take less than 10 minutes, and the result will be higher scores for your evaluations throughout the semester. Remember that all the reviews, together, will account for 200 possible points — 50 points for each set of three.

Some of you are reluctant to point out problems in classmates’ drafts because you don’t want to hurt their feelings. Keep in mind that they’re actually expecting you to help them identify problems, and if you don’t, you’re hurting them where it counts most — in their performance and success in learning.

For those who don’t feel the need to review the Checklist and decide to wing it with criteria that we’re not targeting, remember that you’re working hard but not smart. You’re not helping your classmates, and you’re definitely not helping yourself. Your RD review score will be lower. Work smart — learn the criteria and apply them.

The ultimate goal of this RD evaluation process is to develop your internal editor. The only effective way to learn how to do this is through practice. By learning how to apply selected criteria to classmates’ drafts, you learn how to assess and revise your own. The point is that if you can’t objectively review someone else’s paper, then you won’t be able to do it for yours. In other words, if you want to become a successful writer, you need to know what the requirements are and you need to be able to determine if you’ve met them. This, in a nutshell, is what the writing process is all about.

By the end of this course, the successful student will be able to say, “I know what the requirements are. Thus, I can tell whether or not I’ve met them, and I can revise the parts that fall short.” This mindset can be applied to all papers. It’s not limited to this class. The student who has control over the writing process is empowered, and writing is no longer a crap shoot.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Appendix 3: Q&A

from:    xxx
to:    James Shimabukuro
date:    Sun, Jan 24, 2016 at 8:43 PM
subject:    Quick Question

Okay, I think I am understanding how this class works. I just wanted to clarify we read the RD of our peers through the blog, but we evaluate and give feedback through laulima?


from:    Jim Shimabukuro
to:    xxx
date:    Mon, Jan 25, 2016 at 7:12 AM
subject:    Re: Quick Question

Aloha, xxx.

Good question.

Yes and no. You’ll be reading your classmates’ RDs in their blogs and leaving your evaluations (as replies) in the discussions attached to their RD. You’ll also be copying these comments that you write and pasting them (all 3 together in a single post) in the Laulima forum for submitting them. See the example below.

Sample of RD Evals in Laulima

The reason for this double posting is that some students fail to set up their blogs correctly, making it difficult or impossible for classmates to reply to their RDs. The Laulima posting is a means to confirm that you did complete all three evaluations even if one or more doesn’t appear in students’ blogs.

A second reason for posting in Laulima is that some students fail to identify themselves in evaluations they post in classmates’ blogs. The Laulima posting provides a means to confirm that they did complete the required number (3) of evaluations.

It’s also important to list the names (first or first & last) of all 3 students that you evaluate in the heading of your Laulima posting to make it easier for classmates to find their evaluations if they aren’t posted in their blogs.

Finally, posting all three (together in one post)  in Laulima makes it much easier for me to assess your reviews for my records.


This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s