Tips on How to Excel at RD Evaluations

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Hi.

With this activity, we’re completing our second RD evaluations.

At this point in the semester, I’m sure you realize that the RD writing and review processes are the most important learning activities in this class. Together, they make up 40% of your course grade.

The RD evaluation process is required for papers 1-4. To earn the full 50 points for each paper, your reviews must be based on our Checklist for Evaluating Review Drafts. I don’t score your reviews on the amount you write. I rely solely on your ability to point out a writer’s shortcomings in (1) satisfying assignment criteria, (2) following our Checklist for All Drafts, and (3) avoiding mechanical problems.

I also don’t reward you for simply repeating what other reviewers have already pointed out. You must be able to identify critical problems that others have missed. Thus, I’d suggest completing your evaluations as early as possible and reading what others have said before posting your review.

Again, it’s not how much you say but what you say that counts. A student who points out that a writer has failed to include required quotes from a classmate or that her/his word count falls short of the minimum has a greater chance of earning the full 50 points. However, a student who misses these problems and, instead, provides a lengthy sentence-by-sentence analysis of an entire RD could receive only half the points — despite the fact that he worked much harder. Thus, as in life, work smart, not hard.

To help yourself as a writer, make it a practice to identify classmates who seem to know what’s going and ask them, via private email, to evaluate your RD. Their feedback will be invaluable. By the same token, identify classmates who don’t read guidelines and don’t have a clue about what’s expected. Take their advice with a grain of salt.

If a classmate emails and asks you to evaluate her RD, consider it an honor. If responding to her request means adding a fourth or fifth evaluation, be sure to email me so that I can note, in my records, that you’ve done more than your share.

The worst feedback you can give a classmate is to tell her that her RD is fine when it’s obviously not. This lie will be taken as confirmation that she doesn’t need to improve her draft, and this will hurt her in her FD. Thus, wanting to be “nice” by withholding critical information does far more harm than good.

The RD evaluation process is an opportunity for you to master the requirements for an assignment and to apply that mastery to helping your classmates as well as yourself.

-Jim

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