My favorite class to teach focuses on teaching students how to write a literature review. What I love about the course is that it’s usually a student’s first foray into critical reading, being critical of “experts,” and putting their own work in the context of the scholarly literature. Most of you reading this have written literature reviews, so you know it’s a science and an art that takes practice. And practice means learning from mistakes and acting on feedback.

After several semesters of students not carefully reading my feedback on their drafts (my extensive, time-consuming feedback) I was frustrated. I couldn’t stop giving feedback, but I kept thinking - what’s the point? My solution was to assign a self-reflection and goal setting activity after the first draft. This required students to read and respond to my feedback and feedback from their peers. I also assigned a self-reflection after the final draft asking them to reflect on their progress since the first draft. 

Did it work?

YES! Just asking students to reflect on the feedback and then set their own learning goals was the push they needed. It was great to read about their perceptions of their progress and I used the questions about the hurdles they encountered to improve the course and provide support in different ways throughout the semester. 

If you’re struggling to get students to read feedback then I recommend using reflection and goal setting activities. I've shared my example below. These examples are long; in a  different course I created a Canvas quiz asking students to read my feedback and respond to two comments. While that activity used less reflection, it was quick and it did get students reading my feedback!

Literature Review Draft 1 Self-Evaluation

Read the instructor and peer feedback on your draft before answering the questions below. You will probably need to reread your draft before answering.

  1. What do you see as the strengths in your writing?
  2. Where do you see places for improvement in your writing? Give specific examples.
  3. What will you change in your second draft and why? Give specific examples from instructor and peer feedback
  4. Who or what helped you most when writing your literature review?  How?
  5. What was the biggest hurdle you encountered when writing your literature review? How did you overcome this hurdle?
  6. What are your goals for the second draft of the literature review and how will you achieve those goals?

Goal and stratergy table

 
 Literature Review Draft 2 Self-Evaluation

Read the instructor feedback before answering the questions below. You will also need to review your draft 1 feedback and goals.

  1. For the two questions below, refer to the goals you set in your Draft 1 self-evaluation.
    • Discuss the goals you met and reflect on how you met those goals and how they      improved your second draft.
    • Discuss the goals you did not meet and reflect on why you did not meet those goals and if that affected your second draft.
  2. How do you think you improved from draft 1 to draft 2?
  3. What do you see as the strengths in your writing? Has this changed since draft 1?
  4. Where do you see places for improvement in your writing?  Has this changed since draft1?
  5. What was the biggest hurdle you encountered when writing your second draft? How did you overcome this hurdle?