Comparing Assignments: 1. Peer Review and 2. Summaries / Responses

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Comparing Assignments: 1. Peer Review and 2. Summaries / Responses

The first assignment I designed to use with News Activist is a peer review assignment and was an easy way for me to get used to using the site with my students. I assigned it during the first week of class, but members of the class seemed a bit hesitant both to post and to critique the work of others. I did not have the same challenge with a more involved assignment that I gave my geography class.

Two things stand out to me as significantly different about the assignments.

1. When they were given out. When given very early it was more challenging to motivate them to start. 

2. If the students were interacting with another class from another place. When they had collaboration partners from elsewhere they seemed to find it more exciting to post and critique.

I have included both sets of guidelines.


EXAMPLE 1:   Peer review of social issue essay topic choices                                                                                                       


Create a profile, join the group, post your work and comment on the work of others.

Part A - Using the website, join the group ISSS ###.  On the website, post your topic choice, type of paper and justification of topic by August 29th. Follow the instructions given in class for content, and the format set out in the example below for submission. Provide at least one reliable source that supports your justification of topic with both an in-text and a full bibliographic reference.

Part B - Read through the postings of your peers and comment on at least two of your peers’ postings. The content of your comments should be constructive.  Explain why your peers’ work does / does not follow the guidelines set out for a social issue. Discuss, is it too easy / too difficult to research? Is it too broad / too narrow a subject? Is it supported by a reliable source? Is it easy to understand, or unclear? In each comment give suggestions for improvement.


Newsactivist sample work for Part A

Topic:  The social issue I have chosen to look at is the gentrification of St. Henri. This neighbourhood in Montreal has been home to lower income communities for quite some time, but recently some residents of the area have been forced to move away because of increasing rents, food and amenity costs.

Type of paper: The type of paper I will write on this issue is comparative.  It will look at the negative outcomes of gentrification, such as the increases in expenses for members of the community and balance those against the benefits that gentrification may bring in increased business to the area and in increased tax income for the municipality. Finally, this paper will question how the negative effects of gentrification can be minimized. 

Justification:  The gentrification of St. Henri is a social issue because it shows a gap between the social ideal (everyone should have access to affordable housing) and the social reality (people are being forced to move from their homes).  It affects a significant part of the population (Twigge-Molecey, 39); but its negative effects can be minimized through application of government policies that protect the residents of the area (Bryant and McGee, 50).



Twigge-Molecey, Amy. (2009) Is gentrification taking place in the neighbourhoods surrounding the

     MUHC? Institut national de la recherche scientifique (INRS), Urbanisation Culture Société


Bryant, D. and Henry W. McGee., Gentrification and the Law: Combatting Urban  Displacement, 25

     Wash. U. J. Urb. & Contemp. L. 43 (1983)



EXAMPLE 2:  Geography / Planetary Challenge      


This assignment requires you to find 3 news articles that discuss an environmental issue, then to summarize and comment on those articles on the NewsActivist website  You are also required to comment 6 times throughout the semester on the summaries of your peers and on the work of students from two classes at ..........................   college that our class will be partnering with this semester.

Guidelines for article summaries (3)

You must post one summary per section. Summaries should identify the purpose of the article, the causes of the issue, the main points used to support the author’s ideas and point out what makes the issue chosen a problem / identify consequences of the issue.  It should also identify the article’s sources, any major findings / conclusions or call to action included in the text.  When summarizing the content of the text always make reference to the authors / text as the source of that content.

Include a section of analysis / opinion directly following your summary of the article. For example, you may explain your opinion on the role of the various stakeholders (gov’t, communities, individuals), discuss roadblocks to solving this issue, solutions that seem possible or ask questions that seem pertinent.  

Make sure the title of the summary reflects the article’s content and that a link to its online source is included at the end of the text. 

Guidelines for responses (6)  Your responses may be short or long, but they must always be polite and relevant.  

Your response to any of the summaries written should be both constructive and informative.  Start by explaining why you are choosing to comment on that particular summary; what is interesting about that subject to you?   Following, give information, theory or examples that support or contradict the assertions made in the summary you are commenting on.  Always make sure your comments are polite, relevant to the area of the world considered and to the problem discussed.  Explain your point of view as clearly as possible.  Any information from outside sources must be referenced in APA style both in-text and in a bibliography at the end of the response. 

Comments must be submitted by the Friday of the week following the original posting, according to the schedule on the following page.  You must submit at least two comments / assignment section (sections are indicated on following page).

The guidelines for the summaries for the class we are partnering with may differ from your own, but the guidelines for your responses will be the same when responding to your classmates or to the students from our partner class(es).


Summaries must be submitted to the NewsActivist website by the due date indicated on the back of this sheet.  Responses / comments to a summary must be completed one week after the summary posting.  All summaries and responses must be copied, pasted and neatly organized into a word file that is to be submitted to by November 25th.

Your class on NewsActivist is Planetary Challenge###.   Create a profile and add yourself to the class this week.  When you post a summary / response indicate that everyone should be able to see your posts.


For your summaries you may choose a news article on:

Section                       Topic Choices                                             Summary Due Date             Responses Due

1                                  Population and resources                            September 13th                     September 20th

1                                  Energy sources                                            September 13th                     September 20th

2                                  Ecosystem change                                       October 18th                          October 25th

2                                  Climate Change                                            October 18th                          October 25th

3                                  Oceans and Fisheries                                   November 1st                        November 8th

3                                  Agriculture                                                     November 1st                        November 8th


Your class login information for turnitin is:

Class ID : ###

Password :  ###