"Commenting on Writing:

Typology and Perceived Helpfulness of Comments from Novice Peer Reviewers and Subject Matter Experts



Kwangsu Cho, Chris Schunn, & Davida Charney

Written Communication

23.3 (2006) 260-294.


How do comments on student writing from peers compare to those from subject-matter experts? This study examined the types of comments that reviewers produce as well as their perceived helpfulness. Comments on classmates’ papers were collected from two undergraduate and one graduate-level psychology course. The undergraduate papers in one of the courses were also commented on by an independent psychology instructor experienced in providing feedback to students on similar writing tasks. The comments produced by students at both levels were shorter than the instructor’s. The instructor’s comments were predominantly directive and rarely summative. The undergraduate peers’ comments were more mixed in type; directive and praise comments were the most frequent. Consistently, undergraduate peers found directive and praise comments helpful. The helpfulness of the directive comments was also endorsed by a writing expert.