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Constructive criticism of a colleague’s Mauss research

Designed by Ryan Schram and Holly High

Due: November 6 at 5:00 PM
Weight: 10%
Length: 500 words


The purpose of this assignment is for each student to give and receive feedback and commentary on their work by another student. You only really understand something when you can explain it to someone else in your own words, and they can understand what you understand (by summarizing your ideas in their own words). For this assignment, you will be given another student’s comment on a work influenced by Mauss. You should then read it carefully and report back to the author what you have learned from their work.


These are provisional instructions for this assignment, and may change later. Setting up this kind of assignment will require customizing the Canvas site, so the specific procedure for this assignment might have to change. (We will send a notification of the change on Canvas.)

When you receive the work from another student, read it carefully and (if you like) make notes on it in a separate document.

When you have a complete picture of what the author wants to say about the scholarly publication they found, set their assignment aside, open a new document for your comments, and set up the first page as you would for a typical essay (e.g. with your SID, the date, and a title, etc.)

Write “mirroring feedback” to the author, as if you were writing them an email. Mirroring feedback is not an evaluation or a critique of someone’s work. You simply report to the author what you got from their writing, what you think their main idea is, and what reasons they have given for their idea. In this assignment, your mirror to the author should include:

  • The title of the publication they describe and its author.
  • What you understand to be the most important information about this publication based on what the (student) author describing it for you has said.
  • What you understand to be the (student) author’s main idea about this publication.
  • What you understand to be the main reasons for why the (student) author thinks this way.

If you can’t completely mirror what the student author has said on each of these points, simply say so (e.g. “It wasn’t clear who wrote the journal article you found.”) Don’t criticize or demean the work. If you thoroughly describe what they say in your own words, then they will be able to judge whether or not they were able to express themselves effectively.

Then offer some of your own questions for the author, or some constructive feedback on how they could develop their thinking.

Grading criteria

In general, the research exercise and this assignment are meant to be practice, so you will not be graded on what you say about what you read, or how original your insights are, or how well developed your writing is. You should still do a good, thorough job and give your fellow student meaningful feedback.

There are some things that you should not do, and if you do, you will lose points:

  • Don’t quote from, copy, or paraphrase word-for-word what the student author says. Read what they have written, reflect on it, set it aside, and then work from memory or from your notes.
  • Don’t argue with them. Your job is to (1) give mirroring feedback, and (2) offer constructive criticism.
  • Don’t evaluate their work, either positively or negatively.

Formatting and software requirements

For a description of the required appearance and file format of your essay, see the page Formatting and software requirements for assignments.

1002/2020/peer-criticism.txt · Last modified: 2020/08/18 22:01 by Ryan Schram (admin)