Doing peer review and receiving feedback: impact on scientific literacy and writing skills

Adv Physiol Educ. 2016 Mar;40(1):38-46. doi: 10.1152/advan.00071.2015.


Doing peer review has been effectively implemented to help students develop critical reading and writing skills; however, its application in Human Physiology programs is limited. The purpose of the present study was to determine the impact of peer review on Human Physiology majors' perceptions of their scientific literacy and writing skills. Students enrolled in the Scientific Writing course completed multiple writing assignments, including three revisions after receiving peer and instructor feedback. Students self-assessed their knowledge, skills, and attitudes related to science and writing in pre- and postcourse surveys (n = 26 with complete data). Seven survey items related to scientific literacy and writing skills impacted by peer review were selected for analysis. Scores on these survey items were summed to form a composite self-rating score. Responses to two questions regarding the most useful learning activities were submitted to frequency analysis. Mean postcourse scores for individual survey items and composite self-rating scores were significantly higher than precourse means (P < 0.05). Peer review was the most frequently noted among 21 learning activities for increasing scientific literacy and in the top 5 for improving writing skills. In conclusion, peer review is an effective teaching/learning approach for improving undergraduate Human Physiology majors' knowledge, skills, and attitudes regarding science and scientific writing.

Keywords: human physiology; peer review; science literacy; scientific writing; student perceptions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Educational Measurement / methods*
  • Feedback, Psychological*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Literacy*
  • Male
  • Peer Review / methods*
  • Physiology / education*
  • Students
  • Writing*
  • Young Adult