Category: APA and Writing

3 New Google Drive Features Teachers Should Know About

I know some of you are using Google documents for collaboration purposes with your students and I thought you would find this article from Educational Technology Interesting.  I particularly like the first feature which allows for easy inclusion of citations in the documents.

Check out the article: 3 New Google Drive Features Teachers Should Know About

Strategy for Using Peer Reviews to Improve Student Papers

By Kim Priesmeyer
Full Time Faculty, Belhaven Houston

As an instructor who assigns a lot of writing, I’m always looking for ways to engage students in peer review.  However, just telling students to “peer review each other’s papers” can be unproductive, or even worse, dull.  Typically, students don’t know what to do with those papers, and comments can be uninspiring.

One way to bring energy and effectiveness to the process is something called Round Robin Peer Review (also available on the Faculty Resources tab under “Other Resources).  It’s pretty easy for any instructor to use, and it can be modified for any assignment depending on the requirements.  It keeps students and papers moving, and it gives peer reviewers a specific focus.  Here are the basics:

  1. Pass out the peer review form and have each student write his name at the top where it says “writer’s name.”
  1. Tell students to pass their paper and their form to the right. They should now be holding someone else’s paper and form.
  1. Inform students that they will be given 10 mins. to critique just the first category on the peer review form. Set a timer.
  1. When the timer goes off, students will pass the paper and form to the right. The next peer reviewer will critique only the second category for 10 mins.  And so on…

Ways to modify for your course:

  • Change the categories to peer review
  • Set different time limits for each session
  • Provide critique expectations (for example, I might require a three-sentence critique minimum)

Ways to coach students before the process begins:

  • Model the process with a couple of volunteers
  • Provide examples of “critique” comments that are specific and useful
  • Tell students it’s OK for the peer reviewer and writer to communicate during the process
  • Prepare students for constructive criticism: it’s not about complimenting each other; it’s about improved writing
  • Tell students they’re not required to make suggested changes, but they must at least consider them
  • Give students permission to write on each other’s papers; peer review isn’t always neat and tidy

Give it a try and let me know your thoughts.  You can email me at

APA & Writing Across the Curriculum

by Everett Wade, Ph.D

To ensure the academic integrity of student papers, it is imperative that instructors require proper citation of sources and correct formatting. Despite its value, APA formatting can be a challenge for students to learn, and similarly difficult for instructors to teach.  (This blog is a follow-up to a webinar led by Dr. Wade on this subject.  The webinar can be viewed at this LINK.)

In teaching APA, it is important to spend time in class walking students through formatting process in a hands-on manner. APA formatting is complicated, and students often feel intimidated by the expectation that they learn such a comprehensive method of formatting. It is therefore imperative that teachers stress the basics of APA without bogging students down in its intricacies. My webinar provided instructors with a concise PowerPoint presentation for reviewing the essential elements of APA formatting. In this same vein, I presented an in-class citation exercise that walks students through the process of developing their APA references page.

Although formatting  contributes to a relatively small portion of students’ grades on an individual paper, grading for correct use of APA can be time-consuming for instructors. In my webinar I provided two checklists to aid instructors in their grading process. The first gives a rubric for grading APA, while the second provides instructions on how to grade for grammar. These checklists not only help instructors to streamline their grading process, but also can be a great resource for students as well. These tools will aid in ensuring that student essays in all of Belhaven’s courses are written well and properly sourced.

This links for the documents mentioned above are available on the webinar site (see link above).  Also if you would like to know more or have other questions, please email me at

Plagiarism: Preparing Your Students to Avoid It.

by Kim Priesmeyer

We’re all writing teachers, even if you teach business, history, or psychology, because we all assign papers in our classes.  Therefore, we will all be called to help students identify and use sources well in their writing.  The challenge is that many of our students are unprepared for this task, and they need our guidance.

First, provide as many guidelines as possible for their papers that require sources.  Take class time to teach students how to write an outline of their ideas, how to search for sources using the Belhaven databases, and how to use turnitin through Canvas as a “test drive” for their writing.  My webinar discussed how to implement structure into the research process so you’re setting up students for success.

Also, share important “tips of the trade” with students using the handout I’ve designed.  Many of our students don’t know how to select material to cite or how to integrate source material into their writing.  These are universal skills that students will need in every college course they take, so practicing this in class is time well spent.  Most of our students want to become better writers and want to use sources accurately and effectively, so taking a few extra steps can help students achieve success.

You can find the webinar Kim presented on this topic here: Plagiarism: Helping Your Students Avoid It.

Kim Priesmeyer, M.A.
Associate Professor of English
Belhaven University, Houston Campus