Improving the understanding of written peer feedback through face-to-face peer dialogue: students' perspective

Marlies Schillings*, Herma Roebertsen, Hans Savelberg, Anne van Dijk, Diana Dolmans

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

14 Citations (Web of Science)


Feedback plays a vital role in the process of mastering writing in many academic disciplines. Although peer feedback has been proven helpful to develop students' academic writing competency, the role of additional face-to-face peer dialogue in this context remains indistinct. Face-to-face peer dialogue on written peer feedback is expected to improve students' understanding; however, it is unclear under which conditions it might do so. The purpose of this exploratory study is to explore students' beliefs about peer feedback and to investigate both the instructiveness of face-to-face peer dialogue and the conditions for achieving improved understanding. Second-year university students (N = 84) participated in a mixed-method study that included questionnaires and focus groups. The intervention comprised face-to-face dialogue in small groups about the participants' written peer feedback on a draft report. Quantitative data showed students perceived peer feedback as meaningful, useful and a very important skill to possess. They felt confident about feedback quality, both provided and received. Overall, students perceived written feedback and face-to-face dialogue to be instructive, although no significant difference between the two forms was established. Qualitative findings revealed that face-to-face dialogue stimulates peers to elaborate on their written feedback, helps them deliver constructive comments and feel responsible for the feedback process. Important conditions appeared to be the quality of the written feedback, the non-anonymous character of the dialogue, and the opportunity to revise the report. It can be concluded that face-to-face peer dialogue is a useful variation within peer feedback, which enhances further elaboration and students' engagement with feedback. This study provides insight in important conditions to design and implement face-to-face dialogue peer interventions in higher education in the context of academic writing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1100-1116
Number of pages17
JournalHigher Education Research & Development
Issue number5
Early online date1 Aug 2020
Publication statusPublished - 29 Jul 2021


  • Dialogue
  • academic writing
  • higher education
  • peer feedback

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