WHAT IS WORKSHOPPING?
A workshop is a meeting at which a group of people engage in intensive discussion and activity on a particular subject or project. When workshopping writing, students share their writing with each other with the goal of providing specific and constructive feedback to guide the writers in creating more unified, complex, and polished revisions of their essays.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?
Workshopping helps you to…
- learn to formulate constructive feedback for a peer.
- learn to gather and respond to feedback on your own work.
- gain outside perspectives you may not have thought of or considered.
- improve your skills of reading carefully with attention to detail.
- utilize the benefits of hands on learning.
- transition from writing for yourself and the instructor to a broader audience and academic community.
HOW DO I DO IT?
Before you begin, consider how best to effectively work with your peers.
Good Practices in Workshopping…
- Read the essay out loud. Crafting sentences and paragraphs is also about rhythm and flow. When you hear writing, you can better detect what is logical and flows well and what does not.
- When you get advice, there is no need to “argue” your point or get defensive because there is
- no need to feel pressured. You are the author so ultimately if you do not agree with someone’s point, you do not need to incorporate that change. Oftentimes, when you are receiving feedback in person, it’s best to quietly take notes and occasionally ask questions for clarification.
- When giving advice, remember that it is difficult hearing criticism from others so be tactful and never insulting. Instead of responding for instance, “That part was completely confusing,” try a more tactful approach: “I was a little lost in paragraph 3; perhaps you could expand on your example to make it clearer.”
- When giving advice, also be honest. It actually is not helpful to simply tell someone, “Yeah, it was good; I liked it.” This gives the student no avenues for revision. If you are confused someplace or if an example seems off topic, or if the thesis is weak, be honest and tell them your opinion. Not doing so and letting a student think everything is “fine as is” can be more hurtful than the truth.
- Balance your criticism with praise. Do not forget to tell the author what you liked about the essay as well. Sometimes we get too focused on “fixing” things and forget to tell people what we liked or what they did well. Be sure to do both as you give feedback and you’ll find people are more receptive when you tell them positive comments along with suggestions for improvement.