One of your best writing resources is your peers. Fellow students have great insights because they can relate to the specific writing challenges you are facing. In addition, giving good constructive feedback to your peers can be just as helpful as receiving it; we really learn a skill when we have to explain it to someone else. Below you will find several strategies for peer feedback.
Tell the writer what you liked about their paper. Keep the positive feedback specific ("This is an interesting topic and I can tell that you are passionate about it" rather than something vague like "The paper is good" or "The paper is well-written"). Point to specific pages or paragraphs that are working well. Try to reemphasize the positive attributes of the paper at the end of a peer review so the writer feels encouraged.
Tell the writer any questions you have about the ideas presented in the paper. Point to specific areas that may have been hard to follow. If you are the writer, feel free to ask the reader how they felt regarding certain areas of the paper.
Hear More About
After reading the entire paper, tell your writer what you would like to hear more about. This is an indirect way to show the writer how to focus the paper in the next draft.
Tell the writer in your own words what you understand to be the main points and take-aways of the paper.
Reflect on which part(s) of the paper drew your attention. Part of the writer's job is to keep the reader interested and engaged.
Look at a piece together with the writer and determine the main points of each paragraph by writing summaries in the margins of what that paragraph states. This helps with the revision process by showing how the ideas in the paper are organized. If it is too difficult to summarize a paragraph, it is a good sign that the paragraph could use more focus.
Being in the position of reader, narrate your experience of reading the paper. Use "I" statements to show that this is your own interpretation. Example: "I was surprised when the topic changed from study habits to pet ferrets...I couldn't make the connection," as opposed to, "The change of topic from study habits to pet ferrets was confusing."
Playing the Yeasayer
As a reader, you are as gracious as possible when trying to understand the writer's argument, giving the writer the benefit of the doubt and assuming that they have thought through their ideas. Suggest new evidence that the writer could use to strengthen their argument.
Playing the Naysayer
Try to anticipate possible objections to the writer's arguments, playing the naysayer who is prone to disagreement. A persuasive paper is stronger when the writer addresses potential counter-arguments, showing the writer has considered other viewpoints.