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Critiquing

Originally published September 2006

Critiquing—An Introduction

    Being a good critique partner is a talent, but can be learned as a skill if worked at hard enough.
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Critiquing Step 1: Becoming a Pot-Bellied Pig

    As I’ve thought about critiquing, I’ve realized that the first thing we each need to learn is how to receive critiques well. Because until we know how to receive critiques, we will never be ready to give critiques.
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Critiquing Step 2: Be a Reader First, Writer Second

    I heard something from several first term students that really started to bother me. “I had to go back and re-read this several times looking for mistakes to mark.” I didn’t make the comment then that was running through my head, but will now take the opportunity to do so: critiquing is not “looking for mistakes.” Yes, mistakes are found during the critiquing process (hopefully!), but that should not be our attitude when we sit down to critique something.
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Critiquing Step 3: Remember the Golden Rule

    People respond to praise much better than criticism—and this doesn’t go away as we get older . . . in fact, I think we respond to it even more strongly as adults because we receive it less often the older we get. (When is the last time you got a “Good job!” for doing the dishes or mowing the lawn?)
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Critiquing Step 4: Putting the Crits to Work

    Before you can decide how you’re going to put the information to use, you need to know if you should put the information to use.
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Critiquing: Why?

    Not only did my writing improve by leaps and bounds as I worked with [my first crit partners], but I learned several important lessons.
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