How Reader Response Groups Work

Preliminary Reading:  Main Respondent

Each person in the group serves as a “main respondent” for one other member of the group (i.e. the person on your left is probably your main respondent).  The main respondent carefully reads a paper and makes comments in writing.  Approximate time:  15 min. total (for all papers in the group)


  1. Main Respondent makes specific remarks about particular aspects of the paper in the margin as they read.
  2. Main Respondent makes general, overall, remarks about the paper in a commentary at the end of the paper.

Writer Reads Paper Aloud.  This is an important step.  It allows the writer to hear their own paper and their own mistakes, and it allows the group to focus on the paper together. Approximate Time:  5 min.

Writer Makes a Statement. Quickly let your response group know what your intentions were in writing the paper, some of the things you like about it, and some of the things you feel uncomfortable about.  Approximate Time: 1 min.

Main Respondent Gives Commentary. The main respondent reads their comments aloud to the group. Approximate Time:  3 min.

Writer invites Response.  Ask for response from each group member.  Take notes.  WRITER MUST NOT COMMENT UPON THEIR SUGGESTIONS. When the respondent is finished, say “thank you,” and move on to the next person.  Writer may only talk during this phase if a respondent asks a question.  Approximate time: 1 min.

Group Responds to Paper.  Make both specific and general comments.  Do not be afraid to agree or disagree with what the main respondent said.  Be prepared to suggest solutions to the problems encountered in the paper.  Approximate time: 5 min.

Thank your Respondents, Make a Final Comment. If the group as not responded thoroughly, this is the time to ask them specific questions.

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