Peer Assessment – Reflect and Improve

Been bowling lately? Did you ever find yourself staring up at the pin count and wonder – “Wow I’m doing better than so and so – nice!”, or perhaps it was more like “Yep, right at the bottom as usual.” Did you ever catch yourself watching how those who had higher scores were bowling? Did you ever try and imitate them, or modify your process (even if it was the ‘granny bowl’ method) to see if you could improve your results? In a way the scoreboard lets you see how others are doing and through conversation with them you might just improve your game. Why can’t we do something similar in courses through peer review?

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Scoreboard at a bowling alley.

Peer assessment is a great way to be evaluated – partly because it involves feedback and exchange from those who know you and the work you’re doing.  In much the same way peer assessment or review can be a good way for students to engage with other students and help them up their game and think more critically about content or subject at hand.

When peers review each others’ writing for example, they can easily see and point out mistakes that are tougher for the original author to see or recognize. Review of other student’s content also helps students see how their writing and handling of a topic differs – perhaps it’s better or perhaps it’s worse.  Peer review also involves students cognitive thinking, by asking them to look for concepts and think about them critically, in much the same way academics do with their peers. If this is further aided with specific questions or sets of check lists it can improve student’s products even more. Moore says you should also make sure you spend time with students on the substance of their feedback; explore questions like (Moore, FacultyFocus 2016):

  • How can I leave feedback for someone who is a better writer than me?
  • What if I’m not sure how to answer their questions?
  • What if I don’t know what to say?

But what could be peer reviewed? There’s a whole bunch of things – but the easiest thing that comes to mind is a paper or short piece of writing. Perhaps this is part of a scaffolding task – one done as instructive, not as something that will receive a grade – this goes along with what Gonzalez says in sharing the concept of “feed forward“. We have to remember that part of learning is about not getting it right the first time, learning is iterative and organic. If you want to learn more about leveraging feedback take a look at Hirsch’s book called The Feedback Fix, available on Amazon for under $20.

So how do you do this in a course site? I thought you’d never ask (no really, please ask)! The following video (while long) takes you through the whole process of:

  1. creating an assignment that will be reviewed by peers
  2. having multiple students submit to the assignment
  3. having multiple students review submissions by other students
  4. assessing/grading submissions by all students by the instructor
  5. viewing peer review results and instructor comments by students

You can implement this right your course site. You can follow the video or you can follow these well-laid out directions. And if you were wondering if this is new, it is – as of 2013 or so, so don’t feel bad about starting to use peer review in your course.

If you need more assistance on peer review, just ask this guy.

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