Reclaiming Peer Review: Tools and Strategies for Effective Peer-Centered Learning

Concurrent Session 8

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

Ready to reclaim, reinvigorate, and renew your and your students’ interest in peer review? This presentation outlines a three-step process that leads to successful peer assessment: (1) redefining and preparing students for peer review, (2) supporting and deploying peer review, and (3) developing and implementing varied modalities of peer review. 

Presenters

Sarah Bleakney PhD is an Instructional Designer for the Teaching & Learning Center at the University of Florida’s Warrington College of Business. She provides instructional design support to graduate and undergraduate faculty for online and blended courses. Her current research focuses on supporting active and engaged learning in blended and online learning environments.

Extended Abstract

As teachers, instructional designers, program coordinators, or administrators, we all too frequently hear: “ugh, peer review” (we may even share that sentiment!). Ready to reclaim, reinvigorate, and renew your and your students’ interest in peer review? This presentation outlines a three-step process that leads to successful peer assessment: (1) redefining and preparing students for peer review, (2) supporting and deploying peer review, and (3) developing and implementing varied modalities of peer review.

In a recent study by Tenorio, et al., the primary issue with peer review was identified as the “motivational aspect of the students involved, due to low motivation and dissatisfaction.” We can all easily relate to these results from our own experiences in the classroom. Students consistently groan and gripe about peer review, and if asked to peer review via the usual methods, perhaps they are justified in doing so. Students are rarely given sufficient preparation, support, technological assistance, or creative opportunities for peer review.

Additionally, according to Sun, et al., in their 2015 article, “Peer Assessment Enhances Student Learning: The Results of a Matched Randomized Crossover Experiment in a College Statistics Class,” “Feedback is one of the single most important factors influencing student learning.” Sun, et al., go on to explain how peer review is valuable because “it reduces the burden to the instructors [to provide feedback] with minimal sacrifice to quality.” Another valuable consequence of peer review is that “students also learn in the process of providing feedback.” Thus, what we generally agree upon: students hate peer review but the process of peer review actually helps them learn (and helps instructors, too). However, the process must be redefined. Through our experiences with teaching, instructional design, and coaching, we were compelled to seek new methods, tools, and strategies for peer review.

Step 1: Redefine and Prepare

Preparing students for how and why they should complete peer review, while also enabling them to be excited and engaged about the process, is vital to the success of any peer review assignment. As this presentation will show, the first step to success is redefinition. We recommend starting by persuading students of both the value of peer review and of the value of their peer review. If students can see what effective peer review looks like, understand why it is useful, and believe they can be expert peer reviewers, they will start the peer review process as empowered and confident revisers. This redefinition of peer review begins as a conversation with students that explores their frustrations with peer review. The redefinition process also includes highlighting peer-reviewed drafts from previous semesters that include a variety of effective and valuable feedback. This dialogue enables the instructor and students to redefine peer review, supporting student buy-in and setting a foundation for successful deployment.

Redefinition also includes successfully preparing students for peer review. This presentation will show that however instructors decide to deploy peer review, they must show students exactly how they need to complete that peer review. Using a hands-on approach, whether online or in-person, students need clear and specific guidelines about what successful peer review looks like, including the minimum number of comments should they make, as well as the type of comments (the more specifics the better!). Clear expectations and detailed guidelines create prepared and engaged students. This presentation will show step-by-step instructions that model successful peer review, which can be applied to any course, any subject, and via any LMS.    

Step 2: Deploy and Support

Once students have a redefined idea of what peer review can and should be, and once they are adequately prepared to engage, peer review becomes a much easier teaching strategy to deploy. As this presentation will outline, peer review is most successfully deployed when it includes a practice session. We also recommend having students complete their first peer review session in-class or via a synchronous online guided session. This approach enables students to feel confident and prepared when completing subsequent peer reviews. Successful deployment also requires a certain level of commitment from students, so we recommend that peer review counts towards students’ final grades. We find participation points for successful completion are best, as students are not worried that other students are “grading” them.

Once deployed, peer review is most successful when students are supported. Creating student groups, encouraging peer-to-peer conversations as part of peer review, and providing multiple online resources enable students to feel fully supported and prepared to succeed during the peer review process. Effective peer review also requires a clear and well-defined rubric, preferably the exact same one the instructor will use to grade the assignment. The rubric helps guide student feedback and enables students to develop a deeper familiarity with the requirements of the assignment. Support also requires active engagement by the instructor. Spot-checking the quality of peer review, showing students exemplary samples of their own comments, and completing a peer review debrief are crucial to the success of the review assignment. This presentation will outline methods instructors can use to provide accountability, guidance, and an ongoing conversation about peer review throughout the course.

Step 3: Develop and Implement Varied Modalities

Peer review can easily be boring. To combat this common student frustration, we recommend changing peer review tactics every two to three assignments. This presentation will showcase peer review through the following methods:

  • Online (one-on-one and group via LMS, one-on-one via Dropbox; using discussion boards to post assignments)
  • On-paper (including new methods like “peer review speed dating”)
  • Using external tools (GoReact and TeamMate)
  • Interactively in the classroom (whiteboards and Flickr)

Incorporating varied and innovative methods of peer review keeps students stimulated and engaged throughout the semester.

Learning Objectives

The goal of this presentation is to prepare instructors and instructional designers to support effective peer-centered learning experiences. Participants will:

  • Learn how to apply more effective definitions of peer review to their own teaching strategies
  • Acquire several new techniques for peer review to try in the classroom or online
  • Generate new support and preparation ideas to make peer review more successful
  • Engage in conversations about peer review that reflect student experiences

To achieve these outcomes, presenters will include polls to gauge audience needs, interests, and concerns regarding peer review, as well as real-life examples drawn from a variety of courses to prompt brainstorming and small-group discussion. Overall, this presentation seeks to enable instructors to reclaim peer review and equip participants with necessary hands-on tools and strategies to create successful peer review experiences in the classroom, whether in face-to-face, online, or blended learning environments.

Citations

Sun, Dennis L., Naftali Harris, Guenther Walther, and Michael Baiocchi. "Peer Assessment Enhances Student Learning: The Results of a Matched Randomized Crossover Experiment in a College Statistics Class: E0143177." PLoS One 10.12 (2015): n. pag. Web. 19 May 2017.

Tenorio, T., I.I. Bittencourt, S. Isotani, and A.P. Silva. "Does Peer Assessment in On-line Learning Environments Work? A Systematic Review of the Literature." Computers in Human Behavior 64 (2016): 94-107. Web. 19 May 2017.