Technology as Superstructure: Using An Online Process to Absorb Workload and Bridge Gaps in Student Peer Team Reviews

Concurrent Session 3
Streamed Session

Watch This Session

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

Building a bridge between students as they work in teams requires more than structure; it requires superstructure! Technology can simplify the peer review process for students and faculty alike. Join us to experience an online peer review process that can streamline team assessment and promote student accountability.


Matthew Jennings has a Master of Education in Instructional Design and is currently an Instructor and Senior Instructional Design Specialist in the UAB School of Nursing. Before working in his current position with the School of Nursing, he served as the System Administrator for UAB's Learning Management System, working with both faculty and IT. He has conducted numerous faculty training courses in the use of technology to enhance the educational experience.

Additional Authors

I am currently an Assistant Professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Nursing and Specialty Coordinator for the Pediatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner program.  I am a certified Neonatal and Pediatric Nurse practitioner with over 30 years of experience working with children and families in the clinical setting. I have lectured on culture, cultural competence, and pediatric health issues for over 20 years to doctoral, master’s, and undergraduate students in a variety of academic and medical settings. I love presenting in community and non-academic settings on the topics of pediatric health and disparities. Among my other responsibilities, I assist with the coordination of the MCH Pipeline a collaboration between Alabama State University and the University of Alabama in Birmingham to increase the number of African-American students interested in working in maternal and child health careers. I have a faculty practice in a rural health clinic where I precept students and oversee beginning practitioners. My current research project is related to the alternative and complementary therapies used in rural populations for the health and illness of their children. In my spare time, I am an assistant pastor at a local church in Montgomery, Alabama.

Extended Abstract

Learning how to work in teams is an essential skill, yet students often hate team assignments. They might not appreciate the value in learning communication and collaborative skills, and they can be especially resentful if they do not perceive that instructors are assessing their performance fairly. 

Yet assigning grades for team members’ participation can be challenging, especially in online courses. How can faculty use technological tools to facilitate team assignments? How can they navigate team dynamics and hold students accountable for their individual contributions to a team?  How can they allow students to have a voice in assessing their team’s performance? Faced with these issues, faculty may become tempted to eliminate team assignments altogether to avoid the workload associated with managing and evaluating them. 

Teaching students to evaluate their own performance and that of their teammates is critical in modern learning environments. Designing an online peer review process that is consistent across a program can help students build collaborative skills incrementally, while helping faculty assess student participation and compile data to assist teams in functioning cohesively.

This session will focus on part of a peer review process that faculty in a graduate nursing program developed to improve the team assignment experience. The digitized process allows students to complete a Team Participation Review at the end of each course. The Team Participation Review averages group participant rankings, including self-evaluations. Students complete these reviews anonymously online, providing electronic reports for faculty that reduce the need for tedious manual grading processes. 

The new process not only saves time, but it also allows faculty to more effectively target groups needing assistance and ensure that students are learning critical teamwork skills. Faculty claim that the standardized online process reduces inconsistencies between courses, has improved satisfaction among student teams, and has given students a voice in the evaluation process. 

Level of Participation: 

Participants in this session will join an online course as they enter the presentation. After a five to ten-minute introduction and overview of the peer review tool, participants will get to experience the Team Participation Review process firsthand by being assigned to a group and completing the evaluation process. Participants will also have access to the tools and resources utilized within this presentation via joining the online course and completing the peer review.  

Session Goals:

Participants attending this “present and reflect” session will be able to identify barriers to implementing student teamwork.  Participants will be able to discuss several strategies to increase student participation and accountability for team assignments. Finally, participants will be able to implement a peer review strategy to increase student autonomy, engagement, and collaboration using an online team participation evaluation.