Quotation

To teach is to learn
twice

Joseph Joubert (1842)
French moralist and essayist

As discussed in the first unit of this course, the term 'teaching' rather than 'teacher presence' implies that everyone in an online learning community is responsible for providing input on the design, facilitation, and direction of the teaching process.

Peer assessment activities provide students with the opportunity to teach and learn from each other, encouraging a deeper level of learning. A practical advantage of peer assessment for teachers is that encouraging students to take some responsibility for assessment can help to reduce teacher workload, particularly if you are teaching a large online class!

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As with self assessment practices, students often have limited previous experience with this assessment approach and therefore they should be provided with guidance and practice in a safe and trusting environment. It is also important to note that students are usually more receptive to peer formative assessment (i.e. comments and advice) rather than just peer summative assessment (i.e. grades without comments).

The following activity will encourage you to think about different approaches to peer assessment in an online course and which digital technologies or applications might be used to carry out each approach. Consider each question and make a note of your thoughts, clicking the 'View feedback' button to see our suggestions. Use the 'Next' button to move to the next question.
The next exercise will encourage you to think about different approaches to peer assessment in an online course and which digital technologies or applications might be used to carry out each approach. Consider each question and make a note of your thoughts, then continue on to reflect on our suggestions.

Useful links

The following references give more detailed information on the...

Did you know?

The Calibrated Peer Review (CPR) tool provides an opportunity to teach...

PROGRAMME | Teaching Online
COURSE | Being a successful online teacher
UNIT | 5 : Using assessment in online teaching
PAGE TITLE | Peer assessment

Question 1 of 5:

How might team-based learning projects be used to enable peer assessment? What digital technologies could be used to carry out this approach?

Our thoughts:

Group projects can provide opportunities for peer assessment of the individual team members. For example, the ADDIE model is commonly used to guide the process for team-based projects. This model consists of five phases (analysis, design, development, implementation, and evaluation) and leadership for each phase can be assigned to one group member. At the end of each phase, the student leader is required to complete a report that can then be peer assessed by the other team members.

The group area in a learning management system (LMS)/virtual learning environment (VLE) can be used to facilitate this peer assessment process. These group areas usually consist of asynchronous (e.g. email and discussion board) and synchronous (e.g. chat) communication tools along with a file exchange function that can be used for peer assessment.


Question 2 of 5:

How might a collaborative writing project be used to enable peer assessment? What digital technologies could be used to carry out this approach?

Our thoughts:

Students are often required to complete a collaborative writing project in an online course. For these types of projects, students can be assigned to complete and peer assess various components of the written work. For example, one student could be responsible for the research component (i.e. annotated bibliography), another for sketching out the writing framework, and another for the introduction and conclusion. Then each of these students would be required to provide peer review feedback on each other's work.

An ideal tool for facilitating this peer review feedback process is a wiki. A wiki is a collection of web pages that can be edited by anyone, at any time, from anywhere (Leuf & Cunningham, 2001). Wiki tools such as Wikispaces or PBworks can be used to co-create and critique online discussion summaries. The history files of a wiki summary clearly demonstrate the contribution and critique that was made by each member of the group.


Question 3 of 5:

How might e-portfolios be used to enable peer assessment? What digital technologies or applications could be used to carry out this approach?

Our thoughts:

Online students are often required to create and maintain an e-portfolio. The purpose of this portfolio is for students to showcase and reflect on their course assignments. Students can be required to peer assess these assignments and reflections before they are submitted to the teacher for summative assessment.

There are a variety of digital applications that can be used for e-portfolios and peer assessment. For example, some LMS/VLEs (e.g. Desire2Learn) have their own internal portfolio system while some teachers and students prefer to use stand-alone systems such as Google Sites or WordPress.


Question 4 of 5:

How might writing assignments be used to enable peer assessment? What digital technologies or applications could be used to carry out this approach?

Our thoughts:

Individual writing assignments are very common in online courses. For these assignments, students can be assigned a peer reviewer who provides ongoing feedback about the written work.

Google Docs is an ideal digital application for this peer review process as it easily allows students to share and comment on each other's work.


Question 5 of 5:

How might journal postings be used to enable peer assessment? What digital technologies or applications could be used to carry out this approach?

Our thoughts:

As previously discussed in the section on 'Self assessment', students can be required to maintain a journal in an online course. Students can be assigned a peer who is responsible for providing regular feedback and critique of the journal postings.

Google's Blogger or WordPress are probably the two most common blogging applications to facilitate this peer review process of journal postings.

Potential challenges involved in peer assessment

While digital technologies can provide online students with increased flexibility and communication opportunities to complete peer assessment activities, there are several challenges:

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  1. Students often lack previous experience with peer assessment. It is strongly recommended that online teachers provide students with an orientation and guidance on how to provide meaningful peer feedback.
  2. Peer assessment is often limited to written comments and online teachers should encourage students to also provide audio and video feedback to their peers (although note that this will compromise anonymity).
  3. There may be institutional implications and restrictions regarding students' ability to provide peer assessment feedback (especially related to formal marking/grading) in an online course. Be sure to consult with those responsible for online courses at your home institution.

Quotation

To teach is to learn twice

Joseph Joubert (1842)
French moralist and essayist

How will you apply this idea to your own practice?

Useful links

Did you know?

The Calibrated Peer Review (CPR) tool provides an opportunity to teach students to use the higher-order thinking skills required in writing and reviewing processes. In a CPR assignment, students not only learn their discipline by writing, they also learn and practise critical thinking by assessing their peers' writing.

Students follow three stages:

  • Students first write and submit a digital essay on a topic and in a format specified by the teacher.
  • Training in assessment comes next. Students assess three 'calibration' submissions against a detailed set of questions that address the criteria on which the assignment is based. Students individually assess each of these calibration submissions according to the questions specified by the rubric and then assign a holistic rating out of 10. Feedback at this stage is vital. If the assessments are poorly done and don't yet meet the teacher's expectations, the students get a second try. The quality of the assessments is taken into account in the next step, which involves assessment of real submissions from other students.
  • Once the deadline for calibration assessments is passed, each student is given anonymous submissions by three other students. They use the same rubric to assess their peers' work, this time providing comments to justify their assessment and rating.