Art Carden: Designing the Perfect Rubric for Effective Learning

Prof. Art Carden uses Kritik in his Macroeconomics course with 100+ students. His biggest takeaway from using Kritik has enhanced peer learning and decentralized dissemination of core concepts.

In this story, we will see how Prof. Carden designed his rubrics to guide students to gain from anonymous peer review opportunities on Kritik.

Impact of Peer Assessment on Learning and Student Engagement

Prof. Carden finds that feedback-based peer assessment throughout the semester helps him create an ongoing conversation centering around the key concepts in his course. It also keeps students engaged in learning and facilitates long-term retention.

The anonymous 360-degree peer feedback system on Kritik enables multiple levels of student engagement. Students grow not only as subject experts but also as evaluators, thus promoting beyond-the-exam learning.

Having used Kritik for several years now, Prof. Carden lists the benefits of using peer assessment in his classes:

1. Timely and Personalized Feedback

Prof. Carden observes that it can be challenging for an instructor with large classes like his to provide timely and personalized feedback. With Kritik, he can set the due dates for the submissions, peer evaluations, and feedback on the peer evaluations. Students receive email reminders before each stage so they are less likely to miss their deadlines. Peer evaluations ensure that each student gets multiple pieces of feedback from their classmates throughout the semester.

2. Mentoring

Since Kritik saves instructors’ grading time, it enables them to have broader conversations with their students. Instructors have more time to mentor students when they are not overburdened with grading assignments.

3. Skill Development

Peer assessment through Kritik is an intensely collaborative activity for students. They develop critical thinking and soft skills since they work closely together on concepts or problems.

4. Inclusive and Bias-free Learning

The anonymity feature on Kritik promotes honest and bias-free feedback. Students find it easier to give qualitatively superior feedback when they can remain anonymous. Kritik also allows students to raise disputes with the instructor, who acts as the ultimate arbiter in such cases. This gives Prof. Carden control and visibility over the peer feedback process.

Here is a peek into the success rate for Prof. Carden’s class:

student participation in peer assessment activities in Professor Carden’s class

Guiding Students with Rubrics to Ensure Accurate Peer Feedback

Since students may not be used to doing peer evaluations, Prof. Carden had to address some common concerns that students raised while explaining the essentials of peer assessment through Kritik.

1. How do I know how to grade the assignments of my peers accurately?

2. What should I look for in my peer’s assignment when submitting an evaluation?

Prof. Carden acknowledged the validity of these concerns and addressed them by designing detailed rubrics for each of his assignments using Kritik.

Watch the full recording and the deck from Prof. Carden’s workshop

Activity 1: Essay

Prof. Carden’s students were given three essays throughout the semester that allowed them to utilize the concepts they had learned throughout the semester. Here is a look at the rubric used for peer assessment of this activity:

Professor Carden's essay rubric

Prof. Carden’s assessment rubric focuses on the essay's clarity, completeness, and conciseness. Even a cursory look at the rubric will let the viewer know exactly what the components of a good essay would be. Prof. Carden follows this pattern for each of the rubrics he designs.

Peer Evaluations

Prof. Carden finds that having a well-designed rubric ensures effective and helpful peer feedback. Students follow the rubric and know exactly what areas to focus on while evaluating their peer's assignments. This leads to helpful feedback like the one given in the example below.

Peer evaluation example on Kritik

Once students receive 4 evaluations from their peers, they can then respond to the evaluations they received with feedback.

Students feedback on peer evaluations on Kritik

This particular feedback is not a response to the previous evaluation but to a different evaluation. This layered system of peer feedback enabled by Kritik makes students accept and respect peer assessment.

Another feature of Kritik that Prof. Carden finds especially useful is the calibration feature that helps set the right foundation for students to do peer evaluations while ensuring grading accuracy. Kritik assigns a Grading Power (1-6 stars) to students for their peer assessments that directly impacts their peers’ grades.

Prof. Carden runs the Calibration activity at the beginning of the course by asking students to evaluate a few assignments of varying quality from the previous semester based on a well-defined rubric. Keeping the instructor’s evaluation as the gold standard, all student evaluations are compared against this example through Kritik’s AI, which forms their grading power. As students do more peer reviews and level up their grading power, the weightage of their evaluations increases.

“One of the most important things Kritik facilitates through multiple peer evaluations of a particular assignment is to substantially reduce the effect of randomness on students’ grades. While it is only human for one evaluator to misjudge an assignment out of, say, 100 assignments that they have to grade, the rubrics-based multiple peer evaluation system offered by Kritik ensures that students are getting a score they have earned and that accurately reflects what they know.”

Activity 2: Evaluating an Argument

One of Prof. Carden's favourite activities that he assigns to his students is to summarize and evaluate the argument of an existing essay in light of the concepts already discussed in class.

Prof. Carden insists that each kind of activity requires a customized set of rubrics, and the rubric he designed for this assignment is:

Economics essay rubric by Art Carden

Again, the rubric details what the instructor seeks in a well-structured essay. Breaking down the rubric into 6 criteria, enables students to gain a holistic idea of the demands of the assignment and render effective peer evaluations.

Model your Rubrics to Create Effective Peer Learning Opportunities with Kritik! 

Prof. Carden was able to test and implement several versions of the rubric from the vast repository of rubric designs that instructors can easily edit to suit the demands of their courses and assignments. Since he ran all his assignments within Kritik, students got multiple opportunities to engage with them and do better peer evaluations.

You may access the full recording of the workshop from here.

Art Carden
Art Carden
Samford University
Professor of Economics

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