Using Group Work to Enforce Class Material Through Peer Evaluation

Peter Johnson teaches multiple marketing courses including customer-driven marketing and services marketing. In the Fall of 2021, he started using Kritik in his courses to enhance engagement and collaboration among his students. 

Implementing Kritik

Dr. Johnson talks about how he is constantly finding new ways to make teaching more effective and efficient. While chatting with a fellow professor who found Kritik helpful for the grading challenges in his courses, Dr. Johnson became curious to try using it in his own classes. 

He also found that many students were not willing to give honest and instructive feedback for the sake of pleasing their peers, which he found was not the best way to learn about giving and receiving evaluations. With Kritik, his students were required to give detailed and actionable feedback that determined their grading power. Generic and unhelpful feedback was penalized by getting a lower weightage that contributed to the overall student score. 

“We were talking about the challenges of grading and he mentioned that he was using this platform called Kritik and he found it very helpful. When a recommendation comes from word of mouth, (especially) a colleague that’s pretty strong.”

Activity Type: Short written assignments

Dr. Johnson teaches a Marketing Principles course to sophomore students. In his class of 36 students, he conducted small frequent group assignment as a way to reinforce course concepts and improve their retention. These activities were worth 15% of the final grade, thus creating a great balance in enforcing critical thinking skills through peer assessment.

He intentionally made the grade distribution for the creation and evaluation stage 50% each so that students would be more motivated to not only put out their best creations but to also increase their depth of thinking when producing feedback. Dr. Johnson believed that at the sophomore level, their writing and evaluation skills need to reflect the experience and abilities that they have, which is another reason why he distributed the marks in his Kritik assignment the way that he did.

Dr. Johnson also built a simple rubric that mainly focused on clear and concise writing. This was reinforced by his simple rubrics with specific expectations, to avoid confusion and ambiguity. 

Watch Dr. Johnson take a deep dive into his activities and rubrics.

Key Takeaways

Dr. Johnson’s goal he wanted to achieve with his students, was to have them be honest with their peers about their work instead of giving vague feedback just to avoid ruffling feathers. He was very pleased with the results as he found that students were more honest and willing to give real constructive feedback with Kritik due to the anonymity of the platform and that the activities also enhanced their understanding of course content.

1. Classroom Engagement

Since peer assessment enabled by Kritik took care of a bulk of the grading responsibilities, this facilitated more engagement as students took accountability for their learning. This evolved Dr. Johnson’s role as a mentor and facilitator of ideas while giving him full control and insights into how his students were progressing through their semester.

2. Opportunity to prepare strong rubrics

“One of the benefits of using Kritik is that it forces you as an instructor to sharpen your rubrics”

He found that Kritik pushed him to take the extra time and effort to really make his rubrics as clear as possible and that Kritik had the classroom more engaged with one another, not only student to student but also professor to student. He specified that the students would give him feedback on any ambiguity in his rubrics which created a collaborative learning environment for not only the students but for himself as well. He emphasized the quality of his students’ research, analysis and writting skills through his rubrics, to ensure that his students understand his expectations and plan how they will work together as a group to complete the assignment.

3. Students learned how to give and receive feedback

“Students are very reluctant to criticize each other, everything is fine, everything is good, but everything is not good. The Kritik software is a way to practice that, it encourages them to be thorough and rigorous, and honest since it’s anonymous. This type of thinking approach is very helpful.”

Once Dr. Johnson implemented Kritik, he gradually saw the shift from giving vague and non-actionable feedback to providing constructive feedback. Since evaluations on Kritik are anonymous, students were operating without any biases. Kritik allowed communication to flow more effortlessly between students and they became more honest about what could be improved with each other's work. By the end of the semester, Prof. Johnson found that students gradually became more specific and constructive with their feedback which resulted in better quality submissions.

Schedule a demo with Kritik to see how you can improve student engagement in your courses.

Peter Johnson
Peter Johnson
Fordham University
Professor of Marketing

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