Prevent Teacher Burnout and Grade Effectively

Just like every other industry, faculty in higher education institutions had to adjust to remote teaching almost overnight due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With the added pressure of delivering engaging lectures and revamping assessments that could be worked on remotely, teachers had to ensure that students are having a fulfilling learning experience, as they would in a classroom. Thus, more than 50% faculty members considered leaving teaching due to the burnout caused by the pandemic.

In this article, we will cover the following topics:

  • What is Teacher Burnout?
  • What are the 4 Stages of Teacher Burnout?
  • 5 Ways to Prevent Teacher Burnout

While one may experience burnout at some point in their lives, there are ways to recover from it and come back equipped with the right tools that help with efficiency and productivity.

What is teacher burnout?

Teacher burnout is a condition where regardless of their level of experience or commitment to their profession, the person is no longer able to work or derive pleasure from their job. Downplaying the emotional exhaustion and decreased motivation in teachers leads to burnout.

While burnout could look very different in everyone, it affects the mental, physical, and emotional health that has serious implications to their environment. The crushing workload of delivering lectures, grading effectively and their domestic responsibilities like no childcare and school have found educators go through burnout and also witness lower performances.

While students were coping with the stress of remote education during the pandemic, educators also assumed the role of counselors and edtech experts suppressing their own mental health challenges as they took on these additional responsibilities. Teachers need support not only to avoid burnout but also to maintain their enthusiasm for teaching. 

Teacher burnout is on the rise, and it's costing the schools dearly.

What are the 4 Stages of Teacher burnout?

Experiencing teacher burnout is not just restricted to the individual, unfortunately, but it also impacts students, their peers, and family members. Identifying and uncovering the level of burnout before it's too late is crucial before finding ways to mitigate effects of teacher burnout. 

Stage 1: Irritation and self-withdrawal

Increasing workload and stress can cause teachers to back out even from their regular working schedule. They may find themselves not enjoying the work and closing off to their peers. This is where educators start feeling irritated or low. Lack of time, energy, or interest to invest in self-care can seriously impact the mental and physical well-being of the individual that starts to show the first signs of burnout.

Stage 2: No interest in socializing

Socializing with peers and students on a daily basis can be exhausting. Turning down invitations to social activities and meetups is the beginning of Stage 2. By recognizing this stage, taking a step back from their daily responsibilities, or asking for additional help can nip the situation in the bud.

Stage 3: Constant fatigue and complaints

Completing the course, preparing assessments, and grading students can be exhausting. The feeling of mental, physical, and emotional exhaustion can leave you feeling drained out and disinterested in even going to work. By this stage, irritation and anxiety  can lead to finding faults and issues in even the smallest things that could adversely affect relationships with peers and students.

Stage 4: Unhealthy lifestyle 

Stress and anxiety can lack sleep and lead to unhealthy eating habits.  By deprioritizing physical health and nutrition, educators can find themselves at risk of many serious health conditions like heart attack, diabetes, and hypertension.

5 ways to Prevent Teacher burnout

Dealing with burnout necessitates diverse strategies. Educators and non-teaching staff must all work together to address this crucial issue. Leveraging peer grading technology to share the workload can help with preventing teacher burnout.

1. Empower your students with peer assessment

Recognizing burnout in time is critical to avoid such situations since it jeopardizes student learning. By getting students to evaluate their peers helps enhance their knowledge on the subject and develop metacognitive abilities. Students are able to gain different perspectives and learn how to accept and give helpful and critical feedback that prepares them for life after their university education.

Kritik’s peer-grading platform uses the collective intelligence of the students to give fair and accurate ratings while streamlining workflows and shortening feedback response times. As an educator, it helps channel energies towards teaching students and becoming their mentors rather than simply grading their work.

2. Reduce your workload with customizable rubrics

Rubrics provides an unbiased rating criteria during feedback. It allows professors and students to get quick feedback on their assignments through impartial peer review, and also reduces their grade load.

With Kritik's customizable rubrics, you can either directly plug them into your assessments or make the required changes to suit your needs. This saves you time and gives your students direction when evaluating their peers that enhances the quality of feedback given. You can choose the section that best suits your essentials. 

3. Enable students to drive discussions

As students exchange ideas amongst themselves, the teacher’s role evolves into a mentor rather than a course facilitator, removing the burden of having to teach concepts to them. With Kritik’s dashboard, professors can facilitate online discussions that help them debate in a peaceful manner through engaging conversations. These discussions enable students with increased learning, knowledge, and understanding that might otherwise be missing.

4. Encourage team-based learning

Team-based activities help increase engagement levels in students as the onus of sharing and receiving information from peers heavily contributes towards their own learning. It also sets a healthy learning atmosphere and utilizing Kritik’s team-based learning feature enables students to broaden their knowledge by applying what they've learned to build new concepts and develop deeper understandings of their course. Team based learning is effective when setting students up for success while also allowing you to evolve as a coach and mentor to students within their learning. 

5. Power up your LMS

While your LMS is able to help you manage your course, and assessments, integrating a peer assessment tool can help you reduce your workload. Advanced technology and edtech platforms are seen supporting educators in their teaching process and augmenting students' learning. As such, Kritik’s LMS can be the perfect aid that helps you track student's records, grades, submissions, and programs. You can also maintain them all under one umbrella. It also collects critical data and documents that students exchange on the network.

See how Kritik compares with your LMS!

Grade effectively with Kritik!

Seeking support and additional help in time can help alleviate teacher burnout before it's too late. Kritik’s peer assessment tool helps with reducing time grading time while ensuring student engagement

Schedule a demo with our team to understand how Kritik can help you implement peer assessment in your classroom.

4 Ways Peer Assessment Prepares Students for the Real-World

Peer assessment has an immense portfolio of benefits to students that can be applicable in their educational careers. Several higher educational institutions have promoted the use of peer assessment for it’s benefits to student learning and skill application after graduation. The University of British Columbia, outlines peer-to-peer assessment as a tool that can develop several real-world skills where students can enhance their engagement in critical review of their future colleagues (The University of Birtish Columbia, n.d.). 

 “3 in 4 employers say they have a hard time finding graduates with the soft skills their companies need.” (Wilkie D., 2019)

With peer assessment, students are not only able to receive deeper learning of the content at hand, but they are able to implement important skills that employers are looking for in post-graduate candidates. 

Critical thinking skills

Critical thinking is the ability to ask questions about the information that is presented to you, analyze it, and draw appropriate conclusions based on the knowledge and details you have gathered to ultimately improve your work (University of Louisville, n.d.). With peer assessment, the act of evaluating others allows you to take information and draw conclusions based on the content and actively apply suggestions and constructive criticism. 

At Kritik, we enhance this action by enforcing a 360-degree feedback loop where students both give and receive feedback on their evaluations. This enables students to think critically while giving quality feedback, but also forces them to reflect on how it may be perceived by their peers. Being exposed to multiple pieces of content based on an aspect of course material equips students to effectively evaluate their peers in an accurate manner. When a student assesses the feedback provided by their peers, they are able to analyze information and begin applying their feedback to their work to enhance the quality of their learning. 

“[Before Kritik], the students never thought that they could evaluate someone because they’re so used to me evaluating them. I liked the fact that [Kritik] had a strong critical thinking component and the students were able to grade their peers.” - Professor Francine Guice

Honesty and integrity

In both peer assessment and real-world situations, the act of providing honest feedback to others is an important part of your learning and building strong relationships. At Kritik, we pride ourselves on creating an environment that nurtures the act of honesty through peer assessment. In the grading process, our AI calculates a student’s grade based on how accurately and fairly a student grades their peer's work compared to the overall mark the creation receives. In other words, we calculate a student’s grade based on how similarly they graded a peer’s work compared to the final score of the creation. 

This allows students to actively practice honesty and integrity, two extremely important skills that they will carry with them post-graduation. It will enhance their ability to build trustworthy connections within their personal and professional relationships.

In the higher-educational landscape, the performance-driven culture continues to intensify making collaborative relationships more desired with honesty and integrity (Cleary et al., 2013). The act of being honest creates an environment of confidence, allowing individuals to feel an increased sense of productivity due to the reduced amount of intransparent and vague communication. 

Providing feedback in a constructive manner

Ensuring that feedback is provided in a way that has structure and purpose helps peers to efficiently digest the information, and enables them to construct an effective action plan to implement the feedback they received.  At Kritik, we present three stages that allow students to develop the act of providing feedback in a constructive manner. In the first stage, Create, students are enabled to showcase their current understanding of course concepts. Once students have submitted their creations, their work is distributed to their peers who then analyze and apply meaningful feedback and evaluations on their work. In a study that compared student perceptions on giving feedback and receiving feedback, it was found that students were able to improve their work through simply giving feedback to their peers before even receiving their own feedback (Li et al., 2019). Finally, the feedback stage allows students to conceptualize and understand where they did well and where they need to improve. They are required provide feedback back to their peers based on how motivational and critical their evaluation was. This gives students the opportunity to learn how to give feedback in the real-world and tells them first-hand how their feedback is being perceived by their peers. This process facilitates students to develop the necessary skills of an effective evaluator, which they can then apply to their future careers. 

Communication skills

Communication skills are essential in today’s workplace. The effectiveness of communication skills can be found in several different disciplines, careers, and industries. In a article written by Dr. Ankita Goutam outlining communication in the workplace states that, “people who communicate effectively know how to interact with others flexibly, skillfully, and responsibly, but without sacrificing their own needs and integrity” (Goutam A., 2013). This proves that building relationships with others through effective communication benefits both communicators making it an essential skill in the workplace.  With peer assessment, not only is your own written communication skills on display, but you also have the opportunity to directly converse with your classmates in a unique way.  When applying written communication to others’ work, you are analyzing the information in front of you and then critically thinking about how your peers can apply it to their work. This allows students to create a sense of connection to their peers as they provide their input. At Kritik, students are able to provide their written evaluations to their peer's work while also providing an extra layer of feedback in the feedback stage. This approach gives students the opportunity to refine their own communication skills. 

Conclusion

As student’s make their way through their higher educational careers, an instructor’s ability to implement transferable skills equips students for their careers. The ability to possess critical thinking, honesty, feedback, and communication skills are all skills that can be practiced to ensure successful progression in the workplace and personal relationships. With Kritik, instructors are able to teach course content while simultaneously exposing students to the ability to practice important career skills.

Using Rubric Criteria and Levels to Ensure Accuracy in Peer Assessment

The idea of peer assessment can be daunting for professors as they worry about the accuracy and fairness of peer-given marks. To resolve this concern, professors should provide rubrics for every activity. Rubrics are well known to be great tools for guiding peer-to-peer evaluations because they help reviewers evaluate with both consistency and accuracy. They are essential in helping students understand what the assignment expectations are, and the key learning goals that are required. Here at Kritik, we understand the importance of rubrics in peer assessment, which is why we try to make rubric building easier with customizable rubrics at your disposal. 

"I am a big believer in rubrics; they harmonize everyone's expectations on an assignment. Kritik's features include pre-built rubrics for any type of activity you plan on assigning, so I use those and tweak them to ensure that they apply to my class' learning objectives." -Dr. Jeff Boggs, see more here

An effective rubric should clearly list the criteria and have a range of rating levels with detailed descriptions (Brookhart, 2018). But what's the optimal amount of criteria and levels to have? 

How Much Criteria Should My Rubric Have?

There is no universal optimal number of criteria, but “the general consensus is that less is more” (Suskie, 2017). Research suggests that once rubrics get too lengthy, it becomes difficult for students to understand the main focus of the assignment and the key skills they need to achieve (Lane, 2010). Thus, Quinlan (2012) suggests using 3-4 to start with and Stevens and Levi (2012) recommend a maximum of 7 criteria. Overall, the number of criteria should be related to the learning outcome(s) the assignment assesses (Brookhart, 2018). The complexity of the assignment will also play a factor. 

Narrowing Down Criteria

To help determine the number of criteria to include, MIT suggests considering the following questions:

  • What is the learning goal of the activity?
  • How will students demonstrate that they have achieved the learning goal(s)?
  • What knowledge and skills are required to succeed? 
  • What characteristics should the final product have? 

After answering these questions and using them to develop a list of potential criteria, the next step is to prioritize the most important traits. Make sure to eliminate unnecessary criteria and group together similar ones, to shorten the rubric down to its essentials. 

How Many Levels Should My Rubric Have? 

Like criteria, the optimal number will vary, but a high-quality rubric should typically consist of 3-5 levels (Suskie, 2009). A minimum of three is recommended so that there are enough levels to represent adequate work, inadequate work, and an exceptional level to motivate students to go above and beyond (Suskie, 2009). On the other hand, no more than 5 is recommended because having too many performance levels can make it harder to distinguish the differences between them (Suskie, 2009).

"They see the rubric when they submit their assignments, and they use the rubrics to evaluate each other, so it trains them to respond to objectives. It also manages a student's expectation of what they need to do to achieve the grade they want" - Dr. Erin Panda, see more here

Using The Number of Levels to Improve Grading Consistency

1.  Ensure The Number of Levels are Linked to The Number of Relevant Distinctions

Strong rubrics typically have 3-5 levels, but most importantly, the number of levels should be linked to the number of relevant distinctions in a criterion (Suskie, 2009). This rule makes it easier to consistently identify what ratings to give because each level will cover characteristics that are easily distinguishable from each other. For example, if the criterion was simply "include 3 properly cited sources", there would be 3 relevant distinctions:

  • 1 properly cited source
  • 2 properly cited sources
  • 3 properly cited sources 

The same thing would apply to more subjective criteria, such as creativity. Relevant distinctions could be:

  • The assignment lacked creativity 
  • There is some originality and creativity 
  • There is a good amount of creativity and originality 
  • There is an exceptional amount of creativity and originality

2.  Varying Amount of Levels For Each Criterion 

Most rubrics are made so that each criterion has the same number of levels, but Humphry & Heldsinger (2014) found that this structure can influence an evaluator's judgment. When using this structure, reviewers tend to assign students similar levels across all criteria. For example, “if a student scores in the top category on one element, the student is likely to receive scores in the top category on all other elements, even when performance across elements is uneven” (Stanny, n.d.).

This tendency happens when there's an equal amount of levels for all criteria, unrelated to the number of relevant distinctions each criterion can have (Humphry & Heldsinger, 2014). Thus, if the first tip is followed, the rubric should not influence the reviewer's ability to independently mark criteria, regardless if the same amount of levels are used. Despite this, rubrics with varying levels across different criteria have still been shown to help reviewers give more independent scores, serving to improve accuracy and consistency in student grading (Humphry & Heldsinger, 2014). 

Conclusion 

Making effective rubrics can be tricky at first, but it’s an incredibly valuable tool for peer evaluation as it helps ensure students are marking accurately and are analyzing key points. For ideas on how to implement rubric-based assessments, we recommend checking out Professor Jeff Boggs webinar!

Motivating Inactive Students with Peer Assessment

Discovering what Motivates Students

Peer assessment is widely recognized as an effective pedagogical approach to increase students' understanding of course material and collaboration in the classroom. However, despite these well documented benefits there are still obstacles to peer assessment that must be addressed, a large one being the issue of motivating and engaging inactive students. 

With inactive students comes the threat of poor feedback quality, as students don't put enough time or effort into the feedback they give. Unfortunately, this reduces the benefits of peer assessment to the students that do put in a good effort. To properly address and combat this issue, we must first understand why it is that students become disengaged and what we can do to ensure their participation. 

Peer Feedback: Make it count

When considering how to best motivate students, an important aspect to remember is that every stage of their learning needs to count towards something. There are a few key aspects to learning in a typical peer assessment, as students are required to: create, evaluate, analyze, and finally apply with the end result being an improved understanding. Studies indicate that by providing students with incentives to participate in every stage, such as making them all count towards their grade,  their willingness to actively participate improves dramatically (Ashenafi, 2017). Every student has different learning styles and excels in different areas, so by providing motivation to participate in all levels of the peer assessment process, we allow these students the opportunity to excel in their own right.   

“We know that every student engages and learns differently so while they may be quiet in class, they might provide wonderful feedback to their peers through the peer assessment process.” - Dr. Michael Jones, See more here. 

It is important to ensure that all aspects of the peer assessment process, including the creation, evaluation, and feedback stages, all count towards grading. When this occurs, students become more motivated to participate instead of only focusing on their own submission and the grades it receives. By adding a grading weight that impacts final marks at each stage of the process, students are also more inclined to give thoughtful evaluations and feedback to their peers. Kritik embraces this unique approach to peer assessment, which also ensures that students receive actionable feedback on how they can improve their evaluation skills. See a breakdown of the customizable grading scheme of a typical Kritik assignment below: 

The value of giving and receiving feedback

Peer assessment at its core is designed with the goal of enhancing student learning by enabling students to become a thoughtful evaluator. Having to think critically and analyze their peers' work enables students to develop a deeper understanding of course materials than they would if they were just simply submitting an assignment to an instructor. This teaches students to become expert analyzers, and helps them learn to read through a lens that is constantly seeking out ways to improve. 

“[Kritik] empowered them to speak up, engage and participate more. They felt more comfortable actually expressing their opinions and they felt like what they had to say and the way they perceived things were correct.” - Dr. Daphne Hart, See more here. 

Students become motivated to improve their own work as they review their peers, because they see what other individuals in the same learning environment did well and what they can improve on. After reviewing various pieces of work done by their peers and receiving feedback from a diverse audience on their own work, students are able to efficiently improve and refine their skills. This feedback loop truly increases motivation among students, as they now start to see themselves as active participants in the assessment process rather than just a passive recipient of it. 

“Students should be part of the educational process and not consumers of it. Students feel valued when they feel like they’re part of the learning space where everyone is learning from each other.” - Dr. Jonathan Wisco, See more here.

It is valuable to immerse students in this type of environment, where like minded individuals can learn new skills from their peers and then apply and experiment with the skills they learn. This facilitates a very positive outlook to the learning process, as many students are longing to see school become more applicable to their everyday lives. As is mentioned in this article, providing a curriculum that is both relevant and reflective ensures maximum retention and participation among students. 

Progress that’s measured

Offering student’s the ability to track their progress and monitor how close they are to achieving specific class or personal goals is another impactful aspect to a student’s motivation and engagement. This is certainly a challenge in peer assessment because the immediate impact of a student's contributions is not necessarily visible right away. This can be detrimental to students who are hyper aware of tracking their progress and like to see the rewards for their hard work in all aspects of an assignment. With Kritik, students' evaluations and feedback are rewarded not only with marks, but also with increased grading power which is something students can strive to increase. 

“[Before Kritik], the students never thought that they could evaluate someone because they’re so used to me evaluating them. I liked the fact that [Kritik] had a strong critical thinking component and the students were able to grade their peers.”  - Francine Guice, See more here.

At Kritik, students' grading power is constantly adapting to reflect their efforts and abilities. Depending on the quality of their evaluations, students grading power will fluctuate throughout the semester as illustrated in the image below: 

This works to serve two purposes, 

  1. It ensures that the student being evaluated receives a fair mark,
  2. It facilitates improved critical thinking abilities of the evaluator. 

In a typical peer assessment setting, a student's full potential is not measured through the strength or development of evaluations, but with Kritik this is an important part of the process. Students evaluations are graded on how motivational and critical they are, and students use this feedback to become a better evaluator. 

Having a consistent structure that students can rely on

Above all else, the most important aspect in ensuring your students remain engaged throughout the course of a semester, is consistency. Students appreciate getting into a routine where they know what is expected of them and are not constantly being surprised with new methods of teaching and changing expectations. We believe that students truly begin to thrive only once they are comfortable inside the classroom, which is why at Kritik, consistency is paramount to everything that we do. Things like consistent anonymity, a detailed rubric, and clearly defined objectives on every assignment truly equip students with the tools necessary to be successful. 

“Kritik has this level of anonymity so they don’t know who they’re evaluating which we like because it removes that assessment bias and it makes them more comfortable.” - Dr. Michael Jones See more here. 

This holistic approach focuses less on only the original submission, and more on the process of constant refinement and improvement which keeps students active from start to finish. Ensuring that all aspects of the peer assessment count towards the students grade will keep them motivated to do well and get good marks in the course. The ability to track your progress and monitor your improvement throughout the semester, coupled with a consistent format that students know they can trust, will yield the best results in terms of engaging and motivating students who tend to be inactive. 


Enhancing Practical Assessments with Peer Evaluation

Peer Assessment for Practicums 

When people think of peer-assessments, they typically associate it with written work that revolves around discussion posts, reflections, and various types of reports. However, peer assessment has proven to be incredibly versatile and can be utilized in a number of applied courses and activities. For example, courses such as nursing, music, physical therapy, and labs typically require an applied component of study, sometimes referred to as practicums. 


Unfortunately due to COVID, a lot of these courses can no longer run these invaluable practicums, resulting in students being assigned written work as an alternative. To combat this, Kritik allows students to upload a variety of different attachments, including videos of presentations, script readings, clinical roleplays, musical performances, and more. We know how important these practicums are for preparing students to enter the workforce, which is why we strive to ensure they have the opportunity to participate in them regardless of whether class is in-person or online.

Benefits of Practical Assessments on Kritik

1. Opportunity for Self and Peer Assessment 

By submitting videoed assignments on Kritik, students are given the unique opportunity for both self-assessment and peer assessment. In one study, students in a practical diagnosis course uploaded videos of themselves performing a physical examination. Students reported that by recording themselves, they were able to self-assess their practicum before receiving peer feedback, which made them more aware of their strengths and weaknesses in verbal and nonverbal communication (Sadowski et 2020).

Students are then able to evaluate their peers' work, which helps them improve their critical thinking and analytical skills. Once feedback is given, students can self-assess their performance one last time with the goal of reflecting on the input from their peers. This holistic approach to evaluating videos “engages and forces critical thinking in both video creators as well as video assessors” (Burrows & Borowczak, 2016).

“By allowing students to give and receive peer feedback, I’m giving them extensions on their learning too.” - Prof. Whitney Sutherland see more here..

2. Database of Material for Review 

Kritik provides students with a collection of materials and feedback that they can access whenever they need to, even after the course is finished. Whether students want to review content for upcoming tests, co-op interviews, or post-graduation employment, they will always have access to all their work and feedback. In addition to this, students also maintain access to their peers' work, which allows them to compare it to their own and continue analyzing it even after the assignment is completed. This encourages students to continue identifying areas of improvement and things done well that they can implement in their own future work.


3. Peer-Assessment is More Accurate Through Kritik 

By videoing practical assessments for peer evaluation, students can analyze their peers' performance more accurately. Students can rewatch, rewind, and pause their peer's videos as much as they need, enabling them to provide the best possible feedback and preventing them from missing anything. In addition, Kritik ensures that student grading is fair and accurate with our calibration feature

This unique feature allows students to have varying levels of grading power based on how close they grade to their professor's expectations. By giving students a measure of their evaluation skills and gamifying it, it encourages them to put more effort into their reviews which facilitates a greater understanding of the material.


“Through the gamified system, the students themselves want to become better reviewers; they can see their progress in real-time via the stars and badges system Kritik uses to encourage engagement." - Prof. Kelly Morse

Examples of Practical Activities for Peer Assessment

1. Clinical Roleplays

Courses in the medical profession; including nursing, physical therapy, and surgery, often contain components of practical assessment. Things such as demonstrating proper bedside manners and assessing the range of motion in a patient's joints are just two possible examples of many. To illustrate the benefits of recording these activities for peer assessment, a study was done with nursing students roleplaying a therapeutic consultation. The nursing students found the feedback they received to be helpful and the study concluded that peer assessment helped enhance communication skills (Chin-Yuan, 2016).

Want to learn more? Professor Denise Mendenhall from the University of Missouri also uses Kritik in her nursing courses to effectively assess her students' communication skills. 

2. Musical and Theatrical Performances

It’s important to receive feedback on these types of performances, especially when the works are composed by the students themselves. When it comes to original compositions, there is not a definitive set of rules to follow, unlike demonstrating lab safety as in our earlier examples. This makes receiving peer feedback exponentially more beneficial, as it can be difficult to self-assess the strong points and areas for improvement in your own work.


3. Verbal Communication

Verbal assessments can include anything from presentations, marketing pitches, and speaking in a foreign/second language. In particular, when it comes to foreign languages, findings have shown that formative peer assessment can effectively improve a student's language proficiency (Zheng et al., 2021). By having students video themselves in a second language, they can self-assess and take the time to figure out what parts were well-spoken and what parts were not. Students then receive feedback from their peers which helps them catch any mistakes they may have originally overlooked. In addition, by analyzing their peers, students gain an even better understanding of the language than they would in a typical class environment. 


Conclusion

Practical assessments are essential to a large range of courses and help students prepare for the workforce. Videoing these practicums for peer assessment can help enhance students' practical skills as well as reduce their anxiety when performing them in person (Sadowski et 2020). To ensure that students get the most out of their practicums and are receiving specific and accurate feedback, educators should consider using online peer assessment. Connect with us here to learn more about how you can enhance your LMS with Kritik!


Reduce Grading Time and Enhance Learning

It seems like an oxymoron. Doesn’t grading time directly improve student learning? Well yes, and it depends. 

Here’s a comment posted by a university professor on a higher education social media page:

“A mix of exhaustion and exasperation: I have graded English 101 essays forever this semester...once a week with about 80 students total. Any ideas on how to grade more effectively without burnout.” 

The sentiment shared in this comment is one many professors relate to. When grading feels unsustainable or ineffective, it likely is. To solve these issues, we need to consider grading and assessment differently. How can we involve students in the process, so they receive the benefits of the engagement and critical thinking involved in evaluating work and the instructor has time and space to mentor and coach students? Below, we explore common issues related to traditional assessment and grading methods and how peer learning can improve the teaching and learning experience for students and professor alike.

What are the issues and more importantly, the solutions:

Kritik professors choose to use the Kritik platform for various reasons: to increase student interaction, improve student engagement, and incorporate performance-based learning. Out of all these benefits, the commonality is that each professor is seeking a more effective and efficient way to deliver feedback and progress student learning. That is the key aspect of the proposition of Kritik. 

Not every professor, or teaching and learning case is the same, but there are a few common issues that emerge with traditional forms of assessment and grading.


  1. Grading load directly impacts the depth and consistency of feedback


The quantity and quality of the feedback are co-related. If a professor sits down to mark 100 papers, the quality of feedback will be stronger on the ones conducted at the start where thinking is fresh, and energy levels are consistent, compared to the ones at the end of the pile. 

Of course, spreading out the grading load over multiple days can help mitigate this, but this also results in students not receiving timely feedback to apply their learning and improve on the next activities. We surveyed Kritik professors across a range of disciplines and asked them, before using Kritik, how long it took on average to deliver feedback to students. On average, without Kritik, professors returned feedback after 7-10 days. 

Peer learning with Kritik eliminates this delay, meaning that once students complete the evaluation stage, providing feedback to their peers, they immediately receive a minimum of 3 points of feedback each activity to improve their understanding, approach, and learning moving forward. This is because, for each activity in Kritik, professors assign 3 or more evaluators. While students provide feedback to one another, the professor observes and monitors the quality of work and provides additional feedback to correct, enhance or extend the learning.

Beyond the timeliness of feedback with peer learning, the structure helps ensure the quality is maintained and in some cases leads to better feedback than the professor could provide on their own. In fact, Dr. Amelia Sofjan from the University of Houston reflected on this point as a guest speaker at a recent workshop. 

“[Kritik] made me reflect on my own feedback and I realized that I have a lot to learn from the way students give feedback. If I had to rate my own feedback based on the critical and motivational scale Kritik uses, I would score really high on the critical scale but probably not so high on the motivational scale, so I was learning from the students that in order for somebody to really take your feedback seriously, it can’t just be critical, but it has to be given in such as way that it motivates them and that’s pretty amazing.” - Amelia Sofjan, Department of Pharmacy, University of Houston


  1. Grading load directly impacts activity options


Here’s a situation: You are a professor teaching an economics class with over 1000 students. You are deciding what activities to incorporate into your course and can’t ignore the fact that for every activity you and or your TA’s will have to provide feedback on 1000 pieces of work. How does this impact the activities you select? Is this decision based primarily on what’s best for student learning or primarily based on the resources available and the traditional approach to assessment?

Whether you teach 100 students or 1000, this is a reality for course creation. If the feedback and evaluations are coming solely from professors and TAs, they need to be able to handle the amount of work being submitted to them. 

In the case of Dr. Alex Gainer, professor of Economics at the University of Alberta, this was very much the case with his intro level course of 1700 students. Dr. Gainer turned to Kritik, and with their  system of peer learning, he was able to not only increase the number of personalized feedback students received, but he was able to incorporate team-based learning with peer learning. 

In one semester, Dr. Gainer used Kritik to manage 435 groups of students, with 3 or 4 students per group across 5 activities. For each activity, each student evaluated 5 of their peers’ work. This means that over the course of one semester, not including the feedback directly from Dr. Gainer, Kritik provided the means to facilitate over 42,000 points of peer feedback.

All of a sudden, Dr. Gainer was not limited based on how many students he taught in a given semester. He could be more innovative and creative with his teaching practice and even provide the opportunity for his students to experience group work within a large class size.

“I was quite surprised at how vigilant my students were in evaluating each other, and how serious they are towards Kritik. Students seem to enjoy the personalized feedback that they receive, and they are getting better and better at using Kritik as the term progresses.” Dr. Alex Gainer, Department of Economics, University of Alberta
  1. Without peer learning, the professor becomes the gatekeeper for all feedback 


The professor is the topic expert. There’s no replacing their impact on student learning, however, it’s important to recognize the value of the inputs of the students themselves. They may not be the experts yet, but they are capable of thinking critically about a topic, following the guidance of a rubric and sharing their unique perspectives and insights to improve their peers’ work. 

Diverse perspectives are an important component of student learning that develops critical thinking and soft skills. The process of peer learning, while teaching students the value of multiple points of feedback, also empowers the professor to have the time to coach and mentor students on a more individualized level. 

With peer learning, 100% of feedback doesn’t flow to and from the professor. Dr. Charles Reigeluth, author and educational researcher whose work has paved the way forward for high-quality personalized competency-based learning (PCBL) outlines how the instructor as guide fulfills many roles, including mentor, instructional designer, facilitator and learner. 

With Kritik, professors can focus their time and energy not on rushing to grade every single paper in time for the next activity to be launched, but on the areas that have the highest impact on student learning. 

For example, Dr. Kelly Morse, English professor out of Old Dominion University, identifies gaps in knowledge and understanding of her students by reading the creations and evaluations and by observing the insights and metrics provided by the Kritik platform. One solution that has worked well for Dr. Morse is to model proper evaluations for her students in class as well as spotlight strong creations and evaluations directly in Kritik. 

“As some students become stronger graders, those students get consistently redistributed throughout each activity. Not only do they see through the gamified system that they’re becoming better reviewers, everyone is benefiting from the strong reviewers and everyone is helping the weaker reviewers who are learning.” - Kelly Morse, Department of English, Old Dominion University

For Professor Lyzzie Golliher from Old Dominion University, she found it helpful to use Kritik as a way to observe her students’ “conversations with one another and while you can do it to some extent in the classroom by breaking students off into group discussions, seeing their actual feedback in Kritik has allowed me to adapt a lot of my lesson plans...so it’s been really helpful.”

Additionally, Professor Golliher recognized the value of including students in the feedback process: “It’s really positive because...we know that when [students] start to interact you know they’re not just learning from you as a professor, the possibilities increase and they’re able to get a lot more benefit.” - Lyzzie Golliher, Department of English, Old Dominion University


For professors looking for a more effective and efficient way to achieve student success and guide student learning there are solutions in peer learning. 

Connect with us at Kritik to learn more about how you can incorporate peer learning and learn from the diverse experiences of previous Kritik professors.


Insights from One Million Student Peer Evaluations with Kritik


Two years, 100,000 students and professors and over one million peer evaluations with Kritik. 

More important than the milestone is the learning that has happened along the way. Seeing how Kritik professors have adopted peer learning, how they have introduced it to their students, how they have innovated their teaching practices and how students have benefitted from a more engaging and interactive learning environment where they are encouraged through every activity to think critically.

What do 1 million peer evaluations look like?

15% of the evaluations were from group activities and 85% of the activities were from individual activities. 

Professors can assign from 3 to 20 evaluators per activity in Kritik, however, the average number of evaluators per activity is 4. This aligns with findings from our student survey, where students expressed 3 to 4 evaluations as the optimal number. It’s always important to balance the amount of work required for evaluations and ensure students have exposure to multiple perspectives through the peer assessment process.

For rubric creation, it’s best to keep them simple and focused on the learning objectives. Including 4-6 criteria per rubric is advised to ensure students remain clear on what it is they need to focus on in any given activity. This aligns with the average number of rubric criteria applied by Kritik professors over the previous two years. The average number of criteria per rubric is 5.

In Kritik, the average grading score increase per student per semester is 255%. Now, what does this mean? The grading score is an indication of students’ evaluative abilities and critical thinking. In order to be scored highly, students must demonstrate consistently that they are able to understand the learning objectives and draw connections between their peers’ work and the rubric criteria. They also need to be able to deliver meaningful feedback that is both critical and motivational. The grading score adjusts automatically throughout the semester to provide a measurement of progress to the professor and the students. 

In addition to these metrics, the Kritik platform has evolved adding new features like multi-topic activities, a feedback stage with group-based activities, and expanding our rubric templates to make the process easier and more efficient for professors. The 244 updates that have taken place are a direct result of our strong Kritik educator community who we work closely to advance and innovate our platform as they advance and innovate their teaching practices. 

Top 3 areas of learning from two years in review:

Common themes have emerged through 1:1 conversations, our Faculty-led workshops, feature requests and our live chat support over this period. 


  1. Culture Matters

When asked what factor led to the overall success of peer learning with Kritik, time and time again professors would credit the time and energy spent into creating a positive learning culture. 

“So far the students have not disputed anything and I think part of that is because I set up a culture at the beginning of the assignment and made it clear that it’s not busywork, it really is about higher orders of learning and trying to understand your value in that space.” - Dr. Jonathan Wisco, School of Medicine, Boston University
“I try and instill a culture where I’m not out there to get any students through my exams, in fact, I’m very open about if I write a question that negatively impacted my students, I want feedback on why that was and I’m going throw that question out because that’s not fair.” - Dr. Jonathan Wisco, School of Medicine, Boston University
“When it’s a group project, I tell my students that the overall goal is to make sure that your group fully understands what they’re talking about so when you’re presenting this potentially to a client, everyone’s on board and everyone knows what they are talking about.” - Dr. Karen Freberg, Strategic Communications, University of Louisville
“I knew I wanted the students to leave the class with a strong understanding of critical thinking, creative thinking, the general research process and the ability to receive and apply both constructive and motivational feedback to their peers.” - Dr. RayeCarol Cavendar, Human Environmental Sciences, University of Kentucky
“Seeing what others are doing and my spin on it in class was always positive, and the purpose was to get the students to think critically and get them to be at the point where they are comfortable about giving feedback in a useful and effective way and also receiving feedback, so it was always positive...definitely the self-reflection helps...it’s sort of is built into the process...it gave them the confidence to know that their opinions or research and analysis are actually good.” - Dr. Daphne Hart, Business, University of Illinois at Chicago
  1. Consistency is Key

Students develop their evaluative skills, their critical thinking and understanding of course content through a consistent process of peer learning. We recommend any new professor using peer learning incorporates a minimum of 5 activities. This could mean 5 activity variations, a weekly or biweekly reflection, or scaffolding a larger assignment like a research project into multiple steps, or stages. 

The time required to set up each activity is minimal and many professors choose to use a template and consistent rubric they carry throughout the semester. This means students know what to expect and can refine their process and improve over time. 

This consistency gives students the opportunity to iterate and improve their peer evaluations by observing and critiquing the evaluations that their peers anonymously submit for their work. 

Making Kritik a consistent part of the assessment process is important on the professor’s end. In terms of the Kritik platform, each activity, whether it be individual or group-based, is set up in a similar way with a stated objective, instructions, and rubric with a clear schedule for students to know when they need to complete each stage: creation, evaluation and feedback stage. 

Strong evaluation and critical thinkings might not come over night, but on average, students’ grading powers improve by 255% over the course of the semester. Grading powers refer to how effectively students evaluate their peers. The grading power, a score out of 6, adjusts automatically after each activity. Grading power directly impacts the weights of the evaluations, meaning students with a higher grading power establish that they deliver strong and accurate feedback and have higher weighted evaluations than students with lower grading powers. 


  1. Structured freedom to think critically

In order to teach students how to think critically, we must give them the space to do so.

This means that students have the room to consider a topic, subject or question in different ways. To come to their own conclusions and present their findings and research in a way that is uniquely theirs.

Through performance-based assessment, Kritik helps professors construct and implement activities that engage students on a deeper level and experience the views and perspectives of their peers. 

As Shavelson et. al (2019) shares, “performance tasks are high-fidelity simulations of actual real-world decision or interpretation-situations found daily.” These real-world decisions, irrespective of the activity type - although this further enhances this experience - are built into the peer learning process with Kritik. Sharing and receiving personalized feedback requires a high degree of communication and soft skills to capture meaning from others’ comments, and ensure students can improve the thinking of their peers by delivering feedback that is motivational and critical. 

As Jonathan Wisco shared in a recent workshop, a real-world activity he implemented required, “teams of students to solve the impacts on the community and in this case it was a business proposal for increasing training and the efficacy of those training which is a huge problem in the business world.”
Karen Freberg shares how her students complete strategic communications assignments that simulate the types of experiences they will have in the real world: “I tell them [my students] that in the industry you’re going to have to do research and evaluate whether or not this campaign was successful and then decide what to do next...so I try and make it as applicable to real-world as possible.”
Kelly Morse shares that incorporating peer review in her English class simulated the type of real-world environment and critical thinking her students would face after graduation and her students realized “over time that this is a skill that [they] actually really need to learn for the workplace, and they [realized] their peers actually had really good ideas and that they don’t just need to look at the teacher.”

While each case is unique, Kritik professors have found success in empowering students through peer evaluation while applying real-world learning and critical thinking with the structure and guidance that ensures students, no matter their stage of learning, receive the support they need to achieve the learning goals.

Reflection is an important part of the critical thinking process. As Ennis (1996) states, critical “thinking is also reflective and logical thinking”. Reflection requires the space and time to consider what has been done and what could be improved moving forward. The peer evaluation process in Kritik embeds this into every activity as students evaluate their peers’ work, evaluate the feedback received front their peers and evaluate their own work before submission.

Lastly, “due to the nature of critical thinking, critical thinking requires reflection and sociability” (Choy and Oo, 2012). Peer to peer interactions with Kritik, whether in online or in-person learning environments, play a critical role in the teaching and learning process. The act of being exposed to peers’ work, and sharing and receiving feedback means students have to navigate a new dynamic - that is working with their peers anonymously compared to only their teacher. 

“I felt that [Kritik] empowered my students to actually speak up, engage and actually participate more...my sense was that they felt more comfortable actually expressing their opinions and it gave them the sense that they should express their opinions and ask questions more” - Dr. Daphne Hart, Business, the University of Illinois at Chicago

Conclusion:

Guiding students towards academic success is directly related to the learning environment we build around them. The culture, the consistent and purposeful structure of rubrics, learning objectives and timelines, and the space and time embedded into each activity to think critically all work together to support students. 

Connect with us to see how you can leverage peer learning in your own courses and learn from other Kritik professors and over 1 million peer evaluations. 


Nailing the perfect peer evaluation rubric

What is a rubric and why do they matter?

A rubric defines a set of criteria that an assessor can use to evaluate work. Rubrics are not only impactful grading tools for instructors, but also formative learning tools for students, as they provide a more objective method of grading and allow students to understand course expectations and apply their knowledge to their work accordingly (Arter & McTighe, 2001). With Kritik, instructors can strengthen their students’ quality of learning by utilizing rubrics during the peer assessment process.

A 2010 literature review about the effectiveness of rubrics concludes that rubrics can enhance student learning by helping students understand course expectations and encourage critical thinking about their own work (Reddy & Andrade, 2010). A strong rubric for peer assessment activities guides students to create high quality work and provide meaningful evaluations to their peers.

Kritik provides instructors with the tools and templates to develop effective activity rubrics.


How Kritik makes rubric creation more effective and efficient for instructors

Provide structure to the peer assessment process

The Evaluate stage on Kritik requires students to provide a written evaluation in addition to using an instructor-provided rubric to assess their peers’ work. This allows students to provide constructive feedback to their peers, while using the rubric to guide their evaluations.

A 2015 study notes a positive correlation between receiving and providing personalized feedback with rubrics and improved academic performance, as student assessors felt more competent and confident in class when evaluating their peers and their own work (Wollenschläger et al., 2016). Instructors can provide rubrics for the peer assessment process to guide their students in providing meaningful feedback and critically understanding course material. Overall, increased student engagement leads to improved academic performance as they actively participate in class and are given the opportunity to apply their skills and knowledge through peer evaluation.


Clear criteria and detailed level descriptions help students to identify what aspects make a strong creation in both their own work and the work of their peers. Students will know what to look for when referring to the rubric and apply their knowledge while evaluating their peers. Instructors can set their students up for success by providing them with a clear path through a rubric and activity guidelines.

Set course expectations

Rubrics communicate the expectations for assignments that align with course objectives. Rubrics that clearly outline expectations guide students to solve problems or create meaningful content.


Sharing a rubric for every assignment will actually reduce the number of incoming questions about requirements or what it takes to go above and beyond. Moreover, knowing what the instructor is specifically looking for in the criteria (e.g. word count, syntax, application of course concepts) and what constitutes quality work will allow students to complete their assignments accordingly.

Demonstrate success in the course

Rubrics are a great road map to success for students. Clearly outlining the quality of work expected in each assignment will also help students create thoughtful work according to the criteria. Moreover, instructors should take time to explain their activity objectives, walk through the rubric, or even provide examples of assignments to better illustrate how to achieve the objective.

Did you know that rubrics actually enhance the quality of feedback in higher education environments? A 2018 study found that higher ed instructors who utilized rubrics and explained the assessment criteria to their students improved their students’ self-assessment and self-regulation skills (Cockett & Jackson, 2018). Students also perceived rubrics positively and performed better academically when they were included in the design and implementation processes of their assignments (Cockett & Jackson, 2018). Involving students in the process or explaining the assessment criteria allows students to further engage with the course expectations and content, and gives them the opportunity to apply their knowledge and evaluation skills.

A repository of high quality rubrics

Kritik offers fully-customizable rubric templates for different types of courses. Instructors can refer to these templates and change the criteria and levels to their taste. For example, here’s a great example rubric template for presentation activities:


How to create a strong rubric

Use rubric templates

Instructors should provide examples of good work and identify the elements of quality work to their students. Additionally, if students are guided through the activity goals and competency objectives, they will be more motivated to perform better and have a better understanding of what to achieve.

Create measurable and specific rubric criteria

When creating a rubric using the Kritik platform, instructors should consider:

  • Assignment goals: does the criteria or level evaluate the student’s application of course concepts and knowledge? Could it be evaluated in its own criterion, or through multiple criteria (for example, for writing courses, the application of course concepts could also be evaluated through grammar and creativity)
  • Assignment instructions: does the criteria or level evaluate whether the student followed the assignment instructions, or meet requirements like word count, formatting, and proper citations?
  • Criteria and levels: What elements make up a high quality assignment? How many levels of achievement are there?
  • Assignment level detail: Am I properly describing each level of performance to identify poor quality of work and understanding, moderate quality and understanding, and high quality and understanding?
  • Grading scheme: what is the weight of each criteria?

Align rubric objectives with the learning objectives

Keep the rubric focused on achieving the learning objectives. Any criteria that is necessary to the assignment or the assignment’s expected learning outcomes should be included. Even then, the criteria and criteria description should be concise and comprehensive, so students can easily understand what is being asked, and utilize the criteria to meaningfully evaluate their peers.

Effective rubrics are descriptive, measurable, concise, and reliable. Criteria and quality descriptions should be comprehensible to multiple assessors. Each criteria and level should be measurable, so students can easily identify these elements, and the criteria description should be detailed enough to help the assessor judge the quality. Concise criteria needs to align with the learning objectives and expected outcomes, and what competencies can be developed.

Conclusion

Rubrics are critical to student success, especially for peer assessment activities. Rubrics introduce a more objective method of grading which will be valuable as multiple assessors evaluate one work. Students can use rubrics to introduce topics of improvement, and break down what elements of their work are strong or could be improved. Overall, creating a strong rubric will help students better absorb course materials as they apply their knowledge when creating their own work and evaluating their peers’ assignments.


How Kritik Ensures Accountability in Peer Assessment

How Peer Assessment Benefits Student Learning

On average, students' grading power increases by 255% over the course of a semester in Kritik. Grading powers, a score out of 6, refer to how effectively students evaluate their peers and the scores are adjusted by the Kritik platform automatically after each activity. This means that students on average are becoming better evaluators by learning how to identify and communicate critical and motivational feedback to their peers over time.

Peer assessment benefits student learning through increased student engagement, improved motivations to learn, and an increased efficiency in grading workflow. However, many instructors refrain from implementing peer assessment due to a lack of understanding on how to manage it — particularly with larger class sizes — and how to ensure reliability and validity of the process (Falkichov & Goldfinch, 2000). Ultimately, this deprives students of the benefits of peer assessment— but there is a way forward.

Dr. Karen Freberg, Professor of Marketing and Communications at the University of Louisville and West Virginia University, notes that she has seen a positive change in her classroom’s responsiveness and attitude towards her courses because her students felt more confident with sharing ideas and demonstrating class concepts.

“I’ve seen a huge difference in writing and strategic thinking and concepts based on utilizing Kritik in my classes.”

Peer Evaluations v.s. Instructor Evaluations

In 2000, a meta-analysis of 52 studies examined the comparability of peer evaluations to instructor evaluations. The research measured a mean correlation of 0.69, suggesting definite evidence of agreement between peer and instructor grading (Falchikov & Goldfinch, 2000). The levels of education and subjects across these studies did not affect the comparability of peer evaluations and instructor evaluations overall (Falchikov & Goldfinch, 2000). It should be noted that well-designed studies showed more positive results about the relationship between peer and teacher grading, and clear instructions and grading criteria also influenced the quality of peer evaluations.

More recently, a 2020 meta-analysis found that peer assessment enhanced student learning in ways that professor assessment could not. With a high comparability between peer grading and instructor grading, peer assessment presented a more impactful and positive effect on student academic performance because students felt more motivated to learn and apply their knowledge when assessing their peers’ work (Double et al., 2020).

Diving into the intuitive peer assessment features in Kritik

The peer assessment process in Kritik follows three stages: the Create Stage, Evaluate Stage, and Feedback Stage. To better illustrate the Kritik grading system, let’s introduce Jessica, a first year English student. In Kritik, Jessica will take part in a three-stage peer assessment process.


Through this process, she will receive three grades that make up the overall activity score and multiple points of feedback from her peers.

  • Creation score: the weighted average* of the evaluations and evaluators’ grading power (*the actual grade the evaluators marked them based on the rubric multiplied by the evaluators’ respective grading power)
  • Evaluation score: Jessica’s evaluation score is composed of two parts: the grading score and the written evaluation score. Her grading score is determined by how closely she graded her classmates compared to other evalutions using the rubric; and her written evaluation score is determined by the quality of her written evaluations based on peer feedback.
  • Feedback score: the feedback score is a participation score, so long as Jessica provides feedback to all of the evaluations she has received, she will receive a 100%. However, the feedback she provides will impact her peers’ evaluation scores.
  • Overall score: the grade Jessica achieves on an activity by calculating the overall scores according to their weight

Jessica’s Creation score is determined by how her peers evaluate her work; her Evaluation score is determined by the quality of her own evaluations; and her Feedback score is determined by the number of evaluations she provides feedback on.

If an instructor manually grades the Creation (e.g. resolving a grade dispute, grading a late submission, etc.), the evaluator’s grading score is compared to the instructor’s grade instead of their peers.


Grading score v.s. Grading power 

Kritik uses a Grading Score and Grading Power to ensure accountability and meaning to the peer assessment process while providing students and professors with a measurable outcome along the way. To differentiate the two:

  • Grading score: as mentioned previously, the grading score is a component of the student's evaluation score.
  • Grading power: A student’s grading power changes over the course of the semester based on how well they evaluate their peers from activity to activity. Not only is this score an indication of their progress, but it has a real effect on the grading process. More specifically, students with a higher grading score who have proven their competency of evaluating their peers have a higher impact on the evaluations than their peers.

What happens at the start of the semester before students have built up their grading scores?

At the beginning of the course, the professor releases calibration activity to set the grading score and to introduce the students to peer assessment process. Multiple calibration activities can be set throughout the term to adjust students’ grading power overtime.

For example, Jessica might score very similarly to her professor, as calculated in the first calibration activity scheduled at the beginning of the term. Before her course started, she had a default grading power of Beginner, but after her calibration activity, she marked very closely to her professor, so she leveled up to Beginner 2. This means that she will have more impact on her peers’ Creation scores when she evaluates them compared to students who are still at  Beginner level.

https://downloads.intercomcdn.com/i/o/230812363/850675097b93674375a169bb/ks+borders.png

A good analogy for grading power is comparing weighted assignments. If Essay A is worth 50% of your overall mark and Essay B is only worth 30%, then Essay A will have more impact on your overall mark. Thus, if Student A has a higher grading power (50%) and Student B has a lower grading power (30%), then how Student A grades you will impact your evaluation score more than Student B.

Even after the calibration activity, Kritik uses AI to conduct micro-calibrations after every activity. Students’ grading power changes based on how closely they assess one another. Moreover, when instructors manually regrade or adjust students’ scores, the students’ grading power will change accordingly.

The role of AI in Kritik’s grading power

With a better understanding of the scoring system in Kritik and how grading power works, let’s get into why these things matter… and how this design inherently protects the validity and accuracy of peer grading.

Calibration activities

As mentioned before, Kritik has calibration activities that instructors can set up throughout the term. Calibration activities are a unique component of Kritik peer assessment activities that guarantee meaningful and valid comparability between peer grading and instructor grading. The Kritik AI compares student evaluations to the baseline created by the professor, which:

  1. Ensures accuracy in peer grading
  2. Prevents gaming the system (where students give one another the highest potential score)
  3. Requires students to refer back to the activity objectives and rubric to properly and meaningfully evaluate the assignment

The calibration feature ultimately increases efficiencies in grading time and workflow as multiple students evaluate one another’s work working towards the model and expectations set by the professor. Setting a calibration activity will also discourage students from colluding to grade one another highly, as they will understand that their grading power is calibrated based on their professor's evaluations.

Quantity AND quality: conducting multiple peer assessments

Kritik assigns a default of 5 evaluations per student, and distributes evaluations evenly across all students. Having multiple assessments introduces dynamic feedback, and the weighted average of these evaluations ensures that they are still being marked closely to what the instructor would mark them individually.

Worried about students evaluating others first, seeing their peers’ work, and then submitting their assignment after? Don’t worry: students can only evaluate their peers after the Create stage, meaning they are guided through the process in a controlled manner, so that they can properly reflect and take the time to provide meaningful evaluations to their peers.

Professor Elliot Currie from the University of Guelph notes how Kritik has improved his students’ quality of work and feedback with multiple evaluations:

“The students put a fair amount of time and effort into their assessments. They did want to receive customized feedback, so they felt the need to put effort into their assessments. The Evaluation score tracks how the students perform in their assessment, and they got better at providing feedback throughout the term. Kritik's calibration and grade dispute features allow me to ensure students are on the right track.”


Important Feature in Kritik: Anonymity

Assignments are double blind meaning students will not see who they are evaluating, nor will they know who evaluated them. Double blind peer assessment activities also lead to an improved feedback quality and a positive student experience as students feel less pressure to grade or complete their work anonymously. As Professor Michael Jones, Kritik user and professor of Communications at Sheridan College notes:

“Kritik has this level of anonymity so they don’t know who they’re evaluating which we like because it removes that assessment bias and it makes them more comfortable.”


Rubrics

Peer assessment activities require students to evaluate their peers using criteria offered by instructors. Creating rubrics with clear criteria will allow students to understand course expectations and demonstrate their knowledge by creating and assessing work. Moreover, clear criteria guides assessors to make decisions on what classifies good work and not, and be used consistently across the class.

Moreover, the written evaluation portion of the Evaluate stage allows for specific feedback with strengths and weaknesses. The Feedback stage allows for feedback on peers’ evaluations for more strengths and weaknesses, introducing an honest, dynamic dialogue between students to better understand the course.

Check out our community of practice article on crafting detailed rubrics for higher education.

Keeping students accountable through peer-to-peer learning

The goal of Kritik is to empower students to take control of their learning . Professor Heidi Engelhardt from the University of Waterloo talks about how the integrated peer assessment in Kritik improved her students’ academic performances overall and increased her grading efficiency.

“[Students are] coming from a culture of grade inflation: ‘justify why I did not get 100’ tends to be what the mindset is. So, sure, you provide a rubric, but they are expecting 100. So I made sure they knew that, at least to the criteria, it wasn’t just adequate that got you four stars out of four. It was knocking that ball out of the park. I said, ‘Look, if you dispute a grade, it’s not because that guy didn’t like your colour scheme and you want to get back at him. You could have had an 89. If you dispute that, the mark is thrown away, and I’m evaluating it—  and I don’t give 89’s lightly! Once they got that, it was really good. So the assignment that just finished: zero disputes!”

Peer assessment when delivered effectively offers dynamic benefits compared to traditional grading by introducing new perspectives and better immersing students in the coursework through evaluation roles. Kritik takes the guesswork out of peer assessment and ensures a seamless process that not only makes managing the process easier for the professor, but makes certain the process is consistent and appropriately structured throughout the semester and regardless of activity— individual or group-based.


Getting Started with Kritik and Peer Assessment

So, you’ve decided to adopt Kritik to implement peer assessment in your course. Our team is here to provide support to you and your students along the way.

In the meantime, we’ve compiled answers and tips for professors new to peer assessment. 

What is peer assessment?

Peer assessment activities involve students evaluating one another's work following instructor criteria. Compared to traditional learning (e.g. individual assignments graded directly by a TA or instructor), peer assessment introduces a new dimension of interactive learning, or learning by teaching.

Through Kritik, instructors optimize the online teaching and learning experience and get students more involved and engaged in their learning. We know peer assessment can be difficult to implement because of the organization and management involved with having students assess a range of their peers. Whether you teach 12 students or 1200 students, implementing peer assessment with Kritik will be an efficient and meaningful experience for students and professors alike.

What are the benefits of peer assessment?

A 2020 study on the impact of peer assessment on academic performance highlights the positive correlation between effective peer assessment activities and students’ academic performance in all levels (Double, McGrane & Hopfenbeck, 2020). Research concludes that peer assessment is more effective and formative in students’ learning experience compared to no assessment or teacher assessment (Double, McGrane & Hopfenbeck, 2020). Moreover, the findings suggest that peer assessment can be integrated across a variety of different subject areas, for different assignment types, and across different education levels (Double, McGrane & Hopfenbeck, 2020).

 Here's some ways that peer assessment can help you and your students:

  • Save time: As instructors, you will experience more efficient grading processes as students will be able to effectively assess each other's work without waiting for instructors or TAs.
  • Empower students: Peer assessment increases student engagement, as they actively learn and take responsibility for their own learning (Awan, 2021). Dr. Michael Jones, Professor at Sheridan College and Kritik user, notes that anonymous feedback has allowed students to develop a personal voice and forge their own connections with coursework.
“[The students’] style really does develop and it becomes a very personal style and a personal voice and that’s the whole point. I think a lot of the students really enjoyed seeing other people’s work because it is especially in this kind of online pandemic space that everyone is isolated in their own bubble and you want to have some sort of authentic connection.”
  • Develop soft skills: Students will develop their creative problem-solving, communication, and teamwork skills by completing these inherently collaborative tasks, which are necessary in academic, professional, and personal environments
  • Build critical and higher order thinking skills: Increased engagement and active learning through peer assessment will help students process and apply course learnings at a greater capacity

To read more about peer assessment and its benefits, read our article here. For further reading, check out 6 ways peer assessment can enhance students' online learning experience.

How can you best integrate peer assessments with Kritik?

Explain the benefits of peer assessment and why you’re integrating it into your coursework.

Students tend to feel less motivated to complete assignments that they don’t understand the purpose of. After enrolling your students, take time to communicate your course objectives and desired learning outcomes while using Kritik.

Students who have never heard about Kritik may view it as just another “homework platform,” but explaining the benefits of peer assessment and how our features facilitate peer-to-peer learning will help students better understand why they are using Kritik for your course.

Integrate peer assessment with previously-used assignments.

Particularly for professors new to Kritik, consider modifying previous assignments to include peer assessment. Our intuitive platform allows you to easily create activities, as well as automatically create groups and distribute evaluations across small, medium, and large classes.

Here are 7 ways to implement peer assessment into your online assignments. For example, students can submit their essay outlines and drafts for peer evaluation. 

Book a product demo with our professor success specialists to learn how to best use Kritik for your curriculum.

Set up a calibration activity

Before you start, set up a calibration activity for your students to complete. Setting up a calibration activity before you deliver assignments will level your students’ grading power. A calibration activity will help you understand the starting level of evaluation for each of your students by measuring students’ evaluation scores compared to what you, the instructor, would be grading each assignment. Our Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithm will adjust the grading score over the course of the semester to allow you and the students to see how they are improving.


Read more about Calibration Activities through our Help Center.

Provide longer submission periods for the first activity.

Flexibility will increase adaptability! After creating an activity, you can schedule each stage based on the amount of work involved. Since there are three stages, there will be three deadlines to pay attention to; don’t worry, though, Kritik sends an email notification to students whenever a deadline is approaching! We recommend setting an extended deadline for all three stages for your first activity to allow you and your students time to familiarize yourselves with the platform.

Did you know that you can set a grace period for creations, as well as accept late submissions past the grace period? Setting deadlines or even extending them will allow you to see how your students are using the app, as well as provide space to clarify issues and questions with using Kritik.

Read more from our Help Center about scheduling activities and allowing late submissions

Use a rubric to provide clarity and direction to students.

Rubrics drastically improve the peer evaluation process for students and allow them to understand exactly what it takes to succeed in a particular activity. Research shows that teaching students how to evaluate work using rubrics for peer and self-assessment is beneficial to academic performance (Reddy & Andrade, 2010).

Interested in learning more about the rubric manager? Here's a Help Center article about creating and editing rubrics.

Read more about criteria that you could use in your rubrics to facilitate effective peer assessment.

Why peer assessment… and why with Kritik?

Peer assessment aided by technology provides new ways to improve engagement, efficiency, and accountability in teaching and learning. Not only do students perform better academically when they are more engaged, but increased student engagement also encourages instructors to innovate teaching deliverables in order to yield high academic results (Errey & Wood, 2011). Peer assessment alone, won’t achieve these benefits. It must be executed effectively, and in a way that improves the professor experience, rather than adding more work. That’s where Kritik comes in. 

With Kritik, both instructors and students have something to gain through the integration of peer assessment both academically and personally.

How to Facilitate Effective Peer Assessment

What is peer assessment?


Peer assessment, also known as peer feedback, is a learning strategy in which students analyze and provide constructive comments on the work of their peers. This type of assessment benefits students in and out of the classroom.

Peer evaluation helps students develop critical thinking and soft skills by providing and receiving feedback from their peers. To provide effective feedback, students must consider course material from a deeper level and assess how their work and the work they are reviewing addresses the learning objectives set out by their professor. Through this process, students are exposed to many perspectives and opinions, broadening their viewpoint and enriching their learning experience. 

Peer evaluation helps students take greater ownership of their learning by taking an active role and engaging in the assessment process. Students consider the various ways to approach an assignment to meet the learning objectives (Cleland & Walton, 2012).

Challenges with Peer Assessment (And how to overcome them)


Student’s may feel reluctant to assess their peers

It is natural for some students to feel unsure about providing direct feedback to their peers. Like anything new, it is crucial to model strong feedback, explain the purpose of peer assessment and how they will benefit from it, and provide check-ins at frequent junctures throughout the semester. Additionally, having students conduct peer assessments anonymously is an effective way to achieve more genuine and constructive input, and it also removes assessment bias in the process. 

Peer assessment loses value when it’s treated as non-essential work 

When peer assessment is implemented without adequate explanation and support, students will often see it as busy, non-essential work. Peer assessment should be implemented like any other form of evaluation and treated with care and importance by professors and students alike. Incorporating online rubrics and clear objective criteria effectively keeps students on track with clear expectations. Additionally, students should be provided with enough time to do thorough and thoughtful work (Sitthiworachart & Joy, 2004). The Kritik team recommends having students conduct four peer assessments per activity; of course, it can deviate based on class size and type of assignment, but this can serve as a baseline. 

Friend-enemy dynamics can negatively impact peer assessment

Peer evaluations can also be impacted by friend-enemy dynamics, resulting in skewed results. There are various options for dealing with this issue. Professors should monitor peer assessments throughout the semester for evaluations that are unnecessarily high or low. These cases can be discussed privately with the student or as a group, if they are more common across the group (Sitthiworachart & Joy, 2007). 

The best way to avoid the friend-enemy dynamic is to model proper assessment and provide clear objectives and a rubric for each activity. Anonymous peer assessment also effectively reduces friend-enemy dynamics as students do not know whose work they are assessing.

If students believe that the evaluation they received is not fair, it’s important to have a system to share their concerns. For example, Kritik has a “Dispute” feature where students can flag an evaluation with a note to their professor for review. 

Five criterions to facilitate effective peer assessment


1. Use a Feedback Rubric

Use a rubric to ensure students provide specific and constructive feedback, rather than high-level praise to their fellow students (Orsmond et al., 2000). An online rubric sets clear expectations and guides students through the assessment process. This guidance will lead to consistent feedback across the class, but will also signal to students what areas the professor would like students to focus on. 

2. Make the feedback process anonymous

By making the feedback process anonymous, students will be more likely to provide genuine and constructive feedback, feel more comfortable doing so, and remove assessment bias. Facilitating anonymous peer assessment can be challenging to coordinate, so using a program like Kritik to streamline the process for both professor and student can be a big help. 

3. Pair students with a diverse range of reviewers

For students to receive the full benefit of the peer feedback process, they should be paired with a diverse range of reviewers. Even in a particular class, this can be achieved by ensuring students are reviewed and review peers with a varying range of abilities. Kritik uses artificial intelligence (AI) to set a grading score for each student based on how well they assess their peers compared to the criteria and calibration set by the professor. The platform uses the grading score to pair students from a range of grading scores. 

4. Feedback on Feedback

The peer assessment process needs to include opportunities for students to improve their evaluative skills. Kritik incorporates three stages of peer assessment: Creation Stage, Evaluation Stage and Feedback Stage. In the Feedback Stage, student will provide feedback on the assessment they receive from their peers based on  how critical and motivational it is. This means, over time, they will develop and build their skills and become better evaluators. 

5. Conduct consistent check-ins

Lastly, professors should check in on students periodically throughout the semester as they would for any other assignment or activity. What does this mean? 

  • Review the importance of peer feedback
  • Go over strong peer feedback examples
  • Conduct peer feedback activities in class to focus on particular areas of improvement
  • Administer a survey to find out what students think about the experience
  • Ask students if they have any challenges with peer assessment in 1:1 office hour meetings
  • Reiterate the social, academic and personal skills students are learning through the process.

How to Address Ineffective Feedback in Peer Assessment

Peer assessment platforms have bridged the transition from in-person learning to online learning and provided students with a meaningful and engaging learning experience. Peer assessment encourages student engagement with their peers and increases accountability while reducing the workload of educators. 


Peer assessment is an effective learning tool; however, complications may arise with students providing feedback to one another.  More specifically, students who have difficulty taking critical feedback and feel vulnerable showing their work to their peers may decide to address these feelings by providing careless feedback and evaluation to their peers. If a student offers insensitive or poor-quality peer feedback, it can damage their confidence and strain peer relationships (Topping, 2017).


Peer assessment may not come easily to all students, and it’s a skill that should be developed and honed throughout one’s academic and professional experience. In school and life, providing both critical and motivating feedback and the ability to receive this feedback with grace and positivity is an essential skill.


Instructors need to prepare for the complications and challenges of peer assessment before introducing it in their course. Like everything, with every difficulty comes a valuable learning opportunity for students to expand their learning and improve their communication skills.


What is Peer Assessment?


Peer Assessment is the process wherein educators have students evaluate or grade another student's work against established assessment criteria. In this process, students provide feedback to their peers, also known as peer review. 


Peer assessment has become a popular subject over the last three decades as it comes with many benefits to academic performance (Double, McGrane, Hopfenback, 2020). It provides an opportunity for peers to engage more deeply in their learning and receive more feedback for each assignment or activity than waiting for their instructor to provide one final evaluation of their work after the final submission.


When students assess their peers’ work, they are exposed to new ideas and perspectives and inevitably compare their peers’ work against their own. By doing so, students develop interpersonal skills that extend outside the classroom. 


Peer assessment applications, such as Kritik, can streamline this experience for students and instructors alike. When students act as reviewers or assessors, they perform the role of instructor to their peers, which improves their meta-cognitive skills. Through peer assessment, students learn by teaching, a 21st-century learning concept that engages students more deeply in their learning.  

 

Types of Ineffective Peer Assessment:


“Revenge” Peer Assessment

When students assess their peers' work, they may intentionally give bad grades in certain instances. There are many reasons why this may occur, including friction or adversity outside the classroom. It’s best to address this situation directly with the student to see if there are any personal reasons behind their decision to present unjustified negative feedback. If they are doing it to spite another student who submitted poor feedback to them, a conversation addressing the vulnerability of peer assessment, discussing the benefits of this type of experience, and reminding them that the classroom is a safe space can go a long way.


“Favoritism” Peer Assessment

Students may want to provide unjustified positive grades to their friends. While this may be done in good spirit, it harms the learning experience for them and the entire class. Peer assessment is a collaborative experience, and when done correctly, has tremendous benefits to provide a more enriching and meaningful learning experience while developing critical thinking skills. Reminding students that giving high grades to their friends will do more harm than good is an excellent place to start addressing this issue.


“Careless” Peer Assessment

In some cases, students are careless and give everyone the same mark without adequately assessing the work. In this situation, instructors can remind students of the goal and reason for the exercise. Co-creating rubrics, creating buy-in early on, and introducing activities students feel passionate about are effective ways to make sure students put thought and care into their assessments. 


In addition to revenge, favouritism and carless peer feedback, students may produce inadequate evaluations because of a lack of experience. Peer assessment is a skill that takes time to develop. Students may struggle to provide strong assessments because of a lack of knowledge of assessment criteria or unfamiliarity with assessment techniques (Karaca, 2009). Many students have experience with peer assessing in their younger schooling years; however, this assessment likely looks different than what a professor would expect in a higher education setting. It’s a good idea to spend time explaining the process, providing exemplars, and making sure each student has the information and knowledge to approach their first peer assessment in a given course confidently. 


Kritik helps instructors avoid or address ineffective feedback. Kritik uses a double-blind peer assessment, where students' identities are kept anonymous. This creates a safe environment where students feel comfortable providing honest feedback and receiving critical and motivational feedback. 


Kritik takes peer assessment one step further by having students assess the peer assessment provided to them. In other words, feedback on feedback. Students are scored based on two factors. The first is how their provided evaluation scores compare to their peers and professor for a specific piece of work. The other is a score given to them based on how motivational and critical their provided feedback was. If a student gives out feedback that is either too high or too low, they will receive a lower grading score, and their peer assessment will have a lower weighting in future assignments. The AI-driven system in Kritik improves the student experience while making sure the professor can focus on mentoring and teaching students. 


Kritik makes the peer assessment process streamlined for both professor and student



The students' grading power is adjusted automatically within Kritik to reflect the their grading abilities. This score changes overtime, and impacts the weighting of a student's peer evaluation.





5 Tips to Avoid Ineffective Peer Assessment


Researcher Hui-Tzu Min, from the Department of Foreign Languages at National Cheng Kung University, studied the effects of peer review on English as a Foreign Language Students (EFL). Hui-Tzu found that with training inside and outside of class, and peer review feedback (or “Feedback on Feedback”), instructors can positively impact students’ revision types and work quality throughout the semester (Min, 2006).  


Here are five tips to avoid ineffective peer assessment and improve the learning experiences for students:


  1. Model Effective Peer Feedback

Instructors have an important role in modeling effective feedback before the peer assessment begins. Before the peer review process, instructors can use a “think aloud” method to walk through an example review and verbalize the thought process. Guiding questions can be used through modelling to help students in their process. These questions may include, “Do you mean that…” and “Are you saying…”. Additionally, through the modelling process, instructors should refer to clear learning goals and success criteria (Topping, 2018).


  1. Provide Feedback to Students on their Peer Assessment 

When the students have completed peer assessment, there should be an opportunity to receive feedback on their feedback. This feedback can come from the instructor and their peers. Feedback on feedback is critical for students to improve their assessment over the semester, and it will improve engagement and accountability through the process (Boon, 2015). 


With Kritik, feedback on feedback is an important part of the process. The feedback on feedback step is built into the activity. It is applied to the final grade based on the specified weighting provided by the instructor.


  1. Build Positive Attitudes around Peer Assessment

While the benefits of peer assessment might be clear to the instructor and a group of students, it is best to build positive attitudes towards peer assessment throughout the semester. Students should understand the why behind peer assessment before taking part. Consider facilitating a class discussion where students present possible reasons why peer assessment works. Co-create peer assessment expectations, outlining what feedback students would like to receive for their work. Lastly, provide opportunities for students to ask questions, raise concerns and set up a time to speak with the instructor. This transparency and taking the time to identify existing attitudes will set a strong foundation for a successful term of peer assessment (Karaca, 2009). 


  1. Use an Anonymous Feedback Process

Anonymous feedback is an effective way for students to feel comfortable and safe providing and receiving feedback.  A recent study shows that students provide stronger feedback when they remain anonymous in the process (Rotsaert, Panadero, Schellens, 2018). Anonymous feedback also ensures an unbiased and fair assessment process among peers. 


The peer assessment process in Kritik is anonymous, allowing students to feel comfortable and confident providing feedback.


  1. Use a Rubric

There are several benefits of using a rubric to guide students and set clear expectations through the peer-review process. A rubric encourages students to explain their feedback clearly and constructively. Rubrics also reduce grade disputes and encourage critical thinking, as students put themselves in the instructor’s seat and “learn by teaching.” There are different types of rubrics, with specific rubrics best suited to particular classes or activities.

Kritik has a repository of customizable rubrics to help professors quickly find the one best suited to their class, and modify it as necessary.  


Kritik offers customizable rubrics and templates to choose from




Final Thoughts

Peer assessment is not a means to an end. It’s a strategy to empower students in their learning, increase engagement, accountability, and develop critical thinking and higher-order learning skills. Peer assessment is an ongoing process of iteration and growth that challenges the students. By building buy-in early on and teaching students why peer assessment is such a powerful tool, instructors will find greater success in implementation and will experience a more enriched classroom environment. 


Two students doing work on a laptop sitting across from each other

Engaging Students with Peer Assessment

We learn from each other. As babies, we learned by watching our parents. As youth, we observe and unintentionally and intentionally analyze peers, situations and surroundings to form social cues. As adults, we learn how and when to be adaptable, flexible and to assert ourselves. While the ebb and flow of responding, reacting and learning happens every day, educators have found ways to make this learning a purposeful experience in the classroom. This is referred to as peer assessment. 


Many professors have incorporated peer evaluation, or peer assessment, to encourage trust within the classroom, online or in person. Peer assessment can make learning more engaging and provide opportunities for students to develop higher-order skills. 


Peer assessment is valued by peers and instructors, alike:

In 2013, Catherine Moore and Susan Teather, out of Edith Cowen University in Australia, conducted a study to gauge how peer assessment was received by students. Their surveys found students appreciated being able to collaborate with others, receive different inputs from peers, evoke new ideas from peers, and collaborate with those in a similar position, making it easier to empathize with others (Moore & Teather, 2013). Every student surveyed found the peer assessment process to be useful with 58.3% of students indicating their experience with peer assessment was incredibly useful, or very useful. 


All this said, peer assessment has its struggles too. The study found students who disapproved of peer assessment did so for two primary reasons: 1) students did not want their peers’ marks included in their overall final mark, and 2) students did not like when peer assessment was completed solely for marking.  In other words, the students wanted their professor to have the final say over their grades with the ability to override any student assessment, and they were seeking a more fulfilling assessment experience prioritizing the learning and opportunity for feedback over the specific grade.


Four criteria for successful peer assessment:

  1. Utilize a feedback rubric  - Use a rubric to provide clear instructions to students. Kritik has an excellent rubric system fully customizable to fit the individual needs of the professor and students. (David Kofoed Wind, 2018).
Kritik’s sample rubric template


  1. Anonymity of the feedback - Many students feel nervous when sharing their work with their peers. Kritik supports anonymous peer assessment to ensure students feel comfortable sharing their work while providing bias-free feedback. (David Kofoed Wind, 2018).



Kritik’s proprietary peer assessment platform (showing “anonymous”)


  1. Review and authenticate feedback from peers - A common fear of students is receiving unfair grades from their peers. Kritik’s proprietary AI-driven flagging system ensures students are evaluated fairly by aligning student assessments with the feedback provided by the professor or TA. Students also have the option to dispute a grade within Kritik if they feel it did not accurately reflect their work, or if there were extenuating circumstances affecting the quality of work.


Kritik’s dispute UI
Kritik’s activity insights page for grading and peer assessment


  1. Feedback on Feedback - Once a student provides a peer assessment, it is important they understand how helpful and accurate their feedback was. Kritik has a built-in system supporting feedback on feedback to ensure students learn to become more effective evaluators over time. 
(Kritik’s Feedback on Feedback UI)


Whatever system you chose to use to facilitate peer assessment, it should meet the needs of students, while providing a reliable and streamlined user experience. Consider checking out Kritik to enable peer assessment, while making the grading process more meaningful and efficient. 


Student with a book on face

Developing Long-Term Memory in Short-Term Summer Courses

Short-term summer courses are often taken by students to accelerate their academic careers and meet program requirements in preparation for the Fall and Winter terms. These courses are typically intensive and condense a term’s worth of materials in just six weeks. Although enrolling in summer courses might appear less time-consuming compared to full-load terms, these courses contain just as much workload and in some cases, even more. The sheer amount of time and effort students invest to comprehend course concepts and complete assignments in a short amount of time are nothing short of an accomplishment. Thus, it is just appropriate that students receive a learning experience that ensures long-term academic success beyond the short time frame of six weeks.

What's the problem?

The main concern with these summer courses is that the learning environment primes students to encode most of the knowledge they’ve gained as short-term memory. Given the relatively short timeframe of these courses and the mental stress that comes with it, traditional pedagogies used in full terms are not as effective at developing and enhancing student’s long-term memory (Vogel & Schwabe, 2016).

Oftentimes, summer courses are still structured in a manner where students complete cumulative assignments that only use lower-level thinking such as memorization. Although this promotes the improvement of students’ knowledge retrieval, the retention of the information gained greatly decays over time as the mental process of fast-paced learning mostly engages the brain’s hippocampus which is where new memories are formed and retrieved from (Jonides & al., 2008; Schapiro & al., 2017; VanElzakker, 2008). 


Even though the information, encoded in memory engram cells, is also indexed in the prefrontal cortex (a part of the brain responsible for longer-term memory) at the same time it is formed in the hippocampus, the lack of repetition and knowledge rehearsal in short-term courses prohibits students from synthesizing their memories as suggested by the theory of systems consolidation of memory (SCM) (Ghazizahdeh, 2018; Trafton, 2017; Tonegawa & al., 2018).

Thus, the engram cells stored in both the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex differ in utilization rate depending on the specific task at hand (Trafton, 2017). This dictates the strength of the memory and encodes it either as short-term or long-term (Cowan, 2008; Jonides, 2008). In the case of short-term courses, students simply don’t have the long time horizon to fully consolidate their knowledge and strengthen their memory as long-term in the prefrontal cortex using traditional pedagogies. 

Lower-level thinking does not promote long-term success

As mentioned earlier, memorization is more utilized for short-term courses as materials are extremely condensed. However, it is a well-known fact that repetition, instead of memorization, improves overall knowledge retention (Karpicke, 2016). Repetition in the form of knowledge rehearsal is not the same as memorization as the act of repeating involves experiencing the same learning process whereas memorization is closely associated with just knowledge retrieval (Karpicke, 2016).

Now that the difference is apparent, the reason why short-term courses utilize less knowledge rehearsal is that repeating high-quality activities under the same instruction is very time-consuming and labour intensive. Given the short timeframe, it is nearly impossible for instructors to frequently administer thought-provoking written assignments of the same calibre as time is a great limitation.  

Applied pedagogies should be suitable for fast-paced learning

Teaching strategies should be dynamic based on students’ learning requirements and the pacing of the learning process in order to ensure long-term success. There are numerous proven research on certain pedagogies that are applicable for short-term learning that also assist in the development and strengthening of long-term memory. According to a journal on behavioural and brain science, “long-term memory is triggered by spaced learning” which is a method where information is consolidated in “condensed bursts with intervals of breaks” (Kang, 2016).

In other words, spaced learning is a practice where knowledge rehearsal is implemented routinely. Spaced learning is a more structured pedagogy that applies the same learning process multiple times while incorporating old materials with new information. As such, by frequently revisiting previous memories and creating new ones in an organized and timely manner, engram cells in both the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex are utilized thereby developing both short-term and long-term memories (Jonides, 2008; Trafton, 2017). 

The benefits of peer assessment to developing long-term memory

Kritik’s peer assessment takes advantage of spaced learning and repetition as students engage in the material in condensed burst multiple times with intervals of breaks. Students undergo three stages of knowledge creation and rehearsal wherein they submit their assignment, evaluate their peers and provide feedback on the evaluations. Every time students engage in the material in each of the timely-scheduled stages, previous knowledge on the topic is interlaced with the new information received from several of their peers’ assignments thereby utilizing both parts of the brain responsible for encoding short-term and long-term memory. Peer assessment has endless benefits for instructors and students alike.

Moreover, peer assessment amplifies the effects of spaced learning as students are tasked to revisit thought-provoking written submissions which allow them to compare their work, synthesize different perspectives and make personal connections (Pressley & al., 1989). Doing so also engages the amygdala of the brain which is responsible for memory consolidation and transferring new learning to long-term memory (Squire & al., 2015; OpenStax, 2020). By using peer assessment, students are able to use space learning which promotes efficient and effective knowledge storage for both short-term and long-term success. All the while, instructors are not burdened with the extreme grading workload associated with administering high-quality assignments.

Ensuring both short-term and long-term success

Given the limited timeframe of summer courses, implementing and applying proven pedagogies that assist in the development of long-term memory while being suitable for fast-paced environments is a high priority. In order to ensure students are getting the most out of their summer courses, it is important that the knowledge they’ve gained retains throughout their academic careers and beyond. Unlike traditional pedagogies used in current short-term courses, peer assessment facilitates cognitive learning to meet instructors’ teaching objectives and students’ learning requirements within a short amount of time. 


How Peer Evaluation Significantly Reduces Grade Disputes

One of the most common misconceptions about peer evaluation is that it opens up opportunities for unqualified students to grade one another which leads to an increased amount of grade disputes. As such, this belief manifests skepticism towards peer evaluation due to the idea that it will increase professors’ workload associated with resolving disputes and rectifying grades. 

A Brief Literature Review on Multiple-Perspective Reasoning

In reality, peer evaluation does the opposite and significantly reduces grade disputes as a result of multiple perspective reasoning brought by open peer-to-peer discourse. A research on Multiple perspective dynamic decision making explains that “decision making often involves deliberations in different perspectives” (Leong, 1998). Dynamic problem solving requires obtaining as much information on viable solutions to understand commonalities and underlying disagreements. Although Leong’s paper refers to multiple-perspective reasoning in artificial intelligence, the premise of this particular decision-making strategy is mapped out based on its usefulness and advantages in human intelligence and real-world conflict resolutions. In peer evaluation, students are exposed to various solutions which allow them to reflect on their own understanding while internalizing their peers’ approach to problems.

Also, the practice of receiving multiple assignments for dynamic problem solving relates to the law of large numbers which entails that as a probabilistic process is repeated multiple times, the theoretical assumptions meet real-world expectations (Salkind, 2010). In the case of peer evaluation, increasing students’ exposure to other perspectives creates an environment where students get a consensus of the most probable ‘real-world expectation’ which in this situation is the most viable answer to specific assignments.


Furthermore, a study on peer evaluation and the quality of feedback shows that students “exhibit a greater sense of what is expected of them, improvements in the quality of feedback produced, and positive perceptions reported by the recipient who gets the feedback from the peer” after participating in multiple peer evaluations (Anderson & al., 2020). Additionally, at the end of the experiment, the instructors assessed the quality of the feedback after collecting multiple peer evaluations and identified that they were reflective of the students’ actual academic progress.

Although the study focused on biomedical students, the results achieved from the experiment can be replicated for various STEM and non-STEM courses as the premise of peer evaluation emphasize the avenue for developing professional skills required in academia and beyond to effectively self-reflect. The concept that peer evaluation reduces grade disputes can be proven through this study’s finding that students perceived the feedback as positive and that it improved students’ outlook on their own work by having multiple perspectives.

Final Thoughts on Peer Evaluation and Grade Disputes

The more comparative assessments students do, the better their understanding of concepts will be. However, this can only be applicable if the same random process is repeated a large number of times. In traditional peer evaluation, students are affected by internal and external biases as the process is not anonymous and assignments are distributed in a manner that is inconsistent. This decreases the randomness of the distribution which is a key aspect of the law of large numbers thus affecting the evaluations.

However, with Kritik, assignments are anonymously distributed through the platform’s algorithm which eliminates human biases thereby upholding the integrity of the randomness selection and assignment. Students’ decision-making process is positively influenced by external knowledge based upon the premise of commonality among other solutions without introducing other self-knowledge biases. Essentially, the more students are exposed to their peers’ problem-solving strategies and the more information they receive from analyzing other solutions, the better their understanding will be as they are not limited to their internal knowledge (Double & al., 2019). 


As a testament to peer evaluation significantly reducing grade disputes, Kritik’s data which encompass all users across hundreds of universities show that less than 4% of students dispute their grades. Time after time, Kritik’s peer evaluation platform proves that the large majority of the students are very satisfied with the grades that they receive from their peers and that students are learning at a deeper level from having an increased opportunity to apply multiple perspective reasoning for dynamic problem-solving. 


Student typing on laptop and giving feedback

Are Your Students Getting Enough Feedback?

The Struggles of Facilitating Feedback

Research has shown that professors spend approximately 18 hours a week grading papers, assignments and discussion threads. This accounts for 45.67% of the total time professors allocate to various instructional activities for online teaching.

Obviously, this imposes a huge burden on professors and solutions to alleviate the heavy grading workload rely on increasing faculty numbers such as hiring more TAs. However, with the reduction in higher ed budgets triggered by the pandemic, it is less likely that TAs will be available to provide the support professors need to grade hundreds of written assignments.

This gives professors the choice to either administer more summative assessments and multiple choice-based exams which are time-convenient but less ideal for developing critical thinking skills or carry the burden of manually grading papers and assignments for the sake of providing quality education. Either way, both options leave professors fewer opportunities to provide regular feedback that are meaningful and relevant to their students’ current academic progress and goals. This lack of feedback brought by the labour-intensive nature of teaching large classes is correlated to students performing less ideal in their academics and professional careers.

Considering the increasing class sizes in first-year and upper-year courses (Cash et al., 2027), it is no doubt that students are receiving less feedback due to the lack of faculty resources and capacity. Grading 100 to 800+ students while constantly providing quality constructive criticism to individuals is just not feasible in a traditional lecture-based education system.

In multiple studies on effective strategies for applied sciences and STEM courses, it was determined that the absence of professor and TA feedback results in students relying on themselves to critically analyze their own credibility, strengths and weaknesses. This method is beneficial to developing academic reflection skills but is heavily subjected to biased self-knowledge. A psychological research on self-assessment has shown that there are weak correlations between student ability estimates and performance (Karpen, 2018). Furthermore, the lack of feedback can be perceived by students as a confirmation of their abilities and skills which deters them from further self-assessment due to the lack of guidance and external perspectives.

Receiving and Providing Feedback

Receiving feedback is an essential aspect of the learning process as it allows individuals to learn and internalize their strengths and weaknesses. Not only do students improve through the comparative assessments facilitated by feedback, but they also learn to critically consider other people’s opinions and ideas in a professional manner (Shute, 2008). This life lesson is not taught as much in the current education system and is important not only to their academic success but also for their professional growth. In academia and the workplace, feedback is often provided by higher authorities and learning to be receptive to it with an open mind is an essential lesson for every individual. Understanding how to properly receive feedback is the first part of the equation.

Providing feedback is the second part and is as essential for students to learn. By being able to digest information and different perspectives to identify other people’s strengths and weaknesses, not only are they helping their peers to improve but they learn to provide constructive criticism in a manner that is actionable and motivational. This skill is vital in the workplace as well as it strengthens relationships which improves productivity, workflow and output.

However, as mentioned earlier, students are less exposed to feedback due to faculty time constraints. It has also been identified that frequent feedback is required for ideal academic performance but due to course limitations, students have fewer opportunities to reflect on their strengths and weaknesses. As such, it is important to find assessment alternatives that facilitate the receipt and provision of feedback to enhance students’ learning experience and outcome.

Enter Kritik

Kritik’s calibrated peer grading solution enables accurate and authentic student-to-student evaluations and feedback. Through the platform, students anonymously provide regular constructive criticism on their peers' work which increases course engagement levels and improves academic performance. Our survey on students’ learning outcomes using peer grading and feedback has shown that 84% of the students learned at a deeper level by evaluating their peers’ work.

The use of Kritik and peer-assessment, specifically in the STEM field, has shown to be integral for a quality online learning experience as students are given the opportunity to frequently analyze multiple perspectives and reflect on their own skills. Through Kritik’s peer grading process, students are empowered to constantly develop their ability to receive and provide feedback with approximately 63% of students saying that they became better evaluators after a few iterations.

Conclusion

Feedback is an integral part of students’ learning process and academic growth. However, faculty resources are limited and a large amount of professors’ time is spent towards grading. Coupled with course limitations and higher ed budget cuts, students are less exposed to feedback which affects their ability to improve their knowledge and skills.

Furthermore, receiving and providing feedback is not taught as much in the current education system. Thus, it is essential to find effective pedagogies that facilitate regular feedback without the heavy grading burden on professors. Peer grading solutions like Kritik enables students to frequently provide and receive genuine, accurate and informative evaluations which reduce the overall turnaround time for feedback and increase professors’ ability to coach students more often.

Student calculating budget and finances for university

Cost of Education: How Kritik Adds More Value for Less

Tuition fees, student debt, dropout rates and much more

The cost of education has always been a very important topic for students and society as a whole, and yet, it is not addressed as much as it should be. There is little transparency on information regarding the true cost of completing undergraduate and graduate programs. Additionally, there are concerns over course materials fees such as textbooks and other costs such as amenity fees and matriculation fees and the true value they add to students' education (Davis & al, 2019).

With millions of students entering higher education each year (EducationData, 2021a), one would think that the system is optimized to reduce students' cost burden while maximizing their educational value. However, a study on cost analysis in education has shown that there is a lack of cost-benefit evaluations in climates wherein resources are very limited (Rice, 1997). Sadly, limited is an understatement to students' financial inability to attend and complete higher education while receiving a quality learning experience in today's society.

With that said, to afford higher education, students' take on massive loans to cover the ever-rising tuition fees and other associated costs. According to The Institute for College Access and Success, "two in three college seniors who graduated from public and private nonprofit colleges in 2018 had student loan debt. These borrowers owed an average of $29,200, 2% higher than the 2017 average of $28,650". Assuming that students enter the workforce six months after they graduate, it takes approximately 20 years for students to pay off their debt (EducationData, 2021b). However, not all students complete their programs, with the overall dropout rate for undergraduate college students in the US being 40% and in Canada being just under 30% (EducationData, 2021c; Government of Ontario, 2020). These alarming numbers of dropout rates and uncompleted programs coupled with increasing tuition fees and debts leave students wondering if there is a more optimized method of acquiring knowledge that is cost-effective, provides quality learning experiences and guarantees better career preparation opportunities.

Higher costs does not equal better education: Quality over quantity

According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, recent college graduates' current overall unemployment rate is 3.8%, which is 0.2% higher than the general job market's unemployment rate. Although this might seem insignificant, analyzing the unemployment rates for recent graduates of specific majors such as those in the STEM field is quite alarming. Students who majored in Physics resulted in an unemployment rate of 7.7%, 5.2% for Computer Science majors, 4.9% for Mathematics and General Engineering majors, and the list goes on. Given the high costs of acquiring higher education, one would think that such investment and achievement would automatically result in a more significant competitive edge in the job market. Although this holds true under favourable conditions, most students still feel under-equipped with the right tools, knowledge and skillsets to fairly compete and find employment.

Cost versus quality of education. Finding the balance

A higher education cost does not necessarily correlate to better and higher quality learning experiences. Despite the rise in tuition fees, students are still enrolling in classes but given the scarce resources of universities and colleges, they are subjected to enrolling in large volume classes where learning environments are not as ideal for knowledge creation and retention. Personalized and active learning opportunities are limited. As much as it is ideal for instructors to administer high quality, thought provoking assignments and group projects for immersive learning purposes, carrying out these types of assessments is not feasible in 300+ student-sized classes. As such, students do not have enough opportunities to develop higher order thinking skills as conventional exams and multiple choice-based assessments are administered for time-saving purposes. Naturally, having more students in one class would make it difficult for professors to provide regular feedback and have mentoring opportunities. This could be solved by having more TAs to help with grading and providing feedback to the students but this would undoubtedly increase the tuition even more. Furthermore, textbooks have been notorious for being expensive with other hardcopy published options escalating their prices even more which significantly adds on to students' financial burden. Full-time students are spending approximately $1298 annually on textbooks alone. However, recent research has shown that alternatives such as open educational resources and other forms of knowledge obtainment provide students with the same amount of information and value, if not more, without the high costs of traditional textbooks.

How Kritik can help increase value while lowering costs

Through Kritik, students can obtain more value out of their education in ways that would be impossible with traditional assessments and course requirements. By leveraging peer assessment, students can receive multiple feedback on their assignments frequently instead of heavily relying on TA resources and professors for feedback which is extremely costly and time-consuming. The peer assessment process empowers students to acquire different perspectives on course concepts, consolidate their learning and receive guidance while improving their soft skills such as communication and teamwork skills. These benefits can manifest without needing to consume more university and college resources, employing more TAs than ideal and ultimately, without drastically increasing tuition fees.

Comparing the amount of value students get from peer assessment and the use of textbooks, it can be fairly argued that using Kritik is more effective in reducing costs while increasing benefits. By moving away from the lower levels of Bloom's Taxonomy associated with textbooks such as memorization and moving towards peer grading and higher-order thinking, students are able to acquire and retain more knowledge for less. Textbooks and TAs are still important, but great alternatives can reduce the overall cost of education while improving student engagement and academic performance.

Most importantly, peer assessment teaches students the process and importance of providing and receiving feedback which is crucial for their future careers and professional development. Unfortunately, this valuable skill is not taught as much to students despite the premium price of education in today's society. By allowing students to participate in an immersive and dynamic learning experience, they are able to acquire the necessary knowledge and life lessons to reach academic success and have better career preparation. Without raising tuition fees and adding too much to course material costs, Kritik is able to add great value to students' education while enhancing their abilities to compete in the job market after graduating.

Conclusion

Although there is still much to be researched on the cost-benefits of the current education system, it stands apparent that students are paying a premium despite the less-optimized value they are receiving. With that said, colleges and universities are all about education. It is an investment that will last a lifetime, so we need to ensure that students are receiving quality education without the extreme financial burden.

peer assessment

What is Peer Assessment?


Peer assessment is a powerful tool instructors can utilize to help students learn, analyze, and engage more deeply in their understanding of course content. This is done by allowing the student to take responsibility for assessing fellow students’ work against criteria set by the instructor. Doing so allows the student the opportunity to think deeply about the criteria in order to serve as the assessor and provide feedback to their peers. Beyond simply understanding the presented material, properly implemented peer assessment can be a catalyst for more effective student learning as students apply newly acquired knowledge to the assessment process. 


What are the benefits of peer assessment?

There are multiple benefits associated with peer assessment. Students receive more frequent feedback from peers instead of waiting for the instructor to assess all assignments. Students are also able to compare their own approach to a task or assignment with that of their fellow peers. In doing so, they can assess their own knowledge against that of their classmates. This exchange of information from multiple viewpoints enables the student to think critically about a topic in order to increase understanding. It also promotes better student motivation and engagement by allowing the student to have ownership over the process.


Beyond cognition, this kind of assessment offers opportunities to develop real-world skills that will extend outside the classroom. With appropriate guidance, students learn how to assess and critique information, make criterion-referenced judgements, and provide effective and valuable feedback to others. This naturally leads to the critical analysis and reflection required to promote deeper learning. These are important communication skills that are important in today’s collaborative environment. 


What is peer assessment used for? 

Peer assessment can be utilized across many different kinds of assignments, courses and disciplines. It can be used to assess individual assignments, or it can be used to assess contributions through team-based learning. Assessment can be done openly to promote group or whole-class discussion, or it can be done anonymously to promote more honest feedback. This assessment can be a cumulative activity at the end of a large assignment, or it can be broken into smaller parts to provide feedback at various stages within the context of the larger assignment. It can also be as simple as exchanging notes in class to help uncover gaps or discrepancies in learning. 


Written assignments lend themselves well to peer assessment. However, this form of assessment can be easily adapted for use with any number of assignments, such as presentations, visual displays, discussion boards, and/or performances. It is suitable for use in-person as well as virtually, and the assessment can be formative or summative. [1]


How can I help students progress in peer assessment? 

Like anything else, critical assessment of others' work is a learned skill that should be practiced with an eye toward improvement. In order for this method to be effective, the instructor must have clear and concise goals and criteria. Rubrics should be used and must clearly define the tasks for the learner and reviewer. These rubrics should be introduced in such a way that allows the learner to apply the rubric to the assignment as well as the assessment. Instructors should model how to provide appropriate feedback and criticism prior to students beginning the peer assessment process. 


It can be difficult for instructors to relinquish control to allow students to provide feedback. However, feedback from peers can bridge the gap between instructor feedback and student perception in order to improve skills. This process emphasizes that mistakes provide opportunities to learn and grow so that assessment is better seen as a part of learning such as using Kritik in a way that encourages continued and ongoing learning through scaffolded assignments. The result can often be a more sophisticated understanding of the content as well as the learning process. [2]

7 Ways to Implement Online Peer Assessment

Setting up peer assessment for success

As more classes move online in the wake of the pandemic, it’s increasingly important for faculty to stay on top of student progress, performance and general well-being. Peer assessment allows for students and their peers to stay in close contact with instructors through regular assignments that provide feedback for improvement. In large online classes, peer assessment can create room for assignments where the creative output of students would otherwise be very difficult to grade with automation or to manage with additional teaching staff. 

Formative assessment expert Heidi Andrade, an associate professor in the School of Education at the University at Albany, SUNY, has worked with schools across the U.S. to promote learning-centered assessment. As part of Arts Achieve, a large-scale arts assessment research project undertaken in 2010-2015 by Studio in a School and the New York City Department of Education’s Office of Arts and Special Projects, Andrade created a series of videos on implementing formative and peer assessment in the classroom. 

According to Andrade, there are three main criteria for effectively implementing formative assessment:

  • Clarifying criteria for performance
  • Ensuring students receive useful, timely feedback
  • Following up that feedback with opportunities to revise and improve upon their work 
Research shows that formative assessment, when effectively implemented, “can effectively double the speed of student learning” (Wiliam, 2007).

“If we’re just giving students grades or scores, that doesn’t count as assessment that promotes learning,” says Andrade. “What counts as assessment that promotes learning is when students get feedback on their strengths and weaknesses, guidance on how to improve their own work and an opportunity to work on the improvement.”

For most faculty, that’s a pipe dream. Delivering personalized feedback in a class of 50 (or worse, a class of 400) is next to impossible. But that’s where peer assessment can come into play.

“The teacher is not the sole source of quality feedback in the room,” says Andrade. “Under the right conditions, students can be useful sources of feedback for themselves and for each other.”

For peer assessment to work, says Andrade, strong criteria and descriptive levels of quality, or rubrics, are foundational.

“For me, the most important purpose of rubrics is to support students in thinking about the quality of their own and each others’ work and guiding revision.” The criteria guide the critique, which needs to be constructive, seeking clarification and should lead to suggestions that will improve the work.

“You cannot give good feedback on a piece of work that you don’t understand,” says Andrade. “You have to ask questions of clarification that can’t be thinly-veiled critiques.”

Rubrics, according to Andrade, can improve student performance, as well as monitor it; help students become more thoughtful judges of the quality of their own and others’ work; reduce the amount of time teachers spend evaluating student work; and finally, they’re easy to use and explain what is expected of students (Learn more about Kritik's customized rubrics here).

Every class and every discipline has different types of assignments that can be effective forms of peer assessment. And while there’s no single solution for any course, there’s a wide variety of assignments that are well-suited to peer assessment.

7 Ways to implement peer assessment in your class

1. Practical work

Let your students experiment with practical skills under the watchful eye of their peers. Often, the feedback they receive is more candid and valuable than what they might get from a tutor, whose presence might actually inhibit a student’s ability to perform in the first place. It’s more natural and likely to generate more useful feedback in something like a lab report when the ideas are coming from a group of peers.

2. Reports

There’s good and bad practice in writing lab reports and doing case analysis—when students hear about it from their peers it helps them become more aware of how important coherence, structure and layout can be on the final product.

3. STEM problem sets

A quick and easy assessment strategy, looking for correct answers in peer work—like performing code reviews in engineering, etc.—opens a window into where their peers went wrong/right in their thinking. By seeing the errors others have made by evaluating their logic, notation and problem solving skills, students can pinpoint trouble spots to avoid in future.

4. Presentations and peer instruction

Let your students know what to look for in their peers’ presentations: Are they presuming too much knowledge? Are they talking too much and not engaging the room? Is their argument logical? Armed with the right guidelines they’ll be able to make sound judgements on the work of their peers and gain insights in how they might improve their own work.

5. Questions

Harness the power of your student’s curiosity—assign them the task of creating questions about the lecture that are shared with the rest of the class. Not only will their peers have the chance to improve their own understanding by answering the question, they can evaluate the quality and usefulness of it, providing feedback for improvement. 

6. Essay plans

Before they share the final paper, get your students to share their essay outlines too. By reviewing how others plan their content and structure their arguments before actually writing an essay, this kind of scaffolding assignment allows students to share a wide variety of ideas for improvement in a short period of time and to apply the lessons learned to their own essay writing in future. When it comes time to evaluate the final submission, students can see how their peers’ thinking evolved from the original plan, giving them insight into the quality of feedback that was provided—and how it was applied—along the way.

7. Team-based learning

To implement team-based learning, break your class up into diverse groups of 5-7 students who will be working together during class time (whether that's online or in-person). Before each class, students are asked to prepare by doing a set of readings, which they're quickly evaluated on at the start of class to gauge comprehension. Spend the remainder of the class working in groups on problems or challenges that allow the student teams to apply and extend what they've learned in the pre-class readings. Groups must arrive at a consensus solution to the problem they've been tasked with and present it to the class for discussion and feedback. A version of the flipped classroom, the kind of interactive engagement methods used in team-based learning have been shown to result in learning gains almost two standard deviations higher than those observed in traditional courses.

Learn more about how educators are utilizing Kritik in unique ways to put peer assessment into practice.

6 Ways Peer Assessment Enhances Student Learning Online

How peer assessment impacts professors and students

Regardless of its well-established ability to develop self-reflection, resourcefulness and gains not seen with external evaluation (Pintrich 1995; Pintrich and Zusho 2007; Dow et al. 2012), peer assessment is still viewed with some skepticism by many faculty, who remain reticent to put it into practice.

“Part of why I don't think other colleagues pick up on peer assessment is that they know it's a tough sell to students,” says Alexander Gainer, an associate economics professor at the University of Alberta. It’s more work than many students want to put in, he continues. At Dalhousie University, professor Matt Numer concurs, adding that many of his colleagues are also “scared that peer assessment will make them lose control of the class.”

Peer assessment does change the role of teachers in the classroom. In a 2013 Stanford University/Coursera paper entitled “Peer and Self Assessment in Massive Online Classes,” researchers found that when peer assessment provides the primary evaluative function, the instructor’s role shifts to emphasize coaching, not grading. That’s why it’s important to establish “explicit grading criteria (especially in advance) [that] helps convey to students that grading is fair, consistent, and based on the quality of their work.”

When peer assessment provides the primary evaluative function, the instructor’s role shifts to emphasize coaching, not grading.

The knock-on effect is that professors will end up spending more time articulating the grading criteria than doing the grading. To effectively scale peer assessment, “teachers should plan on revising rubrics as they come across unexpected types of strong and weak work. After revision, these rubrics can scale well for both students and other teachers to use.” (Kulkarni et al. 2013)

“You end up having to do more work on the front end to design good activities for students,” says Numer, “but then in many of my classes I'm just wandering around while they're doing work. If I'm the one that's in the classroom and bored because they are researching and doing whatever, that's the end game. You should be teaching yourself out of a job.”

That newly freed-up time affords professors the opportunity to do more personalized coaching, and to focus on the students who need their help the most.

One of the Stanford researchers’ most remarkable results reported that students felt that assessing others’ work was “an extremely valuable learning activity.”

Peer assessment is a win-win for students and the professors who are bold enough to put it into practice: Students get to learn invaluable critical thinking skills by teaching others, while professors who surrender some of their traditional assessment tasks to students find themselves with more time to work directly with students. The ideas that hold students and professors back from trying out peer assessment—fear of more work for students; loss of control for professors—are the very things that are solved by it.

6 Ways peer assessment enhances student learning

1. Student learning improves when they provide assessment to peers

When students are asked to provide constructive feedback via peer instruction, the act itself engages them in complex problem solving—they have to diagnose problems and suggest solutions, actions that are the hallmarks of higher-order thinking. Studies have shown that the act of delivering elaborate feedback that describes identifiable problems and proposed scaffolded solutions is the aspect of peer assessment that benefits student learning the most (Topping et al. 2013). Lundstrom and Baker (2009) found that assessing a peer's written work was more beneficial than being assessed by a peer, and some research raises the possibility that the benefit of peer assessment comes more from assessing, rather than being assessed (Usher 2018).

2. Students get faster feedback from more diverse sources

Finding time to deliver frequent, meaningful feedback is one of faculty’s greatest challenges—it’s often cited as one the main factors limiting students’ opportunity to practice writing and get feedback on their work (Cho and Schunn 2007). With peer assessment, students can receive feedback on multiple assignments in a timely manner from a variety of perspectives—free from the power dynamics inherent in a teacher-student relationship—adding a diversity of viewpoints to their learning. 

3. Active environments offer more opportunities to improve

The feedback process involved in peer assessment encourages active learning—students aren’t simply being passive recipients of instructor feedback, they’re producing and sharing it themselves (Liu and Carless 2006; Cartney 2010; Nicol 2011). And, since the feedback can be delivered more quickly, it offers students opportunities to improve their work through revision or by applying what they’ve learned to future assignments. The opportunity to apply what they’ve learned through practice and quality feedback will positively impact student learning (Nicol and Macfarlane-Dick 2006).

4. Peer assessment improves metacognition and increases independence

Peer assessment can be an act of humility—by assessing the work of their peers, students glean a better understanding of their own work, honing their metacognitive capacity to recognize holes in their own understanding. Rather than overestimating or underestimating their own work, the act of peer assessment can train students to self-correct and become less dependent on feedback from instructors, making them more independent in their learning (Nicol, Thomson and Breslin 2014).

5. By comparing their work to their peers students become self-reflective

Anytime a student is asked to assess the work of their peers, they’re also actively comparing it to their own by referencing assignment guidelines and criteria, instructor expectations and perceptions of quality (Baker 2016; Nicol, Thomson and Breslin 2014). By becoming critical readers of others’ writing, students are also developing a better understanding of how readers might interpret the work they produce themselves (Cho and Cho 2011; MacArthur 2010). The comparative process encourages self-improvement and clarity of purpose in writing.

6. Peer assessment helps develop the lifelong skills students will need to succeed

As preparation for life outside of school, peer assessment helps students develop the transferable skills they’ll need to succeed. The process prepares them to be able to critically review and engage with the work of their peers, enables them to be able to deliver feedback in constructive, positive ways and to learn how to incorporate the feedback they receive from others into their own work without losing their cool. These are the very skills that are in demand in the knowledge economy—by honing them in an academic environment, students will be better prepared to function independently for the duration of their lives. 

Conclusion

Research strongly supports the use of peer assessment as a formative practice for improving overall academic performance. Overall, findings indicate that peer assessment can be more effective than teacher assessment. Additionally, with the shift to online or remote learning, studies have shown that peer assessment online can significantly reduce the logistical burden of implementing peer assessment (Tannacito and Tuzi 2002). See how hundreds of educators are using Kritik for peer assessment activities here.



Plagiarism in Higher Ed

The Surprising Truth About Plagiarism & Peer Assessment

Plagiarism & peer assessment: is it a big threat?

When educators research and decide which EdTech tools to use in their classrooms, concerns of plagiarism linger: What if my students submit plagiarized work?

A survey conducted between 2003 to 2005 of over 63,700 US undergraduate and 9,250 graduate students revealed that:

  • 36% of undergraduate and 24% of graduate students admit to paraphrasing and copying sentences from Internet sources without properly citing them
  • 14% of undergraduate students and 7% of graduate students admit to falsifying their bibliographies
  • 7% of undergraduate and 3% of graduate students admit to turning in work that was completed by another person (McCabe, 2005)

According to Dr. David Rettinger of the University of Mary Washington, students often rationalize cheating when they are not fully engaged in the course nor see the value of what they are learning (Simmons, 2018). For example, high-stakes assignments and standardized assessments that are based on pure memorization are perceived negatively by students, which influences their engagement in the course (Simmons, 2018). The peer assessment feature on Kritik allows students to actively apply their learnings and receive more personalized feedback on their work, driving student motivation and engagement.


Tools like Kritik help address the problem from the onset: promoting the use of peer assessment allows students to derive a unique value from their assignment, thus making them more motivated to complete the task without resulting in cheating. In addition to using plagiarism detection tools, empowering your students to practise due diligence during the peer evaluation process will help them develop soft skills like critical thinking and assessment skills and understand the inherent value of academic integrity.


Maintaining and promoting academic integrity is imperative for all educators, and technology can help flag instances of plagiarism to take action. It is important to ensure that every student’s efforts are fairly and accurately recognized to motivate and engage them to continue learning. The peer assessment feature on Kritik encourages student engagement and social learning, as students interact and actively apply their knowledge in order to critically evaluate their peers’ work.

How to encourage academic integrity in your class with Kritik


How can Kritik help instructors ensure academic integrity in terms of assignments being submitted and in the evaluations themselves?

1. Plagiarism detection algorithm

Technology cannot ultimately prevent the act of cheating but can flag plagiarized work and identify plagiarizers within the classroom. Kritik aims to increase grading efficiency by automatically detecting plagiarism, allowing instructors to communicate with students about academic integrity and course expectations without needing to individually review every student’s work.


Kritik can detect plagiarism between students’ creations by flagging students who upload duplicate submissions and plagiarized text. When students submit text creations on Kritik, the system compares the content to other assignments that were previously submitted, flags the creators, and notifies the Kritik team. The Kritik team personally reaches out to the instructor with administrative data to limit individual cheating behaviour. This approach ensures that students in the same class do not commit academic dishonesty and copy each other’s assignments.


Instructors can also add plagiarism-detecting resources in the Evaluator’s Notes section (notes and guidance available to students when they are evaluating their peers’ works). Websites like plagiarismdetector.net will allow students to actively detect plagiarism. Encouraging students to take charge of their own learning and evaluations allows them to practice due diligence and read work critically. This would be a great opportunity to further engage with their assignment content.

2. Student engagement and policing

When Professor Alex Gainer from the University of Alberta used Kritik for his economics courses, he was surprised to see how vigilant his students were at detecting cheating in the classroom:

“Students get really upset when they see other students cheating; they put in the effort to produce a quality piece of work, and rightfully think it’s unfair if someone else just copied something off of Google. As soon as students detected cheating, they included that in their peers’ feedback and emailed me immediately.” - Prof. Alex Gainer

Students are required to provide written evaluations when grading their peers’ work, giving them a chance to provide meaningful and personalized feedback related to the assignment while communicating with the professor about the plagiarized text.

While no system is 100% fool-proof for plagiarism detection, students promote academic integrity and enforce a positive learning environment when asked to evaluate their peers’ work. Identifying individual cheating behaviour ensures that the class is responsible for their own learning.

Kritik grading score and evaluation score view


“Cheating is not an issue in my class. Students are highly engaged and motivated to learn, and if any occurrence of cheating should arise, either Kritik’s platform or the other peer group will flag the concern to be dealt with immediately to ensure better future academic outcomes.” - Prof. Alex Gainer

Peer influence also plays an important role in fostering a learning environment that values academic integrity. A survey about self-reported academic cheating from classes of 1959 through 2002 in the US military service academies suggests that groups of students are likely to cheat due to peer pressure to maintain social status, either due to group behaviour or associating positive status with academic performance (Simmons, 2018).

3. Creating assignments and rubrics to encourage due diligence

Once an instructor decides to use Kritik, our team provides resources and in-person guidance to optimize their course and tailor assignments for the peer assessment feature. There are some things educators can do to actively promote critical thinking, originality in assignments, and help students practise due diligence.


Instructional design

Instructors can design assignments that promote critical thinking and expand on class discussion. Encouraging dialogue between students and giving them the opportunity to actively apply their learning by evaluating their peers’ work will improve student motivation. For large assignments, professors can scaffold major papers to ensure that students receive quality and timely feedback at multiple stages of the essay process.

This scaffolded activity example is from Professor Lyzzie Golliher, an English professor at Old Dominion University. Implementing peer assessment in her scaffolded assignments allowed her students to participate in low-stakes assignments before submitting a final, polished version that had received multiple points of personalized feedback. Moreover, the scaffolded activities allowed her students to engage with the class and learn different perspectives while applying their understanding in their own evaluations.


4. Thoughtful language

Instructors can include more thoughtful language and encourage their students to provide quality feedback. Kritik’s core value is providing critical yet motivational feedback; in the final stage of the peer assessment process, students rate how critical and motivational they felt the evaluations they received were. Students are held accountable in every stage of the peer assessment process, and evaluators are encouraged to provide meaningful feedback. Acknowledging strengths and what could be improved in each assignment provides opportunities for growth in technical aspects like quality of writing and grammar, all while encouraging soft skill development like communication and critical thinking.

5. Teach media literacy

Offering additional resources and providing guidance for fundamental skills like digital literacy will help close learning gaps between students in modern, technological classrooms. It is important to teach college students digital literacy, including citation, reading comprehension, and application skills. Many institutions set clear guidelines on how to accurately cite online sources, but including more resources or even simply stating what citation style is required for the assignment under Activity Details will help students monumentally.

Some tips to help set expectations for assignments to discourage plagiarism and encourage original writing:

  • Clearly communicate course conduct and course expectations in the syllabus; reviewing what counts as plagiarism or setting an expectation about the quality of work will help guide students in their work (Clifford, 2012)
  • Provide resources about how to complete the assignment (e.g. Fundamentals to College Essays) or how to complete citations (e.g. APA Citation Guide). You can attach these resources in the Activity Details section when delivering your Kritik assignment

6. Add rubric criteria to encourage due diligence

Instructors can set guidelines about citations and originality, as well as provide direct opportunities for students to detect plagiarism, through the rubric. In the rubric, instructors can add criteria like “Originality of Thoughts” to establish competency and encourage their students to master this competency.

Professor Stan Korotchenko from Tarleton State University includes a “Plagiarism” criteria with a pass-fail. The goal is to encourage students to create meaningful and original work and have them also critically assess others’ work. Adding this criterion also encourages students to research and cite work properly.

Adding criteria sets a clear expectation of a level of integrity while instilling trust within his students to create original work and critically evaluate these papers by actively detecting plagiarism.

Conclusion

Kritik aims to develop a pedagogical approach that empowers students and encourages active learning by providing opportunities to better apply their course knowledge and critically think, all while using technology to enhance the learning environment. Cheating and plagiarism are inevitable, but instructors can provide guidance, use technology, and create opportunities for students to create original work and detect plagiarism in order to minimize the prevalence of academic dishonesty. Addressing the underlying concerns and motivations of students around cheating will help effectively reduce its prevalence and risk in the classroom.


Equitable grading

How to Make Grading More Equitable for Students

How to make grading more equitable for students

Today, our news cycle is dominated by the protests erupting around the world as a result of racial injustice and systemic racism. In a recent blog post, we discussed the impact COVID school closures had on students, and analyzed why minority students (both in terms of race & economic status) were disproportionately negatively affected by the school closures. Building an equitable learning environment – where students of different races and economic status have access to an education that is fitting to their own unique circumstances is a challenge plaguing not just educators, but institutions and policymakers alike. With endless solutions to a complex problem continuously being discussed, it may be hard for some educators to figure out where to begin. In today’s post we wanted to discuss a particular area educators have a direct impact on, and that is grading. We will break down the biases existing in the current grading system today and learn how equitable grading policies can be developed and how to build an equitable learning environment for their students by improving how they grade their students work.  

Unfair grading practices

The hallmark of any university experience for students are the assessments they will undergo; from quizzes, exams to final papers, assignments are a regular part of a students life. Assignments are created and graded on the discretion of the instructor; while instructors are certainly subject-matter experts in the field, many are not taught how to grade properly. The prerequisites to become an educator are rooted in their ability to convey their expertise, but often, how they are able to assess others’ understanding of their expertise is not standardized from one institution to another. While some institutions certainly offer training and support for their educators to assist in grading and class instruction, not all do. This disparity in itself is an affront to educational equity.  

The result of this imbalance is that student grading standards differ not just from one middle school or high school to another, but from department to department from within the same institution and sometimes within the very same class, as multiple teaching assistants often aid a single professor to grade their class’ work. While some instructors may argue that regular discussions on grade standardization occurs, unfair grading procedures are still present. Here are 2 examples of unfair grading practices which most educators are deploying right now:

1. Participation grades

Subjectivity grading such as participation or “student effort” is based on a professors/teaching assistant’s perception of their student’s engagement. While you can certainly count the amount of times a student raises their hand in class, how do you rank thoughtfulness? What makes a student question a good one? These questions are not black and white, but rather grey, and unfortunately differ from instructor to instructor.

2. Grading on a curve

Educators assess students based on how they perform in relation to each other as opposed to a student’s individual merits. Why can’t 8 students in a class receive an A if they in fact deserve it, even though the department mandated only 5 students to receive an A? Grading on a curve pegs students against one another as the spots available for the top grades are pre-determined.

While these approaches are commonly used, there are professors, departments and institutions out there who are actively seeking new ways to improve their grading structure to ensure each of their students receive fair and equitable grades based on their efforts.

How to improve grading

Stop subjective-based grading:  Traditional grading practices have become a barrier to meaningful student learning. If you can’t translate ‘participation’ or ‘student effort’ into a standardized grading scheme, then do not deploy these grading criteria. Look for tools like a discussion board where student engagement is tracked & monitored throughout the course. Being able to quantify participation whereby it is no longer subjective will be imperative in ensuring an educator's inherent bias or prejudice is not taken into account.

1. Utilize anonymous peer grading

Peer to peer assessment if often celebrated by students as an opportunity to receive feedback on their work without the threat of bias opinion being present, because they evaluate each other's work anonymously. Peer to peer assessment also ensures more unique and diverse opinions are recognized.

2. Rubric-based Assessment

Providing clearly outlined rubrics for each assignment that show students a pathway to succeed will help students frame their work and ensure subjectivity on the part of the grader, is greatly reduced.

Equity beyond a single classroom

The strategies I presented above are great for individual instructors to begin deploying in their classes today, but they do not take into account the lack of grade standardization across departments and institutions. It is therefore incumbent on department chairs to offer their educators group sessions and instructor-to-instructor grading review sessions where policies and gaps can be identified and actioned on. Equitable grading practices should be adopted that are more accurate, bias resistant, reduce grade inflation and motivating them to a stronger teacher-student relationships, less stressful classrooms, reduced failure rates, improved student's behavior.

There is no simple solution for equitable classrooms; it takes time, planning and commitment from all levels of academia, but it is necessary. Technology like Kritik can help educators build an equitable classroom environment by removing the subjectivity barriers inherently present in grading. But the solution to this systemic problem is greater than a single technology can offer, but with commitment, an equitable classroom is achievable for all students, regardless of their background or personal circumstances. Many teachers include criteria such as effort, participation, extra credit, group work or homework in a student’s grade.

Implementing equitable grading

“Most teachers believe that students who try should not fail regardless of whether they actually learn, but other teachers believe the opposite: that fairness is honestly reporting academic performance regardless of effort,” says Joe Feldman, CEO of Crescendo Education Group, teacher, principal and a district administrator, in his book Grading for Equity: What It Is, Why It Matters, and How It Can Transform Schools and Classroom  (Corwin Press, 2018).

By contrast, more equitable grading practice looks like:

  • Mathematical approach; instead of using a 100 point scale, using a 0-4 grading scale instead; avoid giving them a zero score. Recent student's grades should carry more weightage than averaging performance over time in the final grade in their report cards.
  • Valuing the knowledge; Academic success needs to be measured by what students know and can do rather than their grades.
  • Support a growth mindset, Redos and retakes of the previous test and projects to replace previous scores with current scores to encourage them to learn for their mistakes and improve the student's performance.
  • Make grades simpler; Use standardized and simplified grade calculation to add up in the grade books what the students can easily understand.
  • Build soft skills; Keeping a focus to support intrinsic motivation in them. Student's learning is important than test scores.


Activity Curation with Peer to Peer Assessment

Peer-to-Peer Curation Activities Boost Higher-Order Thinking

Most professors we hear from want to assess their students on higher levels and that if current assessments kept student at the lowest level of Bloom’s Taxonomy, they wouldn’t feel rewarded as educators.

However, assessment is by far the most labor-intensive part of teaching. Assessment plans and rubrics must be prepped. Test questions must be written. Every student needs a mark, personalized feedback and a road-map for improvement. The larger the class, the more work for the instructor. Add in formative assessments like weekly assignments and exercises that precipitate subtle, ongoing tweaks to the syllabus and it’s easy to see why many faculty opt to stick with what they know: An accumulation of easy-to-grade summative assessments that almost inevitably rely on rote learning of the most basic concepts rather than creative thinking or problem solving skills - the lower orders of thinking outlined in Bloom’s Taxonomy.

“Summative assessment provides a safety net for instructors,” says Matthew Numer, a professor in the School of Health and Human Performance at Dalhousie University. “When you have competition for your time, you're going to default to something that's already worked.”

Here at Kritik, we have a suggestion: Try a peer-to-peer curation activity.

But wait, what's curation?

Cambridge Dictionary defines Curation as "the selection of content such as documents, music, videos, or articles to be included as part of a list or collection" (https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/curation).

In a Higher Ed setting, curation has plenty of potential as an academic task. Jennifer Gonzalez, creator of the Cult of Pedagogy, puts it perfectly:

"Sure, we’re used to assigning research projects, where students have to gather resources, pull out information, and synthesize that information into a cohesive piece of informational or argumentative writing. This kind of work is challenging and important, and it should remain as a core assignment throughout school, but how often do we make the collection of resources itself a stand-alone assignment?" (https://www.cultofpedagogy.com/curation/).

Curation Activities can be one of the most effective teaching strategies to help students compare what they’re learning in the classroom and gain insight into how they can relate to each other. Curation projects have the potential to put your students to work at multiple levels of Bloom's Taxonomy:

Blooms taxonomy diagram
Bloom's Taxonomy

Bloom's Taxonomy

Benjamin Bloom in his 1956 book, "Taxonomy of Educational Objectives: The Classification of Educational Goals." Higher-order thinking skills are reflected by the top three levels in Bloom’s Taxonomy

Understand → where we exemplify and classify information

Analysis and Synthesis → consists of breaking down ideas, drawing connections and finding evidence

Evaluate → rejecting or defending a stand or decision based on a set of criteria

How can I setup a curation activity?

Curation Activities can apply to all disciples, such as Business, Arts, or Sciences. For example, you can have students collect a set of articles, images, videos, or other sources based on a set of criteria ("Most interesting brand strategy campaigns" or "The world's most infectious diseases") and rank them in some kind of order, justifying their rankings with a short written explanation. Students are findings examples of a given course concept and doing some summarizing and justification work's at the Understand, Analyze and Evaluate levels of Bloom's. When students explain what they’ve learned, to other students, they help consolidate and strengthen connections to those concepts while simultaneously engaging in active learning. Find more project ideas here.

Higher order vs lower order thinking skill:

Unfortunately, that default is failing students in high school and their ability to develop key skills in such uncertain times. The lower order thinking skills involves basic skills like memorization, while the higher order requires the understanding and application of knowledge. It was seen that higher level thinking made students problem solvers when given problems with new situation to solve. Moreover the ability of visualization, inferring, brain storming, critical thinking, creativity, metacognition were also seen to improve in students of a higher level than in students with a lower level thought process. To teach students to develop thinking skills, teachers need to design activities that require students to process information at the highest levels such as:

  • Reading and analysis of information
  • Mathematical problems
  • Content-area teachers can assist their language arts peers by frequently having students write and explore expository passages
  • Use of graphic organizers (diagrams, flow charts)
  • Understanding of scientific concepts
  • Use of maps, globes, charts with examples of the real-world

To enhance the curation activity, add a component of peer assessment

Most of the above activities would not necessarily be academically challenging or time consuming if students merely had to assemble the collection and add a thoughtfully designed written component. For more effective learning outcomes, we recommend adding a component of peer assessment into the Curation Activity. For the previous example, instructors could use Kritik to have students submit their ranked list, and then also anonymously evaluate a set numbers of their peers lists through a set of predefined rubric criteria. By actively engaging with their classmates and applying their own evaluative skills to feedback they’re delivering to their peers, student's ability of creative thinking and critical thinking skills improves. Additionally, peer assessment is proven to be effective in getting students faster feedback from diverse sources, increases meta-cognition, independence and self-reflection, and improves student learning. These are all important skills that provide value far beyond the classroom. More details on the benefits of peer assessment here.

Kritik is built for digital peer-to-peer curation activities

Kritik is an online peer-to-peer interactive learning platform designed for professors to engage students in a 21st century way. Students can make online submissions for assigned activities and be evaluated based on rubrics designed to help students emulate a professor-standard grading process. Students will also receive constructive written feedback from their peers. When you assess your peer's work, you receive a grading score for critical thinking based on the fairness of your evaluation and a feedback score on the effectiveness of your written comment. The grading score and feedback score are known together as the Evaluation score. They are calculated and adjusted automatically by Kritik’s scoring system. Instructors and TAs maintain full visibility into the peer review process and have the ability to provide comments and ultimately finalize activities.

Request a demo here to get started on your Curation Activity today!

Teaching Large Classes

Measuring Student Engagement for Large Classes

Researchers, educators, and policymakers are increasingly focused on student engagement as the key to addressing problems of low achievement, student boredom and alienation, and high dropout rates (Fredricks, Blumenfeld, and Paris 2004). Managing large classes takes much of an effort and planning than teaching smaller classes.

Teaching large classes

Be it online learning sessions of traditional lectures, irrespective of the class size, the lecture hall, a large class is the one that feels like one. There are important considerations that are to be made to manage and deliver effectively. To manage a large class it is important to make pre-class decisions. Research states that traditional lectures to a class, does not help students to retain much of the information. For students to be involved in active learning in the lecture, other strategies with additional resources are required.

Strategies for teaching large classes

  • Personalize the class by acquainting with all the students through roll calls specially in the first days of the session. Fix a seating plan. Hold office hours where students can come visit you and talk to you about various issues. Show willingness to listen to them.

  • Breaking up the class into segments of 10 to 20 minutes each to keep the attention span to maximum. The typical attention span of teenagers is really less, to keep the students focused to grab the concepts, breaking the lecture segment into smaller parts can really help.

  • Promote active learning by making lectures interactive, asking questions, encouraging brainstorming, incorporate a variety of teaching methods

  • Team Based Learning (TBL) is an instructional strategy that emphasizes on student preparation out of class and application of knowledge in class.

  • Encourage student participation through small groups, pairing up and using surveys.

  • Think-pair-share; the instructor poses a question or problem to the class. Students are given time to consider a response, they are then asked to pair up with the other student sitting next to them. The pair discusses their responses and then share their response with the larger group or class. Initial opportunity to talk about their response with a single peer reduces the anxiety some students feel about responding to instructor prompts.

  • Minute-paper; This is a type of classroom assessment technique where at the end of each class segment, each student is asked to write the main point of the class in 2 - 3 minutes. This poses various benefits that include, students being able to articulate their thoughts and them staying alert.

  • Audience response system; Clicker-Questions with the help of devices called clickers are presented as multiple-choice questions that can particularly be used as a formative assessment technique.

  • Addressing the fear of peer judgement among the class; Fear of embarrassment among peers is a common reason for lack of participation. It is critical for the teacher to develop a sense of trust among the classmates, so no student feels judged by his peers. Try to build feelings of personal connection among them. Do not let any student dominate the discussion. Furthermore, discussion boards can provide structured opportunities for students who are otherwise too shy to participate in class discussion both in online. This ensures a good learning experience for each type of student in the class.

  • Teaching Assistants;  By engaging a teaching assistant in the wider classroom environment, it could be that everyone benefits. An assistant may not be qualified as the teacher who is in-charge, but is capable for helping him use technology, organize the class, because a large class can become rowdy.

Classroom management tips for a large class

Due to the economical collapse, and the loss of jobs due to the current conditions in the times of COVID, there has been remarkable larger classes in public institutions. For new teachers, or teachers who are new to the recent trends of virtual online classes.

Collaborative grouping

Small group discussions, where the students are segregated into groups of 7 to 10 students each, they are given a topic to discuss and learn about among the groups. To assess whether each student had an active participation in the group work, the teacher may randomly pick students from the group and check whether they are able to answer questions regarding the topic. Often the quiet students in the large groups get less airtime. A turn talk can help each student to participate.

Time management

Discussing learning objects in a small class may take around 20 minutes while discussing the same topics with a large enrollment class probably takes twice the time. If not planned, the ring to the next class will ring and you will not have probably covered the important topics for the specific day.

Find new approach to know students

In a class with large number of students, it is impossible for each and every student to get one on one time with their teachers. Unfortunately, relations with students suffer alot especially in online or large lecture classes.

Use surveys

Consider new ways like taking surveys every two to three weeks, for students to get a chance to ask their questions, and keep different students in focus each time. Invite the students to talk about their interests, achievements and challenges they are facing.

Be okay with the loud

Loud does not always means random discussions. If your classroom management skills are being questioned for not keeping your students quiet, understand that loud is what you get from enthusiastic learners.

Peer assessment

Peer assessment means involving studies in their own learning. Research show that self and peer assessment enhances teaching and learning effectiveness by helping them to develop their critical thinking and reflective skills and boost their self confidence.  Self-assessment  “students are directed to assess their performance against pre-determined standard criteria…[and] involves the students in goal setting and more informal, dynamic self-regulation and self-reflection” (Bourke & Mentis, 2011, p. 859).

Measuring student learning with peer evaluation

It is challenging to assess the progress of students learning while teaching a lecture or seminar, no matter how interactive it may be. Multiple-choice tests or iClicker questions are currently the most common forms of standardized testing to assess students' learning progress in-class. While it may be convenient and easy to implement, the results only show if a student reaches an answer rather than how they reach that answer. In addition, insights from these tests help professors to understand if the class as a whole is doing well or poorly but lacks information on areas of improvement for each individual student.

In a digital-first world,  institutions are now slowly adopting e-learning tools, and learning games to offer new assessment methods for students. It's become known as the invisible, integrated assessment method where students are more engaged beyond regular testing. The key advantage for professors is that many of these platforms offer a versatile dashboard, which tracks student performance data from learning activities. Gaining valuable insights into the skills coverage and student expectations regarding student learning will allow teachers to gain a holistic view of the academic performance of their students.

How peer assessment improves student learning

Peer assessment can vary depending on the learning goals and is is often characterized as taking either a formative or summative approach. Researches show that peer assessment has various benefits and improves student learning by;

  • Quick feedback
  • Learning through giving feedback
  • Increased critical engagement
  • Encourages reflective comparison
  • Active engagement
  • Improved understanding of their own work
  • Increased opportunities for writing in the discipline
  • Development of lifelong skills

Types of peer assessment

The concept of peer assessment is broad and has various types. These are the things to be considered while selecting choosing peer assessment technique:

  • Objective of assessment – What skill is a students expected to develop while carrying out an activity
  • Product of peer assessment – What is the output that students create while assessing their peers? (grades, rubric, ranking, guided questions, qualitative feedback)
  • Grading – How will students be graded on the assignment?
  • Reviewer selection – How will peer assessors be assigned for the peer assessment? (e.g. randomized, self-selected, instructor selected, small group, pair-matched).
  • Training – How experienced and confident are the students with peer assessment?
  • Frequency and positioning

Assessment without testing

Typically, final grades consist of tests, quizzes, and exams collected over the semester all of which follow the same style of assessment, testing. On the note of testing, rarely can evaluation skills be measured through these conventional assessments. As most undergraduate education programs do not teach evaluative skills, students lack the ability to make sound judgements and identify right from wrong.

Integrating peer assessment into classrooms will help students identify their own skills gaps and understand where their knowledge is weak [2]. It helps both professors and students to focus their attention on learning and set realistic goals. Students are motivated to revise their work and track their own progress with more peer assessment-related activities. As a professor, you coach your students through the rubric criteria you create and in the expectations you state, teach them how to apply them when grading each other work. A valuable assessment tool to help students self-reflect and take responsibility for their learning [2].

Taking action

To create an inclusive educational environment while measuring the learning progress of students, integrating Kritik's calibrated peer review as a method of peer assessment is a great way to achieve this. Students reap the benefits of receiving immediate and consistent feedback on their creations.

In professor Gainer's first-year economics class, students were able to identify what poor and strong questions generated by the students look like, which demonstrates their knowledge of a subject.

As a professor, you have full visibility of all stages at any time. Additionally, you can track progress by seeing how an individual student's scores and critical thinking skills have changed over time.

Tracking how well students are evaluating one another can be seen through their Kritik score and the star ranks they receive.   As progress is tracked online, professors will have a better understanding of when to move to the next level of the course (1). Kritik gamifies assessment by enabling the students to earn points as they complete the course activities.

Classroom

Why Calibrated Peer Review Saves Professors Time

Calibrated peer review

If you have spent over 20 hours grading papers or writing assignments, then you know what an automated online grading software can do. An effective online grading software should have clear grading standards from different source materials. These standards should be defined, have specified solutions, and right results.

Meanwhile, traditional grading systems involve simple software in assessing Multiple-Choice Questions or True/False. However, this is not feasible for a short answer or for student written assignments where one must assess a students' deep understanding of course concepts.

As many classrooms are being pushed to incorporate educational technology for remote teaching, why can't the same be applied for automated grading systems? Yes, an automated online grading software can free up more teaching time for professors. However, will it come at the cost of sacrificing fair grades for more biased or inaccurate grades? This is where the calibrated peer review or CPR system comes in.

How to save time grading

To solve these challenges, CPR website or solution Kritik is excited to announce our new calibration feature. This peer review program is a powerful tool built to automatically keep our online grading software more precise. It raises awareness among students regarding grading expectations for writing assignments and activities. Also, it enhances the critical thinking of students.

Rolling out Kritik’s calibration feature will be easy once it is implemented as an e-learning platform. Currently, Kritik's grading system revolves around peer grading, where students anonymously evaluate their peer's submissions through rubric-based assessments. This is what you call an anonymous peer review.

Now, with calibrated peer review, students grading close to professors’ preferences will have a higher impact when making evaluations on other submissions. Calibration essays also showcase students' writing skills in any field like science courses. Making the intro great will help the pedagogy assessment.

How does it work?

This peer review process requires a professor to select, review, and evaluate three creations of a previously finalized Kritik activity. In the review stage, students will assess the same creations and evaluate those same creations provided by the professor. It evaluates student work or student writing as text entry.

Students with the same grading provided by professors will have a higher-order calibration score. The higher the grading score the student achieves, the greater the impact they will have on future assessments of other students’ creations.

Why?

The objective here is to determine strong peer evaluators with effective for peer grading. Students who mark closely or exactly in line with the professor will demonstrate how strong their grading thinking skills are. In return, those students will be rewarded with a higher grading score. Furthermore, students with low grades or with little effort will be penalized with a lower grading score.

Tying it together

The creation score is an overall weighted average of the evaluations that a student received on their submission. Here, peer evaluators’ grading score becomes the weight. Students who increase their total grading criteria or points from the calibration activity will have a higher weight as they evaluate their peer submissions. This can be proven valuable for one’s own essay marking, lab marking, etc.

Improve the Grading System Accuracy: This guarantees less inflated grades with the calibrated peer review. It is more than enough to administer a calibration activity once or twice throughout the term.

Identify Key Evaluators: Students who grade closely to you indicate how well they are absorbing the context of the assignment requirements and rubric criteria. The students can be as trust-worthy as the TA's in providing effective evaluations and feedback to support their peers in the course.

Discovering the Potential: Kritik solution enables students to establish their abilities in evaluating their consistent feedback. In large classes, well-performing students and those with high evaluation score indicate their evaluation ability. This gives professors an opportunity to identify students for TA recommendations.

Gamification: To keep students motivated as they complete assignments, the Kritik scoring system allows students to keep track of their improvement throughout the term. Obtaining a high grading score showcases how well students are comprehending and applying course content.

Offer more assignments: With the calibration feature in use, you can spend less time revising the grades of the students and spending more time creating Kritik assignments. With at least 6-7 Kritik activities each term, expect to notice an exponential increase in student's evaluation score.

Peer evalutions

How to Maximize Your Peer Evaluations Results

Peer evaluation is carried about by evaluators generally for the purpose of improvement in the teaching methods. The evaluation criteria can either be done through a formative or a summative review for new hiring or promotional purpose. Often self evaluation forms are developed to assess contribution, performance, skills, competencies, team work or attitude of students, team members and faculty members.

Best practices for peer evaluation activities

Critical and motivational peer feedback increases productivity, overall knowledge retention and yields higher quality work from students. Here are some tips and best practices for creating activities and structuring peer evaluations:

1. Validity

The outcome that you should look for in a peer evaluation is validity. What this means is that a student peer evaluation should mimic the same depth, thought process and insight as a professor’s evaluation. This is a clear marker of success, because a professor’s marking abilities are typically held to the golden standard. Not to mention that a valid student evaluation proves that grading automation is sustainable because it replicates that of a professor’s.

2. Reliability

Reliability is measured by the consistency among peer evaluations. Unless a piece of work is subjective, a collection of peer evaluations must point to a general direction in order to provide value. This can only occur when evaluations are consistent across the board, in terms of evaluation depth or given score. Kritik implements a variety of features to help ensure

3. Maximum capacity of words on bodies of work (creations)

For written work, essays should not exceed more than 1,000 words. As you might imagine, students can provide more precise constructive feedback on content that is shorter in length. This leaves less room for too much variation in evaluations, and students are prompted to make more consistent conclusions among themselves.

4. Maximum capacity of words on evaluations

Even the number of words on evaluations should also be limited as well, in order to ensure that effective, regular and concise feedback is given. According to a study conducted by West Virginia University, feedback should not exceed 50 words or more.

5. Clarity of criteria given to students

Keep your rubrics clear and concise. Give examples and indicators of poor, moderate, and excellent bodies of work. In terms of transferring professional knowledge to your students, clarify your thought process as well as tips and tricks that you use throughout your grading process. Naturally, this boosts the validity of your student’s evaluations, as you help shape an evaluation process that mirrors that of your own. Guide them to give constructive feedback for further improvement.

6. Number of evaluations required by students

An excessive number of assigned evaluations will exhaust the student and their time, which can deplete the quality and validity of the peer evaluations despite adequate training and instruction. At the same time, the accuracy of grading will be compromised if only one or two peer evaluations are provided for a given work. According to a few studies conducted by Georgia State University and Pennsylvania State University, the optimum number of individuals to review is between four and six.

The coronavirus pandemic has made us shift to virtual classrooms, where the struggle to teach with maximum efficiency has reduced. To find of what things we lack in the online classroom, compared to a traditional one is by moving through a peer review process repeatedly. The peer evaluation process are also helpful to assess the efforts of group members of group projects, how much each student has contributed to the group work assignment.

Improved Teaching

Learning by Teaching: The Future of Classrooms

The world is embracing change. Education is evolving at a pace faster than any other period in recent history. In order to fit in the 21st century, a new educational system of improved standards and models have been created that fosters new technology and equally available learning resources, be it long distance or working individuals.

Classrooms of the future

In the traditional classroom, it is standard to learn in a synchronous manner, whereas the classrooms of the future are not limited to one specific place. Rather, distance has little affect on them and they are available to all through online learning platforms and virtual spaces. Just like the phrase one size fits all is not held true, likewise, each student does not have the same suitable conditions to get education in a traditional manner. The key ways education is believed to setting change in high school and universities in the near future are;

  • Induction of technology in education (EdTech)
  • Accessible and flexible at anyplace anytime
  • Real time experience through virtual and augmented reality (VR and AR)
  • New assessment techniques

Let's talk about these more in-depth:

1. Technology friendly

The education system of the future holds variety. Currently, it has evolved from heavy back packs to the use of high quality new technology. Instead text written on books with pictures set on the tables in front of the students, the use of tablets and eBooks is providing creative learning. All a student requires is a recent device, connectivity to an internet, working headsets for their online learning experience from the comfort of their home.

The onset of the pandemic around the globe has made even the traditional professors to turn to online education system. Even the teachers of the primary school and middle school had to devise ways of teaching their lesson plans to their little students online. To learn to accurately use the technology, webinars and professional development sessions have been offered to the facilitators that have been available at the comfort of their home workspace.

2. Accessible and flexible

Location is no longer a limiting factor to gain educational experience for students and teachers.  Teachers standing in front of the class in a room full of students is a concept of the past. Technology makes distance learning more accessible. Long distance accessibility offers a wide variety of programs from various universities and higher education without setting a foot in the physical classroom.

Online education gives the facilitator and the student a flexibility of setting their own schedule. Learning resources are kept available for each individual student at all times, so that they are able to get education while maintaining a good work-study balance. Nothing claims a sacrifice.

3. Virtual and augmented reality

The formal classroom will be replaced by learning areas that allow individuals, to have a real time classroom experience even through online sharing of the screen that is called as the virtual reality (VR). Small groups or larger groups will have the ability to collaborate virtually just like face-to-face on learning projects.

One of the biggest technology trends in the recent times is the Augmented reality abbreviated as AR. It is interactive experience of the real world environment through devices. This has greatly increased the learning outcomes. It enhances the abilities like problem-solving and prepares the students for the future by providing an innovative learning environment.

An online virtual classroom includes the following features:

  • Video conferencing
  • Digital whiteboards
  • Instant messaging
  • Participation controls: enabling students to participate in discussions or virtually “raise” their hands
  • Sub-chats: breakout rooms to facilitate collaborative learning and group work between learners
  • Video recording: to save live lectures as video-on-demand to aid the learning process

4. Peer assessment

For a course to be successful, engaging students is of the utmost importance, as it incorporates teaching methods that encourage new processes of learning. Some questions which should be considered are:

  1. What do students bring to the course?
  2. How many hours do students spend on coursework outside of the class?
  3. How often do students contact their professors?
  4. What studying strategies do students implement?

As a student myself, I wouldn't expect professors to know all the answers from the questions above. It is already difficult for professors to juggle their time between lecturing, research and administrative duties. However, it doesn't mean it isn't possible, as we are seeing many professors incorporating formative peer review as a way to integrate students in both the learning and teaching processes in a classroom.

Formative peer review is when students are introduced to new assignments and criteria to assess that assignment. By administering practice activities and keeping expectations clear, students are trained on how to assess and provide feedback on their peer's creations [1]. From the feedback that a student receives, students can compare the quality of their work with their peers in terms of whether they meet or exceed the expectations of their instructor. Through this process, students improve their critical thinking skills by reviewing the writing of their peers and gaining a better understanding of how their peers came to a particular conclusion.

Adaptive learning

Adaptive learning is a new method of assessing students and is being incorporated in various teaching institutes. Students no longer have to submit assignments in one particular way. They can find the way that best expresses their understanding of the subject or topic and then set about proving to the teacher that they know what they’re talking about.

How does peer review add value in the classroom?

While feedback is very valuable for improving knowledge retention, it is almost impossible for a professor to provide quality and consistent weekly feedback for each activity or assessment throughout the term. Peer review offers the opportunity to establish continuous feedback in courses which can be of great value to both students and professors. Here's how:

1. Creating dedicated & vigilant evaluators

Giving feedback isn't perceived as extensive extra work, so in return, students often put more thought to provide quality motivational and critical feedback that makes sense and is supported with reason. We typically see professors administering around 5 Kritik activities throughout the term. For each activity, students typically evaluate around 4 their peers’ creations. The evaluation process generally only takes on average approximately 8 minutes per evaluation, so ultimately we’re talking about an extra ~30 minutes of work per activity, once every 2 weeks, which is around 2.5 extra hours of work spread over the whole term. Through gamification, students natural competitive nature is highlighted and they are motivated to give feedback that their peers will find motivational and critical. It has become a great way for students to be actively engaged outside of classroom hours.

By completing a peer review on an online peer assessment tool, implementing anonymous feedback can be made much easier. Professors have even testified students having recognized and reported plagiarism from using an anonymous online peer assessment tool.

Why anonymity works?

For starters, it eliminates a lot of bias that students may have when evaluating their peers' assessments. It maintains the integrity of giving honest and direct feedback [3]. Also, students will be less self-conscious when providing reviews, saving them the time of having to over analyze every word or personalized message. Even for the perspective of the receiver, reading anonymous feedback or interpreting anonymous assessments of your work, it is more likely for students to take into consideration all the feedback their peers provided. Non-anonymous peer review tend to have skewed results where students provide similar evaluations and feedback for each student for social-related reasons.

2. Doing more with less

Implementing peer review in your classroom mimics a group dynamic such that students can rely on each other to track improvements in learning and how to better understand problems related to the course. This in return removes the need for students to rely on professors to ask the very same questions that their peers can address. Professors can feel good cutting office hours shorter by setting up an online peer assessment tool and spend more time teaching.

Using an online peer evaluation platform, opens up a new window for students to engage with different types of students in terms of knowledgeability, critical thinking skills and so on that they would not have before. It reduces students' social barriers while making the most of their experience related to the course.

3. A long-term studying strategy

While we know peer evaluation will help increase student accountability and autonomy, I think the most valuable outcome of peer evaluation is the retention strategies it has to offer students. According to a study of applied cognitive psychology conducted by Aloysius Wei Lun Koh, learning-by-teaching is proven effective when teaching involves the retrieval of taught materials. This way, students may manifest the teaching effect (1) during the evaluation stage, where students retrieve the information previously remembered to teach others through the feedback they provide.

Encouraging future TA's through Kritik

When students use Kritik for their courses they will fully absorb and interact with the material of the course. By providing constructive assessments and measuring feedback students develop the necessary evaluative skills for teaching assistant role.

Peer feedback

Value of Peer Feedback Beyond the Classroom

The importance of peer feedback

Critical and motivational feedback increases productivity, overall knowledge retention, and more quality in students' work. In turn, peer feedback is essential to:

1. Adopt new knowledge

For starters, students are building an investment in their writing or ability to solve problems. It helps students understand the relationship between their work and their course expectations. Students learn from what peers have to say from the feedback received on the assignment in the form of peer review. This may look like how to interpret different methodologies if there is more than one way to reach the answer or having peers ask complex questions that further increases curiosity.

2. Identify mistakes

One of the clearest benefits of peer review is having students identify errors in one another's submission. Automatic grading systems can determine if a statement was right or wrong but for subjective related work, it does not provide the why. This is important for students to improve from their mistakes for long term growth.

3. Keep everyone on track

For courses that do not incorporate group related work and rely heavily on independent studying, using online peer review tools can be a great way to ensure that students feel aligned. For certain complex subject matters, open-ended assignment expectations can make students feel more anxious or reliant on their abilities which might be ill-suited to your class discussions when approaching assignments. By reviewing peers' assignments through formative assessment, allows students to have contemporary models to explore and adopt whether it be for writing, presentation techniques, etc.

4. Enable personal growth in their academic career

Positive and constructive feedback further encourages and motivates students as they progress through a course. Simply knowing that you have been meeting or going beyond assignment expectations is a great sign that you are achieving the desired learning outcome (1). What's even better is that students learn the skills of providing effective feedback and learn to deal with negative feedback, so that it empowers educators and students to be more effective in the feedback process.

Some of our very own professors use Kritik as an online peer assessment tool for professional development. Professor Nada Basir uses the feedback students provide to one another in teaching entrepreneurship. This serves as a means of communication improvement to make students concise when articulating problems. Constructive criticism or positive feedback is relevant for personal and professional development.

What skills can your students gain?

Increase leadership and communication

  • Critical thinking Skills
  • Collaboration
  • Creativity
  • Problem solving

Ways to give effective peer feedback

Basically, effective teaching incorporates collaborative learning, self-assessment and regulation, meta-cognition, and peer tutoring. All of these are the primary components of an effective peer review. So, how can a peer review be effective for student learning? Below are some steps you can take:

1. Use of a feedback rubric

Encouraging students to make specific and actionable critiques can pose a challenge for teachers. Teachers may scaffold the learning process with feedback rubrics. These rubrics focus more on student support while having formative assessment through feedback.

Moreover, teachers may co-create the rubrics with their students upon formulating the criteria. This will help develop their understanding of good work. In turn, they will opt for the peer review process.

2. Review and moderate student feedback

Students tend to fear the peer review process in the case that they receive unfair feedback from their peers. To prevent this, we recommend for instructors to moderate the process through Kritik. Kritik allows for instructors to read student evaluations and add comments on ineffective feedback. Other features allow students to flag feedback and dispute grades to ensure that any insufficient feedback can be easily dealt with.

3. Let students react to the peer feedback

Kritik's peer evaluation process allows students to provide feedback on the feedback they are receiving. Students can give a rating based on how critical and motivation the feedback they received was. This step helps students become better reviewers and encourages them to be more receptive to constructive feedback.

4. Start allowing students to give feedback one at a time

Try to ask your students to evaluate something simple and short. They may create an introduction to an essay. Do peer review sessions in a classroom whenever possible rather than assigning it as their homework. This will help assist students every time they may have some questions or any issue at hand.

Never ask them to review and have feedback on many things at once. Break it down into smaller, manageable things to deal with.

5. Get actionable feedback

Student comments need to be actionable. Comments should answer questions on how feedback works and how to improve it. They should be clear to become effective.

6. Ask for timely feedback

Never wait until the end of the project or assignment before getting peer evaluations. Students tend to become busy after school with their respective sports and/or jobs. They need more time for edits. Multiple types of feedback help lessen their frustration and save time. You have to plan ahead and establish a class time to do the edit than set them as assignments or homework.

7. Provide anonymous feedback methods

Provide students with methods for anonymous feedback so they become honest in giving out their critique. These methods could include gallery walks, paper numbering, or sticky notes. You are giving them the opportunity to give negative comments too. Think ahead of student expectations before performing this activity.

Track down the offender whenever any problem will arise during the activity.

Students love it

Experiential learning, where students are learning hands-on provides students with the best of both worlds from learning in the classroom while building professional skills (2). Examples of experiential learning can be internships or assisting with faculty research or trips abroad. Students value this process as they are constantly looking for skills that will translate into the real world, and reviewing work is an essential workplace skill. Combining hands-on learning with learning by teaching is a great way for students to further reflect on their learning experience for professional growth. Evaluating current research studies, work reports, or project plans is a perfect way for students to ask the right questions, develop communication skills, and gain new insights as they plan their post-grad aspirations.

Peer feedback in corporate culture

Peer feedback should already be established in the college years for future use in corporations. The same is true in developing a corporate culture, peer feedback is critical at the workplace. Here are the reasons why:

1. Varying feedback sources

When students are out there in the real life of employment, they will be receiving feedback from their managers. Peer feedback comes from different sources on different aspects of work. Solid feedback from peers helps employees realize which area of performance needs improvement.

2. Team-building

Receiving peer feedback helps workers better understand each other’s weaknesses and strengths. Employees work together to improve team productivity.

3. Guarantees employee engagement

Employee engagement is critical in HR and peer feedback helps employees develop engaging work culture. Peers are comfortable when they are around their peers and enable them to observe their teammates’ performance. Communication is also effective here.

4. Self-assessment and development

Feedback from peers enables employees to better understand their work and that of their peers. This leads them to find ways in utilizing their peers’ skills and become productive as a team. Peer feedback allows them to effectively communicate their ideas and suggestions. It opens an opportunity to evaluate themselves and establish themselves with feedback from different sources.

5. Removes fear

The feedback seems more informal from peers. It can be used in improving their performance at work. This gives employees comfort with each other without allowing fear.

Conclusion

Indeed, peer feedback is significant not just in a higher education classroom but also beyond that. The feedback is important in developing their skills for a career in the future. This is very significant for students to receive while at school for academic and professional development.

Customized rubrics

Crafting Analytical Rubrics for Higher Education

Rubric-based assessments are great for a variety of reasons:

  • Provides timely and effective feedback while spending less time grading
  • Communicates expectations, encourage peer and self-assessment, and foster engagement
  • Assess levels of performance
  • Rubrics encourage critical thinking and develop higher-order thinking skills
  • Encourage fair grading with assessment criteria and reduce student disputes
  • Provide detailed feedback

However, building them from scratch can feel like a very daunting task. But we're here to help! In this blog, we've outlined the main things you should consider when rubric-making. Let's dive in!

Types of performances to assess with rubrics

Depending on your curriculum goals and different criteria using rubrics are a great tool when subjective student performance is the focus of the learning outcome [1]. Subjecting reading, analysis and writing assignments are perfect for rubric-based assessments to ascertain levels of achievement and provide specific feedback.

If an activity has an objectively correct answer, rubrics can also be used where responses can be evaluated on performance quality, problem solving skills, thought-process in addition to correctness.

Rubrics are a powerful peer review assessment tool, as they provide a structure for how students make observations. When evaluation feedback is based on rubric criteria, it reduces performance-based judgments [1]. It prevents students from learning through teaching when judgments are biased or have no reasoning [1]. This ultimately leads to less concerns or disputes from students on their own grades, as expectations are clearly communicated throughout the whole process.

How to choose the right type of rubric

The two most common types of rubric assessments are analytical rubrics, where each criterion / dimension trait is assessed separately or holistic rubrics, where different criteria are assessed simultaneously. Below is a more detailed explanation on the two types of rubrics.

The best courses for analytical rubrics are geared towards STEM education. By focusing on each criterion, instructions are clearly defined one at a time and it is easier for students to assess from. Analytical rubric assessment is a great way to gauge where improvement is needed for future years in order to track student progress [1].

Holistic rubrics have traditionally been used for activities relating to English composition. We've seen the SAT scoring the portion of the essay on a holistic rubric, making grading a subjective written activity fair and efficient. Holistic rubrics for peer review help students make global judgments on how they themselves produce work [1].

Determining the rating scale for scoring rubrics

A single score works best for holistic based rubrics to determine a general impression of a student's performance on a particular task and overall score [2].  It may not, however, provide specific areas of strengths and weaknesses to gauge where improvement is required. A holistic rating scale can be very applicable for projects which will vary greatly like independent study projects or in large quantities [2].

Components of Holistic Rating Scales

Analytic rating scales provide performance expectation for multiple criteria, having a rating scale with descriptions is necessary for students to understand the difference between one rating and another [1].

Components of Analytic Rating Scales [2]

  • Criteria that link to the relevant learning objectives
  • Rating scale that distinguishes between levels of mastery
  • Descriptions that clarify the meaning of each criterion, at each level of mastery

Be specific in the description of the knowledge or skills that you are looking for while limiting the most important characteristics. Keep the description relatively the same across each criterion but add adjectives or adverbial phrases to display a qualitative difference [1]. Including numbers, requirements should be associated with a qualitative reference that ensures that the quantity quality is not ignored by students (e.g. three relevant and relevant examples) [1].

Kritik rubric repository

To make our professors' lives easier, we've developed a large repository of customizable rubrics that can be used to create activities and conduct online peer review on Kritik. The created or edited rubrics can also be saved and added to the rubric library for future use.

Peer to peer review

Calibrated Peer Review

Effective automated grading software must have clear grading standards defined, specified solutions stated and accurate results. Traditional grading systems encompass simple software to assess True/False or MCQ, however this is not feasible for short answer or written assignments where one must assess a students' deep understanding of course concepts.

According to MacLean's News outlet, University professors work an average of 48 hours a week completing both teaching and non-teaching duties. From that 48 hours, 22 hours a week is spent teaching, grading, conducting research and dealing with administration and course preparations.

Educators' dedication and efforts are widely appreciated and can be seen through how they conduct their courses. As many classrooms are being pushed to incorporate educational technology for remote teaching, why can't the same be applied for automated grading systems?  We understand automated online grading software can most certainly free up more teaching time for professors, however, will it come at the cost of sacrificing fair grades for more biased or inaccurate grades?

More time saving, less time wasting

To solve these challenges, Kritik is excited to announce our new calibration feature. This powerful tool is built to automatically keep our online grading software more precise while raising awareness among students regarding grading expectations for assignments and activities.

If you have already implemented Kritik as your e-learning platform, rolling out the calibration feature will be very easy.  Currently, Kritik's grading system revolves around peer grading, where students anonymously evaluate their peer's submissions through rubric-based assessments. Now with calibrated peer review, students who grade closely to the professors preferences will have a higher impact when making evaluations on ****other submissions.

How does it work?

A professor will select, review and evaluate three creations of a previously finalized Kritik activity. Students will then evaluate the same three creations and have their evaluations provided for those same creations compared with the evaluations provided by the professor.

Students who have marked in line with how the professor did will get a higher grading score for the calibration activity. The higher the grading score the student achieves, the greater the impact they will have on future activities when assessing other students ' creations.

Why?

The aim is to identify strong peer evaluators who will prove to be effective for peer grading. Students who mark closely or exactly in line with the professor will demonstrate how strong their grading skills really are. In return, those very students will be rewarded with a higher grading score. Likewise, students who marked poorly or with little effort will be penalized with a lower grading score.

Tying it together

The creation score is an overall weighted average of the evaluations that a student received on their submission. In this case, the weight is the peer evaluators grading score. Students who ranked grading points from the calibration activity will have a higher weight as they evaluate their peer submissions. This can be proven valuable for essay marking, lab marking and etc.

Improve grading accuracy

You are guaranteed less inflated grades through calibrated peer review. Administering a calibration activity 1-2 times over the whole term is more than enough.

Identify key evaluators

Students who grade closely to you indicate how well they are absorbing the context of the assignment requirements and rubric criteria. You can count on these students alike to the TA's to provide effective assessments and feedback that will further support their peers in the course.


Gamification

To keep students motivated as they complete assignments, the "Grade Power' gamification system allows students to keep track of their improvement throughout the term. Obtaining a high grading score showcases how well students are comprehending and applying course content.

Offer more assignments

With the calibration feature in use, you can spend less time revising the grades of the students and spending more time creating Kritik assignments. With at least 6-7 Kritik activities by the end of the term, you can expect to see an exponential increase in the student's Evaluation score.