Easy Switch to Online Learning powered by Peer Assessment

When Covid hit, “the university had two hours to make everything virtual, and people were scrambling. I suspected this might happen and using Kritik it took me 10 minutes to flip my classroom (from in-person to virtual). I like having Kritik, especially teaching asynchronously, Kritik has what I need.”

This was the experience of Dr. Kaston Anderson-Carpenter, Assistant Professor of Psychology at Michigan State University. 

Dr. Anderson-Carpenter has a unique insight on Kritik as he was one of our earliest users and experienced Kritik both with in-person teaching in 2020 and then using Kritik to flip his classroom to an online delivery when the pandemic forced sweeping changes across North American campuses. 

When courses, like Dr. Anderson-Carpenter’s, were required to move online, the process involved reimagining lessons, activities and teaching so that they could be effective in an entirely different learning context. Thankfully, Dr. Anderson-Carpenter had experience with a tool that provided this flexibility while not sacrificing the learning experience of students. 

With Kritik's ability to give instructors the adaptability of transitioning online, it also meant that when it became time to resume courses back to in-person, Dr. Anderson-Carpenter could easily utilize Kritik's unique features of versatility like he had when he was forced to transition online teaching.

We asked Dr. Anderson-Carpenter about his experience with Kritik - what he liked about it, the value it brought to his students and how, as he says, it was “hair follicle saving” during his experience teaching in-person and online. 

What do you like about peer assessment with Kritik?

“With Kritik, the way it’s structured, the students act as peer reviewers and learn how to give and receive feedback. It’s a nice loop where students learn from each other and it’s not all about learning from me.”

Peer assessment teaches students to be critical thinkers and strong evaluators. In more traditional learning environments, the professors act as the gatekeeper for feedback with a linear relationship between students and professors. Of course, this not only puts a strain on professors' resources as they are constantly rushing to grade all of the students’ work, but it limits the thoughts and opinions students are exposed to. 

With Kritik peer assessment, students experience valuable moments of peer interaction while the professors focus on the areas that have the highest impact on student learning - which still includes providing feedback, but they can do so more efficiently and effectively. As Dr. Anderson-Carpenter shared, if students have a grade dispute, a question or he sees ways to elevate a students’ learning, he is able to provide personalized and effective guidance and feedback - even with his larger class sizes.

Another benefit that shouldn't go unnoticed is the time and energy Kritik has saved when grading and managing student work. Dr. Anderson-Carpenter shared that Kritik saves him about 6 hours a week because of the automation and platform structure that helps him manage up to 300 student assignments per activity, while lesson planning and providing personalized student support at the same time.

Dr. Anderson-Carpenter has primarily used Kritik for 2 courses, a 400-level Health Disparities course and a 300-level Health Psychology course. The Health Disparities course typically has between 10-20 students, while the larger Health Psychology course has upwards of 300 students per semester. Activities Dr. Anderson-Carpenter implemented include literature reviews, and prompted question response assignments.

How does peer assessment with Kritik improve student engagement and content retention in online and in-person learning environments?

“Kritik has improved my students’ engagement and learning because they are not getting all of their information from one person - me. Kritik allows students to learn different applications of the health concepts.” 

Dr. Anderson-Carpenter went on to explain a particular assignment one of his students completed where they extended their learning and applied it to real-life situations and modern media. Through peer review, that student’s peers now have exposure to these different ways of thinking and applying the learning where they can draw inspiration for their future work.

Why is it important for students to learn how to critique other’s works and receive critique on their own work?

As Dr. Anderson-Carpenter shares, writing material intended for peer review “teaches students to write concisely while also incorporating factors such a multi-cultural application, being able to provide evidence or supporting information of their claim and being able to link their learning in health psychology to other fields and disciplines.”

In addition to the learning benefits for students, Dr. Anderson-Carpenter recognizes that while he is the professor and he holds a Ph.D, it doesn’t mean he has all the answers.

“Kritik gives that versatility and gives the students the opportunity to be peer reviewers and learn to provide and receive feedback. It’s about empowering students.” It’s also about recognizing student contributions are important and valuable. 

Dr. Anderson-Carpenter, extends the peer review experience by having his students critique literature. His goal is for his students to understand that whether work is produced by their peers , by their professor or by a published author, nothing is immune to constructive criticism. Dr. Anderson-Carpenter communicates to his students that the critique process is not just about finding errors and areas of improvement, at it’s core it’s meant to help each other grow and improve because, as he says, students are all “co-learners”. 

What was it like using Kritik to transition from in-person to online learning?

When using Kritik in an online format, Dr. Anderson-Carpernter shared that his first semester switching from in-person to online showed him that “it’s really easy, and much easier than [he] even thought it would be.” While Kritik allows professors like Dr. Anderson-Carpernter to easily transition from teaching in-person to online, it also opened up the possibility to easily convert his classroom when online classes would begin to resume back to in-person. The versatility of Kritik opens up new possibilities for delivering course content no matter the circumstances.

He goes on to share that with his writing intensive course, “I do not know how I would do it without Kritik.” Kritik is used by professors like Dr. Anderson-Carpenter to transition learning environments - not just to a shift to virtual learning because of the pandemic, but also to enhance learning and adapt to students’ unique abilities through peer assessment, group work, new activity types - the list goes on. 

At it’s core, even teaching a course that was intended for in–person, Dr. Anderson-Carpenter was able to motivate and engage his students, while putting his best foot forward as an educator. 

“My job is not to teach them what to think, it’s to teach them how to think and Kritik helps me to do that and helps me to facilitate those discussions. Kritik has empowered students, especially those who would not normally speak up in class and it empowers them to think critically about what they are learning…and to help their peers see different perspectives.”

Dr. Kaston Anderson-Carpenter
Dr. Kaston Anderson-Carpenter
Michigan State University
Assistant Professor of Psychology

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