Kevin McGinniss: Using Peer Assessment to Boost Discussion

Prof. Kevin McGinniss found peer assessment a useful tool to boost engagement in his discussion board activities. In his Recreation Tourism and Sports Management courses, he implemented individual discussion forum activities to facilitate course-related interaction among his students to promote learning. Having used Kritik for over two years, he sees great benefit in the platform’s peer assessment design. He finds that students achieve a deeper understanding of course material, higher-level reasoning, and soft skills pertinent to their career paths.

“When I’ve gotten my course evaluations, the feedback on Kritik has been very good. The best way to learn something is to teach it, which plays into that to a certain respect. To share perspectives, to share knowledge, to share research is powerful - the ability to assess it only enhances their critical learning skills, their content knowledge, and their ability to take that information and use it practically.”

In this story, we will see how Prof. McGinniss used Individual assignments on Kritik for discussions to help his students get the most out of interaction-based learning.

3 Key Elements for Effective Discussions

Prof. McGinniss finds that encouraging students to share knowledge and opinions through discussion board activities substantially increases engagement and learning in his courses. To set his activities up for success, Prof. McGinniss incorporates these key elements for effective discussion forums:

1. Having a topic that addresses course content

For instructors, stimulating student discussion can depend greatly on the relevance of a topic and its delivery. Prof. McGinniss tries to ensure discussion topics are current, on-point, open-ended, and broad-based.

2. Encouraging students to share their opinions

Kritik, with its 360-degree feedback, aims to increase student engagement and participation. Discussion board activities are designed for students to share their perspectives on a given topic to add more knowledge and resources in a back-and-forth process.

3. Providing a tailored rubric to guide students

Prof. McGinniss structures his rubric to provide a guide for his students to follow when working on the content they would share in discussion board activities. These rubrics allow him to lay out specific expectations for his students to get the most out of this activity.

Here is a peek into the success rate for Prof. Kevin McGinniss’ class:

Prof. McGinniss' discussion board assignment statistics from Kritik

Download the deck and the full recording of Prof. McGinniss’ workshop.

Discussion Boards with Peer Assessment

Prof. McGinniss assigned his students multiple discussion board activities within his courses. Here’s how he designed them: 

Activity: Discussion Board Forum 2

Using anonymous peer assessment on Kritik and the option to read and critique five peers, Prof. McGinniss set up an activity based on a topic from his course. Students had access to a detailed rubric that included criteria such as: Clarity of Thoughts, Creative and Critical Thinking, Participation/Timeliness, Quality of Work, and Community Fostering. The rubric displayed the expectations for each level of criteria, which acted as the main template and guide when evaluating others’ work. Here is a look at the assignment information and instructions he provided his students for the Create stage:

Prof. McGinniss discussion board activity on Kritik

These instructions laid out clear steps for students to follow to complete the first stage of the assignment. Here, Prof. McGinniss ensured that students had access to clear directions for their work.

Here is a look into how the rubric played a role in the Evaluate stage for this activity:

Example of peer evaluation on Kritik with grading and written comment

As evident in this evaluation, evaluators used the same rubric criteria attached to this assignment to evaluate others’ work. Students use the rubric to score Creations and leave a related written comment to communicate their thoughts. This evaluation process pushes students to adopt a constructive approach in scoring their peers’ work, encouraging them to participate in a motivational and critical way that students find beneficial throughout the feedback-on-feedback process.

The Feedback stage allows students to see the written evaluations they received from their peers on their work. This allows students to provide feedback in return for these written comments. These three stages, combined with the anonymous structure they assume, help make this a true discussion board activity. The opportunity to provide feedback on work and then receive feedback on such feedback encourages a healthy discussion amongst students directed at growth, just as Prof. McGinniss intended.

Here is a look into the feedback process:

Example of peer feedback on Kritik showing how motivational and critical the evaluation was

As shown in this feedback example, students use a Likert scale to rank evaluators’ comments regarding motivational and critical quality. This allows students to learn from one another and further interact to share more knowledge. Keeping in mind Prof. McGinniss’ advice on constructive feedback, his students maintain a healthy environment for peer assessment to help each other improve their performance over the course of the term.

Want to join our upcoming workshops? See our schedule here.

Facilitate Discussions with Interactive Peer Assessment

The 360-degree framework in Kritik aims to promote a healthier, more meaningful, and interactive learning environment for students in a classroom, online, or hybrid setting. Paired with Prof. McGinniss’ discussion board activities, students experience a higher sense of engagement and communication at the peer level due to the key elements incorporated in such activity types.

Are you planning to adopt peer assessment in your upcoming course? Set up your course on Kritik for free!

Kevin McGinniss
Kevin McGinniss
Southern Connecticut State University
Assistant Professor of Kinesiology and Sport Management

Get Started Today

Learn more about how Kritik can help you
Request a Demo