Peer Feedback: How Students Can Learn More while Saving Teachers Time

The best educational innovations are born of necessity. That’s exactly what happened with Peergrade creator David Kofoed Wind when he came up with the idea as a way to streamline the classes he taught.

As a computer science and data professor at Technical University of Denmark, Wind faced a time crunch when his popular Big Data course ballooned from 20 students to 150 students in just one semester’s time. Wind realized he would need a minimum of 2 to 3 hours daily just to glance over each student’s written work. The addition of helpful feedback would mean even more time buried in paperwork and less devoted to actual lesson and assignment creation.

So Wind took what he already knew about scaleable tasks and developed a system where students could receive feedback on assignments from three of their peers. From there, students could edit their work and have a thoroughly vetted assignment to turn in when it was due. Wind found that the input his students were giving to each other was informing their own work, elevating the performance of everyone.

When his colleagues showed interest in having a similar option for their courses, the idea for Peergrade was born.

“I built Peergrade for myself. The idea was instead of me providing all the feedback, the students could do some of it and also learn from reading each other’s work,” Wind said.

The intuitive feedback platform has been available for 18 months and institutions like Oxford University, Copenhagen Business School and Technical University of Denmark are already using it on a wide scale. The client list is mainly made up of higher education institutions but Wind said some high school teachers are also starting to implement it in courses.

 

So how does Peergrade work exactly? There are many levels of customization based on the course at hand, but essentially students upload their work, it is evaluated by peers and then the student can comment or ask questions about the feedback – all within the Peergrade interface. Teachers keep track of original assignments and which students are upholding the feedback portion of the course.

On average, 245 pages of feedback is available per course. That’s 245 pages of notes, comments, suggestions and critiques that come from other students. Having such a diversified way to provide feedback means higher quality assignments, more interactions among students and a better overall understanding of the material in the end.

Teachers can sign up for free individually or entire institutions can obtain a license.

Peergrade Features

Here is a snapshot of what to expect when you implement Peergrade:

  • Anonymous grading. Feedback defaults to an anonymous system – and instructors can decide if they want to make the person giving feedback known.
  • Fair evaluations. Students are able to mark feedback for moderation by the teacher if they feel it is unfair or without merit.
  • Analytics for teachers. Peergrade allows teachers to run a variety of reports that give quick insight into how students are doing in the course, where improvements are needed, and who is or isn’t providing valuable feedback.
  • Rubric quality. Teachers can see which questions or prompts were especially difficult for students so adjustments can be made for the future.
  • Weight assignment. Teachers can control how much of an impact each item has on the student’s overall grade.
  • Email notifications. Teachers can set up alerts related to upcoming deadlines and assignments. Teachers can also opt out of any notifications.
  • Easy integration. Peergrade integrates seamlessly with a variety of other grading and classroom management tools.

These are just some of the features that make Peergrade a smart fit for many courses. It makes sense to me that students get a better shot at really mastering material if they have initial feedback before the instructor gives it a final pass and grade. Peers can give plenty of insight into what may be missing from an assignment, what should be shifted around and what seems to be out of place. That outside feedback can really change the direction of an assignment for the better, resulting in higher comprehension of the material and a better grade, too.

Interested in learning more about Peergrade? Sign up for free on the Peergrade site.

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