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Peer-evaluation fosters active participation and engagement of participants, as they take on the roles of peers as evaluators in Evaluation scenarios.
Typically, in conventional course settings, students may not be interested in or come to know work contributed by other students and teams, as long as they get their own work right. Often they do not even know what other students and teams are working on. Only students who come equipped with prior personal interest in the course's subject are likely to be motivated to engage with their own and other students' contributions. Additionally, it is often hard to accomplish for instructors to assess fair grades to the students, taking into account the diverse topics and interests.
In peer-evaluation scenarios participants evaluate certain contributions of each other. The infrastructure for students to communicate the evaluation to the instructor is provided, e.g., via a web form. There are several variants of implementing this pattern in a course. They can be derived from the questions that specify the peer-evaluation process as shown in Table 1. The questions in the left-hand side column aim at certain independent variables of a peer-evaluation solution. The right-hand side column shows possible answers to the questions, which may be adapted by the pattern user and combined arbitrarily to assemble one feasible solution.
What is potentially subject to evaluation depends largely on the type of learning activity that produces the evaluation targets, e.g. designing a website will impose different criteria on evaluation than writing an essay. Additionally, the instructor may define certain aspects and criteria to be evaluated, e.g. focusing on content, ignoring writing style. Imposing criteria even seems recommendable, as some studies (Cho & Schunn, 2003; Mockford, 1994) stress the rather moderate validity of peer-evaluation results, which means that participants often evaluate their peers using different criteria than the instructor.
As can bee seen in Table 1, there exist a host of possible peer-evaluation solutions, each feasible, but with different consequences and meaning. For example, consider the following two peer-evaluation solutions to a course with 20 students, organized in teams of four. Say, there were three assignments each team had to work out.
The revision of a participant's evaluation by the instructor may be postponed until the Instructor-Evaluation of the respective participant, which may reduce the overhead of considering large numbers of peer-evaluations. Both of the above scenarios show extremes, but they reveal the impact of peer-evaluation design decisions on organization and the instructor's schedule in the Assessment Phases.
On the students' side, peer-evaluation has many positive effects:
On the instructor's side:
Assistance is only necessary in online scenarios.
In any of the examples below, the evaluations were anonymous for the recipients, but transparent to the instructors.
Web Engineering (2003): Peer-evaluation was used in the Learning Contracts scenario in Web Engineering, in the so called Web Engineering Learning License (WELL) project. Each WELL participant had to peer-evaluate at least three contracts elaborated by peer teams. They had to provide a written, unstructured evaluation, and could optionally supply 0 - 5 bonus with each evaluation. Evaluation guidelines were published prior to the start of the evaluation phase. The evaluations were used by the instructors to prepare themselves for the final oral Examination with each participating WELL team. Additionally, the ranking of contracts calculated from bonus points served as input for a subsequently handing over Achievement Awards to contributors of outstanding (i.e., best-evaluated) contracts. The evaluation form can be viewed at: http://elearn.pri.univie.ac.at/patterns/examples/peer-evaluation/we.html
Person-Centered Communication: Each student had to evaluate seminar reports of at least two teams. Thereby the students had to supply a written evaluation, whereas the following criteria were defined as evaluation guidelines:
Additionally, the evaluators had to supply 1 - 10 points, whereby 1 = unsatisfying and 10 = very satisfying. The evaluation form can be viewed at: http://elearn.pri.univie.ac.at/patterns/examples/peer-evaluation/pcc.html
Project Management/Soft Skills: Students were organized in five small teams. Each team had to evaluate the work (the sum of all contributions) of all other teams. Each team had elaborated a number of unique, different contributions throughout the course. The following aspects were formulated and published as evaluation criteria:
The evaluation form can be viewed at: http://elearn.pri.univie.ac.at/patterns/examples/peer-evaluation/pmss.html
As given in Figure 1, empirical investigation in the Web Engineering case study substantiated that peer-evaluation is perceived as very or rather useful by more than 45.6% of the students, while it is considered rather useless or useless by only 21.4% of the participants. About one third of the participants found the procedure just acceptable. However, more supportive is the fact that more than half of the participants valued reading the evaluations of their own contributions as meaningful or very meaningful (52.9% combined as given in Figure 2), while only 19.1% consider this as meaningless.
Regarding the anonymity of peer-evaluations, the Web Engineering case study revealed that participants rather want to their evaluations to appear anonymous to their peers (47.1% as opposed to 14% opting for non-anonymity; see Figure 3).
Wen and Tsai (Wen & Tsai, 2003) have investigated students' perceptions of and attitudes toward online peer-evaluation using 4 subscales with responses ranging from 1 = strongly disagree to 5 = strongly agree (note that this reproduction uses the term evaluation instead of assessment and mark/grade):
The results of this study showed that this questionnaire is a highly reliable instrument to assess students' attitudes toward peer-evaluation regardless of level of education. University students generally perceive peer-evaluation in a positive way. Interesting is the fact that students who have prior experience with peer-evaluation tend to have more positive opinions on this technique when compared to students who have never acted as evaluators. Thus, it seems recommendable to establish this evaluation technique as an integral part of blended learning courses.
A study on online peer-evaluation by Akahori and Kim (Akahori & Kim, 2003), which was conducted in a problem-based learning (PBL) course, revealed some interesting results:
Two studies in project-based learning (PBL) by Sluijsmans and colleagues (Sluijsmans et al., 2001) show rather diverse results. Subject to peer-evaluation was the PBL process itself, not its products:
Akahori, K., & Kim, S. M. (2003). Peer Evaluation Using the Web and Comparison of Meta-cognition between Experts and Novices. Proceedings of ED-MEDIA 2003 - World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia & Telecommunications, Honolulu, HI, USA.
Cho, K., & Schunn, C. D. (2003). Validity and Reliability of Peer Assessments with a Missing Data Estimation Technique. Proceedings of ED-MEDIA 2003 - World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia & Telecommunications, Honolulu, HI, USA.
Wen, M. L., & Tsai, C.-C. (2003). College Students' Perceptions of and Attitudes Toward Online Peer Assessment. Proceedings of ED-MEDIA 2003 - World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia & Telecommunications, Honolulu, HI, USA.
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