A puzzle I’ve been struggling with for several years now is to find or make a scalable writing engine that’s open to schools and learning communities. Leveraging peer feedback is an affordable and pedagogically sound approach to writing instruction. Indeed, Garrison has highlighted the usefulness of rubrics as they apply to peer feedback, a lesson I’ve taken to heart.
Rubrics can also help students carefully judge the quality of the work and the work of their peers. When rubrics are used to guide self- and peer assessment, students become increasingly able to spot and solve problems in their own and in one another’s work. Also, rubrics can reduce the amount of time faculty spend evaluating student work. As an instructor, you may find that by the time an assignment has been self- and peer assessed in accordance with a rubric, you have little left to say about it (Garrison p. 137).
Peer feedback can only add to the sense of cohesion that a Community of Inquiry requires (Garrison 2011). Garrison also mentioned that there’s correlation between peer feedback leads to higher grads in asynchronous environments (location 371). As Thomas and Brown have noted, peer feedback is imminent as part of the “New Culture of Learning” (location 577).
For formal schools and informal learning environments, peer feedback makes sense.
But peer feedback has had some difficulty gaining traction and legitimacy when formalized in any way. PeerScholar, a peer assessment program for writing offered though Pearson Education, has even encountered some legal strife. At the institution of its creation, University of Toronto, a union grievance was brought against the University that peer assessment “took away” work from unionized teaching assistants. The case was settled for around $300,000.
We’ll find out how well that works with our learning community, and hopefully folks will mention it in their student satisfaction survey. I see a community-built rubric as a way to get students to own the learning (vs. TAs who “own” the grading). We’ve got to reframe this message. Suggestions welcome.