“What are we doing to help kids achieve?”
How many of you got into teaching because you love grading papers? Most teachers are not excited about this aspect of their profession. Another difficult aspect is when students turn in materials with questionable information. Double blind peer reviews are a critical aspect of the scientific process (Hatcher, 2011). A paper that is peer reviewed multiple times garners enormous amounts of feedback to the student that one teacher cannot provide. Practitioners of Argument Driven Inquiry use this instructional practice with students. It helps to keep everyone honest when there are many sets of eyes on the same paper. Peer reviews promote integrity and appropriate constructive criticism. Students can be instructed on how to provide proper feedback through the peer review process. It sounds great, but is difficult on a practical scale in the classroom...until now.
Peergrade is a site that allows students to upload papers and then do peer reviews. I first heard about it through Argument Driven Inquiry. I then found a fellow teacher who uses this site with her English students. Three of my classes were just finishing lab reports so I decided to give it a try.
First, I created an account. Next I set up three classes. Peergrade then allowed me to create an assignment with a rubric. I could quickly custom make a rubric or search for rubrics. Students joined the class through a code provided by Peergrade. They uploaded their lab reports. Each student electronically received three lab reports without any names on them. Students “graded” the reports with the rubric I designed. Students then examined their now reviewed paper in Peergrade. Each student had three reviews with comments and suggestions. They responded to these and then start working on their final draft.
The teacher is able to watch and monitor all student activity. Students engage in blind reviews. The teacher is able to see the names on all reviews and comments. There is also the option to allow students to do this “live” in class or to have students do this over time. Finally, when the final student report is turned in, after multiple reviews, it is extremely easy for the teacher to grade. Students have had a number of chances to fix mistakes. Peergrade worked amazingly well the first time I used it. There is a low learning curve and many short instructional videos to help teachers. Students also found this to be helpful. I certainly recommend that teachers give this a try.
Hatcher, T., Becoming an Ethical Scholarly Writer, Journal of Scholarly Publishing, 42(2), 2011, 142–159.