With open access to classes on nearly every subject, MOOCs are more popular than ever. However, managing the grading process for potentially thousands of learners and providing immediate, meaningful feedback is often difficult for MOOC instructors. As a result, some instructors have enlisted their learners’ help. Coursera, one of the most well-known MOOC platforms, has turned to peer review to solve the problem of scale. As a grading process, how effective and reliable is peer review? Further, do learners like providing each other with feedback?
A study performed by Pennsylvania State University assessed the reliability and validity of peer grading, and determined that the average of five peer grades was consistent with those given by instructors. Additionally, participating students felt that peer grading was fair, useful, and beneficial. During the study, students were required to grade at least three assignments, but most went on to grade more than three. The study recommends requiring learners to grade three to five assignments, as scores are more reliable when five peer grades are averaged.
While Practice is not generally used by thousands of learners in one massive course, peer review is still extremely important to our learning methodology in helping learners develop skills. Learners must practice a skill frequently to improve, and they also need specific, timely feedback. Although providing consistent feedback to learners is quite time consuming for educators, making use of peer review allows learners to receive that actionable, immediate feedback. Further, peer review brings a social aspect to an online learning environment, allowing learners to reflect on their own practice as they view their peers’ work—not to mention the ability to attribute a face to a peer.
So you’re ready to incorporate peer review into your course or training? Excellent; just a few words of caution: the study suggests carefully establishing rubrics and grading criteria for peers to follow so that feedback remains meaningful. To ensure overall reliable scores, an assignment should be reviewed by at least three learners.