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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Pros & cons of group vs private submission & review

Posted by Dr. Karen F. Kellison, Program Director Educational Technology, James Madison University, to an IT forum that I follow. See also Death to the Digital Dropbox: Rethinking Student Privacy and Public Performanceby Patrick R. Lowenthal and David Thomas. All this goes to the question of public vs private submission, peer review (sharing writing with group), group work, etc. 



Over the past year, I have incorporated peer review and public support/critique of student work in my classes.  Students are very nervous at the idea. It appears to be very foreign to most of them, having previously exchanged their ideas and work only with the teacher.  However, my experience as been extremely positive.  Students come to appreciate the opportunity to learn from each other and, in fact, their final products reflect that they consider and apply many of the recommendations of their peers - and to critique is to also internalize the idea of what is 'good' and how to get there.  

Students learn from each other - as they would in a real world task, one would hope, and I have the opportunity to see if anyone is veering way off track prior to receiving a final product for grading.  Student feedback (graduate level) has been overwhelmingly positive and, rather than a 'con' listed as "Discouragement by sense of inferiority to others." I find they support one another and are encouraged to improve their final product.  

Likewise, this approach does not displace my input and guidance (if that is the meaning of the con "Displaces expert feedback") and another Pro is that it forces students to keep up with assignments and makes it painfully public when they are not prepared - at least I find that is a Pro in my book.  Students don't mind making a few excuses to the teacher, but they seem to be uneasy when they are unprepared in front of peers.

Pros and Cons referred to in the paragraphs above:

Pros

  • Replaces regular weekly discussions with project-centric discussion
  • Feedback of many eyes, peer review
  • Synergy of community support through each stage
  • Mimics feedback opportunities in professional work environments
Cons
  • Anxiety of exposure
  • Discouragement by sense of inferiority to others
  • Displaces expert feedback
If you want to ask a question, add or modify this list, provide alternative ideas or respond to topic in general, please post as comment.  

Note: cross-posted to both Blogging English, a closed (so far) ESL study group, and the public blog, Computers, Language, Writing

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