Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Teaching with Peer Feedback

IMHO, having students provide feedback on their classmate's work is one of the most effective teaching techniques. First, students tend to do their very best work if someone other than the professor is going to read it. Second, peers can provide a real and attainable model of success for struggling students.Third, analyzing another's work forces students to think about the assignment - from the nitty-gritty of writing style to the structure of the logical argument - in a very different way from writing it; this perspective can help students re-write their own work. (Forcing students to revise their writing is another effective teaching technique, but that's another post.)

In my Human Societies: Past, Present, Fact, Fiction class (aka, Teaching Anthropology through SciFi/Fantasy), I've built peer feedback into the structure of the class. Students are creating fictional worlds in groups of three to four. There are four world-building exercises in the class (one each focused on gender, social organization, ethnicity, and religion.) Here's how I've included peer feedback:

1) The first draft of each world-building exercise is shared with a workshopping partner. Although the exercises are written by the group, each member of the group has an individual workshopping partner, so each group will get feedback from three or four partners. I also give each group feedback on their exercise at this time. Workshopping partners write up their comments, but I also dedicate a day of class to talking to workshop partners.

2) After the group has gotten their first round of comments, they put together a poster presentation of their world-building exercise. These posters are put up around the classroom during one class period, so students can walk around and see what every other group is doing. At least one student needs to stay with the group's poster, to explain and discuss their exercise.

3) A few days after the poster session, the final exercise is due, incorporating the feedback.

This schedule requires eight days of the semester dedicated to, essentially, peer feedback (four for workshops, four for posters). It's a lot, but so far, it seems to be effective.

How do you include peer feedback in your classes? Or do you not find it an effective teaching technique?

1 comment:

  1. Creo que eres un buen maestro. He leído tu blog. Usted habla de los puntos fuertes de tu blog. Me gusta mucho esto. Incluso, creo que tiene una gran experiencia en cuanto a mentalidad de los estudiantes.

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