How Peer Evaluation Significantly Reduces Grade Disputes

Kritik’s analysis of approximately 140,000 peer-evaluated student assignments show that <4% of students dispute their grades.

One of the most common misconceptions about peer evaluation is that it opens up opportunities for unqualified students to grade one another which leads to an increased amount of grade disputes. As such, this belief manifests skepticism towards peer evaluation due to the idea that it will increase professors’ workload associated with resolving disputes and rectifying grades. 

A Brief Literature Review on Multiple-Perspective Reasoning

In reality, peer evaluation does the opposite and significantly reduces grade disputes as a result of multiple perspective reasoning brought by open peer-to-peer discourse. A research on Multiple perspective dynamic decision making explains that “decision making often involves deliberations in different perspectives” (Leong, 1998). Dynamic problem solving requires obtaining as much information on viable solutions to understand commonalities and underlying disagreements. Although Leong’s paper refers to multiple-perspective reasoning in artificial intelligence, the premise of this particular decision-making strategy is mapped out based on its usefulness and advantages in human intelligence and real-world conflict resolutions. In peer evaluation, students are exposed to various solutions which allow them to reflect on their own understanding while internalizing their peers’ approach to problems.

Also, the practice of receiving multiple assignments for dynamic problem solving relates to the law of large numbers which entails that as a probabilistic process is repeated multiple times, the theoretical assumptions meet real-world expectations (Salkind, 2010). In the case of peer evaluation, increasing students’ exposure to other perspectives creates an environment where students get a consensus of the most probable ‘real-world expectation’ which in this situation is the most viable answer to specific assignments.

Furthermore, a study on peer evaluation and the quality of feedback shows that students “exhibit a greater sense of what is expected of them, improvements in the quality of feedback produced, and positive perceptions reported by the recipient who gets the feedback from the peer” after participating in multiple peer evaluations (Anderson & al., 2020). Additionally, at the end of the experiment, the instructors assessed the quality of the feedback after collecting multiple peer evaluations and identified that they were reflective of the students’ actual academic progress.

Although the study focused on biomedical students, the results achieved from the experiment can be replicated for various STEM and non-STEM courses as the premise of peer evaluation emphasize the avenue for developing professional skills required in academia and beyond to effectively self-reflect. The concept that peer evaluation reduces grade disputes can be proven through this study’s finding that students perceived the feedback as positive and that it improved students’ outlook on their own work by having multiple perspectives.

Final Thoughts on Peer Evaluation and Grade Disputes

The more comparative assessments students do, the better their understanding of concepts will be. However, this can only be applicable if the same random process is repeated a large number of times. In traditional peer evaluation, students are affected by internal and external biases as the process is not anonymous and assignments are distributed in a manner that is inconsistent. This decreases the randomness of the distribution which is a key aspect of the law of large numbers thus affecting the evaluations.

However, with Kritik, assignments are anonymously distributed through the platform’s algorithm which eliminates human biases thereby upholding the integrity of the randomness selection and assignment. Students’ decision-making process is positively influenced by external knowledge based upon the premise of commonality among other solutions without introducing other self-knowledge biases. Essentially, the more students are exposed to their peers’ problem-solving strategies and the more information they receive from analyzing other solutions, the better their understanding will be as they are not limited to their internal knowledge (Double & al., 2019). 

As a testament to peer evaluation significantly reducing grade disputes, Kritik’s data which encompass all users across hundreds of universities show that less than 4% of students dispute their grades. Time after time, Kritik’s peer evaluation platform proves that the large majority of the students are very satisfied with the grades that they receive from their peers and that students are learning at a deeper level from having an increased opportunity to apply multiple perspective reasoning for dynamic problem-solving. 

Anderson, O. S., El Habbal, N., & Bridges, D. (2020). A peer evaluation training results in high-quality feedback, as measured over time in nutritional sciences graduate students. Advances in Physiology Education, 44(2), 203-209. doi:10.1152/advan.00114.2019

Double, K. S., McGrane, J. A., &; Hopfenbeck, T. N. (2019). The impact of peer assessment on Academic Performance: A meta-analysis of control group studies. Educational Psychology Review, 32(2), 481-509. doi:10.1007/s10648-019-09510-3

Leong, T. Y. (1998). Multiple perspective dynamic decision making. Artificial Intelligence, 105(1-2), 209-261. doi:10.1016/s0004-3702(98)00082-4

Salkind, N. J. (2010). Law of large numbers. Encyclopedia of Research Design. doi:10.4135/9781412961288.n215

Jay Arias
Education Researcher