Peer-to-Peer Curation Activities Boost Higher-Order Thinking

Activity Curation with Peer to Peer Assessment

Most professors we hear from want to assess their students on higher levels and that if current assessments kept student at the lowest level of Bloom’s Taxonomy, they wouldn’t feel rewarded as educators.

However, assessment is by far the most labor-intensive part of teaching. Assessment plans and rubrics must be prepped. Test questions must be written. Every student needs a mark, personalized feedback and a road-map for improvement. The larger the class, the more work for the instructor. Add in formative assessments like weekly assignments and exercises that precipitate subtle, ongoing tweaks to the syllabus and it’s easy to see why many faculty opt to stick with what they know: An accumulation of easy-to-grade summative assessments that almost inevitably rely on rote learning of the most basic concepts rather than creative thinking or problem solving skills - the lower orders of thinking outlined in Bloom’s Taxonomy.

“Summative assessment provides a safety net for instructors,” says Matthew Numer, a professor in the School of Health and Human Performance at Dalhousie University. “When you have competition for your time, you're going to default to something that's already worked.”

Here at Kritik, we have a suggestion: Try a peer-to-peer curation activity.

But wait, what's curation?

Cambridge Dictionary defines Curation as "the selection of content such as documents, music, videos, or articles to be included as part of a list or collection" (

In a Higher Ed setting, curation has plenty of potential as an academic task. Jennifer Gonzalez, creator of the Cult of Pedagogy, puts it perfectly:

"Sure, we’re used to assigning research projects, where students have to gather resources, pull out information, and synthesize that information into a cohesive piece of informational or argumentative writing. This kind of work is challenging and important, and it should remain as a core assignment throughout school, but how often do we make the collection of resources itself a stand-alone assignment?" (

Curation Activities can be one of the most effective teaching strategies to help students compare what they’re learning in the classroom and gain insight into how they can relate to each other. Curation projects have the potential to put your students to work at multiple levels of Bloom's Taxonomy:

Blooms taxonomy diagram
Bloom's Taxonomy

Bloom's Taxonomy

Benjamin Bloom in his 1956 book, "Taxonomy of Educational Objectives: The Classification of Educational Goals." Higher-order thinking skills are reflected by the top three levels in Bloom’s Taxonomy

Understand → where we exemplify and classify information

Analysis and Synthesis → consists of breaking down ideas, drawing connections and finding evidence

Evaluate → rejecting or defending a stand or decision based on a set of criteria

How can I setup a curation activity?

Curation Activities can apply to all disciples, such as Business, Arts, or Sciences. For example, you can have students collect a set of articles, images, videos, or other sources based on a set of criteria ("Most interesting brand strategy campaigns" or "The world's most infectious diseases") and rank them in some kind of order, justifying their rankings with a short written explanation. Students are findings examples of a given course concept and doing some summarizing and justification work's at the Understand, Analyze and Evaluate levels of Bloom's. When students explain what they’ve learned, to other students, they help consolidate and strengthen connections to those concepts while simultaneously engaging in active learning. Find more project ideas here.

Higher order vs lower order thinking skill:

Unfortunately, that default is failing students in high school and their ability to develop key skills in such uncertain times. The lower order thinking skills involves basic skills like memorization, while the higher order requires the understanding and application of knowledge. It was seen that higher level thinking made students problem solvers when given problems with new situation to solve. Moreover the ability of visualization, inferring, brain storming, critical thinking, creativity, metacognition were also seen to improve in students of a higher level than in students with a lower level thought process. To teach students to develop thinking skills, teachers need to design activities that require students to process information at the highest levels such as:

  • Reading and analysis of information
  • Mathematical problems
  • Content-area teachers can assist their language arts peers by frequently having students write and explore expository passages
  • Use of graphic organizers (diagrams, flow charts)
  • Understanding of scientific concepts
  • Use of maps, globes, charts with examples of the real-world

To enhance the curation activity, add a component of peer assessment

Most of the above activities would not necessarily be academically challenging or time consuming if students merely had to assemble the collection and add a thoughtfully designed written component. For more effective learning outcomes, we recommend adding a component of peer assessment into the Curation Activity. For the previous example, instructors could use Kritik to have students submit their ranked list, and then also anonymously evaluate a set numbers of their peers lists through a set of predefined rubric criteria. By actively engaging with their classmates and applying their own evaluative skills to feedback they’re delivering to their peers, student's ability of creative thinking and critical thinking skills improves. Additionally, peer assessment is proven to be effective in getting students faster feedback from diverse sources, increases meta-cognition, independence and self-reflection, and improves student learning. These are all important skills that provide value far beyond the classroom. More details on the benefits of peer assessment here.

Kritik is built for digital peer-to-peer curation activities

Kritik is an online peer-to-peer interactive learning platform designed for professors to engage students in a 21st century way. Students can make online submissions for assigned activities and be evaluated based on rubrics designed to help students emulate a professor-standard grading process. Students will also receive constructive written feedback from their peers. When you assess your peer's work, you receive a grading score for critical thinking based on the fairness of your evaluation and a feedback score on the effectiveness of your written comment. The grading score and feedback score are known together as the Evaluation score. They are calculated and adjusted automatically by Kritik’s scoring system. Instructors and TAs maintain full visibility into the peer review process and have the ability to provide comments and ultimately finalize activities.

Request a demo here to get started on your Curation Activity today!

Jonathan Sherman, MBA
VP of Business Development