Carol Bartlo: Improving Business Communication with Peer Assessment

Prof. Carol Bartlo, a distinguished professor at Daemen University, integrates peer assessment into her 2nd year Effective Business Communication courses. While peer review is becoming increasingly relevant in business education, ensuring its effectiveness in classes has its challenges. To address these, Prof. Bartlo employs Kritik, a tool that not only streamlines the peer assessment process but also boosts student engagement and facilitates the development of high-quality rubrics that set expectations.

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"When implementing Kritik, my aim was to complement the objectives of my course effectively." 

"This tool has been a great addition, especially in enhancing how students engage with the content and with each other."

In this story, we will explore Prof. Bartlo’s methods for using peer assessment to elevate writing skills and business communication proficiency, and we'll provide an inside look at her assignments and the strategic rubrics she designs.

Download the deck and the full recording of Prof. Carol Bartlo's workshop.

3 Best Practices to Guide Students in Peer Evaluations

When integrating peer evaluation into a Business Communication course, it's important to establish clear, structured guidance to help students maximize their educational benefits. Prof. Carol Bartlo has developed several best practices to enhance the effectiveness of peer evaluations in her courses. Here’s a closer look at these practices:

1. Teaching Writing Skills and Styles

To ensure students are well-prepared to assess each other’s work, Prof. Bartlo emphasizes the importance of teaching various writing skills and styles including getting students to work on different writing prompts, reflections, and research projects.

2. Making Rubric Details Accessible

Prof. Bartlo teaches her students how to view and interpret the details of the rubric associated with each assignment. This approach not only clarifies what is expected in their work but also teaches them what to look for when writing feedback to their peers. 

3. Guiding Sense-Making of Feedback

Receiving feedback is just one part of the learning process; making it one of the three stages in Kritik. Prof. Bartlo guides her students through the process of interpreting the feedback they receive and understanding how to use it to improve their work. This involves discussing feedback in class, providing examples of how to implement changes based on feedback, and encouraging students to reflect on the critiques provided.

Implementing Peer Assessment in Business Communication Courses

Prof. Carol Bartlo has designed a Body Language Essay activity to assess and improve her students' understanding of nonverbal communication as a crucial aspect of effective business communication.

Activity: Body Language Essay

Prof. Carol Bartlo initially tasked her students in the Creation Stage with an activity that analyzes non-verbal body language and synthesizes data about its impact on business communication. The instructions are clear, guiding students to read specific chapters from the text and watch selected videos which provide foundational knowledge needed to create a detailed essay.

The following rubric created by Prof. Bartlo was created with Kritik’s built-in Rubric creator and assess various dimensions such as:

  • Clarity of Thought
  • Concept understanding
  • Organization
  • Grammar
  • Spelling
  • APA format application
  • Incorporation of course terms. 

Here are all the criteria from the "Body Language Essay Rubric" that ensures students focus on content and the quality of their writing. 

Clarity of Thoughts

  • Level 0: Yes
  • Level 1: No 

Concept Understanding

  • Level 0: Evidence of understanding of the aspect of body language as a component of communication was insufficient.
  • Level 1: Essay includes a limited demonstration of understanding that body language is an important facet of communication.
  • Level 2: Demonstrates a complete understanding of important concepts of body language but leaves some parts out.
  • Level 3: Full and accurate explanation of body language as a component of communication was provided.


  • Level 0: Essay is unorganized and incomplete. Introduction, body, and/or conclusion are missing/unclear.
  • Level 1: Essay is missing important parts that make it confusing for the reader.
  • Level 2: Essay is complete. Missing minimal information.
  • Level 3: Essay is complete. With an excellent introduction, body, and conclusion present.


  • Level 0: The essay has many grammatical and mechanical errors that make it difficult to understand.
  • Level 1: The essay includes several grammatical errors that cause distraction in understanding the essay.
  • Level 2: The essay has limited grammatical and mechanical errors that do not impede the understanding of the essay.
  • Level 3: The essay has no grammatical errors.


  • Level 0: The essay has many spelling errors that make it difficult to understand the essay.
  • Level 1: The essay has several spelling errors that cause distraction in understanding the essay.
  • Level 2: The essay has limited spelling errors that do not impede the understanding of the essay.
  • Level 3: The essay has no spelling errors.

Application/Demonstration of APA Format

  • Level 0: The essay does not follow APA format.
  • Level 1: More than six minor errors or major errors in APA format.
  • Level 2: Three to six minor errors in APA format.
  • Level 3: No errors or minor errors in APA format.

Source and Evidence

  • Level 0: The essay does not have any citations.
  • Level 1: Sources are cited in an inconsistent style. Many sources are missing.
  • Level 2: Sources are cited in a consistent style but missing a few citations.
  • Level 3: Sources are cited in a consistent style and are used critically.

Incorporation of Course Terms

  • Level 0: Course terms were not used in a discussion form or were not used.
  • Level 1: Terms from chapters 1 and 2 of the Cardon textbook were attempted in the discussion, but did not add to the discussion or connect with the concepts presented in the video.
  • Level 2:  Proficient incorporation of terminology from chapters 1 and 2 of the Cardon textbook as they correlated with the content of the video used in the discussion. At least 2 terms from each chapter were used.
  • Level 3: Expert incorporation of terminology from chapters 1 and 2 of the Cardon textbook as they correlated with the content of the video (terms were not defined, but used in discussion). At least 6 terms from each chapter for a total of at least 8 terms were used.

The rubrics are a mix of Pass/Fail criteria and 4 successive levels that students can choose from that contribute to the student’s grades. Each student evaluates 3 of their peers’ work using the rubrics with quantitative and qualitative feedback as shown below.

In Prof. Carol Bartlo's activity, the Feedback stage completes the 360-degree feedback loop. Students rate the feedback on motivational and critical scales, learning to evaluate the tone and constructiveness of critiques. This teaches them to give and receive effective feedback and appreciates how feedback can influence professional behavior and outcomes. 

By classifying feedback as motivational, generic, or discouraging, and judging its helpfulness, students enhance their ability to communicate effectively in business settings, recognizing the impact of what is said and how it is conveyed.

By incorporating peer assessment through Kritik in her Effective Business Communication courses, Prof. Carol Bartlo has achieved impressive outcomes. With the class participating in an average of 90 evaluations per Kritik activity and completing evaluations with a high consistency rate of 93%, the structure not only had engagement but also a rapid turnaround in feedback and grading.

Below are the results from an independent student survey that Prof. Bartlo ran to track her students’ comfort and effectiveness of peer feedback over the semester:

Highlights from these results show a positive trend in student engagement and the effectiveness of peer feedback in enhancing both understanding of course concepts and writing skills throughout the semester.

Enhance Business Communication with Kritik!

Prof. Bartlo has effectively used Kritik to integrate peer assessment into her business communication courses, significantly improving students' communication skills through detailed feedback and peer review. 

Interested in more success stories or want to learn how your peers use Kritik?

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Carol Bartlo
Carol Bartlo
Daemen University

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