Dr. Erin Panda: How does Peer Assessment help Students become Better Writers

"Kritik made my students better writers!"

Dr. Erin Panda is a developmental cognitive neuroscientist. She is interested in how the brain processes language, and how these processes change with development, learning and remediation. Her primary research approach uses electrophysiology (EEG) to track developmental changes to children and young people’s brain responses while they read and listen to speech.

As an expert on response to speech and learning,  Dr Panda knows the most effective ways for students to learn, and she uses Kritik to engage her students outside of the class. Through weekly reading assignments and essay building, the students are engaging with their material like never before.

Would Kritik have made you a better writer as a student?

I remember working so hard to complete and submit term papers. All of your sweat and tears cumulates into this one paper; and that's it. You get a number, and the course is done. Kritik provides a platform for students to give continual feedback on their work – right from the idea stage to the final product. This is essential for skill development.

We don't often think of university improvement when we discuss the most notable improvements associated with the radicalization of technology. Dr. Panda is not that far removed from her student experience at university, and she details a harrowing result that still plagues universities today: grades. Students and professors alike focus so much of their attention on the grades, they forget about the actual learning objectives that make the class worthwhile. Term papers do not do a student's growth justice, and Kritik addresses the necessity of feedback for any learner.

Do our pre-made rubrics help your students with their writing submissions?

I really enjoy the pre-made rubrics. I found creating new rubrics to be difficult and time-consuming – with Kritik, having a 4 point scale was an easy way for me to differentiate a student's performance. More than anything, the rubrics were a great indicator of expectations for the students. They see the rubric when they submit their assignments, and they use the rubrics to evaluate each other, so it trains them to respond to objectives. It also manages a student's expectation of what they need to do to achieve the grade they want.

What courses would be a strong fit for Kritik?

Kritik was well-suited for my higher level course, where the goal for the students is to be working towards creating higher level thought and applying those learnings to the real world. That goal exists for any university course in general, which is why I believe Kritik is applicable to any course. I am seriously considering using Kritik for my class of 300 students as well.

Technology implementation aims to address a problem for a group of people. Professors teaching a class of 30 students versus 300 students might think they have different problems, but the problems associated with university lecturing happen in classes regardless of size. You might be able to foster a stronger relationship with your students, but if that doesn't lead to a better learning experience, is it doing your students justice? Dr. Panda knows that in a class of 300, enabling students to have more of a personalized experience through feedback tailored to them is something all professors should be doing, if the technology is available.

What writing skills have your students gained from using Kritik?

The opportunity to have a dialogue on your work is essential to writing development. As a writer and researcher, I have learnt that writing is not just about the final product, its about this continual back and forth of developing ideas, and Kritik has provided a platform for that type of engagement.

Scaffolding papers is not a new idea; having your students complete small parts of their essay and receive feedback throughout the process is a great way to develop their papers. However, professors shy away from this because of resource constraints like time and TA hours. Academic writing after the undergraduate level usually focuses on small writing groups or supervised writing progression. Writing with that kind of guidance is critical for your development as a writer, as Dr. Panda points out. Kritik enables students to engage in that process, without leaning on the restraints of time and effort, as Kritik's automated system takes care of the grading.

As a neuroscientist, Dr. Panda knows more than most about how the brain reacts to learning. Her passion for learning led her to Kritik, and she is pleased with how her students are performing, and elaborates on why she would've loved to have used Kritik as a student.

Dr. Erin Panda
Dr. Erin Panda
Brock University
Assistant Professor of Child & Youth Studies

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