Improve Learning Dynamics while Empowering Students Along the Way

Daphne Hart, assistant professor in the Department of Accounting at the University of Illinois at Chicago, joined us to talk about her experience with Kritik and how peer assessment helped her engage her students and improve their learning environment.

The full workshop recording is available here.

What was the value for you in incorporating Kritik?

“At first it wasn’t clear to me how I could incorporate [Kritik] because with accounting, it’s pretty technical but the thing that always bugged me was the non-technical side of things. They don’t need me for technical knowledge; there are great textbooks… I struggled with trying to get students to get a good handle on the conceptual side.”

Involving students in their learning through grading their peers and seeing different perspectives encourages them to reflect on their own work and understanding of course material. There’s a level of introspection and self-assessment that happens when students evaluate their peers’ work. They are considering what their peers are trying to say, how well they are conveying their message, and how closely the work aligns to the learning objectives. Inevitably, students will learn to take the same thought process to their own work, guiding them to become better evaluators, and critical thinkers over time. 

Looking for guidance, or information on implementing peer assessment?

How did your students respond to peer assessment?

“The students were a bit surprised because it’s quite different from what they’re used to from other classes. But it got them excited because it was different. It pushed them out of their comfort zone.”

Kritik encourages students to take initiative in their learning through the process of peer assessment. Gamification elements in the platform provide immediate feedback and data to track how well their evaluation skills are progressing. Students are also motivated by seeing how strong evaluations - including both critical and motivational feedback - have the power to lift their own work and the work of their peers. It creates a team environment whereby students are working together to improve learning and support communal success in the course.

“Seeing what their colleagues were doing was really helpful because it’s a pretty powerful signal as to where they’re at relative to the class. As an instructor, it makes my life easier.”

The responsibility to provide timely and personalized feedback is no longer completely on the instructor. Students are now engaged and empowered to evaluate their peers meaning they can realize the full benefits of peer assessment and build valuable real-world skills in the process. With larger class sizes, providing detailed feedback is done in a timely manner and students gain points from various perspectives and peers. The learning dynamic shifts where students are now connected to their peers and their work instead of it all funneling to the instructor.

How does implementing peer assessment change the learning dynamic?

“[Kritik] empowered them to speak up, engage and participate more. They felt more comfortable actually expressing their opinions and they felt like what they had to say and the way they perceived things were correct.”

Professor Hart shared how her course involved group work often and she kept groups together through the term to allow them to grow together and gain familiarity with each other. Adding peer assessment along with group-work alleviated many of the common concerns of group-based activities; the work falls on a a few motivated students, students do not receive individual feedback through the process, and quieter students fall the background because they don’t have a platform or opportunity to share their voice in a way they are comfortable.

“[Students] were given immediate feedback on what they were doing and it wasn’t just from the professor. They can disagree with me but it’s a lot harder to disagree with three or five of your peers.”

Peer learning with Kritik shifts the learning dynamic for students. They learn to expect ongoing feedback and start to value the actionable items provided by their peers and instructor to help them elevate their work rather than just the associated letter or number grade. This ties into the larger goals of learning, to have students understand and appreciate the process of learning and their individual abilities to make a real positive difference to their peers. 

Dr. Daphne Hart
Dr. Daphne Hart
University of Illinois at Chicago
Assistant Professor of Accounting

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