Jane Barnette: Ungrading Practices in Arts with Peer Assessment

Prof. Jane Barnette, an instructor in the Department of Theatre and Dance, University of Kansas, uses ungrading in her Performing Arts courses. Having used Kritik for nearly three years, she finds the structured 360-degree peer assessment method provides immediate feedback promoting better community engagement in her classrooms.

“I offer a Zoom option for every single class. This ensures that even if students are not physically in the classroom, they get a sense of the community because they interact with each other’s assignments. The engagement for my classes has always been pretty high, but the actual engagement quality has become much richer with Kritik.”

In our chat with her below, she takes us through the modalities and benefits of incorporating Kritik in creative courses.

How does a rubric-based peer-assessment system work in creative courses?

JB: One of the great things about using Kritik for Theater and Dance courses like the ones I teach is the immediate feedback from peers. What I really appreciate is the step where students can express how they felt about the evaluation. They can assess how feedback from peers helped them grow as learners. Therefore, a sense of community is created in the classroom, where students grow both as performers and as evaluators.

Using a rubric-based peer assessment also enhances comprehension and critical engagement with the activity. Using Kritik helps students develop soft skills, critical thinking skills, and the art of providing helpful feedback.

A glimpse of the figures for one of Prof. Barnette’s classes:

Course statistics for Jane Barnette's theatre class

Watch the full recording of Prof. Jane Barnette’s workshop.

How does Kritik work with ungrading?

JB: What you often find in classes is that students turn in an assignment more for the grade rather than learning. Ungrading tries to do away with this practice of valuing grades over knowledge. However, receiving immediate feedback is crucial for ungrading to work. This is enabled by Kritik.

Receiving timely and personalized feedback allows students to understand what they did right and how they can continue to improve. The anonymity feature in Kritik ensures honest and high-quality peer assessment. It helps hone a sense of appreciation for each other’s creative expressions, collective growth, and a positive learning environment in class.

Kritik has proved to be a breakthrough in promoting bias-free and inclusive learning through effective peer assessment.

How do you incorporate Kritik into your creative course assignments?

JB: This can best be explained through a look at some of the activities in my classes. For my Script Analysis class, I want students to have a bird’s eye view of the play. So, I have an activity at the beginning of the semester where they have to create a Bead diagram to assess a specific moment within the play.

The rubric for Prof. Barnette’s Bead diagram activity:

Professor Jane Barnette's rubric for BEAD diagram

The steps that follow are:

1. Anonymous Peer Evaluations: A student is assigned three assignments to give constructive feedback based on the rubric designed by the instructor (see below). Due to the anonymity feature on Kritik, students don’t know whose work they are evaluating. In Prof. Barnette’s courses, students complete this stage in 2.7 days.

Written peer evaluation on Kritik platform based on four criteria

2. Instructor Evaluations (Optional): On top of the student feedback, instructors can also give feedback. They can spotlight high-quality evaluations to help students grow as evaluators. The peer feedback system is anonymous for the students but not for the instructor.

Here is an example of Prof. Barnette’s feedback on a student assignment.

Jane Barnette's comments on a student evaluation on Kritik platform

3. Feedback on Feedback: Once students submit their feedback to their peers, students can read and respond to the evaluations received from their peers. It creates a learning community where students develop as creative artists and critical thinkers.

Feeback feature on Kritik based on motivational and critical criteria

How would you describe your experience with Kritik so far?

JB: I am really pleased with the responsiveness of the Kritik team. Since Kritik offers 24x7 Chat Support to instructors and students, we usually get a response to a query almost immediately. There has also been an ongoing and fruitful conversation between the Kritik team and instructors using the technology.

“When I first heard about Kritik, I had a lot of skepticism because so much of pedagogical assistance is geared towards STEM or the social sciences. But the Kritik representative I connected with was genuinely interested in what I was teaching. They were also excited to brainstorm what Kritik could do to aid a creative course like mine. So I would encourage anyone skeptical of the platform to work with a Kritik representative specifically on their questions.”

Download the deck and the full recording of Prof. Barnette’s Assignments for creative courses with Kritik.

Jane Barnette
Jane Barnette
University of Kansas

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