Julie Chamberlin: Improving Writing Quality with Peer Assessment

Prof. Julie Chamberlin, an instructor in the Department of English at Loyola University Chicago, utilizes peer assessment in her courses. Using Kritik as her platform for peer assessment, she found that her students were able to significantly increase the quality of their writing and critical thinking skills.

“I love that [peer assessment through] Kritik takes away the pressure of peer review and allows students to think about their peers' work as they would any other writing assignment. They can use it as a tool to not only develop their own writing skills but to learn how to recognize what good writing looks like as well.”

Below, we will cover Prof. Chamberlin’s best practices for implementing peer assessment in her writing assignments and get a sneak peek into her assignments and rubrics.

Download the full workshop recording and slide deck

Leveraging a Scaffolded Approach with Peer Assessment

Prof. Chamberlin gives her students weekly essay exercises that build on top of each other rather than assigning just one large assignment. Allowing students to continually develop their writing skills through a series of different stages rather than forcing students to create an essay or writing piece all at once. 

With Kritik, there are three stages that students experience with each assignment: Create, Evaluate and Feedback. At the Create stage, they turn in a draft of their essay, then enter the Evaluate stage, where the student assesses their peers’ creations; afterwards, in the Feedback stage, they can rate and respond to the evaluations they received based on how motivating and critical they were. This allows them to engage on every level and think about improving their writing in their next assignment. Creating these scaffolded peer-assessment activities throughout the semester allows Prof. Chamberlin to enhance comprehension and critical engagement, as well as improve student satisfaction. 

Here is a look at the assignment information and instructions she provided her students for the Create stage:

Students can also view the rubric she created for the activity to guide them in effectively writing their assignments. See her rubric:

In the Evaluation stage, students evaluate three of their peers' work based on a rubric provided by the instructor. The evaluation needs to be qualitative (written) as well as quantitative. 

In the Feedback stage,  students can reciprocate with feedback and rate these comments based on how motivational and critical they were.

This completes the 360-degree feedback loop on Kritik, and Prof. Julie Chamberlin is able to administer grades and personalized feedback within 3 days. With such a quick turnaround on feedback, students in Prof. Chamberlin’s class have shown to significantly improve the quality of their submissions progressively. 

Here is a look into the results of Prof. Chamberlin’s class:

“Students can utilize the grade dispute feature to take the initiative to ask questions, reflect, and learn more about how they can improve their grades. It also allows me to see students' progress and see what type of feedback they specifically need”.

How Peer Assessment Can Help in Writing Course Assignments

Prof. Chamberlin found that peer assessment allowed her to improve the teaching and learning environment for her students for herself as an instructor. Here are five ways that integrating Kritik’s peer assessment into her writing course helped her

1. Provides a mechanism to reduce grading and administrative burden

Since peer assessment is the primary evaluative function, instructors can save time and resources on grading and administrative duties. Prof. Chamberlin has 15 students in her class; while earlier it used to take her up to a week or more to grade even with TA support, it now takes her just 3 days to get grades and personalized feedback returned to her students.

2. Provides an efficient way of engaging students

Each of Prof. Chamberlin’s students completed 3 peer evaluations, meaning they engaged with 3 peers within their class. When students evaluate and provide feedback to each other, they become more involved with the course content, creating engagement with their peers and a feeling of responsibility for their education. 

3. Supports the development of soft skills in students

A total of 45 evaluations (3 per student) for each assignment in Prof. Chamberlin’s class. By the end of the semester, each student probably got to see all 15 of their classmates' work that contributed towards the development of their professional skills as they learned to give feedback.

4. Shift the focus to mentoring and coaching

Since students are peer grading each others’ work for the weekly assignments, they are able to resolve their doubts and queries by reviewing each others’ work. The instructor doesn’t have to be as involved in the grading for these small stakes assignments and can redirect their attention toward guiding and supporting students in the development and growth of their education and career.

5. Allows for the exploration of ideas amongst students

Students in Prof. Chamberlin’s class could anonymously provide written comments and suggestions on their peers' work, facilitating an environment free of bias where students can freely explore and exchange ideas, promoting creativity and collaborative thinking.

Improve your Student’s Writing Quality with Kritik’s Peer Assessment

With Kritik, Prof. Chamberlin elevated her students' writing quality and created a space that fosters creativity and collaboration, all while streamlining the grading process, alleviating the administrative load of conventional peer review.

Want to learn more about how Kritik can help? See how instructors use Kritik to create an engaging learning experience in their creative courses here.

Dr. Julie Chamberlin
Dr. Julie Chamberlin
Loyola University Chicago
Literature Professor

Get Started Today

Learn more about how Kritik can help you
Request a Demo