Rania Al-Hammoud: Peer Assessment in Large Engineering Courses

At the University of Waterloo, Prof. Rania Al-Hammoud was trying to create an interactive and dynamic learning environment for her graduate-level Civil Engineering course. She knew one of the best ways to achieve this was through peer review and feedback. That's when she discovered Kritik.

The students were quite excited at the opportunity to evaluate their peers. This active engagement contributed to better quality work with every assignment.

Managing large classrooms was challenging and required much more effort on the instructor’s part to plan and execute effective learning strategies. Let us look at how Prof. Al-Hammoud uses four different activities to engage her class of around 350 students.

“I find peer learning very important because it has fewer power dynamics and allows students to accept feedback better.”

Kritik Helps Ease Grading Burden 

“Before Kritik, I had limited resources and a lack of time to grade all my students effectively. Having Kritik allowed me to use the platform to set the rubrics for peer evaluation, which helped me give more feedback.”

Kritik allowed Prof. Al-Hammoud to quickly set up and manage peer assessment activities and track student progress and performance. Using Kritik for peer assessment improved the quality and fairness of grading by incorporating multiple perspectives in the evaluation process.

Here are statistics from Prof. Al-Hammoud’s course for enhanced student engagement:

Watch Prof. Rania Al-Hammoud explain the advantages of using Kritik for her activities.

4 Group Activity Types in Engineering Courses

“I use peer assessment with hands-on activities or projects in the classroom and sometimes also after exams. I give them small discussion activities, which has helped increase engagement.”

In a large classroom setting, there isn’t enough time to do every activity with every student/group, and this is where Kritik helps set up different activities so every student gets to work on them.

Activity 1: Beam bending Activity

All 350 students were given the same activity to assess. Students were divided into groups of 2, and the goal of this activity was mainly to get them acquainted with Kritik and how to use the platform for peer feedback.

Activity 2: Forces at a Point or Multi-Force Body

This activity was broken up into six smaller tasks, with each group of four students assigned a different task. This allowed students to not only provide peer feedback but also learn from working on tasks they may not have had the opportunity to work on before.

“Students usually get excited since they are now excited about trying new tasks.”

Activity 3: Lesson Plan Proposal

This was a project-based activity that involved presenting a lesson plan to middle school children. Through this activity, students were forced to think of creative ways to teach a particular lesson and create a lesson plan.

“During this activity, it is interesting to see students being excited about the feedback as they want to know what the other students have included in their lesson plan or the types of activities they have adopted to teach the lesson.”

Activity 4: Project Presentation

Students present their lesson plans and teaching methods during this final activity. They use the feedback received in the previous activity and use it to enhance their presentations in this activity.

These activity modules have helped Prof. Al-Hammoud’s students become more engaged and learn how to receive and accept peer feedback.

Here are 11 more strategies that can be used in large-classroom settings.

3 Key Outcomes of Peer Assessment on Kritik

Prof. Rania Al-Hammoud has been using Kritik since 2020, and with every successive semester, her experience has only improved as her students look forward to the collaborative learning experience. Here are 3 key takeaways that she cites with her use of Kritik:

1. Better Quality of Peer Evaluations

Kritik enabled students to think through their work and deliver in-depth and constructive feedback. Since all peer evaluations were anonymous, students only used the rubrics as their guideline to assess each other's work, while Kritik helps distinguish unhelpful comments and motivates students to provide more valuable feedback.

2. Higher Student Engagement

Being a part of the evaluation process saw increased engagement and curiosity among students. Students were asking better questions and were also able to develop a strong grasp of the course material.

3. Saving Grading Time 

Since peer evaluations took care of the primary evaluative function, Prof. Hammoud saved several hours on grading. She would see a few grading disputes in her course, which she would resolve independently, but she also found her students coming to her for guidance and mentoring.

If you are teaching a large class and would like to adopt peer assessment technology in your course to engage students efficiently, schedule a demo with Kritik today.

Rania Al-Hammoud
Rania Al-Hammoud
University of Waterloo
Civil and Environmental Engineering

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