Moving Away from “Dittoism” and Improving Class Discussions

Professor Francine Guice has taught at Oakland University for over 10 years in courses related to business administration and management. She joined us to share how Kritik improved her students’ critical thinking skills and empowered them to take initiative in their learning.

Click here to watch the full workshop recording and continue reading for highlights of our conversation.

What led you to incorporate peer learning?

“[Before Kritik], the students never thought that they could evaluate someone because they’re so used to me evaluating them. I liked the fact that [Kritik] had a strong critical thinking component and the students were able to grade their peers.”

Professor Guice also spoke about “dittoism”-- where students are copying and pasting information from their readings during class discussions or even in handed in assignments. There was a lack of critical thinking that was relevant to the course material and even less engagement with the discussions that she wanted to address.

Peer learning, when implemented effectively, widens the perspectives of students and encourages them to share original thoughts and applications. Kritik has tied it’s peer learning process closely to the model of competency-based learning (CBL) CBL is where students direct their own learning pace as they achieve masteries as opposed to traditional teaching methods.It emphasizes a focus on critical thinking and achieving learning outcomes rather than ticking off tasks or assignments that adhere to a curriculum.

“I have a lot of corporate experience and I have met a lot of young people who don’t make the connection between [their learning and how to apply the knowledge].”

Professor Guice notes that she uses Kritik to help her students develop a more critical mindset to understand the material that they’re learning and apply it to real world situations. She implements case studies on companies and businesses that help her students see how course concepts are related and found that peer learning improves their critical thinking skills and engagement with the material.

How does peer assessment empower students in their learning and outside the classroom?

“I think [peer learning] gives my students a sense that they can do this and it really engages them. It scaffolds to greater things, greater interests and improvements in grades.”

Through Kritik, students have the opportunity to revisit their learning and demonstrate their knowledge by going through the three stages in Kritik. In the Create Stage, students submit work based on their understanding of the material and Kritik then distributes that creation to their peers for evaluation. The Evaluate Stage encourages them to apply their knowledge by assessing their peers which improves knowledge retention and understanding as they go through the process of ‘learning through teaching’. The Feedback Stage helps students self reflect on their skills and holds each student accountable for the evaluation they provide. These three stages lead to a deeper understanding of course material and increases the likelihood that students will be able to apply their knowledge outside the classroom.

How do you measure the success of students through peer assessment?

Whether you are implementing peer assessment for low-stakes assignments or implementing it to increase student engagement with course material, it’s important to establish a metric, like a rubric, to measure how students respond. As the instructor, this gives you more insight into how comfortable each student is in their learning and where you can provide more support.

For Professor Guice, she used grades as a metric to see how students are doing across the stages--- how strong they are as evaluators and the feedback they are giving to one another. In Kritik, each stage corresponds to an aspect of their final grade and through the entire process, professors can measure the success and strengths of their students by noting the grade values in each stage.

“What I saw was a steady progression of students performing better as time went on. The rubrics also say something to both me and the students about how well they’re doing.”

Why choose to implement peer assessment?

Think back to when you first started teaching in any capacity. What was your goal as an educator? What kind of impact did you want to make in the classroom and how would that set your students up for success? Peer assessment empowers students to be part of that learning process as they engage with their peers and the material on a deeper level. It improves critical thinking skills that are essential for the world after graduation and invokes higher-order thinking.

Start teaching with peer assessment today and see how Kritik empowers both professors and students in the classroom and beyond.

Francine Guice
Francine Guice
Oakland University
Special Lecturer in the Department of Business Administration

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