Teaching Interpersonal Skills in an Online Environment

Dr. Ellen Pullins is a professor of Sales and Sales Management. She uses Kritik for her Professional Sales course at the Shmidt School of Professional Sales, University of Toledo. 

Tell us about why you were first interested in Kritik 

I set out looking for a way to increase student engagement and have interpersonal practice despite the asynchronous format, and Kritik delivered! I teach a professional selling class, a complex and interpersonal approach to selling; more business-to-business settings. We struggled for some time with how to teach this in a distanced format. It is complex interpersonal skills, requires a lot of practice with the focus of the course being around role-playing. We resisted making this major fully online, like most of our majors. The pandemic put us into a different world, and video-conferencing for evaluations was inadequate, but I still wanted that peer evaluation aspect for my class. 

Kritik is used by professors for all levels, disciplines, and class sizes. Our research-based, peer assessment platform has improved the educational practice of instructors and increased the value of education for students. The benefits of peer assessment are endless!

How is your Professional Sales course structured? How was it impacted by the asynchronous format? 

We focus a lot on the sales process. When we teach traditionally, there is a big focus on the theory behind selling and how the process works. The next day, in person, students will break off into groups with each other to practice with the instructor observing. We wanted to do the major evaluative role-plays, while also having these practices; the only way to practice interpersonal skills is to have an interpersonal conversation. That’s really where Kritik allowed us to expand our horizons. We created an exercise for students to engage with each other at every point in the process. Before Kritik, that idea was not viable, and Kritik made it happen. 

Our platform is adaptive, to fit all of your desired assessment styles. Kritik supports many file types to make activity design flexible and simple. Our team of Educational Consultants will work closely with you to design activities that integrate your course into Kritik Activities - book a personalized demo with one of our consultants. 

How has Kritik helped you to conduct Team-Based Learning activities online? 

For these mini-role play activities, students were partnered with another student in the class. They were instructed to find a time to connect on Zoom and have them each record a role play scenario for submission. They take turns playing the role of the buyer and salesperson. They then upload the video file to Kritik for students to evaluate based on the rubric I created.

Incorporating rubrics into your assessments is one of the most proven ways to increase student success in a peer assessment activity scheme. Kritik has customizable rubrics suitable for all disciplines, activity types and academic levels. Instructors can also upload their own rubrics and save them as templates for future activities.

Kritik has been an alternative to discussions and discussion boards. Students were telling me that they were really engaged in this, especially because these were partner activities. Social learning really helped them with this skill development. Students saw so many examples and had to think critically to decide what is important. On top of that, students were accountable, not only for me but to each other.

Kritik’s Team-Based Learning feature makes group work simple and effective. Students learn valuable transferable skills while collaborating with others. There is so much research on the benefits of Team-Based Learning, which is why we have made peer assessment in group work settings a breeze, for you and your students!

We know grading can be tedious. How has Kritik impacted the amount of time you spend grading?

Kritik significantly reduced my grading burden. With 30+ students submitting weekly role-plays, It would not be possible without this platform. For the first activity I went in to spot check students’ work, but I didn’t have to. Students were happy about the evaluations they received and I felt they were accurate! I did not override any grades provided by students. I was happy with how the grading went and the comments provided by students. 

Kritik ensures fair and accurate grading in peer assessment through our calibration feature. Our calibration feature helps align student grading with how you would grade, improving your student's grading accuracy.‍ Grade accuracy is reflected in their Grading Power, Kritik's gamification incentive, which allows students’ evaluations to have a proportional impact based on the accuracy of their grading. 

Professors like Dr. Pullins have used Kritik to develop students’ critical thinking and interpersonal skills, in a way they never imagined. Peer assessment is a powerful educational tool, but it can also be rather complex. Kritik has streamlined every step of the peer evaluation process so that you can focus on what really matters, mentoring your students!

Dr. Ellen Bolman Pullins
Dr. Ellen Bolman Pullins
University of Toledo
Professor of Professional Sales and Marketing Management

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