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Reciprocal peer critiquing reconsidered

Title Reciprocal peer critiquing reconsidered
Date/time: Friday 24 April 2009. Session: 13:30-14:30pm
Place: Charles Wilson building (at the intersection of Gibson Street, Bank Street, and Kelvin Way).
How to get there: Instructions
Presenter Steve Draper,   Department of Psychology,   University of Glasgow.

Slides: PDF
Handout: PDF file
Related material:


A continuing practice by some tutors in the psychology department is to get students to perform reciprocal peer critiquing of each others' work: an exercise in which they read and critique a piece of each other's work, and exchange these comments. Data published in 2006 showed clear benefits as measured by student attitudes. This talk, based on some years of experience with this learning activity and further individual feedback from participants, explores a range of theoretical reasons why it might be beneficial, and discusses which of these is the fundamental origin of the benefits. Frequently stated benefits include getting multiple opinions not just one, getting feedback in interactive dialogue not in terse written comments, just seeing how other students approach the task (the variety is the value, not seeing an undoubtedly better or "right" solution), exercising the judgement criteria as a critic not just as a defendant. A contrasting position and exercise is also discussed based on the recent work of Sadler, who far from getting students to make judgements based on explicit criteria, required them to produce critiques without any given criteria. Having introduced the range of different possible benefits, the learning design is then measured, in a bidirectional comparison, against a) Nicol's 7 principles of feedback and assessment, b) Rowntree's list of assessment proposals, and c) the 5 National Student Survey items relating to assessment and feedback. On the one hand, great (as opposed to merely adequate) learning designs tend to tick many boxes at once in a single coherent activity, and this probably to some extent explains the enduring value of this activity (i.e. adding scores across principles shows the activity to score highly overall). On the other hand, it does not match some others of these criteria, which implies questions about simply adding item scores together when some items seem to predict that this exercise should not deliver value for feedback.

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