Online Peer Evaluation of Writing Assignments

Author Information
Author(s): 
Judith Fisher
Institution(s) or Organization(s) Where EP Occurred: 
University of Florida
Effective Practice Abstract/Summary
Abstract/Summary of Effective Practice: 

University of Florida uses peer review of written assignments to increase interaction in online courses and build a sense of community among students.

Description of the Effective Practice
Description of the Effective Practice: 

Peer reviews are used to increase interaction in online courses and build a sense of community among students.

Supporting Information for this Effective Practice
Evidence of Effectiveness: 

The Professional Writing course, required of all students enrolled in our Internet MBA Degree Program at the University of Florida, focuses on acquiring and practicing traditional business writing skills. Their writing assignments are, of course, critiqued and evaluated by the professor, but that single level of interaction offered minimal student engagement. To pump up the interaction, we added asynchronous peer evaluation activities.

On selected assignments, students anonymously review and critique the writing of their peers. This is handled asynchronously via a special adaptation of the "blind answer" discussion activity . Here's how it works.

  • Students write a feasibility report (MS Word document) and submit it electronically.
  • The professor strips the reports of identifying marks (using the "suppress attributes" feature of MS Word) and saves them under new filenames.
  • Each report-anonymous-is then posted as an attachment to a separate discussion board.
  • Students are then told to access specific discussion boards to read and critique several feasibility reports. They do not know who wrote the reports. Only the professor knows who wrote the report and who was assigned to critique it.
  • Students actually download the report from the discussion board, mark it up with their comments, and upload it back to the board. The course administration system (iNET) automatically suppresses student names that would normally be associated with discussion posting-only faculty can see the actual names of the reviewers.
  • A student reviewer must first make a posting in order to see what other anonymous reviewers have posted. (The blind answer format thus enforces original critiquing.)
  • The net effect is that several students (i.e. 3-5) review each report, providing valuable feedback for their peers on the utility and effectiveness of the writing.
  • The professor grades the original writing and grades the efforts of the peer reviewers.
How does this practice relate to pillars?: 

Increases online interaction and builds a sense of community among students.

Equipment necessary to implement Effective Practice: 

none.

Estimate the probable costs associated with this practice: 

Very low; some extra faculty time needed to set up the activity.

References, supporting documents: 

Lynch, D.H. & Golen, S. Peer Evaluation of Writing in Buisness Communication Classes. Journal of Education for Business, 08832323, Sep/Oct92, Vol. 68, Issue 1.

Zinn, A. Ideas in Practice: Assessing Writing in the Developmental Classroom. Journal of Developmental Education, 08943907, Winter98, Vol. 22, Issue 2.

Contact(s) for this Effective Practice
Effective Practice Contact: 
Dr. Judith E. Fisher; 392-352-6869 x1382