Peer Review: Learning to Teach & Learning to Learn
Collaborative skills are now a prerequisite for many careers. We no longer work in silos and the ability to be collegial, interactive and critically supportive in a constructive manner are vital skills in team-oriented environments. Even in those professions and endeavours which are more individual focused, it is imperative to be able to give and receive feedback on your work and the process thereof. Gaining these skills requires guidance initially and the classroom is an effective training ground for becoming effective with peer review.
According to Hattie and Timperley, although there are many reliant factors in implementing a productive feedback methodology, the benefits are multifaceted.
“Feedback is among the most critical influences on student learning. A major aim of the educative process is to assist in identifying these gaps (“How am I going?” relative to “Where am I going?”) and to provide remediation in the form of alternative or other steps (“Where to next?”).”
Ultimately, the feedback process, including peer feedback, provides a high degree of goal clarity with which the student can progress more confidently. The experience of feedback itself helps to reinforce cognitive skills necessary to improve self learning efficacy in the long run.
Peer feedback specifically helps compliment teacher feedback. As found in a 2012 study on Language Medias and Culture, when peer feedback is implemented alongside teacher feedback the overall quality of writing improves. Students tend to reflect on teacher feedback differently to peer feedback and so the combination of both produces holistic as-well as specific improvement.
As with many teaching and learning strategies, the ultimate aim is to forge cohesive cognitive skills. In the Journal of Applied Foreign Languages a 2009 study showed that students gain insight beyond correction based improvement and increase their capacity to collaborate. The embedding of these social learning skills is transferable and can be appreciated by teachers as an essential component in reducing workload.
In her book, Peer Feedback in the Classroom, Starr Sackstein, emphasises the most powerful consequence of peer feedback:
“By giving students the responsibility to share their expertise with one another, we are engaging them in the highest level of learning: asking them to teach.”
Sackstein elaborates on how imbuing students with a sense of responsibility for each others’ learning has powerful effects on self esteem and agency. In essence, this process creates genuine intrinsic motivation. Having provided their peers with valuable guidance, they realise that empowerment works in both directions.
Implementing in the classroom
Education Perfect are releasing their first iteration of a new peer review function in order to provide these benefits to teachers and learners. While the theory may be easily grasped, we know only too well that in practice there are many limiting factors. In order to minimise these as much as possible, Education Perfect are equipping educators with an intuitive and efficient tool with which to implement their peer review strategies. Students will now be able to make more meaningful connections with one another around their online tasks, providing teachers with more opportunity and time to focus on facilitation, guidance and differentiation.
Figure 1: A model of feedback to enhance learning (Hattie & Timperley – Review of Educational Research – March 2007)