Overview

In this peer assessment-based activity, students work on a semester-long project researching a topic of interest in which they demonstrate how a quantifiable X variable (e.g., calcium) affects a quantifiable Y variable (e.g., hip fracture rates in women). The activity is performed in Moodle with wiki pages, though any other learning platform can be used.

Breakdown of project

Start of semester:
Students get into groups of 4-8 (depending on the size of the class) and come up with a group name.
Students choose a topic they are interested in that meets the criteria outlined ...

Read More +

In this peer assessment-based activity, students work on a semester-long project researching a topic of interest in which they demonstrate how a quantifiable X variable (e.g., calcium) affects a quantifiable Y variable (e.g., hip fracture rates in women). The activity is performed in Moodle with wiki pages, though any other learning platform can be used.

Breakdown of project

Start of semester:
Students get into groups of 4-8 (depending on the size of the class) and come up with a group name.
Students choose a topic they are interested in that meets the criteria outlined in the Group Project Description (full activity package).
Students come up with an outline for their project, and the instructor reviews the quality of the outline and provides feedback.

Middle of semester:
Students work in their groups on the project.
Groups are put into supergroups (~6 groups per supergroup). These supergroups separate teams for evaluation (feedback and evaluation)
1st draft: groups provide feedback on Moodle for the other teams in their supergroup. TAs also provide feedback.
2nd draft: repeat feedback steps performed for first draft.

End of semester:
Groups hand in their project and evaluate (grade-based) their peers' projects in their supergroup. Students also evaluate the contribution of their other group members. The instructor and TA evaluate individual student contribution to the project.

Read Less -

Objectives

Students learn to critically assess research presented in peer-reviewed, primary research articles.

Students learn how to cite and read peer-reviewed articles, and gain a basic understanding of what comprises a good research article (statistics, controls, methods, key questions addressed in the paper, etc.).

Students work both as a team and individually during this activity, enabling them to develop autonomous critical thinking skills, as well as collaborative skills.

Students learn to give constructive criticism and how to evaluate their peers.

Context and requirements

Level Grade 12-U0
Discipline Biology
Activity Content Biology in the news
Technological Requirements Online learning platform with Wiki LTI
Best Use Practice

Author’s Notes

Benefits

Student engagement and material retention have improved since using this activity. Students are more engaged during class, and their understanding of the course material is better overall.

Challenges

Group dynamics can be difficult to predict; some groups might not work well.

Tips

Continual feedback throughout the semester helps keep groups on track and also to make sure that everyone in the group is pulling their weight, which can prevent or solve negative group dynamics.
Giving students some time during lecture periods to meet up with their groups for in-person discussion helps prevent bad group dynamics too.

Activity Pedagogical Components

Research

Students search for topics that interest them following the “X associates with Y” criteria.

Create

Create outline: students work together to generate an outline of their project that they will use as a guideline for writing a draft later in the semester.
Create draft: students work on individual contributions and also together to put together a comprehensive overview, analysis and evaluation of a topic based on two peer-reviewed journal articles.

Evaluate & Comment

Students provide peerreview each other’s work and provide constructive criticism to other groups.

Evaluate & Grade

Students evaluate the projects of other groups in their supergroup, and provide them with a letter grade for their projects. Students also evaluate the contribution of their own group members.

Download Flowchart