Peer reviewed assignments allow Coursera instructors to assign students more open ended and unstructured work such as academic essay, video, design or music projects. Because instructors could not possibly comment on even a fraction of this work in a class this large, peer comments allow students to learn from each other and can help build community in class. More open-ended assignments allow students to show both that they have learned the material and that they have developed the skills and abilities that the class is trying to teach (from analysis and interpretation to the ability to create new works and designs.) In addition, students can explore their own interests in these types of assignments, and they often find them more engaging.
While there are a lot of benefits to giving students peer graded assignments, the process can be difficult. First, as with exams, it is important to explain the expectations that these assignments are the student’s own work (or if they are the result of a group, the group’s work). Second, it is important to set up a clear rubric to guide the peer reviewers. It may help to give the reviewers some experience with the types of comments that might be most useful and some practice with grading.
Peer review rubrics are helpful ways to guide students in a Coursera class. As you prepare your own rubric remember that often terms that seem quite clear to you (sophistication, analysis) might not have the same meaning to your students. Make every effort to make your rubrics as clear and concise as possible.
Here are some sample rubrics for Coursera classes:
- Rubric from Peter Struck’s “Greek and Roman Mythology”: Struck_Rubric.pdf (note that this rubric asks peers to evaluate each other’s work according to a well-defined sense of quality)
- Rubric for assignment on Frank O’Hara from Al Filreis’ “Modern and Contemporary American Poetry”: Filreis_Rubric.pdf (note that this rubric asks peers to evaluate each other’s work by considering if a topic is there or not there and that students are asked to comment on the essay but not evaluate it)
- Rubric from Kevin Werbach’s “Gamification”: Gamification_Rubric.pdf (note that this rubric asks peers to evaluate each other’s work by considering both if a topic is there and the quality of the student’s answer)
- Rubric from Karl Ulrich’s “Design: Creation of Artifacts in Society”: Karl_Ulrich_Rubric.pdf (note that this assignment is for a non-written work and that the rubric asks peers only to measure that the sketch met the basic elements of the assignment.)