Saturday, March 21, 2015

Getting reviews, not stress

Students can learn much from feedback from their peers -- but sometimes, the grades that come with such feedback can be a cause for undue stress.  Often, what is desired is peer feedback -- without the judgement component.

For instance, a typical way in which CrowdGrader is used is to provide students feedback on their work -- be it an essay, an Android application, or a lab report.  The students can then use the feedback to improve their work, and resubmit it.  When CrowdGrader is used in this way, the grades that are associated with reviews can be a spurious source of stress: students are often better off focusing on improving their work than on the grades.  Nevertheless, having some grades can be useful to the teacher to get an idea of class progress.

Teachers can now check the "Hide review grades" box in assignments:

This has the effect of showing students only the final instructor-assigned grade.  Teachers and their assistants have access to the full information.  Presto, feedback without judgement!

Towards supporting submit-feedback-resubmit

The above change is one in a series of planned changes that aim at supporting a submit-feedback-resubmit workflow.  In this workflow, students will be able to submit a draft of their work, and receive feedback (but no grades) on their draft.  Students would then be able to improve their work in light of the peer feedback, and re-submit it for evaluation. 

Implementing the option to hide review grades is a first step.  We are soon going to allow to clone an assignment together with the reviewer assignment.  In this way, instructors can create two assignments for a given homework.  In the first one, students get feedback (but no grades) on their preliminary work.  Students would then be able to improve their work in view of the received feedback, and re-submit it to the second assignment.  In this second assignment, their work would be assigned to the same reviewers who wrote the initial feedback.  These reviewers would be able to judge how well the feedback has been taken into account, and they would assign an overall grade to the work.  This is similar to what happens in scientific conferences with an author-response phase. 

We plan to provide support for submit-feedback-resubmit in less than a month.