Peer Assessment through the Workshop Activity – Case Studies

In this post, we look at how two members of teaching staff at York St John have been using the workshop activity in Moodle. Thank you to Dr Sam Yoward and Wayne Fiddler for taking the time to contribute feedback on using this tool.

Summary of Moodle Workshop activity

The workshop activity is one way that teaching staff can set up peer marking in Moodle. It enables students to submit work and receive comments and feedback from other students and also to provide feedback to other students on their work.

By setting up a well-considered peer review activity, it is possible to encourage students to engage better with assessment criteria and to enter into more of a dialogue with teaching staff over feedback. It also provides each student with more feedback than could have been provided only by the tutor.

As observed by Mira Vogel from UCL, in her Workshop case study write-up, there are indeed ‘a daunting number … of settings’ in this Moodle activity meaning that, ‘except for some intrepid pioneers, it is almost never seen in the wild.’ Nevertheless, as you will see from these case studies, they can be really valuable additions to modules and the TEL team is here to help you setting them up and supporting their running.

You can access details on how to set up and use the Workshop activity on the Moodle Support website. However, if you would like support using the workshop activity, please get in touch with the TEL team and we will be happy to help.

 


Member of Staff: Dr Sam Yoward

School: Health Sciences

 

What was the issue/need you were trying to address with the use of this approach/tool?

We required some means of students being able to upload written work and then for the work to be distributed anonymously to another student to offer feedback as part of a formative learning activity.

 

What did you do? For how long? With how many students?

Students were given the usual information about the nature of the formative assessment and how to submit it to Moodle.

We approached the TEL team who supported the activity by setting up the area on Moodle where the students would submit to. Once submitted, the Moodle site had been pre-set to allocate each piece of work to another student anonymously.

We had booked IT rooms for students to then work in pairs (with tutor and TEL team support) to offer feedback on the work that they had been allocated, i.e. one each so two to look at in total due to working in pairs.

All students in the cohort are involved and all have the same submission date although the paired feedback day varies as the IT rooms are not large enough for all students to work at the same time. In practice this means we have two sessions planned for half of the cohort to come to one of the sessions.

Following all the feedback being offered by students, tutors also offer feedback on each piece so that each student has had the opportunity to see two other pieces of work and has received two pieces of feedback on their own work, one from two students and one from a tutor.

We follow up on this activity with another learning session to review the feedback and make action plans. In terms of time, students submit their work the day before the feedback activities and the final learning activity for action planning is usually around a couple of weeks later, to allow time for the tutors to also offer their own feedback. The process has been running for several years now.

 

How did it go? What were the benefits? Did you face any challenges?

It works very well with excellent feedback from students. The activity depends on the TEL team setting up the activity on Moodle in the first place and someone being available to come to the feedback sessions in case of technical difficulty but the TEL team have always accommodated us and been very helpful. There are occasional challenges such as the students getting into pairs to work on the feedback only to find that the anonymously allocated work is their own but this is easily managed by altering the pairs.

Although the work is anonymously allocated I feel that on occasion this doesn’t work because of the way in which Moodle presents the allocation or because of the student writing identifying details on their work. Those giving feedback are not designed to be anonymous, deliberately so. We ask students to be constructive and responsible with their feedback and to ‘own’ it so anonymity is not required.

Other challenges are the need to have two separate timetabled sessions because of the IT rooms not being big enough and students who do not attend on feedback day but still need to offer feedback for fairness to the person who submitted that work.

Although setting up the learning activity takes some planning, it is worth the effort as the students have the opportunity to practice their writing and referencing to gauge the level expected for a module which has a written summative assessment; they also have the opportunity to practice uploading work to Moodle (the activity is in semester 1 of level 1).

Feedback from students is very positive in that they find it helpful to apply the learning outcomes to a piece of work and practice matching the outcomes to feedback so that they have a more reflective and self-critical view in their own work. They also find the feedback they receive useful for moving forward with their summative assessment and can clarify any issues in the follow up activity.

 

Do you have any tips for other people using the tool?

Ensure you have TEL team support on the feedback day if you don’t have the technical skills to resolve issues as they arise

Be present also on feedback day to offer support on how best to offer constructive feedback to specific issues (I also go through feedback-giving beforehand so that they know how to use ‘add comment’ and how to phrase things in a positive rather than negative way)

Build in tutor feedback as well as peer-feedback on the written piece.

Tell the students that their feedback will be attributable to their name and that the tutors will be working on the same work so can see the feedback offered by students (in a bid to reduce any overly personal feedback, though I have never experienced this in our cohorts).

 

Do you know of anyone else using this tool effectively? Or is there someone else who has inspired you with their use of technology enhanced learning?

I don’t know anyone else using this specifically but I would recommend it, particularly where the summative assessment is a written piece of work and particularly earlier in the programme when students aren’t sure of the levels required.


Member of staff: Wayne Fiddler

School: York Business School

 

What was the issue/need you were trying to address with the use of this approach/tool?

The tutor was looking for a way to introduce students to an employability focus from the beginning of the course.

 

What did you do? For how long? With how many students?

The tutor introduced the topic of CVs by spending some time in class writing CVs and making improvements to them. He then assigned the peer review activity so that students could share each others’ CVs and get ideas about what skills they might need to develop. There was a reflection activity after the task had been completed and this was marked.

Basic criteria on which students were to comment were provided by the tutor. Students also gave marks to other students.

The whole project took about 5 weeks from introducing it to final marks on the reflection task. There were about 40 students involved.

 

How did it go?

On the whole it worked well. All students participated apart from 1 who only reviewed one CV rather than 3. The tutor noted that it was interesting that students were quite generous with marks although they did pick up on students who were lacking some energy and motivation in classes.

There were a few issues around viewing the feedback and the tutor had to ask the TEL team for support but the activity worked successfully in the end.

The tutor found the Moodle settings in the task difficult to work with and there were some issues with the dates when the same project was run this year.

Nevertheless, feedback from students was very positive in the 2nd year.

 

Do you have any tips for other people using the tool?

Link the task to assessment. In this case, it was necessary to participate so that students could then complete the reflection task which contributed towards 25% of final module mark.

Do the activity during the working week when help can be accessed, in case students have problems opening files and knowing what to do. It’s important to stay in close touch with students to make sure they can see what they need to.

 

References

Vogel, M. (2015) A good peer review experience with Moodle Workshop. Available at: https://blogs.ucl.ac.uk/digital-education/2015/03/18/a-good-peer-review-experience-with-moodle-workshop/

 

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