Implementing Calibrated Peer Review (CPR) in a Large-lecture Science Course

Monday, 15 December 2014
Elmer Arthur Bettis III1, Adam S Ward2,3, Jae-eun Russell4, Samuel Van Horne4, Maija Sipola1, Mary Kathryn Rocheford1 and Mariana R Colombo4, (1)University of Iowa, Earth and Environmental Sciences, Iowa City, IA, United States, (2)University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA, United States, (3)Indiana University Bloomington, School of Public and Environmental Affairs, Bloomington, IN, United States, (4)University of Iowa, ITS-Instructional Services, Iowa City, IA, United States
Assessing writing assignments and providing students the opportunity to meaningfully revise the assignments are challenging for instructors of large enrollment science classes. We included two individual writing assignments and peer assessments as part of course assessment for a large Introduction to Environmental Science course. In order to facilitate the assessment, Calibrated Peer Review (CPR), a web-based application developed by UCLA that enables frequent writing assignments in any discipline and with any class size, was adopted. The CPR assignment process involved four steps: submitting a writing assignment, calibrating each student’s review skills, reviewing peers’ writing, and assessing one’s own writing assignment (self-assessment). A rubric was provided to guide students through each writing assignment and the same rubric was used in calibration, review, and self-assessment scoring. Once the instructors uploaded the writing prompts, rubrics, sample writings and answer keys into the CPR system, the CPR software fully directed all student activity (writing assignment submission, calibrations, reviews, and self-assessment). Students were able to view their results within the CPR program, including their self-calibration scores, reviewing scores, peers’ ratings and feedback, total earned scores, and self-assessment scores.  Surveys independently administered at the conclusion of the CPR assignments indicated that sixty to seventy-five percent of the students perceived that CPR was helpful in their learning, improved their writing and evaluation skills, and that the process of reviewing other students’ essays and their own essays was more helpful than the comments received from peers. These survey results are in agreement with the well-established educational research literature that shows the benefits of peer review and peer assessment to student learning. Our experience with CPR in a large enrollment science course indicates that thoughtful planning of the calibration writings and rubrics, beginning-of-course communication strategies regarding the relationship of the CPR activities to course goals and sufficient technical support to students are critical components to successful implementation.