Friday, October 7, 2016

Teaching Students to Peer Assess On-line

A few days ago I was making a coffee in the Computer Science and IT common room at ANU*. I fell into conversation with PHD researcher Dr. Sabrina Caldwell on the topic of education and IT. While she is researching digital imaging, Sabrina and her supervisor, Professor Tom Gedeon, have been working on how to teach web design on-line. In a recent paper they found that simple formative tasks can be used to train students in how to peer assess (Caldwell & Gedeon, 2015). They suggest this could be used in large on-line courses (so called "MOOCs").

The idea is you use small quizzes and tasks to train the students, so they can then assess deeper learning in larger assessment tasks by other students.If this effect can be confirmed by refuter research, it could point the way to low cost on-line cruses which provide high quality leaning, equal to, or superior to conventional face-to-face university programs.

In my "ICT Sustainability" course I gave the students small tasks and use peer assessment. This worked well, but it did not occur to me that the students would be learning peer assessment as part of the process.


Caldwell, S., and Gedeon, T.D., (2015). Optimising Peer Marking with Explicit Training: from Superficial to Deep Learning, 1st International Conference on Higher Education Advances. Valencia, Spain, paper DOI: Retrieved from

* The CSIT common room is a little like Star Trek Captain's Table. It was designed with two doors: one for ANU Research School of Computer Science staff and one for CSIRO IT Researchers (now Data 61). This was designed for bureaucratic requirements that each organization have its own common room. But the dividing wall was omitted, so once through either door, people freely mingle. As well as current ANU and CSIRO staff, there could be people from anywhere in the world, researching just about anything.

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