Peer review is a powerful pedagogical strategy used by countless teachers both at the K12 level and in higher education, but what exactly is peer review and why is it so powerful? Peer review is a collaborative learning strategy in which students review and assess each other’s work. In many cases, students provide feedback on the quality of their peer’s work and how it may be improved.
This process enhances and personalizes the learning experience and can potentially increase a student’s engagement, motivation, and self-confidence. By leveraging peer review in the classroom, “students might be encouraged to learn more deeply” and build up their understanding, “rather than just their knowledge of the facts.”1 This activity also allows students to gain an insight into their own approach in comparison to their peers.1 For an instructor, this strategy can provide critical information about a student’s learning growth and development and can also help save time especially in large online classes.
Peer Review in Moodle: Workshop Activity
The Moodle LMS does a great job of leveraging this powerful learning strategy using the Workshop activity module, which is a core component of Moodle. This student-focused tool allows students to submit work and be assigned other students’ work for review and assessment based on a set of criteria provided by the teacher. They may also assess their own work if the teacher so chooses. Furthermore, the teacher can provide exemplars of sample submissions and then publish good or bad examples of student work at the end of the activity.
So how does this activity work? Read on for a more in-depth explanation of how to configure and manage the Workshop activity in Moodle.
Configure & Manage Workshop
To add a workshop activity to a Moodle course page, simply ‘Turn editing on’ and select ‘Add an activity or resource’ and choose ‘Workshop’ from the list of activities. After selecting the activity, one will see a brief description and a help link to the right, which will take you to Moodle.org‘s documentation for the activity. After clicking the ‘Add’ button you will be provided a page where you can configure options such as title, description, grade, submission, and assessment settings as well as feedback, example submissions, availability. You can also restrict access and choose activity completion criteria.
Let’s look at each of these options is more detail. Let’s start with the ‘Grading settings’. These settings allow the teacher to configure a grading strategy, such as accumulative grading, number of errors, or the use of a rubric, and then specify the maximum grade for submissions and the maximum grade for the quality of the students’ peer assessment skills.
‘Submission settings’ allows the teacher to provide instructions regarding the submission and specify the maximum number of submissions, the file type, size of the submission, and whether late submissions will be allowed after the deadline. Any type of file may be submitted, some of which include audio, image, document, presentation, spreadsheet, and video. Students may also submit text directly into a text box.
Next, for the ‘Assessment settings’, the teacher provides instructions regarding how the submission should be assessed which may include a rubric or other assessment criteria. By default, a maximum value of 80 points is assigned to the submission, and a maximum value of 20 points to the assessment. This is also where teachers can choose whether students may assess their own work. In ‘Example submissions’, the teacher can provide an exemplar for students to practice their assessment skills before they assess their own or their peer’s submissions.
Finally, the teacher can configure the tool’s availability which includes opening and closing dates for the submissions and assessment phases of the workshop. The teacher may also configure whether to use groups, restrict access based on certain criteria such as dates, grades of prior assignments, groups or groupings, and even fields of the user’s profile. Let’s now examine workflow.
The workflow of the Workshop activity tool has five stages or phases. These phases include:
The progress of each of these phases can be visualized in the ‘Workshop Planner Tool’ which displays the different phases and the individual tasks that need to be completed for each phase. It also highlights the current phase.
Workshop Planner Tool
During the initial Setup phase, students are unable to do anything such as make submissions or perform assessments. This phase is solely used by the teacher or workshop facilitator to change the workshop’s settings such as grading options and assessment criteria. Teachers may switch into this phase at any time during the activity to prevent students from modifying their submissions or assessments.
In the Submission phase, students are allowed to make their submissions. This can include a file submission or text entered directly into a text box. The availability to make submissions can be controlled by setting the start date/time and end date/time when initially configuring the activity during the Setup phase of the workflow. After entering this phase, the ‘Workshop Submission Report’ will inform teachers about a student’s submission status.
Workshop Submission Report
After students have completed the Submission phase, they enter the Assessment phase. This is the phase in which students will assess submissions assigned to them (either randomly or manually by the teacher) or assess their own submission. Instructions, assessment criteria, and even a rubric will be available depending on how this phase was initially configured. Students will provide a numeric grade in addition to written feedback. This is also where students will be allowed to practice assessing an exemplar if one was uploaded during setup.
Once the Assessment phase has been completed and students have reviewed, assessed, and graded their own or peer submissions, it’s time for the Grading Evaluation phase. It’s during this phase that a teacher will perform their own review of students’ submissions, provide their own feedback, and calculate the final grade for submissions and assessments. If necessary, teachers may also manually override the assessment grades students have assigned to themselves or their peers. During this phase, students are not allowed to make any further modifications to their submissions or their assessments. In addition, this is when teachers can select certain submissions to be published that represent poor or outstanding examples of student work. These selected submissions will become available during the Closed phase of the workshop activity.
The Closed phase is the final phase in the Workshop workflow. When switching into this phase, the final grades will be displayed and added to the grade book. Students may view their submissions, their submissions’ assessment, and the published examples of student work.
Workshop Final Grades
As you can see, Moodle’s Workshop activity module is a very powerful and robust peer assessment exercise. It allows the teacher a large degree of choice regarding configuration and students an easy way to assess each other’s work.
Questions about using Workshop in Moodle? Or, interested in exploring other eLearning strategies to engage learners? Let’s chat!Contact Us
1. “Peer Assessment.” Engage in Assessment, University of Reading, www.reading.ac.uk/engageinassessment/peer-and-self-assessment/peer-assessment/eia-peer-assessment.aspx.