Peer review for teaching teachers

Story about

Amber Walraven

Assistant professor at the Radboud Graduate School of Education

Peer review for teaching teachers

Amber Walraven is Assistant Professor at the Graduate School of Education in Radboud Teachers Academy in The Netherlands. She teaches general didactics and teaching methodology and conducts research in the field of professional development for educators. With a deep understanding of the research behind peer feedback, she started using Peergrade to help her students understand criteria better and reflect on their own learning. 

In Amber’s course “Design & Research”, the students (who are all teachers themselves!) design a lesson plan and conduct practical-based research on different aspects of the lessons. Although all of her students have Master’s degrees in fields such as Maths, Physics, Chemistry or Biology and conduct research regularly, research in educational practices is a whole new ballgame. After a few weeks of reading, discussing and observing, they decide on a topic and goal for their lesson plan, as well as choosing the aspect they want to investigate with a practice-based study. They write a project design and research plan, which Amber must approve of.

It is a good way for students to become familiar with the criteria, providing feedback sharpens their thinking, it’s useful for both receivers and givers of feedback and it’s good for learning together. And, it also saves me time! 

The students then use Peergrade to give feedback to one another on the first drafts of these plans. The rubric is based on the criteria that Amber herself used when deciding whether to accept the plan. This includes questions about the research questions, the link between theory and practice, methods, used concepts, etc.

The biggest challenge Amber faced was creating a rubric that would be easily understood and interpreted by those students that have had less exposure to rubric-based learning. One of the criteria that she used in her rubric was “The issue/problem analysis is scientifically substantiated” where the students could answer: “Insufficiently”, “Moderately”, “Adequately” or “Excellently” and then provide a textual comment to explain why they evaluated as they did. When we asked her what advice she wanted to give to other teachers that were thinking of starting with Peergrade she said: “Take some time to create the rubric! It pays off.”.

They learned a lot from providing feedback, they understood the criteria better and they took another look at their own plans after giving feedback. I was really proud of the helpful feedback they gave their peers.

 

Amber blogs at http://amberwalraven.edublogs.org/ (mostly in Dutch) about teaching and learning and she even wrote a post about her experiences with Peergrade.

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