University of Pittsburgh

ACIE Award 2009

Giving Feedback to the Peer Reviewer

Kevin Ashley

Kevin Ashley

LAW 525 Pittsburgh
(412) 648-1495

As a way to help students assess their progress during the semester, Ashley created his ACIE project A Peer Review-Based Student Model for Ill-Defined Problem Solving. Under Ashley’s direction, Ilya Goldin, a doctoral candidate in the Intelligent Systems program, has developed and a system with which students can review each other’s writing assignments.  Each student submits a writing assignment, then reviews five other students’ assignments and provides suggestions on how to improve the essay. These comments are synthesized by Goldin’s software, which gives both the students and the instructors an idea of how well they understand the material in the essay. The writer is also able to respond to the reviewer; after editing his or her essay, the student can let the reviewer know which comments and suggestions were most helpful.

Since no two assignments are the same, instructors are able to set guidelines on what to focus on in reviewing the essay, such as content, fluidity of argument, or inclusion of alternative viewpoints. Focusing reviewers on underlying issues is crucial, because law students must learn to analyze ill-defined problems—that is, problems for which there are multiple correct answers. The software applies these guidelines when assessing reviewers’ comments. Feedback for the reviewer, Ashley believes, is what sets his peer review system apart from existing ones.  “We’re just trying to make that process of peer reviewing more active, more reflective. That’s a better learning experience,” he says.

Final Report

2009 Teaching Times