Peer evaluation is an essential component of team-based learning (TBL) as it promotes student accountability and helps students learn from the cognitive processes of their peers. According to Levine (2021) in his book titled,Team-Based Learning for Health Professions Education, 'peer evaluation is a key strategy for supporting contributions to the group and avoiding the kind of social loafing that can sabotage other forms of group work'.
However, many times educators are faced with the challenge of selecting an appropriate peer evaluation method for their courses. Firstly, there exist many peer evaluation methods to choose from (qualitative, quantitative, or hybrid methods). Secondly, the goal of every course is different. Hence, no one method can fit all. A peer evaluation activity should be set up to meet the overall learning objectives of the course/program.
Here are some of the questions that instructors should ask themselves when considering which peer evaluation method to use for their course:
1. What is the size of my class?
If you are teaching a small class, pick a qualitative or hybrid method such as UT Austin’s, Texas Tech’s, or Koles’ method. Students would be able to take the time to review each teammate qualitatively and quantitatively when there are lesser peers involved.
If you are teaching a large class, pick a quantitative method such as Michaelsen’s or Fink’s method. It would be more efficient for students to distribute points among their peers when there are many of them involved. It would also allow the instructors to easily keep a track of peer evaluation scores for each student in a large class.
2. Do I want peer evaluation to play a role in affecting a students’ final grade?
If your answer is a yes, you might consider choosing Michaelsen’s, Koles’, or Fink’s method. Students will be encouraged to contribute more to the group work when they are aware that peer evaluation will impact their grades.
If your answer is a no, you might consider choosing Texas Tech’s or UT Austin’s method. However, do note that UT Austin’s method is also able to impact grades if the student requests for an extra credit bump at the end of the semester (Sweet, 2007). These methods are best for highly competitive environments where students are especially concerned about letting other students impact their grades.
3. Do I want my students to discriminate scoring among their peers? (For divide up the points methods)
Michaelsen’s method requires students to discriminate peer scores among their peers, thus they are not able to give anyone the same score. This helps to promote higher-order critical thinking skills as students need to carefully consider how many points to assign to each team member. In Fink’s method, students are allowed to give an equal score to their peers. Many students perceive this method to be fairer for this reason.
With these factors in mind, you are ready to start designing the peer evaluation process that would work best for your students. If you have further questions, you can reach out to us here for a one-to-one consultation.