How Peer Feedback Can Make A World of Difference in Your Classroom

It’s the beginning of the semester and there’s over 300 students signed up for your course.

As you add up the numbers in your head, you realize your workload will include grading hundreds of papers each week. The one-on-one interaction that you previously had with students will be nearly impossible to achieve this semester. What do you do?

While you could turn to tools such as online graders or multiple-choice tests, you’re a believer in open-ended problem solving. You want your students to be involved and to learn from their mistakes. You decide to incorporate peer feedback, allowing students to participate in the grading process. This way everybody will still receive feedback while simultaneously learning to give critique.

Students tend to learn well from other students. In the process of providing feedback to others, they often reflect on their own performance and their own strengths and weaknesses. Learners who value the opinions of others can obtain great criticism from peers and refine their own skills at the exact same time.

And that’s not the only reason peer feedback is awesome.

The power of peer review to change education

A research summary by England’s Education Endowment Foundation found that teaching is more effective when it incorporates feedback, peer tutoring, collaborative learning, meta-cognition, and self-regulation—all components of effective peer review.

But that doesn’t mean peer feedback always works. According to an analysis by the Wall Street Journal, U.S. colleges are falling short when it comes to teaching students critical-thinking skills such as making cohesive arguments, assessing evidence, and interpreting data. While extremely useful, peer review is not always effective.

So how do we fix that?

To help your students give their peers useful feedback, they’ll need your guidance on how to do it. Hubspot suggests 8 tips for effective peer feedback in the classroom:

1. Assume good intent

While giving feedback may feel uncomfortable at times, your students want their peers’ honest opinion. Advise your students to give each other the benefit of the doubt and not take things personally.

2. Review regularly

If incorporated regularly, peer reviews won’t be a dreaded and intimidating activity but an experience for problem solving in your classroom.

3. Come prepared

To make feedback productive, your students must prepare beforehand. Coming prepared with questions or a background knowledge of the topic will increase the satisfaction and efficiency of each student involved.

4. Learn the other person’s style

Everybody does things differently, including feedback; however, feedback can often rub people the wrong way. Encourage your students to set expectations prior to giving feedback so that other students know what to anticipate early on.

5. Get to the point

There’s no need to add fluff when giving feedback. Urge your students to dive right in and discuss how to solve their problems. Address areas of growth, rather than repeatedly complimenting and critiquing.

6. Encourage a growth mindset

Instead of focusing on passing or failing, the growth mindset allows people to value what they’re doing regardless of the outcome. Help your students understand how the skills they’re learning contribute to the bigger picture.

7. Use the passive voice

Using passive voice helps productive feedback not feel too personal. It also helps students feel less defensive and more open to discussing the problems.

8. Embrace technology

Gone are the days of simply using a paper and a pencil. Technology allows work to be submitted anytime, anywhere, but how can technology be used for peer feedback? While tools like Slack, email, and Google Drive comments are great, they don’t always provide the necessary resources for every program’s needs. How do you give feedback on a speech or a foreign language exercise over email?

That’s where GoReact comes into play.

GoReact is an online video recording tool designed to provide feedback in a simple way. It allows students to record themselves and teachers or peers to provide feedback on videos created.

How does it work?

Instructors create the video assignments, and students upload or record their video submissions. Instructors and peers then leave time-coded text, video, or audio feedback directly in GoReact. Best of all, you can grade assignments using easily-customized rubrics that post grades straight to your university’s LMS.

Because feedback is so important, GoReact uses a variety of tools to help you give your students direction:

Time-coded comments—GoReact pauses the video as you type or record your comments. As soon as you hit enter, the video resumes playing. Students can click on any comment to jump straight to the right spot in the video for review.

End notes—End notes allow you to summarize your observations with longer, final comments. This is a good place to sum up big takeaways on an assignment.

Rubrics—You can create custom rubrics directly in GoReact to allow your students to critique their own videos and peer videos. Even if you have a rubric you swear by, you can build it in GoReact for easy access and lightning-fast grading.

Markers—Markers are customizable, color-coded labels that make giving basic feedback faster and easier. GoReact allows you to create your own marker set. As the video plays, you can simply click on a marker instead of typing a comment.

GoReact is easy to use and makes a world of difference in students’ performance. If you find yourself overwhelmed with coursework and want to lighten your load, check out goreact.com to create easy, effective peer feedback.

Want more cool content like this? Subscribe to our teacher education newsletter, The Yardstick & Apple.