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Scaling asynchronous collaboration at Queen’s University

Nhi Nguyen
July 14, 2021
“I think this [Peer Review and Group Member Evaluation] is one of the most straightforward tools to use…” - Selina Idlas

About the institution

Queen’s University is Canada’s definitive university experience. Home to 2015 Nobel Prize winner, Dr. Arthur B. McDonald, Queen’s offers an exceptional student learning experience and is renowned for being a comprehensive research-intensive environment. The university ranks 4th among medical-doctoral universities in Canada and has the highest graduation rate in the country.

About the instructors

Danielle D'Souza is the Educational Support Specialist for the Engineering Teaching and Learning Team at Queen’s University. Danielle is the team’s frontliner and provides support to both the team and faculty with ongoing projects.

Marisa Lavoratore is an Instructional Designer with the Faculty of Health Sciences at Queen’s University. In her role, she supports faculty and team members as a resource for learning activities, assessments, and the integration of meaningful learning technologies.

Selina Idlas is the Educational Technologies Innovation Specialist at the Centre for Teaching & Learning team at Queen’s University. Here she assists faculty, graduate students, and support staff in the use of onQ (the university’s LMS), and other educational technologies.

Sean Watt is an adjunct lecturer at Queen’s University. A professional engineer for two decades, Sean has also been teaching university and college level courses for the last ten years.

Course set up

  • Name: Capstone Design Engineering Course
  • Duration: full year (8 months)
  • Size: 78 students
  • Design: 3 large deliverable reports, 2 deliverable reviews, 3 group member evaluations
  • LMS: Brightspace

The problem: Seeking a more robust tool for peer feedback and group evaluation

The quick jump to remote learning required the Queen’s team to seek a “more robust teaching tool than the one they are currently using”, said Selina Idlas, Educational Technologies Innovation Specialist. Their current tools for peer feedback and group evaluation didn’t meet their needs due to poor integration into Brightspace, and user-unfriendly interface.

“[The current tools] were very labor intensive for instructors and other educational support professionals.” - Selina Idlas

FeedbackFruits Peer Review (PR) and Group Member Evaluation (GME); however, met all the requirements developed by the Queen’s team, which were: seamless LMS integration, single sign-on (SSO), Gradebook synchronization, large group management capability, timely support, user-friendliness, and consistent user experience.

The support model - FeedbackFruits launch support model

To ensure a smooth transition to Peer Review and Group Member Evaluation, the Queen’s Centre for Teaching & Learning worked closely with the FeedbackFruits team to provide pedagogical support for instructors.

“We have a really robust support model to get FeedbackFruits tools] launched as quickly as possible and to make that transition happen.” - Selina Idlas

For Danielle D’Souza, Educational Support Specialist at Queen’s, this support model was a huge benefit for her. Danielle needed to help an instructor to design and facilitate a 2-part assignment where students participating in the first part would get reviews from students participating in the second part. This assignment was challenging and “complicated” according to Danielle. However, she reached out to the FeedbackFruits team for support and received detailed instructions on exactly “what to do, which settings to gofor in the tools”.

“I just want to give a huge kudo to the FF team because they have been incredible with their support in every situation.” - Danielle D’Souza

Thanks to this close collaboration, both tools were successfully adopted and implemented at Queen’s. And Sean Watt, Adjunct Lecturer at Queen’s University is among the instructors that had positive experience with Peer Review and Group Member Evaluation.

The solution: Enhancing peer feedback quality and asynchronous collaboration with Peer Review and Group Member Evaluation tool

In his Capstone Design Engineering Course of 78 students, Sean issued 2 Peer Review deliverable reports, and 3 Group Member Evaluations. For the former activity, students worked in groups of 4 to provide peer comments on 19 group reports, with each group member reviewing a different document. This process took place all within the Peer Review tool. For the Group Member Evaluation, the instructor set up 15 questions with a 5-point ranking, and each group member had to assign 101 points across their team. Using the GME tool, the instructor could retrieve detailed insights into students’ progress and performance in the activity.

“You can see the progress on the right hand side. Here you can see all the different groups, see which one are completed, see what their average review was, you can see the time they spend on reviewing …” - Sean Watt

Sean also found the color-gradient of students’ comments to be “really unique and helpful”, helping him to visualize how many students completed the group evaluation.

The outcome: The implementation was a success for both teachers and students

The implementation was noted as being a success and was well received by both teachers and students. For teachers, both tools matched all implementation requirements, as well as offering extensive analytics (per student, per group and overall). For students, the tools were found to be intuitive and easy to use, and they greatly increased their engagement with the course.

“More user friendly and easier to use than older software. Navigation and layout were smoother.” - Student at Queen’s University
“Also, since we can access FeedbackFruits through OnQ, it also gives us a reminder for how much time we have left for submitting the reviews which is pretty nice.” - Student at Queen’s University

“Future ideas were, I will use [Peer Review and Group Member Evaluation tool] the same way for next year.” - noted Sean when talking about the perspectives of using the FeedbackFruits tools for his upcoming semester.

To ensure a more successful adoption of the tools, Sean emphasized that he needed to make sure to understand the settings, make adjustments in terms of timing, and utilise random assignment of reviews.

To learn more about Danielle, Selina, Marisa, and Sean’s experience and success story, you can watch their full presentation at inspirED 2021.

Want to learn more from other instructors about their classroom proof strategies, then go over our use cases.

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