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Upgrade course design to build subject matter knowledge at Leiden University Medical Center

Dan Hasan
June 4, 2021
Using
Class Size
300
Instructor Workload
Learner Workload

Context

This 2nd-year course relating to mobility was attended by around 300 medicine students and lasted 8 weeks. Students worked in groups to complete a 6-step diagnostic project on a subject relating to mobility diseases and disorders, and used Peer Review to generate feedback on other groups’ assignments. This feedback activity was formative and voluntary, but still saw a sizeable portion of the students participate.

The motivation to start using FeedbackFruits in this course came from wanting to improve and innovate existing education design. Furthermore, this particular course lacked a formalised feedback procedure: by integrating Peer Review, the instructor set up a platform where all students had the chance to give and receive feedback on their work, integrated into the LMS, Brightspace.

Constructive alignment

Learning objectives

• Learning objectives for this thesis project were related to course subject matter rather than the feedback activities.

Learning activities

Students worked in groups of roughly 15 throughout the whole course. They used a 6-step diagnostic process to produce a written assignment dealing with a mobility disease or disorder. Handing this in to Peer Review as a group, they were then able to review other groups’ work, rating it according to each of the 6 steps (for example: evaluation, treatment possibilities, and follow-ups). These ratings were divided along a 4-point scale, from unsatisfactory (0 points) to outstanding (3 points). On average, each group left six comments and spent about 20 minutes on each review. This activity took place in week 6 of the course, and was implemented as a voluntary, formative exercise.



Learning activities based on the Bloom taxonomy are mainly at the level of:

Applying & Analyzing

subject knowledge to the production of a group report

Evaluating

the work of other groups according to a given rubric

Assessment of learning outcomes

The Peer Review activity was a purely formative and voluntary exercise, and students given review scores were not counted towards final grades.

Notable outcomes

  • The instructor noted that they saved time using PeerReview, particularly through making use of the automatic randomised group allocation feature.
  • Compared to previous years, students scored on average one full grade higher on their final exams.
  • Student evaluations relating to the Peer Review activity indicated that it was an effective manner of increasing their subject area knowledge.
  • Particular benefits reported included being able to read and evaluate peers’ solutions to problems, and better understand what the teacher expected of them.
Instructor
"I think FeedbackFruits is the ideal platform to let students review each other."
"I think FeedbackFruits is the ideal platform to let students review each other."

The role of the instructor

  • The instructor mentioned the possibility to complete this Peer Review activity shortly before making it available to students in week 6.
  • Metadata from the activity was shared in a response lecture the week after, addressing common points and issues from groups’ assignments.

Added value of technology

Using Peer Review to enable and manage group feedback saves instructors a large amount of time, especially in courses with student cohorts. Students not only develop subject-matter knowledge, but also collaborative and interpersonal communication skills through participating in these activities; skills which remain vital in the working world. Furthermore, the student activity overview provides instructors with insights into group dynamics and progress in one interface, which helps to eliminate problems like free-riding and can be indispensible in hybrid and online courses.

Possible variation

In order to maximise the benefit to students and increase accessibility, it can be useful to signpost to students that this tool is available. This can take the form of a mention within the course syllabus, an announcement in the LMS, or a dedicated introduction around the start of the course, whereby students are told that the option is available. If the instructor wishes this exercise to be done by all students, they may choose to make the activity graded as a larger incentive.

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