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Effective and scalable online peer assessment at Carlson School of Management

Nhi Nguyen
November 4, 2022
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About the institution

Since its establishment in 1919, the University of Minnesota's Carlson School of Management has been a leader in business education. By embracing innovative teaching methods, cultivating world-class faculty, and promoting cutting-edge research, the school has served as a beacon of knowledge for the world's business community for generations.

About the instructor

Tony Leisen is an Instructional Design Manager at Carlson School of Management, University of Minnesota

Course information

  • Name: Introductory Marketing course
  • Course design: synchronous and asynchronous
  • Class size: 96 – 126 students
  • LMS: Canvas

Constructive alignment

Learning objectives

The challenge: Seeking a tool to save time facilitating group work and peer assessment  

Like many other business schools, group work and peer assessment have been at the heart of pedagogy at Carlson School of Management. While group work helps foster collaborative learning and stimulates real world skills, peer and group feedback allows students to demonstrate deeper understanding of content and develop the ability to critically evaluate their peers. 

The Carlson team has been issuing lots of group work and peer feedback activities in their online/hybrid courses, yet it remains a time-consuming and troublesome task due to the incompatibility of available tools. 

The faculties utilized Canvas group functionality to organize group work, but the tool only enabled submitting work as a group and offered no opportunities to assess group members' contribution. Google Forms was then chosen to make up for this group evaluation component, which proved cumbersome for setup, management, and facilitation. Using Google Forms “ate up a lot of time”, according to Tony. The team also relied on paper assessment, in which students would fill in form surveys to evaluate their group members’ performance. Again, this manual process was extremely time consuming and inefficient. 

For peer feedback, Canvas’ native functionality was also used, but it turned out to be another “clunky” tool, failing to meet instructors’ expectations. The peer feedback process was also partially completed on paper, with students writing down their comments, and handing them in to instructors, who compiled the feedback and distributed it to the recipients. 

Commenting on these tools for group work and peer assessment, Tony emphasized: 

“It was still clunky and involved a lot of manual components. Really, we were just wasting time. It wasn’t something we would point to and say this is a great option.”

That’s why the Carlson team sought a more complete pedagogical solution for streamlined peer and group assessments, while also simplifying course management. 

FeedbackFruits Peer Review (PR) and Group Member Evaluation (GME) managed to meet all these requirements. 

Read more about the tools: Peer Review and Group Member Evaluation.

Learning activities

The solution: FeedbackFruits tools for effortless, easy course design and scalability

Just under three years ago, FeedbackFruits was introduced to the Carlson team and they immediately saw the capacity that the tools had to offer. After half a year of training, exploring the tools, Tony and his team were ready to persuade the university to utilize FeedbackFruits. This is when COVID hit, accelerating the transition towards remote learning and the need for pedagogical technology. FeedbackFruits Peer Review and Group Member Evaluation were then adopted, as: 

“It [the tools] was doing exactly what we wanted to achieve, making everything easier for IDs and instructors, teaching assistants (TAs), and students. Just all around, it was a good experience. It builds out all the activities we need and makes it easy for everyone.”

As teachers at Carlson started using FeedbackFruits tools, they came to love how the tools make group work and peer assessment in online learning much easier and less time consuming. 

Tony then mentioned a use case from a marketing instructor, who successfully integrated Peer Review and Group Member Evaluation into his large size classes. The instructor had been attempting to include peer review, although the process took up tremendous effort. Accordingly, he wanted to find a tool that saves time facilitating peer feedback in both synchronous and asynchronous classes of more than a hundred students. The ID team then introduced FeedbackFruits tools, and helped the instructor implement the tools in his courses, which turned out to be a huge success.

Assessment of learning outcomes

The outcome: A huge time-saver for large size online courses, which generates a high level of satisfaction across faculties

“It then became clear to him that this is gonna be a time-saver. [FeedbackFruits tools] are not only a time-saver, but also allow you to do more of these types of activities and really help the students to have a lot of interactions in the course between each other and become more engaged in the course.”, remarked Tony as he recapped the instructor's experiences after a period of adoption.

What he enjoyed most about FeedbackFruits tools, was that they are time-saving and easy-to-use. The consistent, uniform user interface helped “save so much time and so many headaches not having to manage all these different forms and having the TAs to do all this work.”

The instructor, according to Tony, even joked with his TAs that “they can take the next 2 weeks off", because all the manual management and facilitation is no longer needed.

“It allows us to do things we know make the class better but are logistical nightmares.” - Instructor, Carlson School of Management

Another advantage that FeedbackFruits offered was the ability to scale up the learning activities to larger classes. Now, instructors can implement and continue successful teaching approaches in courses of hundreds of students.

To further gauge the impact of FeedbackFruits tools, the ID team conducted surveys with the rest of the faculty who were in the pilot and received positive responses. The instructors demonstrated high satisfaction with Peer Review and Group Member Evaluation, emphasizing several factors that constitute their pleasant experiences: 

- Streamlined organization allows for all activity steps in one place, so that students didn't have to switch among different platforms to complete the peer feedback or group member evaluation. 

- Easy-to-use and consistent user interface, enabling teachers to easily launch learning activities that were previously impossible to facilitate, and students to easily pick up and use the tools.

Considering all these benefits, the Carlson team oversees a long-term plan to spread the word about FeedbackFruits, increasing the user base of the tools across faculties. 

This use case is part of our presentation at InstructureCon 2021, watch the full session here

Read more success stories in which instructors used Peer Review and Group Member Evaluation: 

Notable outcomes

Possible variation

FeedbackFruits Educators Initiative supports educators with lifelong free access to our pedagogical tools.
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