Hundreds of thousands of students have used online peer review applications to review their classmates' work. While learning gains from peer review have been documented repeatedly, current systems do not always produce accurate scores and often give inadequate guidance to students about what constitutes a good review, resulting in haphazard feedback. This research addresses these issues with a common set of web services that can be used by any peer review system, as well as new visualizations that identify students' strengths and weaknesses, and gauge improvement over time.
This project differs from previous research that typically involves a single peer review system. It will develop a set of web services that will be usable by any peer review system in the same way that Google Maps is available to any website that wants to display location data. This common implementation will allow the project team to gather data from large numbers of students in a wide variety of contexts, thereby giving us the statistical power to produce more convincing, highly generalizable results
Peer review during the writing process is an example of formative assessment, feedback that is received while the recipient still has a chance to improve his/her work. Several studies have found that the students who benefit most from formative assessment are those who typically underperform as measured by exams and standardized tests. Formative assessment tends to level the playing field for underrepresented minorities by allowing these students to receive input from their peers when they are not stressed about how their grade is being affected.